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AI: Ethiopia: Account for all people arrested after Hachalu Hundesa’s killing July 18, 2020

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Ethiopia: Account for all people arrested after Hachalu Hundesa’s killing

Amnesty International, 18 July 2020

The authorities in Ethiopia must immediately reveal the whereabouts of dozens of politicians and journalists who were arrested alongside other people following widespread protests and violence on 29 June, Amnesty International said today.

The killing of Hachalu Hundesa, a popular outspoken Oromo singer, sparked protests, some of which degenerated into intercommunal violence, which together with a police crackdown left at least 177 dead and hundreds wounded.

In Addis Ababa and Oromia region, the police arrested at least 5,000 people, many of whom are in incommunicado detention with their whereabouts unknown. Those arrested include leading opposition politicians like Jawar Mohammed from the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), leaders of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Eskinder Nega of Balderas for True Democracy party, and journalists.The Ethiopian authorities are causing great anguish to the families of those arrested by failing to divulge their whereabouts. Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa

“The Ethiopian authorities are causing great anguish to the families of those arrested by failing to divulge their whereabouts. They must immediately disclose where each detainee is being held, and either charge them with a recognizable crime or release them immediately,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

Families are worried about their loved ones being held in crowded, unsanitary conditions in places of detention amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

OLF detainees’ whereabouts

Lawyers are unable to establish the whereabouts of key officials of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) including Michael Boran, Shigut Geleta, Lemi Benya, Kenessa Ayana, and Colonel Gemechu Ayana, who were arrested on various dates since Hachalu Hundesa’s death.

They told Amnesty International that the Addis Ababa Police Commission, the Federal Police Commission, the Oromia Police Commission and the Oromia Special Zone authorities have all denied having any of the OLF officials in their custody.They must immediately disclose where each detainee is being held, and either charge them with a recognizable crime or release them immediately. Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa

Another OLF leader, Abdi Regassa, arrested in February, remains unaccounted for, according to his lawyer, because the police have been moving him from one place of detention to another, such that neither his family nor his lawyers know his whereabouts.

Jawar Mohammed

Jawar Mohammed, founder of the Oromia Media Network (OMN) and chair of the OFC, was arrested on 30 June alongside his deputy Bekele Gerba. They were arraigned in court a second time on 16 July and remanded in police custody for two more weeks as investigations continue. Bekele Gerba was arrested with his son, daughter and a nephew, who the courted ordered to be released.

Jawar and Bekele are being held on suspicions of “mishandling of a corpse” (of the late Hachalu Hundesa during a tussle about his burial location), “attempted murder on OPDO (now Prosperity Party) officials”, “initiating violence” and the “murder of a police official”.Pre-trial detention is only permissible when police have solid evidence to support accusations against those arrested. No one should be denied their rights to liberty while police go off on fishing expeditions to justify arrests. Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa

“Pre-trial detention is only permissible when police have solid evidence to support accusations against those arrested. No one should be denied their rights to liberty while police go off on fishing expeditions to justify arrests,” said Deprose Muchena.

The two were initially held at Addis Ababa Police Commission premises, where they were last seen by their lawyers on 10 July, then found at an underground cell at an unofficial detention location near the Federal Police headquarters in Mexico Square on 14 July. Other OFC detainees were moved to a school in Addis Ababa.

OFC leaders like Dejene Tafa are yet to be presented in court or charged with any crime. His pregnant wife spends her days outside the courthouse just in case he is arraigned so that she may catch a glimpse of him.

“This morning (15 July), the police allowed me to look at him remotely after I begged them considering my pregnancy. The police do not allow me to give him food, allegedly for fear of COVID-19. Even now I am still waiting at the court should the police bring him here,” she said.

Eskinder Nega

Eskinder Nega, a prominent journalist who is now the Chairman of the Balderas for True Democracy party and his deputy Sintayehu Chekol were also arrested on 30 June in Addis Ababa. Eskinder was presented in court on 1 July on suspicions of organizing Addis Ababa youth for violence, and again on 16 July, when the police asked for more time to complete investigations.

Eskinder Nega complained to the court of having been beaten during arrest and detention. The court ordered investigations into the allegations, but according to his lawyer, the police have not done so. The court re-issued the orders.

Two journalists, one an editor of OMN, Melesse Diribsa together with a technician at the media house, Misha Chiri, and a Kenyan journalist, Yassin Juma, were arrested on 2 July and arraigned in court on 4 July. They are due back in court on 18 July but have been denied family and consular visits respectively.Ethiopian authorities must resist the urge to return to the familiar path of repression. They must respect the right to protest and express political dissent. Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa

Yesterday the police arrested Guyo Wario, the OMN journalist who interviewed Hachalu Hundesa about a week before his killing, and Nasir Adem, a photo and video editor at the same media house.

“Ethiopian authorities must resist the urge to return to the familiar path of repression. They must respect the right to protest and express political dissent,” said Deprose Muchena.

“They must also uphold due process and guarantee all detainees’ access to their families and lawyers, and fair trials that adhere to international human rights law and standards.”

Click here to read the full report

Oromia: OBS TV Journalist Abdi Gada arrested for broadcasting Oromo cultural news November 15, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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 Odaa OromoooromianeconomistHRW Media

OBS TV Journalist Abdi Gada arrested for broadcasting Oromo cultural news


Oromo Broadcast Service (OBS) TV journalist Abdi Gada  arrested in Ethiopia. OBS TV is not even a news media, it is rather a history or discovery news channel. The TV never got involved into #OromoProtests. The broadcasting is based on images  from Oromo cultural ceremonies, Oromo history with elders interviews, etc

OBS-Oromia Broadcast Service Television journalist Abdi Gada went missing in Adama, Oromia (Ethiopia) last Wednesday. His whereabouts is not known yet.

An Oromo, Ethiopian journalist missed in Adama/Gazexeessaa Abdii Gadaa achi buuteen dhabame.

Journalist Abdi Gada

An Oromo, Ethiopian journalist is missing in Adama. OBS-Oromia Broadcast Service Television journalist Abdi Gada went missing in Adama, Ethiopia last Wednesday. His whereabouts is not known yet. His family, friends and colleagues have been looking for him in all areas of detainees and prisoners including Ma’ikelawi, and Zeway (Batu). Many of his family, friends and colleagues believe that Journalist Abdi Gada was kidnapped by Ethiopian security forces because thousands of Oromo people are missing and have been arrested in Ethiopia. Journalist Abdi Gada was one among 20 Oromo (Ethiopian) journalists who were dismissed from the Oromia Radio and Television Organization in 2014, in a single day.——————————-

Gaazeexeessaan  TV OBS-Oromia Broadcast Service, AbdiGadaaRoobiidarbiteAdaamattihojiidhaquufakkamanaabahettiachibuuteenisaadhabameera.  Gaazexeessaankun, bara 2014 keessagaazexeessitootaOromoo 17 dhaabbataRaadiyoo fi TV Oromiyaakeessaasababatokkomalee ari’aman keessaa tokkoakka ta’eefi, saaniinbooda TV OBS keessa kan hojjataajiruudha.

Namoonni itti dhiheennaan gaazexeessaa Abdii Gadaa beekanu akka jedhanitti, “haaluma yeroo ammaa Oromoo irratti raawwamaa jirutti isarrattille raawwatame jennee shakkina malee, Abdiin waan balleesseefi yakki inni hojjate hin jiruu; diina biraa itti shakkinulle hin qabnu” jechuun himan. Gabaasa guutuuf oduu OMN 14.11.2016 caqasaa.

OMN: Oduu Sad 14, 2016

Genocide in the making in Oromia November 15, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomistmilitary-grade-humvee-inside-the-civilian-perimeter-at-the-2nd-october-2016-irreecha-festivalin-bishoftu-why-was-the-soldieed-against-oromo-irreecha-participants-on-2nd-october-2016-bishoftu-massacr#OromoProtests in Yabello, Borana, Oromia, July 20, 2016 p2fascist-ethiopias-regime-forces-are-conducting-rape-and-mass-killings

Genocide in the making in Oromia

 Brief account on the Oromo protest from Nov. 2015 – Nov. 2016

By Tarekegn Chimdi (PhD)


The Oromo people constitute over 40% of the total population and a single largest national group in Ethiopia. Since the date of colonization by the Abyssinians at the end of 19th century, their political, economic, social and cultural life was undermined. Historians noted that after more than three decades of fierce wars of resistance their demographics were reduced from 10 million to 5 million. They were faced with cruel subjugation, exploitation, discrimination and marginalization; forced to slavery and servitude. Their egalitarian and democratic system of governance known as Gadaa was abolished. Successive regimes in Ethiopia had been furthering their subjugation and repression through heavy-handed cruel, inhumane policies (be it under the guise of democracy or socialism). The current Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) led totalitarian regime is the worst the Oromo people witnessed.

The TPLF dominated authoritarian regime ruled for a quarter of century with complete control on political, economic and social life in Ethiopia after toppling over a century old Amhara hegemony in 1991. Currently, it controls 80% of the economy through its conglomerate the Endowment Fund For the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), 98% of the military and security leadership controlled by the TPLF membership, 100% of the parliament controlled by the TPLF and its puppet People’s Democratic Organisation (PDO)s remotely operated. As a result, the TPLF elites and PDO operatives amassed billions of dollars from trading on the natural resources under their control; restricting the ownership of businesses and industries, sprawling real estates and mansions in big cities; foreign direct investment, aid and leasing millions of hectares of lands to foreign investors. The TPLF operatives benefitted from the illicitly maintained economic, political and security power without observance of the rule of law.

On the other hand, the Oromo people were faced with rampant human rights abuses and systematic repressions that were repeatedly reported by international human rights organizations and yet largely ignored. Untold sufferings and systematic repressions in the last 25 years include extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, raping and torture. However, the Ethiopian government champions itself for being the fastest growing economy and key ally in the fight against terrorism to hide its genocidal character against the Oromo people. The reality on the ground shows that the Oromo people are targeted on the basis of their racial origin. As a result, over 95% of the prison cells in Ethiopia are filled with the Oromos and Afan Oromo has become the official language in prisons.

Land grabbing as a trigger to peaceful protest in Oromia

Land grabbing negatively affected the livelihood of millions of farmers and forcibly evicted from small subsistence farming, pastoral and grazing areas. Forced eviction and relocation in the name of investment that was orchestrated by internal and foreign actors, has evicted over 1.5 million Oromo farmers without their consent and compensation from around Finfinne (Addis Ababa) in the past ten years. Millions of hectares of arable land was confiscated mainly by agribusinesses from foreign multinational companies and the ruling regime (TPLF) cadres and their operatives resulted in the uprooting and destitution of the millions that led in part to further the starvation of the ten millions of peoples in Ethiopia. Such unethical and inequitable investment had been observed to yield abysmal poverty, food insecurity, broken communities, loss of identity and culture and aggravated environmental degradation. Above all the Oromo people in and around Finfinne (Addis Ababa) became the epicenter of the episode and in a way it reflects the way the Oromo people were conquered, robbed off their land and properties, reduced to serfs and slaves, and kept under inhumane subjugation.

The dynamics of the land grabbing that was aimed to expand Finfinne (Addis Ababa) by ~2000% from the current 54,000 ha to 1.1 million ha started with the horticulture industry, mainly the cut flower plantations. In less than a decade, several dozens of cut flower investments from within and abroad mushroomed within the radius of 80km surrounding Finfinne (Addis Ababa) to takeover the land from subsistence farmers that fed millions before the change of ownership. The establishment of these plantations and the expansion of real estate within the peripheries were the stepping stone to establish the boundary of Finfinne Special Zone of Oromia which later to be incorporated into the infamous “Addis Ababa and the Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Integrated Development Plan” or shortly “Master Plan”, in 2014. Similarly, Midroc’s and Karturi’s farms were meant to benefit and export crop produces into their countries of origin; jatropha, castor oil and sugar cane plantations were not established on non-arable terra nulis land, but on small subsistence farms whose owners were forcibly evicted without (with small) compensation and the security to their livelihood deprived. In general, the Oromo people are deprived of their livelihood by the Ethiopian successive regimes. As a result of deep historical and current grievances, suffering from oppression, exploitation and persecution for years, the students staged peaceful protests over Oromia for years and the response were being quelled heavy-handedly by the security forces of the Ethiopian government. The announcement of the infamous “master plan” further triggered the already deep-rooted grievances to explode. The plan was opposed by the Oromos from all walks of life: Oromo political parties, civic organisations, students, farmers, etc. for several reasons as it was unconstitutional, not inclusive and without the consent of the people. Moreover, it was deliberated to destroy the identity, livelihood, culture and language of the Oromo people.

War on Unarmed Oromo Protesters

In May 2014, the Oromo students from different universities, secondary schools and the general public from all over Oromia engaged the Ethiopian government in a peaceful protest in tens of thousands to denounce the “master plan” and voice their legitimate concerns. In the demonstration that started at Ambo, 100km from the capital, more than 50 civilians were shot and killed by the Ethiopian government security forces. In total over 80 unarmed civilians were killed in different parts of Oromia the same momth. Several hundreds of unarmed civilians were injured and thousands were arrested. The Ethiopian government shelved the implementation for a while until it issued final version of its master plan in the last quarter of 2015.

On November 12, 2015, peaceful student protest broke at the town of Ginchi, 80km from the capital to the West of Addis Ababa, against the sale of Ginchi stadium to an investor and the clearing of Chilimo forest. The government security forces killed two students and the population were angered. As a result, peaceful protests engulfed all parts of Oromia within two weeks. In order to legitimize its discriminatory policies, the Ethiopian Government issued a decree for Oromia to be ruled under martial law from the end of December 2015. Over 50,000 regular and special army was deployed under the command post led by the Prime Minister, Head of Army, Police and Security Chief to stop the protest mercilessly.

In Figure 1, the maps in the years 2015 (upper) and 2016 (bottom) show the distribution of protests from November 2015 – November 2016. In the last one year, peaceful demonstrations were staged mainly by the students and farmers across almost all Oromia districts at least once. They were all peaceful until turned violent by the heavy-handed measures of the Ethiopian security forces. As shown in Figure 1, 2015 (upper) in the last quarter of 2015, there were sporadic protests in Oromia that matured to cover all parts of Oromia intensively, some parts of Amhara and other southern regional states after July 2016.



Figure 1: the maps of the distribution of protests in 2015 (upper) and 2016 (bottom)

Table1 below shows the scale of fatalities over one year period across the states in Ethiopia. The total number of fatalities from November 12, 2015 to December 31, 2015 was 137 in total, with Oromia at 102. In the year 2016, violent crackdown from the Ethiopian security forces spread all over Oromia and a total of 1855 persons were killed in the last ten months. The security forces also reacted violently against protesters in Finfinne (Addis Ababa), Amhara, Dire Dawa, Somali and Southern Nations and Nationalities (SNNP). In the Amhara state, the protests that started in July 2016, in Gondar, was triggered by the opposition of the inclusion of Welkait district into the Tigray state. Over 233 persons were killed in this state in the last five months in Gondar, Bahir Dar etc in relation to peaceful protests. Similarly, in Konso and Gedeo districts of the Southern Nation and Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) state dozens of protesters were killed. The data shows the cause of fatalities in the Gambela, Somali, Harari and Tigray different from peaceful protests. In general, the scale and distribution of the protests and fatalities in Oromia over the other states indicate the degree of harshness and discriminatory measures carried out by the Ethiopian government and the genocide is in the making against the Oromo people.


Table1: the scale of killings over one year period (Nov.12, 2015 Oct. 29, 2016)

By definition the killings of over 1000 people from the same social group in a year qualifies the term “genocide” and killings of unarmed civilians in mass also refers to “massacre”. The graph in figure 2 shown below covers the daily fatalities across Oromia and Finfinne (Addis Ababa) where those killed are from the Oromo national group. In the graph the killing from the beginning of August 2016 to the end of October 2016 was covered. The first peak corresponds to the killings on the Oromia grand protest staged all over Oromia on the 6th of August 2016 and over 188 people were killed by the Ethiopian security forces. On this particular day, peaceful protests were held in over 200 towns and cities across Oromia and Finfinne (Addis Ababa) (see figure 3) and tens of thousands were arrested from all over Oromia and Finfinne in inhospitable remote malaria infested Tolay, Awash Arba, Huriso and Dhedhessa military camps.


Figure 2: the scale of killings by the security forces in Oromia and Finfinne (Aug. Oct.2016)

The second peak corresponds to the killings at Qilinto maximum-security prison located in the southern part of Finfinne (Addis Ababa) on September 3, 2016. A local newspaper    Addis    Fortune    reported    that    the    government    security    forces indiscriminately shot at the prisoners after fire broke on the premises. The government sources report 23 prisoners died of suffocation from fire. However, the Ethiopian Human Rights Project (EHRP) put the figure to 67 and the Oromia Media Network also reported additional two killings. Local sources alleged the Ethiopian government sources for starting the fire and indiscriminately shooting the prisoners.


Figure 3: the map showing the geographical coverage of protests in Oromia on August 6,2016

The third peak in Figure 2 corresponds to the Irreechaa massacre at Hora Arsadi of Bishoftu town, 40km to the East of the capital that occurred on October 2, 2016. On the Irreechaa annual thanksgiving festival, over 2 million Oromos from all over Oromia were gathered to celebrate. The Ethiopian government agitated and provoked the festival by installing its close operatives and cadres to takeover the stage from the legitimate leader of Gadaa (Abba Gadaa) who is in charge of the event. The celebrants were angered and started chanting slogans and crossing wrists above head – the popular sign of Oromo protest. The security forces deliberately started roaring Humvee in the crowd, hovering helicopter in the sky, firing the tear gas and bullets to suffocate the people on a narrow space. Most of the people perished in the ditch and the lake. Some sources put the death toll at 55 and above citing the cause of death simply as a deadly stampede. However, local and opposition sources put the figure of the death toll to at least 678. It is the responsibility of the government to protect the people away from the ditch through fencing and/or soil filling; avoiding any provocative acts, unblocking the safe exit and panicking the population on narrow space unless it deliberated and planned to cause massacre.

After the Irreechaa massacre, the Oromo people reacted with deep sorrow and responded through difference means of peaceful resistance against the Ethiopian government. The roads to different parts of the Oromia and Ethiopia were blocked, the economic boom of the TPLF elites was devastated. In a week to Irreechaa massacre, the Ethiopian government declared state of emergency that applies to the other states as well. The security forces reportedly killed more that 283 people (see figure 2, the fourth peak) in one week of the state of emergency.


The Ethiopian security forces continued their unparalleled genocidal crimes of torturing, raping and killings, largely hidden from the eyes and ears of the international observers, embassies and the media. Records show that over two thousand Oromo civilians (students, farmers, teachers, civil servants, elders, leaders and members of the Oromo opposition party) were killed in the last one year from live bullets of the Ethiopian security forces. Witnesses out of Oromia show exceptional heinous crimes of killing that includes children from age 1 to the old men to the age of 80, pregnant women and mothers, a mother killed with her two sons, three siblings from the same parent. There are evidences of mothers and siblings ordered to sit on the dead body of their loved ones after being killed by the security forces. Wives and daughters were gang raped in front their husbands, loved ones and parents. Moreover, every independent Oromo person is routinely subjected to harassment, extrajudicial killings, imprisonment, rape and torture. Several thousands were wounded from live bullets and estimated over 50,000 were arrested in different detention camps in remote areas labeled as “terrorists” without convictions and/or rare trials.

The TPLF/EPRDF is still acting with impunity despite continued call for investigation into the genocidal crimes it commit by the renowned international human rights organizations, the UN Human Rights Council, African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights in the last several months. The western governments such as US, UK, Canada, Australia and others issued the statements of concern and travel warnings which may not be enough to curb the looming dangerous situation. The Ethiopian government had been major recipient of direct investment and economic aid earnings mainly from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), the US, UK and the EU used to further human sufferings. Western governments are requested to sanction, use their diplomatic leverage to pressure the Ethiopian government to allow an independent UN and African Commission investigations over the massacres, completely halt the state of emergency and remove command posts from the villages, unconditional release of Oromo politicians and civilians from detention camps. Furthermore, the perpetuators of the massacres must be brought before international tribune to curb the genocide in the making in Oromia.


  1. The data for this analysis was extracted from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) database http://www.acleddata.com/
  2. Tarekegn Chimdi “Systematic repression and rampant human rights abuses against the Oromo People in Ethiopia (2008) ” presented at AFSAAP conference, “The Oromo People and Finfinne (2004) ” intervention at the UN office of High Commission for Human Rights http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/IPeoples/WG/IGFM1-oromo-4b.doc
  3. Addis Fortune newspaper on Qilinto prison indiscriminate killings 4. Human Rights Watch, Society for Threatened Peoples and Amnesty
  4. International reports in 2015 and 2016
  5. Press releases from the UN Human Rights Council, African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights, foreign offices and governments
  6. News from Oromia Media Network, Al Jazeera, VOA, DW and others

AI: Ethiopia: Draconian measures will escalate the deepening crisis. #OromoProtests October 19, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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stop-killing-oromo-peopleorompoprotests-picture-from-the-economist-13-october-2016No To Fascist TPLF Ethiopia's genocidal militarism and mass killings in Oromia, Ethiopia

Ethiopia: Draconian measures will escalate the deepening crisis

Amnesty International, 18 October 2016

Heavy-handed measures by the Ethiopian government will only escalate a deepening crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 800 protesters since protests began in November 2015, said Amnesty International today after the government issued a directive imposing wide-ranging restrictions as part of a state of emergency.

The directive authorises arrests without warrants, as well as rehabilitation measures. When such measures have been used in the past, they have led to arbitrary detention of protesters at remote military facilities without access to their families and lawyers.

“These emergency measures are extremely severe and so broad that they threaten basic human rights that must not be curtailed even under a state of emergency,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“These measures will deepen, not mitigate, the underlying causes of the sustained protests we have seen throughout the year, which have been driven by deep-seated human rights grievances. These grievances must be properly addressed by the authorities. Further crackdowns and human rights violations will only make the situation worse.”

It is the government’s failure to constructively engage with the protesters that continues to fuel these protests. It must now change course
Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

In a public statement issued today Amnesty International recommends that instead of further curtailing human rights, the government should seize the moment and recommit itself to respecting, protecting and fulfilling them, in line with its regional and international obligations.

“It is the government’s failure to constructively engage with the protesters that continues to fuel these protests. It must now change course,” said Muthoni Wanyeki.

“The government must ensure an end to excessive and arbitrary use of force by the security forces against demonstrators and release all protesters, opposition leaders and supporters, as well as journalists and bloggers, arrested for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”

At least 600 protesters have been killed in Oromia and 200 in Amhara since November last year.


Protests began in November 2015 when ethnic Oromos took to the streets fearing possible land seizures under the government’s Addis Ababa Masterplan, which aimed to expand the capital’s administrative control into Oromia. The protests continued even after the Addis Ababa Masterplan was scrapped, evolving into demands for accountability for human rights violations, ethnic equality and the release of political prisoners.

Protests later spread to Amhara, a region that has long complained of marginalization.

The worst incident involved the death of possibly hundreds of protesters in a stampede on 2 October at Bishoftu, about 45 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, during the Irrecha religious festival. Protest groups say the stampede was caused by the security forces’ unnecessary and excessive use of force. The government has denied this, instead blaming the deaths on “anti-peace forces.”

Click here for related article:  Access Now: Freedom of Expression: What’s happening in Ethiopia and how can we protect human rights?

What’s happening in Ethiopia and how can we protect human rights?

Protests, internet shutdowns, deaths — and a new law that threatens digital rights when the people of Ethiopia need them most

Ethiopia has issued a six-month state of emergency in the country following months of citizen protests. The state of emergency comes in an environment of increasing repression. Government forces have killed more than 500 people since November 2015 and authorities have already shut down access to social media in the Oromia region four times this year: in January, July, August, September, and October. Now the situation is escalating, with the government cutting mobile internet in the capital Addis Ababa for more than a week (the previous shutdowns affected only the Oromia region).

Human rights advocates are taking action. On October 10th, seven U.N. human rights experts issued a statement calling on the Ethiopian government to allow an international investigation into allegations that it has violated the human rights of its citizens. Additionally, on October 12th, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights released a statementhighlighting the fact that it will investigate the Ethiopian situation with regard to human rights.

More atrocities to come?

Ethiopia began a series of shutdowns in January 2016 after activists shared a video online showing police brutality. The deaths during protests ­­– and the government’s decision to disrupt the internet — ­­ underscore how shutting down the internet often precedes or is accompanied by atrocities. This new state of emergency could not have come at a worse time, because it will set a lower threshold for arresting and detaining citizens, just when more human rights protections are needed.

This is a dark time for human rights in Ethiopia. Shutting down communications networks, even during times of conflict, violates the human right to freedom of expression and access to information. Shutdowns also cause knock-on effects.

Internet shutdowns do not restore order. They hamper journalism, obscure the truth of what is happening on the ground, and stop people from getting the information they need to keep safe.  Further, shutdowns harm the local economy; by June 2016,Ethiopia had already lost $8.5 million due to internet disruptions, according to a recent report by the Brookings Institution.

In the U.N. statement last week, special rapporteurs Maina Kiai and Dr. Agnes Callamard said, “We are outraged at the alarming allegations of mass killings, thousands of injuries, tens of thousands of arrests and hundreds of enforced disappearances…We are also extremely concerned by numerous reports that those arrested had faced torture and ill-treatment in military detention centres.”

This statement highlight dangers exacerbated by the ongoing internet shutdowns, which are happening concurrently with the state of emergency. As we have pointed out, research shows that internet shutdowns and state violence go hand-in-hand. We are deeply concerned that the casualties due to state actions will increase over the next six months.

New computer crime law threatens privacy, free expression

The shutdowns are not the only cause for worry when it comes to fundamental rights. There’s also a new computer crime law that legislators in Ethiopia have approved and have forwarded for presidential signature, the Computer Crime Proclamation of 2016 (draft text). It threatens people’s free speech and privacy just when they need it most.

Our analysis of this new law shows it would hobble digital rights. The proclamation aims “to prevent, control, investigate and prosecute computer crimes and facilitate the collection of electronic evidences.” However, the legislation would infringe human rights and chill cybersecurity research not only in Ethiopia but throughout the African continent.

The law goes against Ethiopia’s commitment to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, among other international instruments, which support the right to privacy (Article 17, ICCPR), the right to freedom of expression (Article 19, ICCPR), and the right to freedom of association (Article 22, ICCPR). Ethiopia is also a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Banjul Charter), which establishes the rights to dignity (Article 5) and freedom of information and expression (Article 9), among other rights.

This proclamation hasn’t been signed into law yet, so there’s still time to strip out harmful provisions. This should take place as part of the electoral reforms that were announced last week by Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, after pressure from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

How to promote human rights in Ethiopia now

It will take effort from many corners to restore Ethiopia from its human rights crisis, stop rights violations from happening, and protect privacy and free expression in the long term.

Our recommendations are:

For the government of Ethiopia and the federal Attorney General

  • Call on the Ethiopian government to immediately restore full internet access in the country.
  • Urge the government to safeguard human rights in the Computer Crime Proclamation 2016 and to recommend repealing or amending sections of the law that threaten human rights.
  • Advise the government on international best practices to protect democracy and free speech in the country. This includes acting on all recommendations accepted at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review process.

For donors and governments trading with Ethiopia

  • Push Ethiopia to fulfil its human rights obligations and reforms its practices impacting access to the free and open internet.
  • Hold corporations registered in Ethiopia responsible for any of their technology used to infringe on human rights in Ethiopia.

For companies selling products or services in Ethiopia

  • Desist from selling or servicing technology that is used to infringe on human rights in the country. This includes technology used to surveil citizens or technology used to disrupt access to information online. Some of the companies with a record of bad practices in Ethiopia include Hacking Team and Gamma International.

For civil society organizations and individuals who want to make a difference in Ethiopia

  • Request that your government question Ethiopia about human rights at its mid-term review for United Nations Universal Periodic Review, taking place in May 2017.

Right now, our thoughts are with the people of Ethiopia. We call on humanitarian and digital rights organizations globally to draw attention to what is happening and join us in our efforts to #KeepItOn so Ethiopians can exercise their rights and freedoms, and above all, stay safe from harm.


The regime in Ethiopia (Fascist TPLF) has lost any semblance of humanity September 10, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa Oromoo


 It is an act so savage, so devoid of any norms and values cultural or otherwise, it reflects the psychopathic behavior of forces that do the killings in Ethiopia.Tgiray Nafxanya Abaye Tsehaye DulachaThe TPLF Corruption network

The regime in Ethiopia has lost any semblance of humanity

By Alem Mamo, Nazret.com, 9 September 2016

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Flickr photo


“They killed my son, and they forced me to sit on his dead body while they were beating me.”

If there is any doubt in one’s mind that the regime in Addis Ababa would come to its senses and respect the dignity and sanctity of human life, what happened this week in a western town of Dembi Dolo should put that doubt to rest. An act so cruel, so abhorrent, not just humans, it makes the rocks weep. A mother finds her sixteen-year-old son’s lifeless body covered with blood in the middle of the street, shot by forces loyal to the regime. Arriving at the scene, a mother, as all mothers do, began wailing while holding her son’s body. What followed next was hard to describe and painful to comprehend to any one with a minimum degree of decency. The same forces loyal to the regime ordered the mother to sit on her sixteen-year old son’s dead body as they mercilessly hit her.

It is an act so savage, so devoid of any norms and values cultural or otherwise, it reflects the psychopathic behavior of forces that do the killings in Ethiopia. Ephrem Hailu, the sixteen- year old boy, was simply in his daily routine like any other sixteen-year-old, playing and doing what sixteen-year-olds do. His life was cut short for no apparent reason except the psychopathic killing machines called Agazi have to kill someone to satisfy their addiction of killing.

The regime in Addis Ababa is at war with the Ethiopian people, young and old, men and women are being terrorized and murdered in broad daylight for simply demanding freedom of expression, assembly and respect to the rule of law.

“I was in my house knowing that my son was out playing with his friends,” said Ephrem’s mother. “Upon hearing gunshots downtown the boys, including my son, began running and that is when they shot and killed my son.” She said sobbing “He wasn’t just my son; he was looking after me like a father; he did manual labour work to support me. He was my only hope, my only lifeline. I didn’t have money for his funeral; my neighbors raised money for the funeral. I sat holding his body with my little girl by my side worried they might shoot my little girl, too.”

This is the dark and horrifying reality in the four corners of Ethiopia. Mothers are terrified to send their children to school because they have no guarantee they would return home safe. If they escape from the bullets they might not avoid the concentration camps where they are tortured and exposed to malaria infection without any proper medical service.  The suffering of the Ethiopian people, particularly the young has reached an intolerable climax. While all peace and freedom loving people in Ethiopia and around the world mourn with Ephrem Hailu’s mother, it is also a reminder that the only way to have safety and security is by ridding the country from a brutal authoritarian rule once and for all.

Recently, I posted a piece titled “Refusing to be adversaries.” In this piece I was given a short poem which was written by a young man who lost his best friend to forces loyal to regime. I was moved by the poem because it describes the sorrow and pain of a mother whose child was gunned down. I have re-posted the same poem (below). It was originally written in Amharic. I translated it to English.

Tears of the moon

Gripped with an overwhelming sorrow

A mother says “I have no tears left

I have cried until I no longer see

I have wailed until I have no voice left

What is sight for, if I cannot see my child?

What is a voice for, if he cannot come to me when I call his name?

Here we have run out of tears.

Instead, our rocks, trees and fields are crying for us,

Here the birds no longer sing,

As they are mourning with us in silence.

The sun, too, weeps as we languish in the burning shadows of oppression,

And the moon sheds tears with us at night, as we hide in our blood stained forest.

When will this end?”

She asks,

“When will we relearn to laugh again?

When will peace reign?

When will the true spirit of humanity return to this land of our ancestors again?

We are collectively tired of oppressionWe are people of an exhausted nation.”




Time:Grand #OromoProtests: Scores Killed in Crackdown on Protests Across Ethiopia. August 9, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoostop killing Oromo PeopleGrand #OromoProtests, Grand ‪#‎OromoProtests‬ full scale Military massacre  has been conducted by Ethiopia's fascsit regimei n Naqamte, East Walaga. 6 August 2016 pctureThis Oromo  child is Lencho Abdi Abdulkarim, one of the 6 people shot in Dogu town, Gurawa District, East Hararge when fascist Ethiopia's regime forces  opened fire on wedding party on July 25, 2016#OromoProtests, Awaday, Oromia  31 July 2016.  Fascist Ethiopia's regime forces killed 6 people and injured 26.

(ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia) — Ethiopian security forces shot dead several dozen people in weekend protests across the country as frustration with the government grows, an opposition leader and Amnesty International said Monday, while hundreds staged a rare demonstration in the capital after calls via social media. The government again blocked the internet over the weekend,…

via Scores Killed in Crackdown on Protests Across Ethiopia — TIME

Oromia: Gootichi Barataa Yuuniversitii Haromaayyaa Gazzahinyi Oliiqaa Rasaasa Wayyaaneen Wareegame. Gullisoo Keessatti Barattuun Oromoo Caaltuun Gootota Mirga Sabaaf Aarsaa Kafalan Keessaa Tokko December 3, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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???????????Oromo student protest at Haromaya University, Oromia, on 30 November 2015. The peaceful protesters ruthlessly attacked by TPLF (Agazi) fascist Ethiopian regime forces.#OromoLivesMatters!Stop killing Oromo Students

Barataa Yuuniversitii Haromaayyaa Department Cooprative Waggaa 2ffaa Kan Baratu Barataan Gazzahinyi Oliiqaa Rasaasa Wayyaaneen Wareegame.

Muddee 2,2015 Haromayaa

on 30 November 2015, Second year Oromo student at Haromayya University, Gazzahinyi Oliiqaa murdered by TPLF/Agazi force.

Gootichi Barataa Yuuniversitii Haromaayyaa Department Cooprative Waggaa 2ffaa Kan Baratu Barataan Gazzahinyi Oliiqaa Rasaasa Wayyaaneen Wareegame.

Barataa Gazzaahiny  dhalootaan godina Wallaggaa Horroo Guduruu yeroo ta’u University  Haroomayaa keessatti department cooperative wagga 2ffaa barata osoo jiruu sochii warraaqsaa FDG fi didda master pilanii Finfinne mormuuf hiriraa naaga sadaasa 30,2015 saboonta bartoota ilmaan Oromoo ba’aani turaan kessa isaa Tokko Ture .
Barataan gootichi Gazaahinyi rebichaa cimaa humnaa Agazitiin irra ga’een hospitala University  Haroomayaatti utuu yalamuu lubbun isaa darbitee hara’aa Muddee 2,2015 reeffi isaa gaara naannoo dhaloota isaa Horroo Guduruutti ergamee jira .

Qabsa’aan ni kufaa qabsoon itti fufaa !


Wallagga Magaalaa Gullisoo Keessatti Barattuun Oromoo Caaltuun Gootota Mirga Sabaaf Aarsaa Kafalan Keessaa Tokko

Guyyaa Har’aa Wallagga Aanaa Gullisoo Magaalaa Calliyaa Keessatti Barattooti Oromoo 3 Rasaasa Wayyaaneen Wareegaman.

Sabboonti Barattoota Magaalaa Calliyaa Keessaatti Wareegaman 

1. Guutuu Abarraa Dheeressaa n
2. Barataa Lilisaa Bantii,
2. Addunyaa Malakuu

Oromo oromiaMuddee 02, 2015 Godina Wallagga Lixaa Aanaa Gullisoo Magaalaa Calliyaa fi Aanaa Ariyaa keessatti Warraaqsa FDG karaa nagaan uummatni gaaffii Mirga abbaa Biyyummaa fi mormii Master pilaanii Finfinnee irratti gochaa jiru Irratti Mootummaan Abbaa Irree Wayyaanee waraana uummata irratti banuun ‘’Yaakka Duguuginsa sanyii (Genocide) uummata irratti gaggeessuun Ilmaan Oromoo 3 Wareegaman.
Mootummaan Abbaa Irree Fashitii wayyaanee gaaffii mirgaa Barattootni Oromoo fi uummatni Oromoo karaa nagaan dhiiyeeffachuun hiriira mormii abbaa irree wayyaanee irratti uUmmatni harka duwwaan ba’ee sagalee mormii waan dhageesisee fi isi jalatti hin bullu jechuun sirni
bulchiinsa wayyaanee hin fudhannuu, maqaa Master pilaanii finfinnee jidhuu fi Labsii Magaalota Oromiyaa hin fudhannu jechuun Uummatni Oromoo barattootni fi sabboontootni Oromoo FDG kaachisuun Sagalee isaanii Oromiyaa cufatti dhageesisaa kan jiran yoo ta’uu, Guyyaa hardhaas qawwee fi waraanaan dorsifamnee mootummaa gabromsaa jalatti hin bullu jechuun Uummatni Oromoo fi Dargaggootni Barattootni Oromoo Aanaa Gullisoo Magaalaa Calliyaa keessatti FDG karaa nagaa gaggeeffamaa jiru irratti mootummaan Wayyaanee Jibbinsa guddaa ilmaan Oromoo irraa qabuu irraa ka’uun waraana uummata hiriira bahan irratti banuun ilmaan Oromoo nagaan utuu gaffii mirga abbaa biyyummaa fi Oromummaa isaaniif falmanii waraana Wayyaaneen baneen Wareegamuu maddeen keenya gabaasan.

Ilmaan Oromoo yakka waraana Wayyaaneen rawwachaa jiruun wareegaman:
1. Guutuu Abarraa Dheeressaa
2. Barataa Lilisaa Bantii,
2. Addunyaa Malakuu kanneen jedhaman keessatti argaman ilmaan Oromoo yakka genocide wayyaaneedhan ajjeefamuun mootummaan Wayyaanee mootummaa abbaa irree fi sharorkeessan ilmaan Oromoo fixaa jiraachuun ibsame jira. Namootni hedduun rasaasan dhamuu amma illee gabaafama jira dhukaasni Mootummaan Wayyaanee Gullisoo fi Ayiraa irratti har’a bane itti fufinsaan dhukaafamaa jiraachuu madden keenya ibsan.
Uummatni Wareegama fedhee kanfalla malee humnaa fi Qawween jilbeeffannee hin bitamnu jechuun FDG itti fufe jira. Ilmaan Oromoo
bakka jirtan hundaa sagalee FDG jabeessuun mootummaa nu fixaa jiru dura dhaabbannee mirga keenya haa kabachiifnu jechuun sabboontootni
Qeerroon dargaggootni Oromoo dhaamsa dabarfatan.


Wallagga Aanaa Gullisoo Ganda Calliyaa Keessatti Gooti Barataan Oromoo Karrasaa Caalaa Rasaasa Mootummaa Abbaa Irree Wayyaaneen Wareegame.

Muddee 03,2015 Calliyaa

Hiriira barattoota Oromoo guyyaa har’aa  Muddee 03,2015 amma itti jiramu irratti  Wallagga Aanaa Gullisoo Ganda Calliyaa Keessatti Gooti Barataan Oromoo Karrasaa Caalaa Rasaasa Mootummaa Abbaa Irree Wayyaaneen erga rukutamee booda bayyaannachuu dadhabuu irraan Wareegame.

a Grade 10 student called Dajane Sarbessa shot dead on protests that held on 3 Dec. 2015 In South West Shoa Zone Tole town in Bantu Secondary School..png

Dajane Sarbessa, a Grade 10 Oromo student  shot dead on protests that held on 3 Dec. 2015 In South West Shoa Zone Tole town in Bantu Secondary School.

Godina Shawaa Kibbs Lixaa Aanaa Tolee Magaalaa Baantuu Mana Barumsaa Sadarkaa 2ffaa guyyaa 3/12/2015 ganama keessa hirriiraa mormii maaster pilaanni mormuun bahame irratti barataan kutaa 10ffaa barataa Dajanee Sarbeessa du’aan kan boqote yoo ta’u barattoonni lama akka malee rasaasaan dhahamanni hospitaala walisoi geeffamanni jiru. Mucaan du’e kuni  rukutameePoolisoonni akka namni lafaa hin kasne dhowun  reefi isaa erga du’e namni lafa utuu hin kaasiin dhiigni isaa utuu lola’utti sa’aatti 2:00 irratti kan du’e  sa’aatti 4:13 irratti reefaa isaa humni darbata walisoo irraa dhufeen  lafa kaa’e. Rukkuutees kan ajjeese poolisii Oromiyaa yoo ta’u eenyu akka ta’e yeroof adda hin baane.

Video Shows Federal Police Attack on Oromo Students in Ethiopia

(Direct link to the video on Facebook)


Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley.
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Press Release
May 22nd 2015, Gambella

Gambella Nilotes United Movement (GNUM) strongly condemns the TPLF/EPRDF killings of the Mezenger people of Southwest Ethiopia. The massacre of Mezenger people has now escalated and spread to all neighbouring villages of Sheka, Surma, Bench and Menit tribes in the Southern Nations Nationalities and People Regional State. The massacre is jointly carried out by the federal police forces, ENDF (Ethiopian National Defence Force) and the illegal settlers (highlanders) in Teppi and Metti towns Godere Zone of the Gambella region. It has started in September 2014 and so far no investigation and action taken against the perpetrators to stop the massacre. Since January 2015 the killing intensified and all villages of Majengirs and neighbouring villages destroyed and all people from these villages went into bush leaving behind their belongings without anything to support their livelihood. However, attempted to return home from the bush is killed, chanting that the monkey has come home to live with human beings.

As our sources from the ground indicates so far more than 120 Mezenger are reported dead and the killing is indiscriminate against children, women and men. It is a systematic genocide to exterminate the Mezenger people, as many of their educated ones were packed into prison without any trial in the court. To weaken the power of Mezenger people, the police forces from the local community were disarmed and they were replaced with ENDF to manoeuvre the plan successfully and take over the land from Mezenger people. In addition to this the Kwegu and Hamer people are being displaced from their land and many more killed by the Ethiopian government because of sugar plantation project of Hailemariam Desalegn. Likewise, the Hamer tribe is now engaged in full scale war with the government soldiers in resistance to land grabbing and forced displacements.

The sugar plantation project in the South Omo zone has been carried out without the consultation of local community. The people of Southern Ethiopian should not be deceived by the leadership of the current prime minister because he is from the region. As he was baptized by the deceased Prime Minister Meles for the post he should be known for his hatred against the indigenous Nilotes in the southern region for which he can manipulate the system and exterminate the tribes.

The people of Majengers and other Nilotic people of South west Ethiopian have been in constant conflicts and frustration with the Ethiopian government and illegal settlers from the north, and the loss of land has been in alarming rates as clearing of the forests by commercial investors and the illegal settlers continue to surge. Since EPRDF took over, the Mezenger people were killed in 1993, 2001 and the current one of 2014/2015. The current massacre is worst of all kind as it has devastated and destroyed the properties of people and forced people to flee their land.

GNUM will continue to fight for justice, equality and freedom of the indigenous Nilotes to ensure their full recognition and identity in their land. The TPLF/EPRDF government is a racist government that puts ethnic conflicts as means to prosper its own people to settle in the southwest regions. It is a government that cares only for its citizens from Tigrai region, and it should be resisted strongly by all means as racist and divisive.

GNUM also call upon the international community to investigate the killings of Majengers and other Nilotic people of southwest Ethiopia through their body, and force the perpetrators to be brought to justice. We call upon all the donors to withhold their funds from the TPLF government to make sure their funds are not used to perpetuate the killings against the innocent indigenous populations. Further, we also strongly ask the international community to analyse and make serious investigation toward the root cause of the increasing killings against the indigenous populations in Southwest Ethiopia and come up with strong recommendations and actions for maximum self determination as the only lasting solution to protect the life of the indigenous populations.

Therefore, GNUM would like to call upon all the indigenous Nilotes to unite themselves as one people and resist and fight the racist TPLF/EPRF government to protect their land.

In conclusion the Gambella Nilotes United Movement (GNUM) will continue it struggle for all people of Gambella and all the South-western Nilotes to ensure freedom, liberty, justice, security and prosperity are brought to people in their God given lands.

“All Nilotic People Should Stand Together and Fight As One to Overthrow TPLF/EPRDF Government from Their Land”

Gambella Nilotes United Movement/Army

Central Committee

Our contact:                   gambellagnuma@yahoo.com   OR



Darajjee Goobanaa, Oromo national and 3rd year student at Bule Hora University is murdered by fascist TPLF Ethiopia (Agazi) forces: Barataa Waggaa 3ffaa Yuuniversitii Bulee Horaa Kan Ta’e Sabboontichi Darajjee Goobanaa Rasaasa Poolisoota Wayyaaneen Wareegame. June 9, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo.
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Barataa Waggaa 3ffaa Yuuniversitii Bulee Horaa Kan Ta’e Sabboontichi Darajjee Goobanaa FDG Qindeessite Jedhamuun Rasaasa Poolisoota Wayyaaneen Wareegame.

Waxabajjii 08,2015 Gabaasa Qeerroo Bulee Horaa 

Oromo oromiaGaafa Caamsaa 24,2015 Fincila Diddaaa gabrummaa Yuuniverstii Bulee Horaa keessatti ka’een wal qabatee baratoota Oromoo irratti loltoota Wayyaaneen dhukaasi banamuun kan yaadatamu dha. Haala kanaan barattaan Oromoo ganna 3ffaa Yuuniverstii  Bulee Horaa irraa baratu barattoota Oromoo adda durummaan fincilaaf qindeessiteetta jedhamee adamfamuun rasaasa Wayyaaneen yeroo rukutamu iyyaa fi diddaan barattootaa waan itti hammaateef jecha loltooti barataa rasaasaan rukutan achitti gatanii deeman,haala kanaan gootichi barataan Darajjee Goobanaa gargaarsa barattootaan Hosptala Xiqur Ambessaatti  ergamee osoo waldhaanamuu Waxabajjii 05,2015 lubbuun isaa uummata Oromoof jecha wareega qaalii kaffaltee jirti.

Barataa Darajjee Goobanaan godina Wallaggaa Horroo Guduruu aanaa Jaardagaa Jaartee jedhamutti kan dhalatee guddate ta’uu fi amal qabeessaa fi qaroo ilma Oromoo akka ta’e barattooti Yuuniverstii Bulee Horaa dubbatu.

Thousands Suffer After Africa Land Grabs. May 18, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Land Grabs in Oromia, Omo Valley.
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???????????Tigrean Neftengna's land grabbing3 and the Addis Ababa Master plan for Oormo genocide

Ms. Mittal describes the situation with regard to land grabs in Ethiopia as “dire”, with evicted farmers and their families facing persecution, intimidation, and arrest if refusing to leave the land which has sustained them for generations or by protesting. While many around the world are under the impression that colonialism in Africa is long-over and a thing of the past, what the Oakland Institute has discovered is a type of “re-colonization” of the African continent has occurred in recent years through land grabs/giveaways to investors looking to extract natural resources. ….Oakland Institute Director Anuradha Mittal believes the land is being stolen and not being paid for, that the practice of land grabs shows the absence in nations of rule of law, and that wealthy corporations/investors are taking the opportunity to re-colonize Africa and get away it.    



by Jerry Alatalo

ocean44Alphabet Executive Director of the Oakland Institute Anuradha Mittal and her team have worked for years on land, food and environment issues in regions around the Earth. Oakland Institute recently joined the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in exposing World Bank actions involving land grabs/acquisitions by foreign investors in Ethiopia which have resulted in tens of thousands of small farmers becoming forcibly evicted from their land.

Ms. Mittal describes the situation with regard to land grabs in Ethiopia as “dire”, with evicted farmers and their families facing persecution, intimidation, and arrest if refusing to leave the land which has sustained them for generations or by protesting. While many around the world are under the impression that colonialism in Africa is long-over and a thing of the past, what the Oakland Institute has discovered is a type of “re-colonization” of the African continent has occurred in recent years through land grabs/giveaways to investors looking to extract natural…

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Why are African citizens leaving their countries ? Xenophobia – Mediterranean Sea – Killing in Libya… April 30, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Ethnic Cleansing, Groups at risk of arbitrary arrest in Oromia: Amnesty International Report, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Jen & Josh (Ijoollee Amboo), Nimoona Xilahuun Imaanaa, The 2014 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, The Mass Massacre & Imprisonment of ORA Orphans, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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OEthiopia is the one of the lowest in social Progress 2015Oromo refugees in Yemen

When we are condemning J-Zuma and his fellow Zwelithini‘s statement, we must not skip the fundamental question of “why are citizens running away from their countries in Africa? Why Zimbabweans, Nigerian, Mozambicans etc. are so many in South Africa? What Malian, Senegalese, Eritreans… are doing on the Mediterranean Sea? What Ethiopian, Eritreans… are looking for in Libya on their way to cross the sea? And Why African Leaders and institutions are silence on these questions? Close to 2000 migrants died crossing the Mediterranean to Europe this year only, many times more than during the same period in 2014…

Many in our continent, many of our leaders and institutions know the answers to these questions. Unfortunately, there are no actions being taken to resolve them; there are not even any honest acknowledgements of the problem; rather we are served with empty diplomatic statements everyday with no decisive action for change. We are turning around and the situation is getting worse.


Africa paying a blind eye to xenophobia April 25, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Aannolee and Calanqo, Africa, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Because I am Oromo, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia.
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OBecause I am OromoFeatured Image -- 5695

‘Colonial laws and practices have not imposed themselves on the independent Africa; the real and biggest problem has been the unwillingness of the current African leadership to change and/ or repeal the many unjust colonial laws. If anything, colonial laws and practices have either at worst been maintained to protect whites and the black African elite interests or at best been adapted to suit the needs of the African leadership, needs of ruling tribes or clans or nations at the expense of all others….If there is anything that Africa should learn from the latest xenophobic attacks in South Africa, it is that the continent has yet to command its independence and seriously address tribal prejudice and stereotypes. Governments continue to show little or no interest in respecting people and dealing with simmering internal social injustices. African independence has perpetually shown no empathy towards any black communities carrying a different social identification from those wielding authority. Historically, we have struggled with accommodating internal diversity.

The starting point towards correcting one’s mistakes is owning them. Africa needs to stop hiding behind colonialism and accept most of the problems we face today are our internal creation and only we can make the necessary changes required. Africans can conveniently blame colonialism all they want but the majority of conflicts between nations and communities show more internal prejudice and less external intervention as the cause.’


If there is anything that Africa should learn from the latest xenophobic attacks in South Africa, it is that the continent has yet to command its independence and seriously address tribal prejudice and stereotypes. Governments continue to show little or no interest in respecting people and dealing with simmering internal social injustices. African independence has perpetually shown no empathy towards any black communities carrying a different social identification from those wielding authority. Historically, we have struggled with accommodating internal diversity.

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Oromo Political Prisoner Bekele Gerba Freed. Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa Hiikamanii Jiru. #Oromo March 31, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Because I am Oromo.
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???????????282548_518782501479783_163682395_n (1)


Itti aanaa dura ta’aa paartii mormituu Warraaqsa Federaalistii Dimokraatawaa Oromoo kan turan Obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa hidhaa waggaa sadii fi baatii torbaa booda kaleessa Bitooteessa 30 bara 2015 hiikamanii jiran. Himannaan shoroorkeessummaa irratti dhiyaatEe murtiin hidhaa waggaa saddeetiI eega irratti muramee booda ol-iyyannaa dhiyeeeffatanii turaniin gara hidhaa waggaa sadii fi baatii torbaatti gad cabeef. Akka seera Itiyoophiyaatti hidhaa na irratti murame sadii keessaa harka lama akkaan xumureetti mirgi gadhiifamuu naa kennamuutu irra ture kan jedhan obbo Baqqalaa Garbaa garuU kanas dhorkameen hidhaa na irratti murame xumuree ba’uuf dirqame jedhu.

Kaleessuuma yeroo gadhiifamuuf turantti illee eega baafamanii booda, waan qoratamuu qabuutu jira jechuun yeroof mana hidhaatti isaan deebisuu isaanii dubbatu Obbo Baqqalaan. Booda garuu magaalaa Finfinneetti si geessinee qoranna jedhanii Zuwaay irraa kokolaataa seennee Moojoo akka geenyeetti achuumatti na gadhiisan jedhhan. Akka Obbo Baqqalaan jedhantti himnannaan irratti dhiyaatee ittiin adabaman kan sobaa ta’uu fi ragaan dhiyaates qindeeffamee ta’uu dubabtanii jiru. Haallii fayyaa isaanii ogeessa wal’ansa fayyaan ilaalamuu kan fedhu ta’uus kan sadarkaa hamaa irra hin jirre ta’uu Raadiyoo Sagalee Amerikaaf Ibsanii jiru.

Gaaffii fi deebii geggeedffame armaan gaditti caqasaa



(Oromedia, 31 Bitootessa 2015) Ob Baqqalaa Garbaa Bitootessa 30, bara 2015 hidhaa hiikamuun gabaafame.
Maddeen keenya Finfinnee irraa akka nuuf gabaasanitti, Ob Baqqalaan murtii dabaa mootummaa Itoophiyaa irraa itti darbe fixanii bahan.

Ob Baqqalaan miseensa paartii karaa nagaa biyya keessa sochooú, Warraaqsa Federaalistii Dimokiraatawaa Oromoo taánis, mootummaan Wayyaanee garuu miseensa ABO ti, jechuun akka hidhe beekamaadha.

Abbaa ijjoollee afurii kan taán Ob Baqqalaa Garbaa waggaa saddeetiif akka hidhamu dhaddechi Itoophiyaa Muddee 11, 2012 itti murteesse. Yeroo sanatti akka murtiin laafuuf dhiifama akka gaafatu gaafatamnii diduu fi waan hojjatanitti akka hin gaabbine ibsachuun isaanii kan yaadatamu.

Akka sirnaa fi seera biyyattiitti Ob Baqqalaan hidhaa isaanii harka sadii erga fixanii cabsaa seeraatiin hiikamuu qabu turan.

Haataúutii, loogii sanyummaa fi sabummaatiin haga yoonaatti hidhaa keessa turruun isanaii kan beekamu.

Ob Baqqalaan Yunvarsitii Finfinneetti barsiisaa Afaanii ti.

Ob Baqqalaa Garbaa fi Ob Olbaanaa Leellisaa Hagayya  27, 2011 humnoota tikaa mootummaa Itoophiyaatiin hidhaman.



Oromo Political Prisoner Bekele Gerba Freed; the Ideals (Land Grabbing, Environment, National Equality) He Got Imprisoned for Still Unresolved

 Bitootessa/March 31, 2015 · Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com

Oromo media outlets, OMN and Radio Afuura Biyyaa, have confirmed the release from prison of the Oromo political prisoner Ob. Bekele Gerba, who was the Deputy Chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) at the time of his arrest in August 2011. Ob. Bekele Gerba had been unjustly imprisoned for about three and half years. According to information we have received, his fellow prisoner Ob. Olbana Lelisa, the high-ranking leader in the Oromo People’s Congress party (OPC) at the time of his arrest with Ob. Bekele Gerba in August 2011, remains imprisoned unjustly.

Issues Ob. Bekele Gerba Imprisoned for Remain Unresolved …

In 2010 – a year before his arrest, Ob. Bekele Gerba passionately debated during the General Election about land-grabbing, especially land-grabbing around Finfinne, and the appalling environmental pollution in Oromia and beyond (listen below); his firm stand on these issues had brought land-grabbing around Finfinne and environmental pollution to the forefront of the people’s consciousnesses at the time and since then.  http://gadaa.net/FinfinneTribune/2015/03/oromo-political-prisoner-bekele-gerba-freed-the-ideals-land-grabbing-environment-national-equality-he-got-imprisoned-for-still-unresolved/

His firm stand on national equality has been also widely reported by the media (listen below); Ob. Bekele Gerba made the appeal for national equality for Oromos and other oppressed nationalities in Ethiopia as a political prisoner facing the Ethiopian government’s politically biased and motivated court in November 2012.



Ethiopia: stealing the Omo Valley, destroying its ancient Peoples. #Oromia #Africa February 18, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Omo, Omo Valley, Oromia.
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???????????Gibe (Omo) valleyLand grab inOromia

Ethiopia: stealing the Omo Valley, destroying its ancient Peoples

Megan Perry* / Sustainable Food Trust

A land grab twice the size of France is under way in Ethiopia, as the government pursues the wholesale seizure if indigenous lands to turn them over to dams and plantations for sugar, palm oil, cotton and biofuels run by foreign corporations, destroying ancient cultures and turning Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake, into a new Aral Sea.

What is happening in the lower Omo Valley shows a complete disregard for human rights and a total failure to understand the value these tribes offer Ethiopia in terms of their cultural heritage and their contribution to food security.

There is growing international concern for the future of the lower Omo Valley in Ethiopia. A beautiful, biologically diverse land with volcanic outcrops and a pristine riverine forest; it is also aUNESCO world heritage site, yielding significant archaeological finds, including human remains dating back 2.4 million years.

The Valley is one of the most culturally diverse places in the world, with around200,000 indigenous people living there. Yet, in blind attempts to modernise and develop whatthe government sees as an area of ‘backward’farmers in need of modernisation, some of Ethiopia’s most valuable landscapes, resources and communities are being destroyed.

A new dam, called Gibe III, on the Omo River is nearing completion and will begin operation in June, 2015, potentially devastating the lives of half a million people. Along with the dam, extensive land grabbing is forcing thousands from their ancestral homes and destroying ecosystems.

Ethiopia’s ‘villagisation’ programme is aiding the land-grab by pushing tribes into purpose built villages where they can no longer access their lands, becoming unable to sustain themselves, and making these previously self-sufficient tribes dependent on government food aid.

A total disregard for the rights of Ethiopia’s Indigenous Peoples

What is happening in the lower Omo Valley, and elsewhere, shows a complete disregard for human rights and a total failure to understand the value these tribes offer Ethiopia in terms of their cultural heritage and their contribution to food security.

There are eight tribes living in the Valley, including the Mursi, famous for wearing large plates in their lower lips. Their agricultural practices have been developed over generations to cope with Ethiopia’s famously dry climate.

Many are herders who keep cattle, sheep and goats and live nomadically. Others practice small-scale shifting cultivation, whilst many depend on the fertile crop and pasture land created by seasonal flooding.

The vital life source of the Omo River is being cut off by Gibe III. An Italian construction company began work in 2006, violating Ethiopian law as there was no competitive bidding for the contract and no meaningful consultation with indigenous people.

The dam has received investment from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and the hydropower is primarily going for export rather than domestic use – despite the fact that 77% of Ethiopia’s population lacks access to electricity.

People in the Omo Valley are politically vulnerable and geographically remote. Many do not speak Amharic, the national language, and have no access to resources or information. Foreign journalists have been denied contact with the tribes, as BBC reporter Matthew Newsome recently discovered when he was prevented from speaking to the Mursi people.

There has been little consideration of potential impacts, including those which may affect other countries, particularly Kenya, as Lake Turkana relies heavily on the Omo River.

At risk: Lake Turkana, ‘Cradle of Mankind’

Lake Turkana, known as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’, is the world’s largest desert lake dating back more than 4 million years. 90% of its inflow comes from the Omo. Filling of the lake behind the dam will take three years and use up to a years’ worth of inflow that would otherwise go into Lake Turkana.

Irrigation projects linked with the dam will then reduce the inflow by 50% and lead to a drop of up to 20 metres in the lake’s depth. These projects may also pollute the water with chemicals and nitrogen run-off. Dr Sean Avery’s report explains how this could devastate the lake’s ancient ecosystems and affect the 300,000 people who depend on it for their livelihoods.

Tribal communities living around the lake rely on it for fish, as well as an emergency source of water. It also attracts other wildlife which some tribes hunt for food, such as the El Molo, who hunt hippo and crocodile. Turkana is home to at least 60 fish species, which have evolved to be perfectly adapted to the lake’s environment.

Breeding activity is highest when the Omo floods, and this seasonal flood also stimulates the migration of spawning fish. Flooding is vital for diluting the salinity of the lake, making it habitable. Livestock around the lake add nutrients to the soil encouraging shoreline vegetation, and this is important for protecting young fish during the floods.

Lake Turkana is a fragile ecosystem, highly dependent on regular seasonal activity, particularly from the Omo. To alter this ancient ebb and flow will throw the environment out of balance and impact all life which relies on the lake.

Severely restricted resources around the lake may also lead to violence amongst those competing for what’s left. Low water levels could see the lake split in two, similar to the Aral Sea. Having acted as a natural boundary between people, there is concern that conflict will be inevitable.

Fear is already spreading amongst the tribes who say they are afraid of those who live on the other side of the lake. One woman said, “They will come and kill us and that will bring about enmity among us as we turn on each other due to hunger.”

Conflict may also come from Ethiopians moving into Kenyan territory in attempts to find new land and resources.

A land grab twice the size of France

The dam is part of a wider attempt to develop the Omo Valley resulting in land grabs and plantations depending on large-scale irrigation. Since 2008 an area the size of France has been given to foreign companies, and there are plans to hand over twice this area of landover the next few years.

Investors can grow what they want and sell where they want. The main crops being brought into cultivation include, sugar, cotton, maize, palm oil and biofuels. These have no benefit to local economies, and rather than using Ethiopia’s fragile fertile lands to support its own people, the crops grown here are exported for foreign markets.

Despite claims that plantations will bring jobs, most of the workers are migrants. Where local people (including children) are employed, they are paid extremely poorly. 750km of internal roads are also being constructed to serve the plantations, and are carving up the landscape, causing further evictions.

In order to prepare the land for plantations, all trees and grassland are cleared, destroying valuable ecosystems and natural resources.

Reports claim the military have been regularly intimidating villages, stealing and killing cattle and destroying grain stores. There have also been reports of beatings, rape and even deaths, whilst those who oppose the developments are put in jail. The Bodi, Kwegi and Mursi people were evicted to make way for the Kuraz Sugar Project which covers 245,000 acres.

The Suri have also been forcibly removed to make way for the Koka palm oil plantation, run by a Malaysian company and covering 76,600 acres. This is also happening elsewhere in Ethiopia, particularly the Gambela region where 73% of the indigenous population are destined for resettlement.

Al-Moudi, a Saudi tycoon, has 10,000 acres in this region to grow rice, which is exported to the Middle East. A recent report from the World Bank’s internal watchdog has accused a UK and World Bank funded development programme of contributing to this violent resettlement.

For many tribes in the Omo Valley, the loss of their land means the loss of their culture. Cattle herding is not just a source of income, it defines people’s lives. There is great cultural value placed on the animals. The Bodi are known to sing poems to their favourite cattle; and there are many rituals involving the livestock, such as the Hamer tribe’s coming of age ceremony whereby young men must jump across a line of 10 to 30 bulls.

Losing their land also means losing the ability to sustain themselves. As Ulijarholi, a member of the Mursi tribe, said, “If our land is taken, it is like taking our lives.”

They will no longer be independent but must rely on government food aid or try to grow food from tiny areas of land with severely reduced resources.

Ethiopia’s food security

Ethiopia is currently experiencing economic growth, yet 30 million people still face chronic food shortages. Some 90% of Ethiopia’s national budget is foreign aid, but instead of taking a grass-roots approach to securing a self-sufficient food supply for its people, it is being pushed aggressively towards industrial development and intensive production for foreign markets.

There is a failure to recognise what these indigenous small-scale farmers and pastoralists offer to Ethiopia’s food security. Survival of the Fittest, a report by Oxfam, argued that pastoralism is one of the best ways to combat climate change because of its flexibility.

During droughts animals can be slaughtered and resources focused on a core breeding stock in order to survive. This provides insurance against crop failure as livestock can be exchanged for grain or sold, but when crops fail there can be nothing left. Tribal people can also live off the meat and milk of their animals.

Those who have long cultivated the land in the Omo Valley are essential to the region’s food security, producing sorghum, maize and beans on the flood plains. This requires long experience of the local climate and the river’s seasonal behaviour, as well as knowledge of which crops grow well under diverse and challenging conditions.

Support for smallholders and pastoralists could improve their efficiency and access to local markets. This would be a sustainable system which preserved soil fertility and the local ecosystem through small-scale mixed rotation cropping, appropriate use of scarce resources (by growing crops which don’t need lots of water, for example) and use of livestock for fertility-building, as well as for producing food on less productive lands.

Instead, over a billion dollars is being spent on hydro-electric power and irrigation projects. This will ultimately prove unsustainable, since large-scale crop irrigation in dry regions causes water depletion and salinisation of the soil, turning the land unproductive within a couple of generations.

Short of an international outcry however, the traditional agricultural practices of the indigenous people will be long gone by the time the disastrous consequences becomes apparent.



*Megan Perry is Personal and Research Assistant to SFT Policy Director, Richard Young.

This article was originally published by  the Sustainable Food Trust.

Source:  http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2754229/ethiopia_stealing_the_omo_valley_destroying_its_ancient_peoples.html


Fordi jeg er oromo: Because I Am Oromo January 10, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Fordi jeg er oromo.
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Kelilew Urga:- Norwegian Newspaper’s Coverage of the Crimes Committed Against Innocent Oromo by the TPLF/Tigrean Govt

 Amajjii/January 9, 2015 · Finfinne Tribune  Gadaa.com   http://finfinnetribune.com/Gadaa/2015/01/kelilew-urga-norwegian-newspapers-coverage-of-the-crimes-committed-against-innocent-oromo-by-the-tplftigrean-govt/

Below is an article in a Norwegian newspaper covering the human rights crimes committed against innocent Oromo by the TPLF/Tigrean government. The scanned version of the article (and the text format of the article) are also presented below (language: Norwegian).


Scanned version:

Full Text:

Fordi jeg er oromo

Oromoere den største etniske urfolkegruppen i Øst-Afrika med en befolkning på rundt 40 millioner i området fra Etiopia til Kenya og deler av Somalia og Egypt. Oromoere er Etiopias største etniske gruppe, og deres språk er den fjerde mest talte i Afrika (etter arabisk, hausa, og swahili). Oromo snakkes over et geografisk stort område. De andre navnene på språket inkluderer afaan oromo, oromiffa og oromo. Men språket og dets brukere utsettes for i marginalisering og diskriminering av den etiopiske regjeringen.

Oromoerne i Etiopia har blitt kuet av de etiopiske herskere siden forrige kvartal av det 19. århundre. Oromo ble da utestengt for bruk i undervisning, massemedia og det offentlige liv. Afaan oromo ble forbudt først under keiser Haile Selassies regime. Den gang ble oromotalende privat og offentlig latterliggjort. Regjeringen gjorde alt i sin makt for å sikre dominans av abyssiner-språk og -kulturer på bekostning av oromo. Dette fortsatte senere under kommunistregimet som fulgte etter keiserens fall. I 1992 ble forbudet opphevet, og språket brukes i Oromia-områder med visse restriksjoner.

Alle de påfølgende etiopiske regimer, inkludert dagens, har drevet bevisste og systematiske kampanjer av feilinformasjon om oromoere og deres språk og kultur for å opprettholde undertrykkelsen av folkegruppen.

Hvorfor har de etiopiske herskere undertrykt Oromo?

Det tigrinja-ledede regimet har i hovedsak valgt seg ut oromoere grunn av deres økonomiske ressurser og politiske motstand. Oromia-støttegruppen uttaler: “Fordi Oromo spenner over Etiopias rikeste områder og utgjør halvparten av befolkningen i Etiopia, blir de sett på som den største trusselen mot den nåværende tigrinja-ledede regjeringen. I ettertid har flere Oromo-organisasjoner, inkludert Oromo Relief Association, blitt nedlagt og undertrykt av regjeringen. Den hyppigst anvendte begrunnelsen for å anholde oromoere er at de er mistenkt for å støtte OLF.”

Human Right Watch, Amnesty International og andre internasjonale organisasjoner retter jevnlig søkelys mot statens hensynsløse forfølgelse av oromoere, basert utelukkende på deres oppfattede opposisjon til regjeringen. Det nevnes hvordan oromoere stadig utsettes for vilkårlig arrest, langvarig fengsling uten rettssak, tvungen forsvinning, gjentatt tortur og ulovlige statlige drap som eksempler på regjeringens uopphørlige forsøk på å knuse dissens.

“Den etiopiske regjeringens ubøyelige aksjon mot reell eller innbilt dissens blant oromoere er sweeping in its scale og ofte sjokkerende i sin brutalitet,” sa Clair Beston, Amnesty Internationals Etiopia-forsker. “Dette er tydeligvis gjort for å advare, kontrollere eller bringe til taushet alle tegn på politisk ulydighet i regionen.” Ifølge rapporter fra Amnesty International har 5000 etniske oromoere blitt arrestert mellom 2011 og 2014 basert på deres faktiske eller mistenkte fredelige opposisjon til regjeringen.

Disse inkluderer fredelige demonstranter, studenter, medlemmer av opposisjonspolitiske partier og mennesker som gir uttrykk for sin oromo-kulturarv. I tillegg til disse blir folk fra alle samfunnslag, som bønder, lærere, helsepersonell, tjenestemenn, sangere, forretningsfolk og utallige andre jevnlig arrestert i Oromia basert kun på mistanke om at de ikke støtter regjeringen. Mange er anklaget for å ha ”oppildnet andre mot regjeringen”. Familiemedlemmer av mistenkte har også vært forfulgt kun basert på mistanke om at de deler et familiemedlems syn eller har arvet sine meninger, eller de er arrestert i stedet for deres savnede slektning.

Mange av de arresterte har sittet fengslet uten grunn i måneder eller år og blitt utsatt for gjentatt tortur. I hele regionen er hundrevis av mennesker arrestert i uoffisiell forvaring i militærleire. Mange blir nektet kontakt med advokater og familiemedlemmer. Dusinvis av de faktiske eller mistenkte dissentere har blitt drept. Majoriteten av dem er anklaget for å støtte Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), den væpnede gruppen i regionen.

Under Tigrinyan People’s Liberation Fronts brutale styre har rettssaler vært viktige arenaer for undertrykkelse. Siden TPLF tok makten i 1991 har mennesker blitt myrdet, torturert og uskyldig fengslet under grunnløse og falske, fabrikerte anklager om at de støtter Oromo Liberation Front.

Kilder: Amnesty Internationals rapport publisert 28. oktober 2014
Oromia støtte-gruppe
BBC NEWS 28. oktober 2014
UCLA Language Materials Project

Av Kelilew Urga

Read @ http://finfinnetribune.com/Gadaa/2015/01/kelilew-urga-norwegian-newspapers-coverage-of-the-crimes-committed-against-innocent-oromo-by-the-tplftigrean-govt/

President Obama wakes up to the Darfur genocide December 18, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Darfur, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Uncategorized.
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Please also refer to the genocide going on  in other Horn of African country (Ethiopia) against Oromo (Oromia) people:


Martin Plaut

This excellent analysis by Eric Reeves provides an analysis of US policy towards Darfur.


“Awakening” to the Continuing Nightmare of the Darfur Genocide

Source: Eric Reeves, 17 December 2014

The Obama administration seems finally to have found its voice again in speaking about ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. More than a decade after rebellion and conflict began, some three million people are internally displaced or refugees in neighboring Chad. More than 800,000 have been displaced in the past two years; some 2 million human beings have been newly displaced since the disastrously conceived and badly failing UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) took up its civilian protection mandate in January 2008. The death toll from the direct and indirect consequences of violence now exceeds 500,000—and mortality looks to be poised to rise steeply given reduced humanitarian capacity.

After seven years of distinguishing itself only by being…

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Ethiopia Scores the Worst (80) in Net Freedom in Africa & One of the 5 Worst Countries in the World: Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net 2014 Report and Key Findings. #Oromia December 4, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Dictatorship, Free development vs authoritarian model, Internet Freedom, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. Africa Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, Tweets and Africa.
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According to Freedom House: “The internet is a crucial medium through which people can express themselves and share ideas and has become an increasingly important tool through which democracy and human rights activists mobilize and advocate for political, social, and economic reform. Fearing the power of the new technologies, authoritarian states have devised subtle and not-so-subtle ways to filter, monitor, and otherwise obstruct or manipulate the openness of the internet.”

Ethiopia (80 marks)  is the worst performer in Africa and one of  the 5 worst performers in the world  (Iran,  Syria, China, Cuba and Ethiopia).


The following are Freedom House 2014 Report and Key findings on Ethiopia:-



Ethiopia: Key Findings:




Not Free


(0 = BEST, 100 = WORST)


(0 = BEST, 25 = WORST)


(0 = BEST, 35 = WORST)


(0 = BEST, 40 = WORST)
  • 2013 FREEDOM ON THE NET TOTAL (0 = BEST, 100 = WORST) 79

May 2013 – May 2014

  • Telecom services worsened, characterized by frequently dropped phone calls, prolonged internet service interruptions, and slow response times to service failures (see Obstacles to Access).
  • Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and CNN were inaccessible for 12 hours in July 2013, while the number of permanently blocked webpages also increased (see Limits on Content).
  • A law enacted in November 2013 gives the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) carte blanche to inspect private online activities without oversight (see Violations of User Rights).
  • The government launched sophisticated surveillance malware against several online journalists in the Ethiopian diaspora and dissidents in exile (see Violations of User Rights).
  • Six bloggers of the prominent Zone9 blogging collective were arrested in April 2014 on charges of terrorism (see Violations of User Rights).


Ethiopia continues to have one of the lowest rates of internet and mobile phone connectivity in the world, as meager infrastructure, government monopoly over the telecommunications sector, and obstructive telecom policies have significantly hindered the growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the country. Coupled with highly repressive laws and tactics aimed at restricting freedom of expression and access to information, internet freedom in Ethiopia is consistently rated the worst in sub-Saharan Africa and among the worst in the world.

Despite the country’s extremely poor telecommunications services and a largely disconnected population, Ethiopia is also known as one of the first African countries to censor the internet, beginning in 2006 with opposition blogs.[1] Since then, internet censorship has become pervasive and systematic through the use of highly sophisticated tools that block and filter internet content and monitor user activity. The majority of blocked websites feature critical news and opposition viewpoints run by individuals and organizations based mostly in the diaspora. Surveillance of mobile phone and internet networks is systematic and widespread, enabled by Chinese-made technology that allows for the interception of SMS text messages, recording of phone calls, and centralized monitoring of online activities. The government also employs commentators and trolls to proactively manipulate the online news and information landscape.

During the report’s coverage period, internet freedom in Ethiopia worsened due to increasing restrictions on access to social media and communications tools, such as Storify, and the temporary blocking of Facebook and Twitter in July 2013. A new law passed in November 2013 gave the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) carte blanche to track private online communications and investigate electronic devices without oversight. In addition, a number of diaspora journalists and exiled dissidents were targeted with surveillance malware, demonstrating a growing level of sophistication in the government’s effort to silence critical voices that extends beyond the country’s borders.

In 2014, the Ethiopian authorities increased their crackdown against bloggers and online journalists, using the country’s harsh laws to prosecute individuals for their online activities and quash dissent. Most alarmingly, six bloggers from the critical Zone9 blogging collective and three journalists associated with Zone9 were arrested in late April 2014 on charges of terrorism, which, under the Telecom Fraud Offenses Law and anti-terrorism proclamation, can entail a sentence of up to 20 years in prison if the bloggers are found guilty. The Zone9 case was repeatedly stalled by the courts throughout 2014, leaving the bloggers in pre-trial detention for over six months as of late-2014.  Meanwhile, two online radio journalists were arrested and detained for a week without charges in August 2013, and the prominent dissident blogger, Eskinder Nega, and award-winning journalist, Reeyot Alemu, continue to serve lengthy prison sentences, despite international pressure for their release. The overall crackdown has had a major chilling effect on internet freedom and freedom of expression in the country, leading to increasing levels of self-censorship among online journalists, bloggers, and ordinary users alike.


In 2013 and 2014, access to ICTs in Ethiopia remained extremely limited, hampered by slow speeds and the state’s tight grip on the telecom sector.[2] According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), internet penetration stood at a mere 1.9 percent in 2013, up from 1.5 percent in 2012.[3] Only 0.25 percent of the population had access to fixed-broadband internet, increasing from 0.01 percent in 2012.[4] Ethiopians had more access to mobile phone services, with mobile phone penetration rates increasing from 22 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2013,[5] though such access rates still lag behind a regional average of 80 percent.[6] Meanwhile, less than 5 percent of the population has a mobile-broadband subscription.[7] Radio remains the principal mass medium through which most Ethiopians stay informed.

While access to the internet via mobile phones increased slightly in the last year, prohibitively expensive mobile data packages still posed a significant financial obstacle for the majority of the population in Ethiopia, where per capita income in 2013 stood at US$470.[8] Ethiopia’s telecom market is very unsaturated due to monopolistic control, providing customers with few options at arbitrary prices.[9] Prices are set by the state-controlled Ethio Telecom and kept artificially high. As of mid-2014, monthly packages cost between ETB 200 and 3,000 (US$10 to $150) for 1 to 30 GB of 3G mobile services.[10]

The computer remains the most practical option for going online, though in 2014, personal computers are still prohibitively expensive. The combined cost of purchasing a computer, initiating an internet connection, and paying usage charges makes internet access beyond the reach of most Ethiopians. Consequently, only 2 percent of Ethiopian households had internet access in their homes in 2013.[11] The majority of internet users rely on cybercafes to log online, leading to a growth of cybercafes in recent years, particularly in large cities. A typical internet user in Addis Ababa pays between ETB 5 and 7 (US$0.25 to $0.35) for an hour of access. Because of the scarcity of internet cafes outside urban areas, however, rates in rural cybercafes are more expensive.

For the few Ethiopians who can access the internet, connection speeds are known to be painstakingly slow. For years, logging into an email account and opening a single message could take as long as six minutes at a standard cybercafe with broadband in the capital city.[12]According to May 2014 data from Akamai’s “State of the Internet” report, Ethiopia has an average connection speed of 1.2 Mbps (compared to a global average of 3.9 Mbps).[13] Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s broadband adoption (characterized by connection speeds greater than 4 Mbps) is less than 3 percent,[14] while the country’s narrowband adoption (connection speed below 256 Kbps) is about 20 percent among those with access.[15] Numerous users reported that internet and text messaging speeds were extremely slow during the coverage period, with services completely unavailable at times.[16] Frequent electricity outages are also a contributing factor to poor telecom services.

Despite reports of massive investments from Chinese telecom companies in recent years,[17] Ethiopia’s telecommunications infrastructure is among the least developed in Africa and is almost entirely absent from rural areas, where about 85 percent of the population resides. The country is connected to the international internet via satellite, a fiber-optic cable that passes through Sudan and connects to its international gateway, and the SEACOM cable that connects through Djibouti to an international undersea cable. In an effort to expand connectivity, the government has reportedly installed several thousand kilometers of fiber-optic cable throughout the country over the past few years.[18] Construction of the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) was completed and launched in July 2010, but its effects on Ethiopia have yet to be seen as of mid-2014.[19]

The space for independent initiatives in the ICT sector, entrepreneurial or otherwise, is extremely limited,[20] with state-owned Ethio Telecom holding a firm monopoly over internet and mobile phone services in the country. Consequently, all connections to the international internet are completely centralized via Ethio Telecom, enabling the government to cut off the internet at will. As a result, the internet research company Renesys classified Ethiopia “as being at severe risk of Internet disconnection,” alongside Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen in a February 2014 assessment.[21] During the coverage period, one Renesys report found that 40 percent of Ethiopia’s networks were down for a few hours on July 18, 2013 as a result of a disruption on the SEACOM network, though the exact reason for the disruption was unknown.[22]In September 2013, a number of cybercafe owners in Ethiopia reported an increasing trend of unpredictable internet connections and speeds beginning in June that resulted in a significant decline in business, with internet connections reported as unavailable for up to 15 days in a month.[23]

Mobile phone networks—also completely centralized under Ethio Telecom—are similarly vulnerable to service disruptions and shutdowns by the government, which often occur during politically sensitive times. During the coverage period, there were frequent reports of dropped cell phone and landline calls, complete network blackouts in many parts of the country,[24] and overlapping voices in calls. The latter phenomenon led people to suspect government engagement in a widespread eavesdropping scheme (see “Violations of User Rights” for details on surveillance).

Meanwhile, cybercafes are subject to onerous requirements under the 2002 Telecommunications (Amendment) Proclamation,[25] which requires cybercafe owners to obtain an operating license with Ethio Telecom via a murky process that can take months. During the coverage period, Ethio Telecom began enforcing its licensing requirements more strictly in response to the increasing spread of cybercafes, reportedly penalizing Muslim cafe owners more harshly. Violations of the stringent requirements, such as a prohibition on providing Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services, entail criminal liability.[26]

Despite repeated international pressure to liberalize telecommunications in Ethiopia, the government has not eased its grip on the sector.[27] In June 2013, the prime minister publicly affirmed that the government would maintain a monopoly over the country’s telecoms.[28] In the meantime, China has emerged as a key investor and contractor in Ethiopia’s telecommunications industry,[29] and in July 2013, the government signed a US$1.6 billion agreement with the Chinese telecom companies, Zhongxing Telecommunication Corporation (ZTE) and Huawei, to upgrade its broadband network to 4G in Addis Ababa and expand 3G across the country.[30] The networks built by the Chinese firms have been criticized for their high costs and poor service,[31] though the partnership has enabled Ethiopia’s authoritarian leaders to maintain their hold over the telecom sector.[32] Furthermore, the contracts have led to increasing fears that the Chinese may also be assisting the authorities in developing more robust internet and mobile phone censorship and surveillance capacities.[33]

The Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA) and the Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency (ETA) are the primary regulatory bodies overseeing the telecommunications sector. These two organizations were established as autonomous federal agencies, but both are highly controlled government bodies.


During the coverage period, over a hundred websites remained inaccessible in Ethiopia, with a greater number of online tools and services targeted for blocking. A June 2014 report affirmed the government’s efforts to recruit and train progovernment citizens to attack politically objectionable content online.

The Ethiopian government imposes nationwide, politically motivated internet blocking and filtering that tends to tighten ahead of sensitive political events. The majority of blocked websites are those that feature opposition or critical content run by individuals or organizations based in the country or the diaspora. The government’s approach to internet filtering generally entails hindering access to a list of specific internet protocol (IP) addresses or domain names at the level of the Ethio Telecom-controlled international gateway. A more sophisticated strategy of blocking websites based on a keyword in the URL path, known as deep-packet inspection (DPI),[34] was detected in May 2012 when the Tor network—an online tool that enables users to browse anonymously—was blocked.[35]

In January 2014, an independent test conducted by a researcher based in the country found 120 unique URLs that were inaccessible in the country, 62 of which were Ethiopian news websites, 14 of which were political party websites, 37 of which were blogs, and 7 of which were television and online radio websites.[36] During the test, some websites opened at the first attempt but were inaccessible when refreshed. The test also found that select tools and services on Google’s Android operating system on smart phones were inaccessible at irregular intervals but for unclear reasons. A separate test on over 1,400 URLs between July and August 2013 by the OpenNet Initiative in partnership with Human Rights Watch similarly found 62 websites blocked altogether and numerous others intermittently inaccessible.[37]

International news outlets were increasingly targeted for censorship. Al Arabiya, a Saudi Arabia-based media outlet, and both of Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English websites were intermittently blocked during the coverage period.[38] In July 2013, websites belonging to Yahoo and CNN were reportedly inaccessible for about 12 hours. Facebook and Twitter were also targets of the short-term July 2013 blocking.[39]There was no evident impetus or reason for the short-term blocking, and other major services such as Gmail and new outlets such as the New York Times remained accessible. Nevertheless, the incident further increased worries over reports of government plans to block popular social media tools completely.[40] Facebook and Twitter platforms were otherwise generally accessible, although some individual Facebook groups belonging to opposition individuals remained blocked altogether, particularly when accessed via the unencrypted (http://) URL pathway. Meanwhile, the social media curation tool Storify—first blocked in July 2012[41]—remained blocked during the coverage period,[42] while the URL shortening tool Bit.ly was inexplicably blocked in late 2013.[43]

In the past few years, the authorities have become more sophisticated in their censorship techniques, electing to block select webpages as opposed to entire websites. Critical online news articles are usually targeted, such as an August 2012 Forbes article titled, Requiem for a Reprobate Ethiopian Tyrant Should Not Be Lionized,” which was blocked for criticizing the local and global praise of the former prime minister’s debatable economic growth achievements; the article remained blocked as of June 2014.[44] A July 2013 YouTube video of the antigovernment Muslim protests that occurred from 2012-13 was also blocked as of late 2013.[45]

International blog-hosting platforms such as Blogspot have been frequently blocked since the disputed parliamentary elections of 2005, during which the opposition used online communication tools to organize and disseminate information that was critical of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.[46] In 2007, the government instituted a blanket block on the domain names of two popular blog-hosting websites, Blogspot and Nazret, though the authorities have since become more sophisticated in their censorship techniques, now blocking select pages such as the Zone9 independent blog hosted on Blogspot,[47] as opposed to the entire blogging platform. Nazret, however, remained completely blocked as of June 2014. Circumvention strategies have also been targeted, with the term “proxy” yielding no search results on Google,[48] according to an independent source. Meanwhile, the terms “sex” or “porn” are still searchable.

In addition to increasing blocks of online content, politically objectionable content is often targeted for removal, often by way of threats from security officials who personally seek out users and bloggers to instruct them to take down certain content, particularly critical content on Facebook. The growing practice suggests that at least some voices within Ethiopia’s small online community are being closely monitored. Some restrictions are also placed on mobile phones, such as the requirement for a text message to obtain prior approval from Ethio Telecom if it is to be sent to more than ten recipients.[49] A bulk text message sent without prior approval is automatically blocked.

There are no procedures for determining which websites are blocked or why, which precludes any avenues for appeal. There are no published lists of blocked websites or publicly available criteria for how such decisions are made, and users are met with an error message when trying to access blocked content. This lack of transparency is exacerbated by the government’s continued denial of its censorship efforts. Meanwhile, the decision-making process does not appear to be controlled by a single entity, as various government bodies—including the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Ethio Telecom, and the ministry of ICT—seem to be implementing their own lists, contributing to a phenomenon of inconsistent blocking.

Lack of adequate funding is a significant challenge for independent online media in Ethiopia, as fear of government pressure dissuades local businesses from advertising with politically critical websites. Local newspapers and web outlets receive their news and information from regime critics and opposition organizations in the diaspora. While the domestic Ethiopian blogosphere has been expanding, most blogging activity on Ethiopian issues still originates in the diaspora. Few Ethiopian journalists work for both the domestic print media and overseas online outlets due to the threat of repercussions.

Increasing repression against journalists and bloggers has had a major chilling effect on expression online, particularly following the arrest of the Zone9 bloggers in April 2014 (see “Violations of User Rights”). Fear of pervasive surveillance has led to widespread self-censorship, and many bloggers publish anonymously to avoid reprisals.[50] Notably, users on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter seem to practice a lower degree of self-censorship, which may be due to poor awareness of privacy settings, or the perception that posts on social media are anonymous or more secure.

Despite extremely low levels of internet access, the authorities employ progovernment commentators and trolls to proactively manipulate the online news and information landscape. Acrimonious exchanges between commentators on apologist websites and an array of diaspora critics and opposition figures have become common in online political debates. There was a noticeable increase in the number of progovernment commentators during the coverage period, as confirmed in a June 2014 report by the Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT) that detailed the government’s efforts to recruit and train progovernment citizens to attack politically objectionable content online. According to the ESAT report, hundreds of bloggers who report directly to government officials had been trained on how to post progovernment comments and criticize antigovernment articles on social media platforms.[51]

As the country prepares for the upcoming 2015 National Election, the state media has stepped up its campaign against the press in general and the use of social media in particular, claiming that foreign agents and terrorists are using social media to destabilize the country. Consequently, many civil society groups based in the country are wary of mobilizing against the government, and calls for protest come mostly from the Ethiopian diaspora rather than from local activists who fear the government’s violent crackdowns against protest movements.

Nevertheless, over the past few years, Facebook has become one of the most popular mediums through which Ethiopians share and consume information. Social media services have also become significant platforms for political deliberation and social justice campaigns. For example, in September 2013, a group of young Ethiopian bloggers and activists based in Addis Ababa launched a Facebook and Twitter campaign on the occasion of Ethiopia’s New Year celebration to share their vision of a better Ethiopia, using the hashtag #EthiopianDream.[52] In November 2013, Ethiopians responded to the Saudi government’s crackdown on undocumented Ethiopian immigrants in Saudi Arabia by organizing the online campaign, #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia, to protest the abusive treatment of Ethiopian immigrants.[53]

Netizen activism was particularly pronounced and widespread following the arrest of six Zone9 bloggers and three journalists for their alleged affiliation with the Zone9 collective (see “Violations of User Rights”). Ethiopian bloggers and social media users flocked online to spread the #FreeZone9Bloggers hashtag in a campaign that quickly swept across the social media sphere and garnered widespread support from around the world. Within five days, the #FreeZone9Bloggers hashtag had been tweeted more than 8,000 times.[54] Unfortunately, the international campaign elicited no response from the government, and the imprisoned bloggers and journalists are still awaiting trial on charges of terrorism as of late-2014.


During the coverage period, the Ethiopian government’s already limited space for online expression continued to deteriorate alongside its poor treatment of journalists. A new proclamation passed in November 2013 empowered INSA with sweeping surveillance capabilities without judicial oversight. Sophisticated malware was launched against online radio journalists and dissidents in exile, while repression against bloggers and ICT users in the country increased notably. Six bloggers of the critical Zone9 blogging collective were arrested for their alleged terrorist activities.

The 1995 Ethiopian constitution guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information, while also prohibiting censorship.[55] These constitutional guarantees are affirmed in the 2008 Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation, known as the press law, which also provides certain protections for media workers, such as prohibiting the pre-trial detention of journalists.[56]Nevertheless, the press law also includes problematic provisions that contradict constitutional protections and restrict free expression. For example, media outlets are required to obtain licenses to operate through an onerous registration process that applies to all outlets, regardless of size, though it is uncertain whether the press law’s broad language encompasses online media.[57] Penalties for violating the registration requirement and other restrictions on content, such as defamation, involve high fines and up to two and three years in prison, respectively.[58]

In September 2012, the government codified specific restrictions on various telecommunications activities through the passage of the Telecom Fraud Offences law,[59] which revised a 1996 law that had placed bans on certain communication applications, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)[60]—including Skype and Google Voice—call back services, and internet-based fax services.[61] Under the new law, the penalties under the preexisting ban were toughened, increasing the fine and maximum prison sentence from five to eight years for offending service providers, and penalizing users with three months to two years in prison.[62] The law also added the requirement for all individuals to register their telecommunications equipment—including smart phones—with the government, which security officials typically enforce by confiscating ICT equipment when a registration permit cannot be furnished at security checkpoints, according to sources in the country.

Most alarmingly, the Telecom Fraud Offences law extended the violations and penalties defined in the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and 2004 Criminal Code to electronic communications, which are broadly defined yet explicitly include both mobile phone and internet services.[63] The anti-terrorism legislation prescribes prison sentences of up to 20 years for the publication of statements that can be understood as a direct or indirect encouragement of terrorism, vaguely defined.[64] Meanwhile, the criminal code holds any “author, originator or publisher” criminally liable for content allegedly linked to offenses such as treason, espionage, or incitement, which carries with it the penalty of up to life imprisonment or death.[65] The criminal code also penalizes the publication of a “false rumor” with up to three years in prison.[66]

In 2014, the Ethiopian authorities increased their crackdown against bloggers and online journalists, using the country’s harsh laws to prosecute individuals for their online activities and silence dissent. Most alarmingly, six bloggers from the critical Zone9 blogging collective and three journalists associated with Zone9 were arrested in late April 2014 on charges of terrorism. They were accused of “working with foreign organizations that claim to be human rights activists… and receiving finance to incite public violence through social media,”[67]though the arrests had occurred just days following Zone9’s Facebook post announcing plans to resume its activism. The blogging collective had been inactive for seven months as a result of “a considerable amount of surveillance and harassment” the bloggers had suffered at the hands of security agents for their writings and social media activism.[68] Despite widespread international condemnation of the Zone9 arrests, the detainees were denied bail in August and remained in jail as of fall 2014, awaiting trial.[69] Meanwhile, the well-known dissident journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega is still carrying out an 18-year prison sentence handed down in July 2012 under the anti-terrorism law.[70]

Numerous other journalists and media outlets—both online and print—were targeted for arrest and prosecutions during the coverage period, including Darsema Sori and Khalid Mohammed who were arrested in August 2013 for their work with the online radio station, Radio Bilal, which is known for its extensive coverage of the 2012-13 antigovernment protests organized by Ethiopian Muslims. They were released after being held for a week without charges,[71] but the arrests were in keeping with the government’s concerted efforts to silence the protests.

Given the high degree of online repression in Ethiopia, some political commentators use proxy servers and anonymizing tools to hide their identities when publishing online and to circumvent filtering, though the ability to communicate anonymously has become more difficult. The Tor Network anonymizing tool was blocked in May 2012, confirming that the government has deployed deep-packet inspection technology, and Google searches of the term “proxy” mysteriously yield no results.

Anonymity is further compromised by strict SIM card registration requirements. Upon purchase of a SIM card through Ethio Telecom or an authorized reseller, individuals must provide their full name, address, government-issued identification number, and a passport-sized photograph. Ethio Telecom’s database of SIM registrants enables the government to cut-off the SIM cards belonging to targeted individuals and to restrict those individuals from registering for new SIM cards. Internet subscribers are also required to register their personal details, including their home address, with the government. In 2013, an inside informant leaked worrying details of potential draft legislation that seeks to mandate real-name registration for all internet users in Ethiopia, though there are no further details of this development as of mid-2014.[72]

Government surveillance of online and mobile phone communications is pervasive in Ethiopia, and evidence has emerged in recent years that reveal the scale of such practices. According to 2014 Human Rights Watch research, there are strong indications that the government has deployed a centralized monitoring system from the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE, known as ZXMT, to monitor phone lines and various types of communications, including mobile phone networks and the internet.[73] Known for its use by repressive regimes in Libya and Iran, ZXMT enables deep-packet inspection (DPI) of internet traffic across the Ethio Telecom network and has the ability to intercept emails and web chats.

Another ZTE technology, known as ZSmart, is a customer management database installed at Ethio Telecom that provides the government with full access to user information and the ability to intercept SMS text messages and record phone conversations.[74] ZSmart also allows security officials to locate targeted individuals through real-time geolocation tracking of mobile phones.[75] While the extent to which the government has made use of the full range of ZTE’s sophisticated surveillance systems is unclear, the authorities frequently present intercepted emails and phone calls as evidence during trials against journalists and bloggers or during interrogations as a scare tactic.[76]

In November 2013, a new Cyber Security Law expanded the surveillance powers of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA)—the government body established in 2011 to preside over the security of the country’s critical communications infrastructure.[77] According to reports, the law states that “social media outlets, blogs and other internet related media have great capabilities to instigate war, to damage the country’s image and create havoc in the economic atmosphere of the country”—setting the logic for expanding INSA’s duties to include developing offensive cyber capabilities and ICT tools. The proclamation also empowers INSA to investigate computers, networks, internet, radio, television, and social media platforms “for any possible damage to the country’s social, economic, political and psychological well being.”[78]

INSA reportedly uses sophisticated spyware, such as the commercial toolkit FinFisher—a device that can secretly monitor computers by turning on webcams, record everything a user types with a key logger, and intercept Skype calls—to target dissidents and supposed threats.[79] A leaked document confirmed that the UK-based company, Gamma International, had provided Ethio Telecom with the FinFisher surveillance toolkit at some point between April and July 2012.[80] In addition, research conducted by Citizen Lab in March 2013 worryingly found evidence of an Ethio Telecom-initiated FinSpy campaign launched against users that employed pictures of the exiled prodemocracy group, Ginbot 7, as bait.[81]

There has been an increasing trend of exiled dissidents targeted with surveillance malware in the past few years. In April 2013, Tadesse Kersmo, a senior member of Ginbot-7 living in exile in the United Kingdom since 2009, came across the above-mentioned Citizen Lab FinSpy report and noticed that one of the spyware campaign’s bait was a picture of himself.[82] He contacted Citizen Lab to have his computer examined and found that FinSpy had been active on his computer over two days in June 2012.[83] The spyware may have transmitted any or all of Kersmo’s emails, chats, Skype calls, files, and web searches to a server based in Ethiopia, which could have provided the authorities with names of contacts, colleagues, and family members still living in the country.[84]  In February 2014, Privacy International filed a criminal complaint to the UK’s National Cyber Crime Unit on Kersmo’s behalf, urging them to investigate the potential unlawful interception of communications.

In the same month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a similar suit in the United States on behalf of another Ethiopian dissident (and American citizen) identified publicly under the pseudonym Mr. Kidane.[85] Kidane’s computer had also been found infected with the FinSpy malware sometime between late October 2012 and March 2013, which had secretly recorded dozens of his Skype calls, copied emails he had sent, and logged a web search conducted by his son on the history of sports medicine for a school research project.[86] The FinSpy IP address was linked to a server belonging to Ethio Telecom.

Recent Citizen Lab research published in February 2014 uncovered the use of Remote Control System (RCS) spyware against two employees of the diaspora-run independent satellite television, radio, and online news media outlet, Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT), based in Alexandria, VA.[87] Made by the Italian company Hacking Team, RCS spyware is advertised as “offensive technology” sold exclusively to law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, and has the ability to steal files and passwords, and intercept Skype calls/chats. [88] While Hacking Team claims that they do not deal with “repressive regimes,”[89] the RCS virus sent via sophisticated bait to the two ESAT employees made it clear that the attack was targeted, and researchers have strong suspicions of the Ethiopian government’s involvement.[90]

While the government’s stronghold over the Ethiopian ICT sector enables it to proactively monitor users, its access to user activity and information is less direct at cybercafes. For a period following the 2005 elections, cybercafe owners were required to keep a register of their clients, but the requirement has not been enforced since mid-2010.[91] Nevertheless, some cybercafe operators revealed that they are required to report any “unusual behavior” to security officials, and officials often visit cybercafes (sometimes in plainclothes) to ask questions about specific users or monitor user activity themselves.[92]

Government security agents frequently harass and intimidate bloggers, online journalists, and ordinary users for their online activities. Independent bloggers are often summoned by the authorities to be warned against discussing certain topics online, while activists claim that they are consistently threatened by state security agents for their online activism. Bloggers from Zone9, for example, reported suffering a considerable amount of harassment for their work, leading them to go silent for several months. Shortly after the blog announced on Facebook that it was resuming activities in April 2014, six Zone9 bloggers were arrested and sent to a federal detention center in Addis Ababa where the torture of detainees is reportedly common.[93] The active Gmail accounts belonging to several of the Zone9 bloggers[94] while in detention suggests that they may have been forced give their passwords to security officials against their will.


[1] Rebecca Wanjiku, “Study: Ethiopia only sub-Saharan Africa nation to filter net,” Computerworld, October 8, 2009, http://news.idg.no/cw/art.cfm?id=353092F0-1A64-67EA-E4FBE79C305B60AB.

[2] Tom Jackson, “Telecoms slow down development of Ethiopian tech scene – iceaddis,” humanipo, October 22, 2013, http://www.humanipo.com/news/34843/telecoms-slow-down-development-of-ethiopian-tech-scene-iceaddis/.

[3] International Telecommunication Union, “Percentage of Individuals Using the Internet, 2000-2013,” http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx.

[4] International Telecommunication Union, “Fixed (Wired)-Broadband Subscriptions, 2000-2013.”

[5] International Telecommunication Union, “Mobile-Cellular Telephone Subscriptions, 2000-2013.”

[6] John Koetsier, “African mobile penetration hits 80% (and is growing faster than anywhere else),” Venture Beat, December 3, 2013, http://venturebeat.com/2013/12/03/african-mobile-penetration-hits-80-and-is-growing-faster-than-anywhere-else/.

[7] International Telecommunication Union, “Ethiopia Profile (Latest data available: 2013),” ICT-Eye, accessed August 1, 2014.

[8] World Bank, “Ethiopia Overview,” last updated July 21, 2014, http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/ethiopia/overview.

[9] “Ethiopia – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts,” Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd. June 2014,http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/1222503/ethiopia_telecoms_mobile_broadband_and.

[10] Ethio Telecom’s Facebook page, post on September 7, 2014, accessed October 1, 2014, https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1501293840115809&id=1435268306718363.

[11] International Telecommunication Union, “Ethiopia Profile (Latest data available: 2013),” ICT-Eye, accessed August 1, 2014, http://www.itu.int/net4/itu-d/icteye/CountryProfileReport.aspx?countryID=77.

[12] Kebena, “Internet Access in the Capital of Africa, Addis Ababa,” video, EthioTube.net, posted June 19, 2010, last accessed August 1, 2014, http://www.ethiotube.net/video/9655/Internet-Access-in-the-Capital-of-Africa-Addis-Ababa.

[13] Akamai, “Average Connection Speed: Ethiopia,” map visualization, The State of the Internet Q1 (2014), http://www.akamai.com/stateoftheinternet/soti-visualizations.html#stoi-map.

[14] Akamai, “Broadband Adoption (connections to Akamai >4 Mbps): Ethiopia,” map visualization, The State of the Internet, Q1 2014, http://www.akamai.com/stateoftheinternet/soti-visualizations.html#stoi-map.

[15] Akamai, “Narrowband Adoption (connections to Akamai <256 kbps): Ethiopia,” map visualization, The State of the Internet, Q1 2014, http://www.akamai.com/stateoftheinternet/soti-visualizations.html#stoi-map.

[16] Bewket Abebe, “Internet Connection Grief,” Addis Fortune, September 29, 2013, http://allafrica.com/stories/201310020838.html?viewall=1.

[17] Aaron Maasho, “Ethiopia signs $700 mln mobile network deal with China’s Huawei,” Reuters, July 25, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/25/ethiopia-mobile-huawei-idUSL6N0FV4WV20130725.

[18] Bewket Abebe, “Internet Connection Grief,” Addis Fortune, September 29, 2013.

[19] Brian Adero, “WIOCC-EASSy Cable Ready for Business,” IT News Africa, July 23, 2010, http://www.itnewsafrica.com/?p=8419.

[20] Al Shiferaw, “Connecting Telecentres: An Ethiopian Perspective,” Telecentre Magazine, September 2008, http://bit.ly/16DdF6Z.

[21] Jim Cowie, “Syria, Venezuela, Ukraine: Internet Under Fire,” Renesys (blog), February 26, 2014, http://www.renesys.com/2014/02/internetunderfire/.

[22] Renesys, Twitter post, July 18, 2013, 5:10pm, https://twitter.com/renesys/status/357955490237513729/photo/1.

[23] Bewket Abebe, “Internet Connection Grief,” Addis Fortune, September 29, 2013.

[24] Yonas Abiye, “Network Blackout Hits Addis As Parliament Slams Ethio Telecom,” The Reporter, February 8, 2014, http://allafrica.com/stories/201402102129.html.

[25] “Proclamation No. 281/2002, Telecommunications (Amendment Proclamation,” Federal Negarit Gazeta No. 28, July 2, 2002, http://bit.ly/1snLgsc.

[26] Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency, “License Directive for Resale and Telecenter in Telecommunication Services No. 1/2002,” November 8, 2002, accessed August 4, 2014,http://bit.ly/1pUtpWh.

[27] “US urge Ethiopia to Liberalise Telecom Sector,” Africa News via Somali State, March 10, 2010, http://www.somalistate.com/englishnewspage.php?articleid=4638; Technology Strategies International, “ICT Investment Opportunities in Ethiopia—2010,” March 1, 2010, http://bit.ly/1bmsGvq.

[28] “Ethio Telecom to remain monopoly for now,” TeleGeography, June 28, 2013, http://www.telegeography.com/products/commsupdate/articles/2013/06/28/ethio-telecom-to-retain-monopoly-for-now/.

[29] “Ethiopia’s Ethio Telecom signs deal with China’s ZTE,” BBC, August 19, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-23754626.

[31] Matthew Dalton, “Telecom Deal by China’s ZTE, Huawei in Ethiopia Faces Criticism,” The Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2014,http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303653004579212092223818288.

[32] “Out of reach,” The Economist, August 24, 2013.

[33] Based on allegations that the Chinese authorities have provided the Ethiopian government with technology that can be used for political repression—such as surveillance cameras and satellite jamming equipment—in the past. See: “China Involved in ESAT Jamming,” Addis Neger, June 22, 2010, http://addisnegeronline.com/2010/06/china-involved-in-esat-jamming/, Gary Sands, “Ethiopia’s Broadband Network – A Chinese Trojan Horse?” Foreign Policy Association, September 6, 2013, http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2013/09/06/ethiopias-broadband-network-a-chinese-trojan-horse/.

[34] Daniel Berhane, “Ethiopia’s Web Filtering: Advanced Technology, Hypocritical Criticisms, Bleeding Constitution,” Daniel Berhane’s Blog, January 16, 2011,http://danielberhane.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/ethiopias-web-filtering-advanced-technology-hypocritical-criticisms-bleeding-constitution/.

[35] “Ethiopia Introduces Deep Packet Inspection,” Tor, May 31, 2012, https://blog.torproject.org/blog/ethiopia-introduces-deep-packet-inspection; Warwick Ashford, “Ethiopian Government Blocks Tor Network Online Anonymity,” Computer Weekly, June 28, 2012, http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240158237/Ethiopian-government-blocks-Tor-Network-online-anonymity.

[36] Test conducted by an anonymous researcher contracted by Freedom House.

[37] “Citizen Lab collaborates with Human Rights Watch on Internet censorship testing in Ethiopia,” Citizen Lab (blog), April 16, 2014, https://citizenlab.org/2014/04/citizen-lab-collaborates-human-rights-watch-internet-censorship-testing-ethiopia/. “Ethiopia 2013 Testing Results,” Citizen Lab (Google Drive document), accessed September 8, 2014,https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Ah0XQ-1lDRPYdE9JYzBPNWZudEdXMXl4VVk0TC1JNXc&gid=0.

[38] “Ethiopia ‘Blocks’ Al Jazeera Websites,” Al Jazeera, March 18, 2013, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/03/201331793613725182.html.

[39] Websites blocked were all reportedly accessible via proxy servers. See: “Twitter and Facebook Access Restored After 12-Hour Blackout,” OPride, July 19, 2013,http://www.opride.com/oromsis/news/horn-of-africa/3685-twitter-and-facebook-blocked-in-ethiopia.

[40] An old Amharic saying that demonstrates the country’s deep-rooted culture of fear —“Stay away from electricity and politics”—recently evolved to: “Stay away from Social Media.” The contemporary saying implies that giving one’s political opinions via social media could cause grave bodily injury similar to exposing oneself to electricity.

[41] Mohammed Ademo, Twitter post, July 25, 2012, 1:08 p.m., https://twitter.com/OPride/status/228159700489879552.

[43] Ory Okolloh Mwangi, Twitter post, November 6, 2013, 9:20 a.m., https://twitter.com/kenyanpundit/status/398077421926514688.

[44] Research conducted by Freedom House consultant.

[45] Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” March 2014, pg 57, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/ethiopia0314_ForUpload_0.pdf.

[46] Bogdan Popa, “Google Blocked in Ethiopia,” Softpedia, May 3, 2007, http://news.softpedia.com/news/Google-Blocked-In-Ethiopia-53799.shtml.

[47] Zone9 blog hosted at: http://zone9ethio.blogspot.com/.

[48] A 2014 report from Human Rights Watch also noted that the term “aljazeera” was unsearchable on Google while the news site was blocked from August 2012 to mid-March 2013. According to HRW research, the keywords “OLF” and “ONLF” (acronyms of Ethiopian opposition groups) are not searchable on the unencrypted version of Google (http://) and other popular search engines. Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” March 2014, pg 56, 58.

[49] Interview with individuals working in the telecom sector, as well as a test conducted by a Freedom House consultant who found it was not possible for an ordinary user to send out a bulk text message.

[50] Markos Lemma, “Disconnected Ethiopian Netizens,” Digital Development Debates(blog), http://www.digital-development-debates.org/issues/09-prejudice/african-innovation/disconnected-ethiopian-netizens/.

[51] “Ethiopia Trains Bloggers to attack its opposition,” ECADF Ethiopian News & Opinions, June 7, 2014, http://ecadforum.com/2014/06/07/ethiopia-trains-bloggers-to-attack-its-opposition.

[52] Selamawit, “Millions of Ethiopians share their dream for our country in the new year. What is your dream?” Sodere, September 6, 2013, http://sodere.com/profiles/blogs/millions-of-ethiopians-share-their-dream-for-their-country-in-the.

[53] Ndesanjo Macha, “Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Immigration Crackdown,” Global Voices (blog,) November 13, 2013, http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/11/13/ethiopians-someonetellsaudiarabia-to-stop-immigration-crackdown/.

[54] “#BBCtrending: Jailed bloggers spark Ethiopia trend,” BBC Trending, April 30, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-27212472.

[55] Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1995), articles 26 and 29, accessed August 24, 2010, http://www.ethiopar.net/.

[56] Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation No. 590/2008, Federal Negarit Gazeta No. 64, December 4, 2008.

[57] Article 19, “The Legal Framework for Freedom of Expression in Ethiopia,” accessed September 10, 2014, http://www.article19.org/data/files/pdfs/publications/ethiopia-legal-framework-for-foe.pdf.

[58] Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation No. 590/2008, Federal Negarit Gazeta No. 64, December 4, 2008.

[59] “A Proclamation on Telecom Fraud Offence,” Federal Negarit Gazeta No. 61, September 4, 2012, http://www.abyssinialaw.com/uploads/761.pdf.

[60] The government first instituted the ban on VoIP in 2002 after it gained popularity as a less expensive means of communication and began draining revenue from the traditional telephone business belonging to the state-owned Ethio Telecom. In response to widespread criticisms, the government claimed that VoIP applications such as Skype would not be considered under the new law, though the proclamation’s language still enables the authorities to interpret it broadly at whim.

[61] Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency, “Telecommunication Proclamation No. 281/2002, Article 2(11) and 2(12),” July 2, 2002, accessed July 25, 2014,http://www.researchictafrica.net/countries/ethiopia/Telecommunications_(Amendment)_Proclamation_no_281:2002.pdf. As an amendment to article 24 of the Proclamation, the Sub-Article (3) specifically states, “The use or provision of voice communication or fax services through the internet are prohibited” (page 1782).

[62] A Proclamation on Telecom Fraud Offence.

[63] Article 19, “Ethiopia: Proclamation on Telecom Fraud Offences.”

[64] “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009,” Federal Negarit Gazeta No. 57, August 28, 2009.

[65] International Labour Organization, “The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Proclamation No. 414/2004, Article 44,”http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/ELECTRONIC/70993/75092/F1429731028/ETH70993.pdf.

[66] “The Criminal Code of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.”

[67] “Six Members of Blogging Collective Arrested in Ethiopia,” Global Voices Advocacy, April 26, 2014, http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2014/04/26/six-members-of-blogging-collective-arrested-in-ethiopia/.

[68] Six members of Zone Nine, group of bloggers and activists are arrested” [in Amharic], Zone9 (blog), April 25, 2014, http://zone9ethio.blogspot.com/2014/04/9.html.

[69] “Nine Journalists and Bloggers Still Held Arbitrarily,” Reporters Without Borders, August 21, 2014, http://en.rsf.org/ethiopia-nine-journalists-and-bloggers-21-08-2014,46830.html.

[70] Such trumped-up charges were based on an online column Nega had published criticizing the government’s use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to silence political dissent and calling for greater political freedom in Ethiopia. Nega is also the 2011 recipient of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. Sarah Hoffman, “That Bravest and Most Admirable of Writers: PEN Salutes Eskinder Nega,” PEN American Center (blog), April 13, 2012, http://www.pen.org/blog/?p=11198. See also, Markos Lemma, “Ethiopia: Online Reactions to Prison Sentence for Dissident Blogger,” Global Voices, July 15, 2012, http://globalvoicesonline.org/2012/07/15/ethiopia-online-reactions-to-prison-sentence-for-dissident-blogger/; Endalk, “Ethiopia: Freedom of Expression in Jeopardy,” Global Voices, February 3, 2012, http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2012/02/03/ethiopia-freedom-of-expression-in-jeopardy/.

[71] “Two Ethiopian journalists held for a week without charge,” CPJ (news alert), August 9, 2013, http://cpj.org/2013/08/two-ethiopian-journalists-held-for-a-week-without.php.

[72] Interview conducted by Freedom House consultant.

[73] Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” March 2014, pg 62, http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/ethiopia0314_ForUpload_0.pdf.

[74] Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” March 2014, pg 67.

[75] Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” March 2014, pg 52.

[76]  Committee to Protect Journalists, “Ethiopian Blogger, Journalists Convicted of Terrorism,” January 19, 2012, http://cpj.org/2012/01/three-journalists-convicted-on-terrorism-charges-i.php.

[77] Yonas Abiye, “INSA to reign all-powering cyberspace,” The Reporter, November 9, 2013, http://www.thereporterethiopia.com/index.php/news-headlines/item/1217-insa-to-reign-all-powerful-over-cyberspace.

[78] “Informationa Network Security Agency (INSA) of Ethiopia is to be reestablished,” Dire Tube, November 5, 2013, http://www.diretube.com/articles/read-information-network-security-agency-insa-of-ethiopia-is-to-be-reestablished_3833.html#.UyDWIPldVz4.

[79] Fahmida Y. Rashid, “FinFisher ‘Lawful Interception’ Spyware Found in Ten Countries, Including the U.S.,” Security Week, August 8, 2012, http://www.securityweek.com/finfisher-lawful-interception-spyware-found-ten-countries-including-us.

[80] The document was seen by Freedom House consultant. Morgan Marquis-Boire et al., “You Only Click Twice: FinFisher’s Global Proliferation,” Citizen Lab (University of Toronto), March 13, 2013, https://citizenlab.org/2013/03/you-only-click-twice-finfishers-global-proliferation-2/.

[81] Marquis-Boire, “You Only Click Twice.”

[82] Liat Clark, “Ethiopian refugee ‘illegally’ spied on using British software,” Wired, February 17, 2014, http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-02/17/illegal-spying-ethiopian-refugee.

[83] “Privacy International seeking investigation into computer spying on refugee in UK,” Privacy International (press release), February 17, 2014, https://www.privacyinternational.org/press-releases/privacy-international-seeking-investigation-into-computer-spying-on-refugee-in-uk; Liat Clark, “Ethiopian refugee ‘illegally’ spied on using British software.”

[84] Joshua Kopstein, “Hackers Without Borders,” The New Yorker, March 10, 2014, http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2014/03/hacked-by-ones-own-government.html.

[85] “American Sues Ethiopian Government for Spyware Infection,” Electronic Frontier Foundation (press release), February 18, 2014, https://www.eff.org/press/releases/american-sues-ethiopian-government-spyware-infection.

[86] “Kidane v. Ethiopia,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, last updated August 28, 2014, https://www.eff.org/cases/kidane-v-ethiopia.

[87] Bill Marczak et al., “Hacking Team and the Targeting of Ethiopian Journalists,” Citizen Lab, February 12, 2014, https://citizenlab.org/2014/02/hacking-team-targeting-ethiopian-journalists/.

[88] “Customer Policy,” Hacking Team, accessed February 13, 2014, http://hackingteam.it/index.php/customer-policy.

[89]  Declan McCullagh, “Meet the ‘Corporate Enemies of the Internet’ for 2013,” CNET, March 11, 2013, accessed February 13, 2014, http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57573707-38/meet-the-corporate-enemies-of-the-internet-for-2013/.

[90] Craig Timberg, “Foreign regimes use spyware against journalists, even in U.S.,” Washington Post, February 12, 2014, http://wapo.st/McG3TZ.

[92] Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” March 2014, pg 67.

[93] “Timeline,” Zone9ers ‘Trial’ (blog), April 26, 2014, http://trialtrackerblog.org/press/.

[94] Anonymous Freedom House researcher reported seeing several of the detained Zone9 bloggers actively online in Gmail chat.