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DW: Supporters of independent Kurdistan seek EU backing September 10, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Middle East, Uncategorized.
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Kurdstan map

Supporters of independent Kurdistan seek EU backing

On 25 September, Iraqi Kurds will vote in an independence referendum. Kurdish leaders a consider state of their own a just reward for their involvement in the fight against IS. Brussels, however, sees things differently.

Iraqi Kurds stand with the flag (Getty Images/AFP/S. Hamed)

In a small room in a generic glass and concrete office building in Brussels, everything has been decked out as you would expect for a historic event. The podium is adorned with Kurdish flags; beside it hangs a map depicting the Kurdish regions in Iraq. Kahraman Evsen, the president of the Kurdish-European Society, is addressing the European press to present the case for an independent Kurdistan.

He takes up his position at the podium, with two colleagues sitting on either side. Solemnly they read out, in Russian, English and Kurdish, a declaration of independence from Iraq that had been signed by 60 Kurdish organizations. The press conference doesn’t go too smoothly, though. Every now and then the microphones cut out and suddenly start buzzing. There’s a permanent background murmur from talkative Kurds in the audience. Meanwhile, the representatives of the international press slouch unenthusiastically in their seats and leave the conference early. Here in Brussels, no one seems that interested in the upcoming referendum.

Kahraman Evsen speaks at the Press Club in Brussels (DW/Daniel Bellut)Kahraman Evsen (center) speaks to reporters and Brussels MEPs about an independent Kurdistan that would occupy northeast Iraq

Kurdistan as reward

Evsen, however, remains undaunted. This charismatic Kurdish-German argues with pathos for the secession of northern Iraq. “The drawing of artificial borders in Iraq a hundred years ago on the basis of the Sykes-Picot Agreement has brought with it, above all, suffering and forced displacement, as well as ethnically and religiously motivated persecution.”

The Peshmerga fighters of northern Iraq have proven to be a powerful bulwark in the fight against the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS) terrorist militia – unlike the troops of the Iraqi central government. The Kurds have made many sacrifices and endured many hardships in the process, and now Masoud Barzani, the president of the autonomous region of Kurdistan, is pressing for them to be rewarded. Kahraman Evsen says the Kurds have demonstrated that they are a reliable partner for “the civilized world.” He calls upon the central government of Iraq, Kurdistan’s neighboring countries, Germany, the EU and the United Nations to recognize the result of the referendum.

Read more: Female Kurdish fighters target ‘Islamic State’

Iraqi Kurdish women check their weapons as they prepare to fight IS (Reuters/A. Jadallah)Iraqi Kurds who have fought in the coalition against the ‘Islamic State’ included female fighters, such as Haseba Nauzad (above with weapon).

No backing from the international community

The international community greatly values the Kurdish deployment against IS. However, with the exception of Israel, there is not one single country that supports the independence referendum. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson emphasized recently that it was far too early for independence. Iraq’s neighbors, Turkey, Syria and Iran, are concerned that an independent Kurdistan could fuel separatism among their own Kurdish minorities. The Iraqi central government is also opposed, as it is laying claim to the territories liberated by the Peshmerga – after all, the region around Kirkuk is very rich in oil. Another consideration is the fact that the region is inhabited not only by Kurds but also by Turkmens and Arabs.

Kati Piri Brussels parliamentarian from the Netherlands (picture alliance/AA/M. Kamaci )Kati Piri worries that an independent Kurdistan could further destabilize the region

Even the European countries that support the Kurds with arms in the fight against IS have taken a critical position. Kati Piri, a Dutch member of the European Parliament and Middle East expert, explained the EU’s point of view. “In the council for external affairs all 28 EU members have adopted an official position against the referendum. The European states wish to see a united Iraq.”

Piri explained there were concerns that establishing a Kurdish state at this early stage could further destabilize the already fragile region. “In the neighboring countries, Turkey, Iran and Syria, where there are Kurdish minorities, civil wars could break out … Iraq itself could also destabilize, as there are different ethnic groups in the north of Iraq. There are even rival factions among the Kurds.” The Iraqi central state must first consolidate itself before such territorial restructuring could take place, Piri added.

Read more: The Middle East’s complex Kurdish landscape

Has the time come for Kurdish statehood?

Evsen is bewildered by this argument. He believes the reverse is true – that a Kurdish state would stabilize the region. “When was Iraq ever stable? So much blood has been shed in the past between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. We would establish a reliable, pluralist and secular system that would stabilize Iraq, and that could be a model for the whole region.”

Brüssel / Press Club Brussels Kahraman Evsen (DW/Daniel Bellut)From Evsen’s perspective, an independent Kurdistan would ease tension in the Middle East

The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 that established the borders did not favor the Kurds – they were given no state of their own. More than 100 years later, they are emerging rather better from the upheaval in the Middle East: The Kurds are benefiting from the ongoing chaos in Syria and in Iraq. However, given the united opposition of international community, their dream of an independent Kurdish state could come to nothing once again.

Kahraman Evsen remains unimpressed. “If more than 50 percent vote for independence, the EU and the international community will accept the referendum,” he says. “Anything else would violate the democratic principle.”

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Turkey: Dreaming of Kurdistan

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DW: Qatar-Gulf crisis spreads to Africa August 30, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Qatar-Gulf crisis spreads to Africa

 By Martina Schwikowski,  DW, 29.08.2017

The Qatar-Gulf crisis is now affecting Africa after Saudi Arabia called on a number of countries, including Somalia, to join its boycott of Qatar. However, not every country is prepared to obey orders from Riyadh.

Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo

Somalia has maintained good relations with Qatar despite Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain continuing to demand that the Mogadishu government break off relations with the Gulf emirate. Still, Somalia won’t give in to pressure.

Instead, Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, has called on all countries involved to engage in a dialogue. Much to the annoyance of Qatar’s neighbors, he is even allowing Qatari planes to pass through Somali airspace.

Read more: Gulf crisis engulfs Africa

In doing so, Somalia is weakening the boycott imposed by the other four countries, which closed their borders to Qatar in June, followed by a breaking off of diplomatic relations and a blockade. They have accused the Qatari government of supporting terrorist organizations and demand that they sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and withdraw Turkish troops from the emirate. However the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, has insisted on maintaining his country’s sovereignty.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (L) meets with his United Arab Emirates, Egyptian and Bahraini counterparts to discuss the diplomatic situation in July 2017 Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (L) meets with his counterparts from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to discuss the diplomatic situation in July 2017

Somalia aligns with Qatar

Somalia’s neutrality is being tested. The country has so far had a good relationship with Saudi Arabia, its biggest trade partner in the Gulf region. In return, Somalia’s president has been supporting Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have offered the government in Mogadishu an additional 68 million euros ($81 million) to participate in the boycott of Qatar.

Nonetheless, the Somali president sided with Qatar. One possible reason is that Qatar is rumored to have financed his election campaign. “Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed would not have become president otherwise,” Somali political expert Muhyadin Ahmed Roble told DW. “The elections were decided by the amount of money each candidate offered to parliament.” Somalia’s political elite is closer to Qatar, he says. It was the president’s chief of staff who initiated the contact with Qatar, and who has influenced the president to remain neutral in the conflict.

Border conflict reignited

Tensions also remain heightened because the United Arab Emirates is exerting more influence in the regions of Somaliland and Puntland. Both regions have declared their independence; however, the government in Mogadishu still considers them part of Somalia. The United Arab Emirates is building ports there and wants to establish a military base.

Read more: Qatar changes anti-terror legislation amid Gulf crisis

The Qatar side of the Abu Samrah border crossing with Saudi ArabiaThe Qatari side of the Abu Samrah border crossing with Saudi Arabia

The governments of both regions maintain a strong interest in Saudi Arabia and view it as a future financial supporter. “The president doesn’t like the power games going on there, but he made the mistake of not consulting the regional governments,” says Muhyadin Ahmed Roble. “Their economies are stronger; Somalia is still recovering after 20 years of civil war.”

The situation in the Horn of Africa has been aggravated following the flare-up of an old border conflict in June. For seven years, the contested border between Eritrea and Djibouti was secured by peacekeepers from Qatar. When the Gulf crisis began, Qatar withdrew its troops – approximately 450 soldiers – from the Eritrean border, ending its role as mediator between the two countries. Eritrea immediately occupied the unmanned border zone northeast of Djibouti. “Eritrea doesn’t want to back down. That could lead to even greater tension between the three countries,” warns Muhyadin Ahmed Roble.

Tensions rise in West Africa

All countries involved in the Qatar conflict have taken different sides. “Eritrea and Djibouti have supported the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates; only Somalia and Ethiopia remain neutral,” says Muhyadin Ahmed Roble. He adds that, in the regional power game, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are in a much stronger position than Qatar, as Qatar only has good relations with Somalia.

But West Africa is also affected by the Gulf crisis. Saudi Arabia has called on the countries in the Sahel zone to make their position clear. Chad has sided with Saudi Arabia, informing the Qatari ambassador that he and his employees had to leave the country immediately. The government also recalled its diplomats from Qatar. “Chad fears instability, which is a real threat,” says Abdoulaye Sounaye, a research fellow at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. “We know for certain that jihadist movements in Libya are being supported by Qatar. Chad fears the Chadian rebels who are active in Libya.”

Senegal, on the other hand, maintains contact with Qatar due to a longstanding relationship. “Senegal is a special case. The country has excellent economic relations with Qatar and profits considerably from Qatari investment,” says Sounaye, adding that Senegal was better positioned than other countries, and could act according to its own interests. However, other Sahel countries have more to lose if they choose to cut their ties with Saudi Arabia. They’ve been cooperating with the Gulf kingdom for decades – but not with Qatar.

 

DW: Africa’s new sovereign debt crisis March 25, 2017

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Africa’s new sovereign debt crisis


Mail & Guardian Africa, 21 March 2017


Mozambique is the first major African nation in recent times to become unable to meet obligations to international creditors

A decade after the last major debt write-down, African states are again in difficulties. (DW/M. Sampaio)
A decade after the last major debt write-down, African states are again in difficulties. (DW/M. Sampaio)

Finance ministers and central bankers from the G20 group of the world’s most influential industrialised and emerging economies met in Baden Baden, Germany on the 17/18 March. The German NGO Erlassjahr.de (Jubilee Germany), which campaigns for debt relief, saw this as an opportunity to draw attention to the growing debt problems of many developing countries. The NGO has identified as many as 40 African countries which are showing signs of heavy indebtedness.

“This is not surprising because today’s economic indicators are telling a story very similar to the situation in the late 1970s and early 1980s which led to the Third World debt crisis,” said Jürgen Kaiser, political coordinator at Jubilee Germany. In the wealthy industrialised countries, interest rates are very low, but in Africa investors can fetch returns of between seven and 15 percent.  This leads to large capital flows from the North to the South.

The debt trap: declining commodity prices
“The low interest rates encourage countries to take out big loans which they then have difficulty paying back,” Kaiser said. The situation becomes particularly precarious when commodity prices fall. This leads to a subsequent decline in tax revenue in economies that are dependent on oil, natural gas, coal or other raw materials.

This latest debt crisis may come as a surprise to some people because numerous developing countries had a large share of their debts written down under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.  However, commentators who were convinced at the time that that this initiative launched by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the G-8 group of leading industrialised nations, including Germany, would solve the developing nations’ debts problems turned out to be wrong.

Mozambique insolvent again despite debt relief
Figures released by Jubilee Germany show how unsustainable the HIPC initiative was. Among the 40 African states where the indebtedness indicators were flashing red, 26 went through the HIPC program. One of those countries was Mozambique. In January 2017, the country ceased paying back its debts on time. In 2012, Mozambique’s obligations to its creditors amounted to 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), they now total 130 percent. Banks and investment funds were keen to lend Mozambique money believing it would be safe because the country possesses huge reserves of coal and natural gas. Those investors have been left empty-handed.

Debt explosion in Angola, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa
“Mozambique is a very dramatic case. It is the first country to cease repayments in such an abrupt significant manner since HIPC debt relief,” said Jürgen Kaiser. “But countries such as Gambia or Ghana, which also have an abundance of natural resources, are in a very critical situation as well. Senegal, which does not have much in the way of natural resources, is also in difficulties once again,” he added.

On analysing World Bank data of African nations’ indebtedness with foreign countries, it quickly becomes apparent that a large number of African economies have recently acquired dramatic levels of new debt. Between 2005 and 2015 – the most recent year for which figure are available – Angola, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa have witnessed a threefold increase in their debt levels. Smaller countries such as Cape Verde also borrowed fresh capital during this time frame.

The solution: international insolvency proceedings?
Currently there is no internationally recognised set of proceedings to settle the affairs of a country which has become insolvent. Many countries have such mechanisms for individuals and companies, but all attempts to create insolvency proceedings for sovereign states have been blocked by a lobby consisting of banks and nation states.

IMF Managing Director Anne Kruger proposed the creation of a Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism in 2001. It would have been administered by the IMF, but the proposal was blocked by the United States. It wasn’t the only proposal. In 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution “towards the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes.” There were 124 votes in favor, 41 abstentions and 11 votes against. This resolution was non-binding and the chances of it being implemented are slim. One of the 11 states that voted against it was Germany.

“That could have been a mechanism that could have helped us move forward right now,” said Jürgen Kaiser referring to Africa’s present debt crisis. “Insolvency proceedings would mean that it wouldn’t be just the creditors who would decide when debts should written down on or not. In the past that practice has led to debt relief being dispensed too late, on too small a scale, or not at all.

Sovereign debt restructuring was not on the agenda of the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers at the weekend, but if more developing countries follow Mozambique’s example and default on loan repayments, then it could be that G-20 will be forced to tackle the issue of debts levels.

DW: Political unrest simmering in Ethiopia: The emergency decree remains an instrument of repression. February 10, 2017

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Political unrest simmering in Ethiopia

By Merga Yonas, DW, 10 February 2017

Four months after declaring a state of emergency in a crackdown on protests, Ethiopia’s government claims the country has returned to normal. Critics says the emergency decree remains an instrument of repression.

Äthiopien Proteste | Ausgebranntes Auto in Sabata (DW/M. Yonas Bula)

This coming April marks three years since protests broke out in Ethiopia. They were triggered by students in Ambo town, some 120 kilometers (74 miles) west of the capital Addis Ababa. The students were protesting against a controversial government plan dubbed “Addis Ababa and Oromia Special Zone Integrated Master Plan”.

The Ethiopian government maintained that the purpose of the plan was to amalgamate eight towns in Oromia Special Zone with Addis Ababa. The scheme would promote development.

However, residents in the eight towns were resentful of a plan they said had been devised behind closed doors. They were also worried that the plan, under the guise of development, would deprive farmers of their land, and have an unfavorable impact on local language and culture.

The protests which started in Ambo then spread to other towns in Oromia Regional State. On January 12, 2016, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), which is the local ally in the country’s ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), revoked the plan.

Äthiopien Proteste | Dr. Negeri Lench (DW/M. Yonas Bula)Negeri Lencho claims the government was forced into declaring a state of emergency

But although the OPDO nominally represents regionally interests, the real power in the EPRDF is in the hands of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

This sense of underrepresentation helped drive the protests in Oromia Regional State, which soon reached Amhara Regional State.

The response by the security forces to these protests, which had a strong following among young Ethiopians, was harsh. Hundreds were killed, thousands were injured, hundreds ‘disappeared’ and others went into exile.

But the protests conituned despite this lethal crackdown. In October 2016, the government responded by declaring a state of emergency for six months. .

Political crisis

Negeri Lencho, the minister who heads the government’s communications office, told DW that the government had announced the state of emergency “not because it wanted to do it, rather it was forced to do it” because of the political crisis.

The administration of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn claims that the state of emergency has already brought peace back to the country. Critics could therefore agrue that it would be possible for the government to lift the decree even before the six months have expired. However, Lencho says that no timeframe has been declared so far either for the repeal or for the extension of the decree.

Opposition figures and members of the public DW spoke to dispute the claim that the state of emergency has restored peace to Ethiopia. The protests and the gunfire may have ceased, but the arbitrary arrests and human right violations continue.

Äthiopien Proteste | Brennende Reifen in Sabata (DW/M. Yonas Bula)Protests were initially triggered by anger over a development scheme for the capital Addis Ababa that demonstrators said would force farmers off their land

One Ambo resident, who asked to remain anonymous as he took part in the protests, said that the state of emergency had “unsettled the public’s inner repose”.

Repression was still in place, he said, despite the government “falsely” claiming that life was returning to normal.

“You cannot go out after curfew. You cannot stand anywhere with a few people. People are filled with fear. They fear the Command Post.” The Command Post is the government body charged with implementing the state of emergency.

The town of Sabata, located 20 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa, was part of the “Master Plan.” One local resident said calm appears to have been restored to the town which was heavily affected by the protests, However the arrests and repression under the state of emergency continue, he said. “For example, there are youths who got arrested without a warrant and have been in prison for over three months on the charge that they have listened to music,” he told Deutsche Welle. “The state of emergency is being used by the state to take revenge against youth,” he said.

Äthiopien Proteste | Mulatu Gamachu (DW/M. Yonas Bula)Mulatu Gamachu, deputy chairman of the oppostion Oromo Federalist Congress, says state security must avoid repression

Mulatu Gemechu, deputy chairperson of the oppostion Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), said a de facto state of emergency had been in force in Oromia fo some time, but by making it public the government had acquired a legal shield for further acts of repression. Gemechu added that the country can become peaceful only when the state security forces with their firearms keep their distance from ordinary citizens and stop arresting people.

“If government claims peace is returning because of soldiers’ presence, then it isn’t peace,” Gemechu told DW.

Thousands of people were arrested following the declaration of the state of emergency. Although the Ethiopian parliament set up an inquiry board to investigate human right violations in the wake of the state of emergency, it has yet to submit its first report. Lencho says he has no knowledge of any such report.

Uncertainty over number of arrests 

Government and opposition parties differ over the number of people who have been detained during the state of emergency. The government says 20,000 people have been arrested in Oromia, but Gemechu puts the figure closer to 70,000.

The government has said it will release more than 22,000 people. More than 11,000 were set free last Friday (03.02.2017)

The authorities said the prisoners were given “training in the constitution of the country and promised not to repeat their actions”.

But prisoners said that the government, in bringing together people from different areas to one location, had give them an opportunity to get to know each other and “strengthen their struggle and learn more about politics of the country”.

 

DW: TOP STORIES: My picture of the week | State of emergency in Ethiopia – a license to oppression. #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution October 16, 2016

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TOP STORIES: My picture of the week | State of emergency in Ethiopia – a license to oppression

They are the biggest ethnic group in Ethiopia but they are rarely heard: For almost a year the Oromo people have been demanding their rights. The government has responded brutally and has now declared a state of emergency. Tesfalem Waldyes felt the harshness of the regime: he was jailed for more than a year.

 

DW: Sports: My Picture of the Week – Symbol of protest in Rio. #OromoProtests August 27, 2016

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Oromo Olympic marathon athlete Fayyisaa Lalisaa on the Guardian. #OrompProtests global icon p1

After crossing the finishing line in Rio Olympics, the Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa crossed his hands over his head. #DWMyPic takes a look at this symbol of anti-government protest in Ethiopia. DW Journalist Merga Yonas Bula says that silver medalist Feyisa has risked his life and family by making this gesture of solidarity with the Oromo Protests. Click here for more ‘My Picture of the Week – Symbol of protest in Rio’ at DW.

DW: Ethiopian anti-government protests set to continue. #OromoProtests August 18, 2016

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#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia#OromoProtests, #GrandOromiaProtests, 6 August 2016, all over Oromia. Dhaadannoo. p4#OromoProtests iconic picture


Ethiopian anti-government protests set to continue


DW, 18 August 2016


Since November 2015, Ethiopia has been experiencing a wave of anti-government protests unleashed by fears by the Oromo people that the government was planning to seize their land. Hundreds of people have been killed.

Oromo protesters in Addis Ababa

In early August, anti-government demonstrations rocked the Oromia and Amhara regional states of Ethiopia. Thousands of demonstrators went on to the streets calling on the government to stop killing protesters, release those arrested, implement political reform, and respect justice and the rule of law. However, the response from government security forces, which used live ammunition against protesters, led to the death of about 100 unarmed people.

Although the government security apparatus reported that the demonstrations had been contained, “the current political situation has become volatile. Things are fast changing and developments have become increasingly unpredictable,” according to analyst Tsegaye R. Ararssa. Activists are said to be busy devising alternative methods of protest that range from weakening government institutions through staying at home and not operating businesses to organizing a Diaspora-based “grand solidarity rally.”

Change of tactics

In the town of Gondar in the state of Amhara, where the first demonstration took place, residents resorted to a new mode of protest – staying at home. A resident of the town, talking on condition of anonymity, told Deutsche Welle that from last Sunday to Tuesday the streets were deserted. Workers stayed at home and stores remained closed.

Asked why the public had opted for this type of protest, the man said “it is clear that society has demanded an answer from the government, but the response was one of bullets in return, so the public decided to launch a stay-at-home strike.”

For Tsegaye, this peaceful method of protest demonstrates “a complete rejection of the regime by the people. It also blunts the regime’s false claims that the protests were violent. The stay-at-home protest is an indication of the increasing maturity of civil disobedience in Ethiopia.”

An angry man leading a group of protestersProtesters are now leaving the streets and staying at home

Internet restrictions

Residents in both the Oromia and Amhara regions say that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get an internet connection and access to social media tools has been blocked. “The only way to get through is by using proxy servers,” one resident of Gondar told DW.

In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Ethiopia’s Communications Affairs Minister Getachew Reda claimed that that social media had been used “to churn out false information after false information, mostly seditious remarks, trying to agitate people against security forces and also against fellow brothers and sisters.” The administration therefore decided to gag “the kind of vitriol running over social media,” he said.

However, political pundits argue that the state move to censor the internet places a strain on political discourse and the sharing of information. Despite the fact that the country has less than three percent of internet access, there are growing numbers of news and opposition websites which the regime is notorious for blocking.

Aid from the West

The Ethiopian government receives some 3.5 billion dollars (3 billion euros) annually from international donors and has remained a key strategic partner of the West, particularly the US and the EU, in the ‘war against terror.’ However, analysts argue this financial support has been toughening the regime’s resolve to silence dissenting voices. The western approach of tiptoeing around human right violations in the country and its continued support for the regime has been stirring up anger among sections of the public.

Tsegaye says that US and EU “support of the regime – which they know is clearly undemocratic – is the very cause of the state terrorism we observe in the region.”

A recent editorial in The Washington Post argues that the Obama administration, beyond releasing their “deeply concerned” statements, should put pressure on the regime to allow for “credible investigation into the killings.” Following the demonstrations in the two regions, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, urged the Ethiopian government to “give access to international observers in the affected areas to establish what really happened.”

In an interview with DW, Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the commissioner, said restrictions on internet access, the blocking of social media and lack of civil society organizations in the country have made it difficult to verify reports of deaths and casualties.

a group of Oromo activists demonstrating in BerlinOromo activists took to the streets of Berlin in November 2015

Mohammed Said, public relations officer with Ethiopia’s Communications Affairs Office, told DW that the government had its own system of checks and balances and the country’s own Human Rights Commission was doing its job in investigating and publicizing the human rights situation in the country.

For analyst Tsegaye, this shows that the regime “is still in denial of the injustice its policies have resulted in.” The Ethiopian government now has the opportunity to change its approach – otherwise, Ravina said, “if the situation is left to fester, there will be more outbursts, more unrest, more protests and perhaps more violence.”


Read more at:- Ethiopian anti-government protests set to continue


 

DW: Pulse: #OromoProtests May 11, 2016

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Pulse: Oromo protests

The Oromo people in Ethiopia have long complained of being marginalized. Addis Ababa expansion plans which sparked fresh protests have been scrapped but the conflict continues to simmer, as DW’s Merga Yonas explains.

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http://www.dw.com/en/pulse-oromo-protests/av-19247699

DW NEWS: NGO highlights plight of Oromo in Ethiopia February 26, 2016

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Odaa OromooAgazi, fascist TPLF Ethiopia's forces attacking unarmed and peaceful #OromoProtests in Baabichaa town central Oromia (w. Shawa) , December 10, 2015

 

#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia

Human Rights Watch says security forces are continuing to persecute members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo. Hundreds have allegedly been killed in recent protests over a government plan to expand the capital Addis Ababa into Oromo land.

http://www.dw.com/en/ngo-highlights-plight-of-oromo-in-ethiopia/av-19071523

DW:EU asked to break silence on alleged killing of Oromo protesters in Ethiopia January 13, 2016

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EU asked to break silence on alleged killing of Oromo protesters in Ethiopia

Rights groups claim that Ethiopian security forces have killed at least 140 protesters. The Ethiopian foreign minister is in Brussels to answer questions by members of the European Parliament on the alleged offences.

Oromo Proteste in Äthiopien

Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week alleged that Ethiopian security forces had killed at least 140 protesters and injured many more. Opposition parties and activists asserted thousands of Oromo protesters had been arrested and injured since the protests started in mid-November.

In a surprise move on Wednesday (13.01.2016), the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) party, which is part of the ruling coalition, announced that it wanted to halt the so-called “Addis Ababa Masterplan” which is at the root of the ongoing crisis. The plan involves the expansion of the capital into the surrounding Oromia region. Government spokesman Getachew Reda told reporters that the government would respect this decision, but that they would still prosecute those who had participated in the protests.

The plans to expand Addis Ababa were hotly contested by members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. Universities across the country turned into battlefields, with police firing live bullets to disperse the crowds. On social media, Ethiopians united under the hashtag #OromoProtests and Ethiopians of all ethnic backgrounds staged vigils all around the world.

On the eve of the hearing of Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom in Brussels, rights groups insisted that EU officials “should convey serious concerns about Ethiopian security forces against the Oromo protesters.”

Another topic on the Brussels agenda is the recurrent drought that has hit the country. Estimates say that as many as 15 million people could be threatened by hunger this year.

Watch video01:40

Fatal clashes in Ethiopia 19.12.2015

Donor darling Ethiopia

With Ethiopia ranking fifth on the table of aid recipients globally, raking in some $3.8 billion (3.5 billion euros) in 2014, donor countries have a responsibility to follow up on how the government handles human rights issues, Daniel Bekele, Executive Director with HRW’s Africa Division, told DW.

His concern is echoed by EU advocacy director at HRW, Lotte Leicht, who says “[the] European Union should break its silence and condemn Ethiopia’s brutal use of force to quell the Oromo protests.” Being the single largest donor, the EU “should press the Ethiopian government to respond with talks rather than gunfire to the protesters’ grievances.”

The US State Department earlier urged the Ethiopian government “to permit peaceful protest and commit to a constructive dialogue to address legitimate grievances.”

The Ethiopian government denies the alleged death toll of 140. Government spokesman Reda instead accused the Oromo protesters of “terrorizing civilians.”

Ethiopian legal expert Awol Kassim Allo said he would like to see a space for all Ethiopians to participate in the political arena. “Only with such an approach can there be a possibility of paving a way to move forward,” he told DW. In the last general elections in May 2105, Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), won 100 percent of the seats in parliament.

Deutschland Oromo Demonstration Berlin In Berlin protesters demonstrated in front of the German chancellery in support of the #OromoProtests

‘Cultural genocide’

In a recent debate, Bekele Naga, Secretary General of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress(OFC), told DW’s Amharic Service that “the constitution of the country proclaims that the land belongs to the people.” He added that the Ethiopian government “has been engaged in land-grabbing, leading to cultural genocide [of the Oromo people].” Another Ethiopian legal expert, Tsegaye Ararsa, complained that no government officials, including Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, have publicly voiced regret over the loss of young protesters’ lives. He believes there should be an independent fact-finding committee to look into the case.

http://www.dw.com/en/eu-asked-to-break-silence-on-alleged-killing-of-oromo-protesters-in-ethiopia/a-18975796

DW: Oromia: #OromoProtests set to continue in Ethiopia December 24, 2015

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Oromo protests set to continue in Ethiopia

In an interview with DW, a spokesman of the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum accused the government of abusing the country’s constitution with its plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa.

OromoProtests set to continue

Violence and chaos gripped Ethiopia this week as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in protest against government plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa. Human Rights Watch said at least 75 people were killed in a bloody crackdown by heavily armed security forces. The demonstrations have spread to several towns since November, when students spoke out against plans to expand the capital into Oromia territory, a move the Oromo people consider a land grab. DW spoke to Merara Gundina, chairman of the opposition Oromo Federal Congress, in Addis Ababa.

DW: What exactly are you demonstrating against?

Merara Gundina: The Addis Ababa Master Plan is part of a larger land grab by the Ethiopian government around Addis Ababa, which has displaced not less than 200,000 people. Secondly, under federalism all the boundaries are being eroded by the ruling party which is bent on taking the land. People are very angry with the government and people who wanted to see change are frustrated.

Under the Ethiopian constitution all land belongs to the state, with people living there legally considered tenants. Doesn’t this allow the government to carry out any developments that may serve the interests of all Ethiopians?

No, no, the government is misusing it. The constitution says the land belongs to the public so it doesn’t allow the government simply to tell the people “go away” and it takes the land. No, it says there are bonds of state in the name of the people and there are individuals owning the land. It is the ruling party that is misusing the constitution. In fact, the state itself is privatising the country.

We understand you have vowed to continue the demonstrations despite the killings and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared on television that the government would act without mercy. Is it not better to solve these issues through talks?

We continue to support the cause of our people. We continue our peaceful struggle. We cannot be intimidated as the government has done. We have popular support, we have millions of people behind us. The government cannot silence us easily. We are following the constitution but we are against the arbitrary misuse of the constitution by the ruling party. Our people will continue.

Is it true that your organization is getting support from outsiders?

The diaspora is far away. It’s school kids, high schools and universities and the government is simply accusing the left and the right. Probably the diaspora is very active in the media because the local media are totally controlled by the government. We have no access to the media and the diaspora have some media outlets and they report what is happening in the country. But a diaspora of a few thousand cannot move millions of people.

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Related:-

 

VOA: Ethiopia’s Oromos Tread Warily Amid Anti-government Protests

Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest in Valletta against the Ethiopian regime's plan to evict Oromo farmers to expand Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, Dec. 21, 2015.

Ethiopian migrants, all members of the Oromo community of Ethiopia living in Malta, protest in Valletta against the Ethiopian regime’s plan to evict Oromo farmers to expand Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Dec. 21, 2015.

Marthe van der Wolf, December 23, 2015 3:22 PM
Schools are closed, businesses have just reopened after being closed for almost a week, and there is tension in Ginchi, Ethiopia, one of the first towns where the Oromo people began protesting last month against a plan to expand the capital, Addis Ababa.

Police are on the main road in Ginchi, which is about 80 kilometers west of Addis Ababa. Interviews have to be conducted on the basis of anonymity and on the outskirts of the town.

A waitress says that despite the reopening of the cafe where she works, life is not back to normal yet: She says that there is not an official curfew, but that young people risk being randomly detained if they are out in the evening.

The most recent protest in Ginchi was last weekend, after a funeral. Citizens said security forces killed three people before the protest took place.

The Addis Ababa master plan is a blueprint to expand the capital into the Oromiya region. The protesters believe that the expansion will lead to land grabs without proper compensation and a loss of the Oromo culture and language.

A shop owner, who participated in the protests, says those who created the master plan do not understand that life is tough and that people like him will not benefit from the promised development. He says there is no benefit for the people to have outside investors who take their land.

Established in 1991

The Oromiya region was established when the current government came to power in 1991. The federal system was divided along ethnic lines. The Oromos are the largest ethnic group in the country.

Bekele Gerba, leader of the opposition Oromo Federal Congress, lives in Adama, the former capital of the Oromiya region. The city, about 60 kilometers south of Addis Ababa, has also seen protests in recent weeks.

Gerba says Oromos have never been treated like equals by Ethiopia’s leaders, but he believes the current government is the worst.

“The ruling classes, usually, they think that Oromo is a threat,” he said. ” ‘One day they can overwhelm us. Therefore, they have to be treated in such a way so that they won’t have any power.’ Therefore, for example, we don’t have any power in the military. All the military commanders belong to a different ethnic group.”

Gerba’s party says more than 75 people have died since the protests began, and that many of his party members have been detained. Rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch say the government is using “excessive lethal force” on the protesters.

A government spokesman, Getachew Reda, told VOA on Wednesday that security forces had exercised restraint, “even under circumstances where they found themselves overwhelmed.”

http://www.voanews.com/content/ethiopia-oromos-tread-warily-amid-anti-government-protests/3116002.html

 

FP: Revolt in an African Stasi State

 

http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/12/23/revolt-in-an-african-stasi-state/

 

Daily Mail: Ethiopia opposition: 80 killed in protests against land plan

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-3372090/Ethiopia-opposition-80-killed-protests-against-land-plan.html#ixzz3vCWG0CDp

 

DW (Oromia): Human Right Watch asks UN and AU to intervene on the current situation of Ethiopia. #OromoProtests December 20, 2015

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HUMAN RIGHTS :Scores dead in Ethiopian protest crackdown, says rights group

A human rights watchdog has reported that 75 people have been killed protesting a government project in the Oromia region.

 Fatal clashes in Ethiopia

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Saturday that at least 75 people had been killed in recent weeks while protesting an urban renewal plan in the Oromo region surrounding the capital, Addis Ababa.

Outcry as Oromo protests in Ethiopia turn violent

Opposition groups say security forces have killed several people during weeks of protests over a government re-zoning plan. Members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group view the plan as an infringement on their rights.

“Police and military forces have fired on demonstrations, killing at least 75 protesters and wounding many others, according to activists,” the human rights watchdog said in a statement.

In November, students peacefully demonstrated against government plans to take over territory in several towns across the region.

However, the unrest was met with a severe response, including government forces using firearms against protesters.

‘Dangerous escalation’

“The Ethiopian government’s response to the Oromo protests has resulted in scores dead and a rapidly rising risk of greater bloodshed,” said HRW’s Deputy Africa Director Leslie Lefkow.

“The government’s labeling of largely peaceful protesters as ‘terrorists’ and deploying military forces is a very dangerous escalation of this volatile situation,” Lefkow added.

Government spokesman Getachew Reda said the “peaceful demonstrations” that began in November escalated into violence, blaming the protesters for “terrorizing the civilians.”

He said only five people had died, dismissing the higher toll reported by activists.

Oromo opposition leader Bekele has announced his support for peaceful protests, according to DPA news agency.

“Grievances have accumulated over the years. Over the evictions, but also over the lack of democracy in this country, the human rights abuses and the level of poverty,” Gerba said in a statement.

Activists in Berlin have protested the Ethiopian government's response to the Oromo protestsActivists in Berlin have protested the Ethiopian government’s response to the Oromo protests

International outcry

The US State Department on Saturday expressed concern over the crackdown, urging the government to allow “peaceful protests.”

“The United States is deeply concerned by the recent clashes in the Oromia region of Ethiopia that reportedly have resulted in the deaths of numerous protesters,” the State Department said in a statement.

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