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World Food Program fears more refugee inflow from Ethiopia. #MoyaleMassacre March 19, 2018

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Ethiopian refugees_
Source : DW Amharic

The number of Ethiopians who fled to Kenya following the killings of 10 civilians in the border town of Moyale has reached 9,600 according to the organization’s Kenya Branch Office spokes person, Peter Smerdon, as cited by DW Amharic. The spokesperson added that most of the refugees are women and children.

The refugees are in need of food aid and housing. Some are said to be in need of medical assistance as well. Kenyan Red Cross distributed some food yesterday.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Our team distributing food to displaced persons from Ethiopia in Moyale sub-county.

“The number could rise,” says Peter, “due to the situation in Ethiopia.” UNHCR is poised to send a mission to Moyale to assess the situation.

On the other hand, Ethiopian authorities claim that effort is underway to return the thousands of Ethiopians who fled to Kenya after what government claimed was an accidental killings of civilians.

Government disclosed that yesterday when Federal Police Commissioner, General Assefa Abiyu, appeared on state Television,Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation, “to share update on the state of emergency.” It is,however, unclear as to how the government is coordinating the matter with the government of Kenya, which reportedly closed the border with Ethiopia after Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebel groups attacked military convoy.

The Command Post arrested Oromo regional state Justice department spokesperson, Taye Denea, for remarking, during an interview with DW Amharic, that the killing in Moyale does not seem to be accidental based on information he has.

Days after the Ethiopian government claimed the killing in Moyale as a “mistake”, a ten years old boy was killed which some understood it to be a reckless and deliberate killing. In view of that, doubts are surfacing if the regime in power would be able to secure the repatriation of Ethiopians who fled to Kenya since last Friday.

 


Related  (Oromian Economist sources):

Nearly 10,000 Ethiopians seek asylum in Moyale, Kenya following violence back home.-  UNHCR Kenya

“I was really scared, so I decided to cross the border with my family to Kenya for safety”

Balanish Tadese, an Ethiopian mother of two, walks through a makeshift refugee camp in Moyale, Kenya, with a bundle of personal belongings strapped to her back. Her 6-year-old son, Abdi, and 9 year old daughter, Sarah, follow close behind, clutching personal belongings in their hands.  They’re looking for something to eat or drink and somewhere to stay.

This family is among around 9,700 asylum seekers that have arrived in Moyale over the last week from the Oromia region of Ethiopia. The refugees allege 13 people were killed when Ethiopian soldiers attacked their villages, in a raid on opposition areas. Oromia has been the scene of protests and violence before.

Tadese explains what she saw.

“One of my neighbours was shot and killed during the day as he came from a school meeting in our village. The following day, another neighbor was strangled as he went to the shops in the evening.  I was really scared, so I decided to cross the border to Kenya for safety”

There are over 600 expectant mothers.

More than 80 per cent of those that fled are women and children, nearly 1500 are under age 5, with one child being just 6 days old. There are over 600 expectant mothers. Some disabled and elderly persons also fled.

The asylum seekers are staying in two makeshift camps in the Somare and Sololo areas of Moyale. They are in urgent need of food, water, sanitation facilities, shelter, and some have medical needs.

Tadese says her and her children have not eaten well for days. She’s worried that her children will become ill if they do not get help.

Tadese and others who fled with her say they are worried about the security situation back home, and fear being situated in camps close to the border with Ethiopia. So it’s not clear how long the asylum seekers might stay in Moyale.

UNHCR’s partner Kenya Red Cross Society responded immediately to provide shelter material, blankets, kitchen utensils as well as medical, water and hygiene services. The County government also provided emergency food assistance to the asylum seekers.

Other UN and humanitarian organisations are also collaborating in the multi-agency emergency response by providing various life-saving services.

The Kenyan Government is looking at reducing the number of makeshift camps, so UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Kenya, the Kenya Red Cross, and others can meet the needs of those that have arrived more effectively. UNHCR is also helping the Government of Kenya register the asylum seekers, while ongoing assessments are being made about what to do long term.

One of the challenges is that some of the asylum seekers are staying with relatives and friends in Moyale, so it’s difficult to know precisely how many more have fled and are affected, and what their needs might be.


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Ethiopians online laud Oromia official detained for tough talk against military | Africanews. #MoyaleMassacre #OromoProtests March 16, 2018

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Ethiopians online laud Oromia official detained for tough talk against military

ETHIOPIA

Ethiopians on Twitter are reacting to the news on Thursday that a top official of the Oromia regional state had been detained by authorities for criticizing the army over recent killings in the town of Molaye.

Taye Dendea, a lawyer and head of the Oromia regional state’s justice bureau’s communication and PR department told the VOA Amharic service that he did not believe that the army’s killing of civilians in Molaye was a mistake.

Local media and online activists confirmed his arrest, stressing that he was not a stranger jails. He has previously served three and seven years on charges that he belonged to the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) during his varsity years between 2003 and 2016.

Ethiopian tweeps, meanwhile, continue to laud him for his firm stance on the security crisis that has rocked Oromia state amid a controversial February 16 nationwide state of emergency imposed ostensibly to quell spreading violence.

Taye Dendea a communication head for Oromia justice office, was arrested today. Taye is a renowned activist who has been in prison for 10 years before he was released in 2015.

has the heart of a lion. He spent a third of his life in prison but that didn’t stop him from speaking truth to power. He will not be cowed into silence. Release him and bring the perpetrators of the to justice.

Taye Dendea, head PR for justice bureau, is reportedly arrested. He was a show case of OPDO reforming. Taye had been arrested twice, suspected of being OLF member and served 3yrs & 7 yrs prison terms previously. in action in .

Freedom struggle obviously has prices like death, imprisonment & exile. But it is heart bleeding to see individuals like pay unfair toll of the price. 10+ yrs imprisonment & going back again?… Hey freedom I hope you really worth this.

*Ahm 😟
You know this federal republic is terminally ill when the Oromia region’s (the republic’s biggest bloc) justice bureau PR head is picked up by fed. security under the guise of SoE & the Oromia Media Network can’t say a beep in its mid day bulletin. Read ‘s lips

Pls read *Oromia Media Netwrok (🙈) as *Oromia Broadcasting Netwrok (OBN), which is the regional state’s broadcaster! (I didnt make that mistake, my fingers did).
😂😂😂

Oromo’s most fearless human rights defender, activist and OPDO official, has been detained by brutal regime in Addis. @hrw@amnesty

Under administration, once if you are political prisoner you will never set free rather u are recycled. 😠😧

Taye Dendana region Justice Bureau Communication Head arrested for 3rd time! He denounce the on interview with @VOAAmharic ! https://twitter.com/Soli_GM/status/974179284217720832 

The Addis Standard portal in its report on the arrest noted that this is the third time Taye has been detained.“It took Taye a total of 16 years to graduate with his first degree in Law before he joined the Oromia justice bureau in 2017,” the report added.

Under the rules of the Command Post, it is illegal to criticize the SOE. He is not the first Oromia state official to be picked. Reports indicate that deputy police commissioner of the state, chief administrator of East Hararghe and Mayor of the town of Nekemt, among others are in detention.

Another prominent person held by the authorities is blogger and lecturer, Seyoum Teshome, whose writings criticized the SOE. He is currently held at the Maekelawi prison in Addis Ababa – after a court gave police two weeks to establish a case against him.

The Moyale incident has led to a humanitarian situation in the border town with Kenya. Over 8,000 people – mostly women and children have fled to Kenya. The state-run EBC also confirmed that 39,000 people had been displaced.

 


Related from Oromian Economist Sources:

Hogganaan kominikeeshinii biiroo haqaa Oromiyaa obbo Taayyee Danda’a hidhaman.– BBC Afaan Oromoo, 15 Bitooteessa 2018

Obbo Taayyee Danda'a

Itti gaafatamaan Kominikeeshinii Biiroo Haqaa Oromiyaa Obbo Taayyee Danda’a har’a ganama hidhamuun dhagahame.

Namoonni argan BBC’tti akka dubbatanitti har’a ganama magaalaa Finfinnee kutaa magaalaa Gullallee naannawa mana jireenya isaanii Addisuu Gabayaa jedhamuuti poolisoota federaalaa hidhataniin to’annaa jala oolan.

Haati warraa isaanii addee Sintaayyoo Alamaayyoonis hidhamuu isaanii mirkaneessaniiru.

”Qabamuu isaa dhagaheera, eessa akka geessan hin beeku, Konkolaataan isaa karra irra dhaabatti ture, gaggeesseen biraa deebi’e.”

Ammaaf eessa akka geeffaman wanti beekame hin jiru.

Labsii Yeroo muddamaa keessatti ogeeyyiin Komunikeeshinii dhimma nageenyaa irratti miidiyaaleef ibsa akka hin kennine ni dhorka.

Haa ta’u malee, ammaaf sababa maaliin akka hidhaman wanti ifa ta’e hin jiru.

Obbo Taayyee Danda’aan dhiyeenya ajjeechaa Mooyyaleetti humnoonni waraanaa lammiilee nagaa irratti raawwatan miidiyaalee ala jiranif yeroo dubbatan biiroon isaanii dogongoraan raawwate jedhee akka hin amanne dubbataniiru.

Obbo Taayyee Danda’a kanaan duras yeroo barumsarra turanitti yeroo adda addaattii waggaa dheeraaf hidhaarra turan.

 

 


Obbo Taayyee Danda’aa Eessatti Akka Hidhaman Barbaannee Dhabne: Maatii.- VOA Afaan Oromoo

NEWS: ETHIOPIA SECURITY DETAIN COMMUNICATION AND PR HEAD OF OROMIA JUSTICE BUREAU, MOVE SIGNALS GROWING CRACKDOWN AGAINST THE REGION.- Addis Standard

Crisis in Ethiopia: elections, and fast! RENÉ LEFORT, Open Democracy February 20, 2018

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Capsizing: The system of government introduced in 1991, and monopolised by Meles Zenawi from the early 2000s, is irremediably dead. It had been in its death-throes since Meles’s sudden demise in 2012. The snap resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn on February 15 marked the serving of the official death certificate.

What is urgent is to bring down the tension by focusing the hopes and energies of the activists on a political way out, in the form of a tested, unchallengeable mechanism.

Recently resigned Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn speaking in China, May 15, 2017. Lan Hongguang/Xinhua News Agency/Press Association. All rights reserved.


The crisis in Ethiopia has suddenly gained momentum and reached a tipping point. Things could go either way. The country could dig itself even deeper, with consequences that don’t bear thinking about. Or there could be a broad realisation that Ethiopia is “at the precipice”, bringing a surge of realism and pragmatism that would finally start a process of political rebuilding on solid, inclusive and lasting foundations.

This will require compromise, an attitude that is, to say the least, somewhat unfamiliar in traditional Ethiopian culture. All the actors will have to find a balance between what they would like to get and what they can get, between the short-term and the long-term. But time is short, numbered in weeks, maybe days.

Capsizing

The system of government introduced in 1991, and monopolised by Meles Zenawi from the early 2000s, is irremediably dead. It had been in its death-throes since Meles’s sudden demise in 2012. The snap resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn on February 15 marked the serving of the official death certificate.

He had privately indicated his intention to resign, but not until after the planned spring congress of the governing coalition of the four major ethnic parties: the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organisation (OPDO), the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM).

The reason he gave for his resignation, as “vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy”, is particularly open to question in that he was a well-known reformist. Did he quit because he was pushed or because he had become aware of his powerlessness? In the midst of the worst storm that the country has experienced for decades, he was the official captain of a crew that had become so disparate, divided and disloyal that his vessel was pitching and yawing wildly.

Hailemariam probably did not want to be held responsible in the event that it should capsize. He may also have hoped that his departure would back the ruling coalition into a corner and leave it with no other alternative than to set a course out of the storm and form a new crew capable of following it.

Hegemony?

In parallel with this decline in central power, the respective strength of the coalition’s regional parties, starting with the OPDO, has continued to rise to the detriment of the TPLF, which had dominated the coalition for more than two decades despite the fact that Tigrayans account for only 6% of the nation’s population. And alongside this centrifugal movement, opposition forces – both legal and illegal, national and anchored in the diaspora – were growing in power, after long years of repression had kept them in the wilderness.

As the body politic fragments and levels out, the protests show no sign of abating, mainly in Oromya, even though not a week goes by without its death toll of victims of the security forces. Oromo complaints of marginalisation have gradually shifted towards claims of what they believe they deserve as the country’s most populous and richest region: to be at the top.

The home strike on February 12 and 13 paralysed Oromya as far as the gates of Addis Ababa, demonstrating that a blockade of the capital would not be inconceivable. Unprecedented crowds in multiple cities celebrated the return of the most prominent political prisoners: around 6,000 have been freed since a gradual amnesty announced at the beginning of January. Buoyed up by its successes, the street – at least in Oromya – could misinterpret the disarray of the EPRDF to the point that it could believe itself to have achieved an hegemonic  position that none can deny it.

However, this popular movement, mostly spontaneous and therefore loosely organised, has its shadow side, at least on the margins. While the primary responsibility for the forced displacement of almost a million people – mostly Oromo, a minority Somali – essentially since September 2017, described as “interethnic clashes”, is attributable to the Somali authorities, at grassroots level it has stirred up ethnic tensions that were previously latent, or at most sporadic and sparse.

Ethnic clashes and nationalist hysteria

The frequent claim that multi-ethnic communities have lived in peace for centuries is both true and false. “Ethnic clashes” have always taken place around basic issues: land, pasturage, water. They have flared up with all the major upheavals and subsequent power vacuums of recent decades, such as the agrarian reforms of 1975 and the introduction of the federal system in 1992-1993.

The national parties, mainly OPDO and ANDM, have backed the quest for “national identities” and claims of “national rights” in order to assert themselves vis-à-vis the TPLF and ride the wave of protests. Some of their leaders have even given their imprimatur, at least through inaction, to outbursts of nationalistic hysteria that itself also masks well-known interests, ultimately leading to “ethnic cleansing” accompanied by dispossession and pillaging.

Recently, thousands of Tigrayans, identified with their governing elite, whose powers and resources are disproportionate, were driven out of the Amhara region. Members of the Kemant, a subgroup of the Agwa ethnicity, were massacred there. Students have had to flee their universities to escape a sometimes murderous wave of “ethnic purification”.

“Ethnic clashes” are proliferating. In some cases the regional or local security forces do nothing to stop them. A symptom of this odious climate: on websites accessible in Ethiopia , especially in the comments sections, overtly racist interethnic attacks, which would be an offense anywhere else, are flourishing as never before.

Fundamental divide

Finally, in parallel with this threefold process – disintegration in the system of power, continuing protests with sometimes violent outbursts, and rising ethnic hysteria – a fundamental divide is forming, even if it does not reach the light of day. The ultra-dominant official rhetoric is reformist, founded on a key expression: “deep renewal”. However, websites (like Aigaforum.com or Tigraionline.com) that say out loud what is only whispered in certain circles of the TPLF, insist that the only effect of the government’s acts of appeasement is to make the protesters even more demanding and exacerbate the disorders.

In this view, the only way to put an end to both is to employ every possible means in a trial of strength. In addition, questions remain about some interventions by federal forces – army, police, the elite Agazi unit – carried out without the prior agreement of the regional authorities, a legal requirement, and frequently accompanied by the use of disproportionate violence. These forces are disciplined and battle hardened, so individual excesses or blunders are highly unlikely. These cases of autonomous and brutal conduct, running counter to official policy, are undoubtedly commanded, or at least tolerated, by the heads of these units, although they cannot be unaware that they are an essential contributor to escalations in radicalisation and violence.

How to draw back from the precipice

Drawing back from the “precipice” requires an urgent Copernican revolution. It can be built on four cornerstones.

– Apart from a few very marginal elements, no one fundamentally questions the Constitution. It can therefore provide the frame of reference for any change.

– None of the members of the ruling coalition envisages putting an end to it, however formal and forced its perpetuation may be. They all know that the coalition’s official collapse could devour them all. At least in the short term, it is hard to find any sign of any alternative coalition that could form, let alone govern. If the EPRDF broke up, the probability that Ethiopia would become a “failed state” is very high. However weakened it is, there would still be one hand on the helm.

– At no point, so far, has the spearhead of protest in Oromya, the Queerroo (youth), called for armed struggle. This is a major change: in the history of Ethiopia, power has always come through the barrel of a gun. However, there is a growing radical fringe which believes that taking up arms will be sufficient to put an end to the regime.

– Finally, even the opposition, which was calling for the immediate formation of a transitional government of national unity, has more or less abandoned this demand. It was unrealistic. The EPRDF has just rejected it. If it had agreed, its divisions and the scattered nature of the opposition would have bogged down the formation of such a government in interminable bargaining and one-upmanship and, once in place, would have condemned it to impotence.

However, the longer the power vacuum continues, the closer the “precipice” approaches. Regardless of its divisions, the EPRDF must at all costs make the internal compromises needed to appoint a credible prime minister and government, and then actually support them so that they can take back the helm. Of course, the appointment of Lemma Megersa, although he cannot legally occupy this position, would satisfy Oromo protesters. However, it would require such major concessions in the light of what we know about the balances of power, that another Oromo or Amhara figure, or even a southerner, would seem more feasible, a remake of the compromise reached for Meles Zenawi’s successor.

State of emergency

The proclamation of the state of emergency on February 16 caused an outcry, prompting the US Embassy to issue a statement of a severity unprecedented in contemporary US-Ethiopia relations, almost an ukase (“We strongly disagree with the Ethiopian government’s decision to impose a state of emergency… (This) undermines recent positive steps…  We strongly urge the government to rethink this approach”).

According to the Minister of Defence, it was decided unanimously by the Council of Ministers, and therefore by its OPDO and ANDM members, who reportedly came on board after first having vigorously rejected it. If this is true, what compromises were required? At present we don’t know the terms, any more than we know what is debated behind the scenes on all the different issues, making the state of emergency just one aspect of a global negotiation. There is still much to play for.

Does it signify that political openings have been rejected and the priority placed on repression, in other words a major victory for the “hardliners”? This will also depend on its scope, those enforcing it and their behaviour. The only indication comes from the official agency press release, which states that the purpose is “to protect freedom of movement and the rights of citizens to live wherever they choose as well as build assets”, in other words first and foremost to put an end to the “ethnic based attacks” mentioned a few lines below.

It is noteworthy that it makes no mention of restrictions on political activities. If, and only if, future information on the state of emergency confirms this analysis, and if, and only if, the federal forces show a minimum of restraint in their behaviour, the government will have taken the decision incumbent on any government facing the risks of an explosion of violent excesses, including ethnic unrest on this scale.

That may perhaps be why OPDO and ANDM, which had condemned the ethnic attacks, was ultimately able to accept the state of emergency. Under these circumstances, it can also be assumed that Parliament might approve it.

However, intervention by the security forces alone will not suffice to prevent this threat if nothing changes elsewhere. They were overwhelmed during the previous state of emergency. Ethiopia has around 15,000 rural communities (kebele), each with a few dozen militiamen. In other words, probably 400,000 armed men who owe their loyalty to the leader of the kebele. There is no proof that these leaders would be willing or able to hold back ethnic attacks perpetrated by a majority of inhabitants.

At this level of crisis – breakdown in the system of government, dispersal and weakness of the legal opposition, protest that is increasingly heated, disparate in its organisation and simultaneously extreme and nebulous in its goals, proliferation of ethnic clashes – it is unrealistic to think that time and resources are sufficient for a big negotiation, a sort of “national conference”, even one that brought together the main stakeholders in and outside the country, to be able to start everything afresh and rebuild a global alternative system step-by-step.

What is urgent is to bring down the tension by focusing the hopes and energies of the activists on a political way out, in the form of a tested, unchallengeable mechanism that will be as speedy, practical and unifying as possible. The mechanism that would meet these criteria is early general elections, held well ahead of the current schedule of spring 2020.

Early general elections

First, they would clarify the political landscape. Each force would be required to present voters with its flagship measures for rebuilding the system of political, economic, military or security power. The goal would not simply be a change of regime. It would include the distribution of powers and resources within the federation, hence the famous “nationalities question” that lies at the heart of the current crisis and for almost two centuries has undermined the capacity of Ethiopians to live together.

Following the elections, this landscape could be structured and hierarchized on clear and transparent foundations, and the inevitable alliances would be formed first around their respective weights and projects. Since these foundational elections would be legislative, Parliament would finally acquire the primary role assigned to it in the Constitution. The verdict of the electorate, founded on universal suffrage, would make the outcome unchallengeable.

Finally, elections would channel protest that is both vigorous and inchoate into a concrete, tangible and decisive goal. The Queerro who favour a shift to armed struggle remain a very small minority, but they have the wind in their sails. All the voices that count in Oromya and in the diaspora continue to call for calm, for patience, arguing that change is now inevitable but needs to be given time. If they are listened to and if, moreover, the undertaking to hold these general elections could reduce the tension, defuse the reasons for protesting and therefore the risks of outbreaks, there would be a greater chance that the most extreme elements would become isolated and ethnic clashes less probable.

Free and fair

However, this scenario can only work on one condition: that these elections are “free and fair”. For this to happen, a supreme authority needs to be established, emanating from all the main stakeholders, whether government, opposition or civil society, in Ethiopia or abroad.

The former head of the military, General Tsadkan, even proposed that, in order to guarantee its independence from the current government, no member of the EPRDF should be able to be part of it, though it would be difficult for the coalition to agree to submit to the authority of a body that would resemble a weapon directed against it.

This authority would be vested with the powers needed to guarantee the ability of all the competitors to organise and express themselves freely, including the power to put on ice laws that contravene it and that it would be formally impossible to repeal rapidly.

Finally, it would set a realistic date for elections.  The oppositions must have a certain amount of time to build their electoral machines, but the date should be as soon as possible. In the meantime, the government would continue to deal with day-to-day matters.

It may be objected that the formation of this supreme authority and its mandate would encounter the same kinds of difficulties as a transitional government. However, there is one big difference in scale and scope: whereas the purpose of the latter would be nothing less than to govern, the former would be restricted to a single goal: to organise and manage elections. Still unrealistic? Possibly, but probably the least unrealistic scenario to enable the country to step back.


Related:

Ethiopia’s Great Rift: Will a power struggle within the ruling party lead to reform — or more repression?

Washington Puts Ethiopia’s Human Rights Abusers on Notice, Tesfa News

Ethiopia: End Game? Having achieved so much through protest, it is unlikely that the Ethiopian people will accept half-hearted reforms.  ,     Oromian Economist     

OP-ED: RACE TO THE BOTTOM: ETHIOPIA’S ACCELERATING CRISIS January 2, 2018

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An economy in free fall, ever-deepening repression, a deteriorating security, inter-ethnic violence, and a vicious infighting within the ruling party – Ethiopia is on the cusp of political explosion.


Addis Abeba, December 31/2017 – The Executive Committee of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) just concluded a high stakes meeting widely expected to offer a pathway out of the current crisis. The press release put out by the party after the 18-days long meeting is full of invectives, outrageous falsehoods, and deliberate reversal of historical facts designed to give an appearance of coherence and solidity to a regime in complete shambles.

Ethiopia has largely been seen in Western capitals as “an Island of stability in a troubled region”.  The inability and unwillingness of the government to address the popular demands of the protests of the last three years degenerated into a far more complex and dangerous turmoil, morphing into a wholesale political crisis.

According to the 2017 Fragile States Index by the US think thank Fund for Peace, Ethiopia is the 15th most fragile state in the world, down from 24th in 2016. And also according to the forthcoming 2018 Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Transformation Index (BTI), which evaluates and analyses the political, economic, and governance transformations of 129 developing countries, Ethiopia is on a downward trend. It ranks 113th on the state of political and economic transformation, down from 111th in 2016. The country is teetering on the brink of a bottomless abyss. But what are the key reasons and how can this sharp increase in the vulnerability of the state to collapse reversed?

Since the sudden demise of its all too powerful Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, in 2012, the country has been in tumult, unable to deal with the political crisis generated by escalating levels of ethnic discontent, violent political repression, and crippling economic conditions. A strategic thinker known for being duplicitous, savage, and decisive, Meles was a master manipulator with an absolute grip on the country’s political and economic policies. His successor, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, had neither the adept strategic maneuver nor the far-reaching control Meles had over the party, the state, as well as the military and security apparatus.

Rupture in the Ruling Coalition

The ruling party, EPRDF, a coalition of four unequal ethnic based parties, is on the brink of unraveling. Alarmed by the pace of changes sweeping the political landscape and the central government’s increasing strategic and tactical incompetence, some of its members are beginning to publicly contradict each other, a rupture that marked a make or break moment for the party and the government. EPRDF is a vassal configuration held together through ideological machinations and a range of repressive tactics. Its members are: The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), The Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), The Amhara National Democratic Movement, and The Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement.

The most dominant mother party, TPLF, used the vassals to bolster its legitimacy and squelch opposition from autonomous parties. While the vassal parties were allowed a measure of autonomy on internal matters, the mother party ensured the durability of the vassal configuration by ensuring that vassal parties do not build a social capital and internal party infrastructure that will one day allow it to free itself from this titular arrangement.

Since the death of Meles Zenawi, the vassal configuration has been in tatters, as former vassals began to assert themselves and demand a fair and equal distribution of political power within the party and the state. This is particularly evident within the Oromia regional state, where the region’s governing party, the OPDO, has been publicly expressing its disenchantment with the status quo.

The Violence on the Eastern Front

Elements within the TPLF who saw the OPDO as the greatest threat to their power turned to sabotage to reassert control of the vassal that is abandoning them to side with their sizable constituency. According to several sources, the violence along the border between Oromia and Ethiopian Somali regional state, while executed by Liyu Police, a paramilitary force with a dubious mandate, was indeed, instigated by TPLF generals. The border conflict has claimed the lives of hundreds and displaced more than half a million people.

For over a decade now, the government has been hiding behind the rhetoric of national security and narrative of development to shut down critical conversations of considerable political significance. These narratives have run out of steam and no longer provide the cement capable of holding together the crumbling social and political fabric in the country.

Nation-wide protests

As years of pain and suffering turned into rage, Ethiopians poured into the streets to demand that the government respects its own Constitution, and political repression. The Muslim community began protesting in December 2011 demanding religious freedom and an end to the government’s intervention in the affairs of their religion. In November 2015, the Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the country who make up around a third of the population, started one of the most consequential protests, essentially redefining the terms of engagement between the state and society. In July 2016, the Amharas, the second largest ethnic group in the country, joined the protest, intensifying the pressure against the government.

Although the nature of the grievances and the demands of these protest movements are not exactly the same, these protests were essentially reflections of decades of humiliation and hopelessness by their respective communities, exacerbated by the government’s contempt to long overdue questions of representation, autonomy, equality, and justice.

The government’s brutal response – complete with a show of force – was to securitize the demands and denigrate protesters as terrorists and anti-peace elements – a common tactic used by the Ethiopian government to justify violent suppression of peaceful opposition. As a consequence the tone and substance of the conversations on the Ethiopian streets suddenly shifted, with protesters demanding a radical transformation of the system. The ruling party has become the symbol of national decay and bankrupt hopes. Shaken to its core, it declared a state of emergency on October 8, 2016, to reassert control. By the time the emergency was lifted, in August 2017, hundreds of people were killed and tens of thousands were detained.

The Executive Committee Meeting

The highly anticipated Executive Committee meeting was widely expected to pass major decisions on the future direction of the party and the country by offering credible and tangible pathways for democratizing the party and the state. If the press statement is to be taken as an accurate reflection of what has been agreed in the meeting and where the party is headed, the status quo seems to have won the day.  The substance and tone of the statement is in direct contradiction to the expressed will of the Ethiopian people who have staged relentless protests for more than three years and paid a considerable price.

The country is on the verge of explosion and the government has now reached a turning point. It faces a choice between opening up the political process and tumbling into the abyss.

The West also faces a choice between supporting an all-inclusive transition or the complete unraveling of a geopolitically significant state with a colossal repercussion for its people and the region. Indeed, some diplomats with extensive experience of the country and the region have been moving away from the morally and politically questionable position they supported and defended for over two decades. Ambassador Herman J. Cohen, former US Assistant Secretary of States, who played a key part in the last political transition in Ethiopia, recently called on the government to “seriously consider requesting US Government mediation to organize a conference among all parties that will produce new democratic dispensation – before law and order collapse completely”.

Western governments who have been criticizing the government in private and behind closed-doors must take their criticisms a step further and demand concrete action. Most of all, they must demand that the government stops instigating inter-ethnic violence, release all political prisoners, listen to the plight of its people, and take radical steps to halt the race to the bottom.


ED’s Note: Awol Allo, is Lecturer in Law at Keele University, Great Britain. He tweets at @awol_allo and can be reached at a.k.allo@keele.ac.uk

 


 

Women News Network: ETHIOPIA: Merciless land grab violence hits women who want peace April 13, 2017

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ETHIOPIA: Merciless land grab violence hits women who want peace

Ethnic Oromo students rally together as they demand the end of foreign land grabs marching with placards on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2014. Image: FlickrCC

(WNN FEATURES) ETHIOPIA, EAST AFRICA: She spoke to me with tears in her eyes describing the calculated execution of her own people.

Even though Atsede Kazachew feels relatively safe as an ethnic Amharic Ethiopian woman living inside the United States, she is grieving for all her fellow ethnic Ethiopians both Amharic and Oromo, who have been mercilessly killed inside her own country.

“There is no one in the United States who understands,” outlined Atsede. “Why? Why?” she asked as her shaking hands were brought close to her face to hide her eyes.

The Irreecha Holy Festival is a hallowed annual celebration for North East Africa’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo people. Bringing together what has been counted as up to two million people, who live near and far away from the city of Bishoftu, the Irreecha Festival is a annual gathering of spiritual, social and religious significance. It is also a time to appreciate life itself as well as a celebration for the upcoming harvest in the rural regions.

Tragically on Sunday October 2, 2016 the event ended in what Ethiopia’s government said was 55 deaths but what locals described as up to .

“The Ethiopian government is engaged in its bloodiest crackdown in a decade, but the scale of this crisis has barely registered internationally…,” outlined UK Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) David Mepham in a June 16, 2016 media release published by the International Business Times.

“For the past seven months, security forces have fired live ammunition into crowds and carried out summary executions…” added Mepham.

So what has the U.S. been doing about the present crisis situation in Ethiopia?

With a long relationship of diplomacy that spans over 100 years beginning in 1903, that builds up the U.S. to consider Ethiopia as an ‘anchor nation’ on the African continent, corrupt politics and long range U.S. investors in the region are an integral part of the problem. All of it works a head in the sand policies that pander to the status of the ‘’quid pro quo’.

Spurred on by what locals described as Ethiopia military members who disrupted the gathering by threatening those who came to attend the holiday event; the then makeshift military threw tear gas and gun shots into the crowd. The voices of many of those who were present described a “massive stampede” ending in numerous deaths.

“This has all been so hard for me to watch,” Atseda outlined as she described what she witnessed on a variety of videos that captured the ongoing government militarization and violence in the region. “And there’s been little to no coverage on this,” she added. “Western media has been ignoring the situation with way too little news stories.”

“Do you think this is also an attempt by the Ethiopian military to commit genocide against the ethnic Oromo people?” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered. The Amharic and the Oromo people have suffered so very much over many years, outlined Atsede. Much of it lately has been about government land grabs, on land that has belonged to the same families for generations, Atsede continued.

The details on the topic of apparent land grabs wasn’t something I knew very much about in the region, even though I’ve been covering international news and land grabs in Asia Pacific and China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region, along with the plight of global women and human rights cases, for over a decade.

One lone woman stands out surrounded by men during her march with Ethiopia’a Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a national self-determination organization that has worked to stop atrocity against rural ethnics inside Ethiopia beginning as far back as 1973. Today the Ethiopian government continues to classify the OLF as a terrorist organization. In this image the look on this unnamed woman’s face says “a-thousand-words.” Image: Jonathan Alpeyrie/Wikimedia Commons

In spite of destructive crackdowns by the government against rural farming communities, numerous ethnic women living inside Ethiopia today are attempting to work toward peace in both the northern and southern regions of the country.

Under conditions of internal national and border conflict, ethnic Ethiopian women can often face pronounced stress under forced relocation, personal contact with unwanted violence including domestic abuse and rape, and discriminatory conditions for their family and children. These deteriorating conditions can also cause destabilization under food insecurity with greater malnutrition.

Increasing land grabs also play an integral part in high levels of stress for women who normally want to live with their family in peace without struggle. But corruption in leadership levels inside Ethiopia are encouraging land acquisitions that ignores the needs of families who have lived on the same land for centuries.

As Ethiopia’s high level business interests continue to be strongly affected by insider deals, under both local and global politics, the way back to peace is becoming more complex and more difficult.

Even foreign government advocacy agencies like the World Bank, DFID, as well as members of the European Union, have suffered from ongoing accusations of political pandering and corrupt practices with large based business interests inside Ethiopia.

With the new release of the film ‘Dead Donkeys / Fear No Hyenas’, by Swedish film director Joakim Demmer, the global public eye is now beginning to open wide in understanding how land grab corruption works throughout the regions of East Africa. Outlining an excruciating story that took seven years to complete, the film is working to expand its audience with an April 2017 Kickstarter campaign.

“Dead Donkeys / Fear No Hyenas was triggered by a seemingly trivial scene at the airport in Addis Ababa, six years back. Waiting for my flight late at night, I happened to see some tired workers at the tarmac who were loading food products on an airplane destined for Europe. At the same time, another team was busy unloading sacks with food aid from a second plane. It took some time to realize the real meaning of it – that this famine struck country, where millions are dependent on food aid, is actually exporting food to the western world,” outlined film director Demmer.

It’s no wonder that anger has spread among Ethiopia’s ethnic farming region.

“The anger also came over the ignorance, cynicism and sometimes pure stupidity of international societies like the EU, DFID, World Bank etc., whose intentions might mostly be good, but in this case, ends up supporting a dictatorship and a disastrous development with our tax money, instead of helping the people…,” adds Demmer during his recent crowdfunding campaign.

“What I found was that lives were being destroyed,” said Demmer in a March 28, 2017 interview with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute. “I discovered that the World Bank and other development institutions, financed by tax money, were contributing to these developments in the region. I was ashamed, also ashamed that European and American companies were involved in this.”

“Yes. And yes again,” concurred Atsede in her discussion with me as we talked in person together about big money, vested interests and U.S. investors inside Ethiopia, including other interests coming from the UK, China, Canada, and more.

As regional farmers are pushed from generational land against their will, in what has been expressed as “long term and hard to understand foreign leasing agreements,” ongoing street protests have met numerous acts of severe and lethal violence from government sanctioned security officers.

Ironically some U.S. foreign oil investments in the region vamped up their purchasing with land deals as former U.S. State Department Deputy Secretary Antony Blinken showed approval of the Dijbouti-Ethiopia pipeline project during a press meeting in Ethiopia in February 2016.

As anger among the region’s ethnic population expands, Ethiopia leadership has opted to run its government with a four month April 2017 extension announced as a “State of Emergency” by President Mulatu Teshome Wirtu.

“How long can Ethiopia’s State of Emergency keep the lid on anger?” asks a recent headline in the Guardian News. Land rights, land grabs and the growing anger of the Oromo people is not predicted to stop anytime soon.

The ongoing situation could cost additional lives and heightened violence say numerous human rights and land rights experts.

“The government needs to rein in the security forces, free anyone being held wrongfully, and hold accountable soldiers and police who used excessive force,” outlined Human Rights Watch Deputy Regional Africa Director Leslie Lefko in a HRW report on the situation.

“How can you breathe if you aren’t able to say what you want to say,” echoed Atsede Kazachew. “Instead you get killed.”

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For over a decade United Nations panelist and human rights journalist Lys Anzia has reported news covering the latest on-the-ground conditions for global women. Her written and editing work has appeared on numerous publications including Truthout, Women’s Media Center, CURRENT TV, ReliefWeb, UNESCO, World Bank Publications, Alternet, UN Women, Vital Voices, Huffington Post World, The Guardian News Development Network and Thomson Reuters Foundation Trustlaw, among others. Anzia is also founder of Women News Network (WNN). To see more about global women and news check out and follow @womenadvocates on Twitter.

Human Rights League: Ethiopia: Murders and Mass Incarcerations Cannot Fix the Deep Human Rights Crisis December 5, 2016

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Ethiopia:  Murders and Mass Incarcerations Cannot Fix the Deep Human Rights Crisis

HRLHA  Press Release

December 4, 2016


The TPLF/EPRDF government boldly demonstrated its dictatorial behavior by arresting the Oromo Federalist Congress Leader Dr. Merera Giddina on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 under the pretext  that he had met with the other opposition political party-G7  leaders that the TPLF  labeled as a terrorist group.  Dr. Merera Gudina has been taken  to Maikelawi investigation Center with the other two men , Taye Negera and Kumala, both of whom live  in the same home, according to HRLHA Informants.  The Maikelawi Investigation Center In Addis Ababa is the TPLF  Torture – House   known as  “Ethiopian Guntanamo”

free-professor-merera-gudina

Dr. Merera Guddina

The Government spokesman Negeri  Lencho said in his briefing  to   journalists on December  2, 2016  “Dr. Merera  Guddina has been arrested because he violated   the State of Emergency rules  by contacting outlawed opposition party leaders in Brussels”.    Dr. Merera Guddina and Professor Berhanu Nega, the  G7 Leaders  had been invited by the EU parliament to  Brussels  to  attend the Conference  on the Ethiopian current political crisis sponsored by the European Parliament.  In the conference, many stakeholders participated and shared their  views on the  current Ethiopian political crisis. The TPLF/EPRDF has no legal grounds on which to criminalize Dr. Merera Guddina- unless the TPLF government labelled the  conference sponsor, the EU, as a terrorist group.

Meanwhile, the TPLF/EPRDF government of Ethiopia continues terrorizing the people  of Oromia and Amhara Regional States  by murdering and detaining them.  Since the mass movement began in Oromia in November 2015  and later spread to Amhara Regional state, thousands have been killed,  tens of thousands detained and other thousands have disappeared.  The TPLF government mishandled the peaceful  protests in both regional states where both nations demanded  their rights to   fair treatment, stopping the  land grabs and marginalization.

After ten months of unrest in the country, the TPLF/EPRDF declared a state of Emergency on October 8, 2016. The TPLF killing squad Agazi force was  deployed with full authorization into  Oromia and Amhara Regional States  to commit killings, incarcerations, rapes and steal money and valuables. Although there has been no single section of society that the Ethiopian TPLF/EPRDF regime has spared in the past one year, since last November Oromo youths in particular have become  the prime targets of  TPLF killing squad attacks. Several Oromo youths from universities, colleges and high schools have been disappeared by the TPLF killing squads. As a result, Oromia is losing many brilliant young men and women at the hands of TPLF murderers every day. This is putting future generations at risk.

HRLHA informants  report that the TPLF/EPRDF killing squad Agazi  force  continues to abduct  Oromo youths from  universities, colleges, highschools, homes and workplaces on a daily basis. The HRLHA  has received from its informants In south Oromia, Bule Hora District, Guji Zone  and Ada’a Berga District East Showa Zone information that  a number of Oromo youths have been picked up at  night and have been taken to  an unknown destination by the Agazi force.

The following are among the many Oromo youths abducted  by TPLF forces on November  29, 30, 2016 and taken to an unknown destination

among-the-many-oromo-youths-abducted-by-fascist-ethiopias-tplf-forces-on-november-29-30-2016-and-taken-to-an-unknown-destination

Human Rights Crisis in EthiopiaUnder remembering from the past, the HRLHA will try to highlight  the human rights violations reported by HRLHA and other human rights organizations against Oromo youths  in the past ten years which continue to the present.

The TPLF/EPRDF  government has been  targeting Oromo youth since  the Oromo youth  peaceful revolt against subjugation started in Oromia in 2005.

The following is a summary of  Oromo students  killed,  imprisoned, and disappeared  by TPLF/EPRDF security forces  in different universities in 2006

  • June 2006, Mekele, Tigrai: 44 Oromo Students of Mekele University Were Denied Certificates After Graduation
    Reason – In April, 2006 a Tigrean student, who was attending Adama University, committed suicide. However, Tigrean residents of Mekele were told that he was murdered by Oromo students of the university
  • August 2006, Haromaya University, E. Hararge: at Least 42 Detained and Then Dismissed
    Reason –  In August 2006, following clashes between Oromo and other students caused by a student wearing a t-shirt carrying a derogatory anti-Oromo slogan, security forces attacked Oromo  students at Haromaya University, E. Hararge. Only Oromo students were held for two months and dismissed from the university. At least 42 were detained and then dismissed, (OSG  Report, No. 43)
  • August 2006, Adama University: Clash Among Students Spread to Adama University and more Oromo Students Dismissed
    Reason – The clash has spread to Jimma University. In this clash, which was clearly instigated to pit Oromo students against Amhara students, at least 10 lives were lost, at least 30 students from Adama, and 23 from Jimma University, were expelled. (IOYA report, November 2006
  • September 17, 2006, Ginchi, W. Shoa: Two Students Abducted and Disappeared
    Students Bakala Dalasa and Habirru Birru were taken at night from their residence in Ginchi, W. Showa, around 7:00 PM local time, and have disappeared. (OSG report No. 43)
  • November 7, 2006, Mekele, Tigrai: A 3rd Year Student Strangled to Death
    Shibiru Demisse Bati, a 24 year-old Oromo third-year history student, was strangled to death at Mekele University in Tigrai. Shibiru, from Siba Yesus Peasant Association, Homa, near Gimbi, Wallega, was attacked on November 4, 2006, after being dragged out of his room when the power was turned off at the university. Tensions had been growing between security forces and Oromo students in Tigrai since graduation certificates were denied to those students who had been vocal about the government’s disregard of human rights in Oromia Region.(Ethio-Tribune, November 7, 2006, and Oromo Menschenrechts- und Hilfsorganisation (OMRHO), December 2006)
  • December 2006, Harar, Eastern Hararge: at Least 6 Students Detained
    The following Secondary School students were detained in September 2006 in and around Harar, E. Hararge. Known to be held in Harar were Murad Ahmedand Ramadan Abdella, whereas Ramadan Galile, Abdi Amma, Kadir Rabsa and Dhakaba Bakar were taken to an unknown location.(OSG report No. 43)

Source: Revisiting Oromian Students’ Resistance Against Tyranny

The HRLHA  tirelessly  continues  to  express its deepest concerns regarding the human misery taking place in Ethiopia in general and in Oromia and Amhara Regional  States in particular  and appeals to the world community to take tangible action to stop more bloodshed in Ethiopia by putting pressure on the TPLF- led Ethiopian government

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