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The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa: The Ethiopia’s regime Crimes Against Humanity in Oromia Needs Urgent World Community Action. #Prevent #Genocide December 13, 2017

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Ethiopia: Crimes Against Humanity in Oromia Needs Urgent World Community Action

HRLHA  Urgent Action

Dec 13, 2017

For Immediate Release


The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) strongly condemns the brutality of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front / Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (TPLF/EPRDF) Government’s military force who massacred 15 Oromo farmers who were harvesting their crops on 10 Dec, 2017 in Chalanko district, EasternHararge zone. This comes after two weeks of the TPLF/EPRDF  commanders restarting fresh attacks on Oromos living in border areas near Somali State in which over sixty Oromos were killed  in two weeks- since the last week of Nov 2017 to the present- in Arero district (Borana zone), Cinakseen (Easter Hararge zone) ,and Bordode(Western Hararge zone).  Currently the TPLF/EPRDF led Ethiopian government has deployed thousands of heavily armed military forces all over Oromia regional, state zones and committed extrajudicial killings, and detentions in Kelem and HoroGuduru, western Oromia zone, in Bale, Arsi, Guji and Borana in southern Oromia zones and in Ambo, Walisso,  and Yaya Gullale Central Oromia, Shewa zones.

Among the recent Victimsof  theTPLF/EPRDF military forces:

# Name Zone/District Date of Attack Status
1 TajuYasy East Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
2 AbdiSaliIbro Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
3 Mhamed Abdela Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
4 SaniYuya Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
5 AbdelaYisak Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
6 Abdumalik Uso Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
7 Haru Hasen Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
8 Fesal Yisak Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
9 Michael Abdo Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
10 Mumeadam Hasen Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
11 Tofik Abdo Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
12 Sali Hasen Hararge/Chalanko Dec 10, 2017 Killed
13 Sabaoy Haji Sani, (7th grde student) West Harage/ Hawigudina district Dec 7, 2017 Killed
14 Jamal Hasan  (Milicia) West Harage/ Hawigudina district Dec 7, 2017 Killed
15 three people, no names Borana/Moyale Dec 7, 2017 Killed
16 Hasan Basaa Guji/BuleHora Dec 6, 2017 Killed
17 Kadiro Geda Guji/BuleHora Killed
18 13 people Borana/Arero Nov. 24, 2017 Killed
19 Dejen Belachew Shewa/Yayagullale Nov, 23, 2017 Killed
20 Dirriba Hailu Shewa/YayaGullale Nov, 23, 2017 Killed
21 Girma Shifera Shewa/Yayagullale Nov, 23, 2017 Injured
22 Adane Tibabu Shewa/Yayaullale Nov, 23, 2017 Injured
23 Insa Megersa Shewa/Yayagullale Nov, 23, 2017 Injured

HRLHA has expressed its concerns several times to the world community in general, to Western donor governments (the USA, the UK, Canada, Norway, Sweden), governmental agencies (UN, EU & AU) in particular regarding the  systematic and planned killings targeting educated  Oromo men and women, outstanding university students, Oromo nationalists by the Ethiopian government killing squad, Agazi force which has been deployed by the government deep into community villages  of Oromia.

Advancing its plan of systematic killings of Oromos, the TPLF/EPRDF  government trained another group of killers,  the Liyu Police in Somali Regional State, Eastern neighbor state of Oromia  and deployed them along the border between Oromia and Somali State where they have killed thousands of innocent Oromo  farmers-since 2011 to the present- invading the border Oromo areas. The well trained and armed Liyu Police led by TPLF/EPRDF commanders entered into the OromiaState territory from East and West  Hararge, Bale, Borana, Guji Zones and killed, evicted, abducted Oromos and occupied some areas in Bale, Hararge, Borana and Guji areas permanently. Oromos and Somali are, respectively, the two largest regions in the country by area size, sharing a border of over 1,400 km (870 miles). The attacks of the Liyu Police on Oromos took place not only across the border, they also killed many Oromos living in Somali Regional State towns of Jigjiga, Wuchale, Gode, forcefully disappeared over two hundred Oromo business men and women and displaced over seven hundred  thousand (700,000) others including women, children and seniors.

The  700,000 evicted Oromos from the Somali Regional Statepushed out by the government of Somali state have been deported to Oromiaand are currently suffering in different concentration camps, including in Hamaressain Harar town, Dirredawa and other areas. They are mostly without shelter, and food and are in poor health.

Sadly enough, these displaced Oromos did not get the attention of the TPLF/EPRDF government and did not  receive any humanitarian aid from the federal government of Ethiopia and other sister federal states or from international donor governments and organizations in the past over six months. They depended only on their fellow Oromo brothers and sisters. The Federal Government of Ethiopia which highly depends on Oromia resources (about 70%) for its annual income has failed to provide even emergency  funding to Oromos who have been displaced and chased from Somali Regional State leaving behind their all belongings. The TPLF/EPRDF government and the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO),  the  member  of ruling party, the EPRDF deliberately hides the suffering of 700,000 displaced Oromos from the world society, a move equal to genocide.

Based on the violations against the Oromo nation by the Ethiopian government  over the past twenty-five tears, the HRLHAhas found that the serious gross human rights violations committed by the Ethiopia Government against the Oromo nation since 1991 to the present constitute  crimes against humanity under international law. Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are deliberately committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack or individual attacks directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population. The crimes against humanity act include: a) forced population transfers and deportation, b) murder, c) rape and other sexual violence, and d) persecution as defined by the Rome Statute  article 7 of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the ad hoc international criminal courts.

Background:

The World community has witnessed in the past four or more years, since the Oromo mass movement had begun in 2014 to the present,that the Ethiopian people in general and the Oromo people in particular have suffered or are still suffering  under the EPRDF government:

  1. Over4500 Oromos, from young to old, have been brutalized, tens of thousands have been incarcerated and other thousands have been forcefully disappeared during the Oromo protests and over 700 hundred were massacred on October 2, 2016 at the Irrecha Oromo thanksgiving Festival
  2. For the past 26 years, the world has seen that this Ethiopian government does not believe in finding peaceful and sustainable solutions through negotiations with opposition political organizations or in finding solutions for the grievances of the people.
  3. The EPRDF government pretends in front of the world community it is practicing democracy, while the facts on the ground show that the Ethiopian government is committing a crime, a systematic campaign against Oromos that causes human suffering, or death on a large scale-a crime against humanity.

Therefore, the HRLHA urges the international community to act collectively in a timely and decisive manner – through the UN Security Council and in accordance with the UN charter on a case-by – case basis to stop the human tragedy in Oromia, Ethiopia.

The international communities and agencies (AU, EU & UN) can play a decisive role by doing the following:

  • Provide humanitarian aid to the displaced 700,000Oromos immediately to save the life of the people before it is too late
  • Put pressure on the TPLF/EPRDF government to allow neutral investigators to probe into the human rights crisis in the country as a precursor to international community intervention
  • Put pressure on the Ethiopian government to release all political prisoners in the country
  • Intervene to stop crimes against humanity by the Ethiopian military force using the principles of R2P adopted in 2005 by the UN General Assembly
  • Demand thatthe Ethiopian government return its military forces back to their camps from Oromia villages and towns

Copied To:

  • UN Human Rights Council
    OHCHR address: 
    Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
    Palais Wilson
    52 rue des Pâquis
    CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Africa Union (AU)
    African Union Headquarters
    P.O. Box 3243 | Roosevelt Street (Old Airport Area) | W21K19 | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    Tel: (251) 11 551 77 00 | Fax: (251) 11 551 78 44Webmaster: webmaster@africa-union.org
  • The US Department of State
    WASHINGTON, D.C. HEADQUARTERS
    (202) 895-3500
    OFMInfo@state.gov
    Office of Foreign Missions
    2201 C Street NW
    Room 2236
    Washington, D.C. 20520
    Customer Service Center
    3507 International Place NW
    Washington, D.C. 20522-3303
  • UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
    Parliamentary
    House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
    Tel: 020 7219 4055
    Fax: 020 7219 5851
    Email: hammondp@parliament.ukDepartmentalStreet,(DepartmentalStreet???)
    London, SW1A 2AH
    Tel: 020 7008 1500
    Email: fcocorrespondence@fco.gov.uk
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs (Norway)
    His Excellency BørgeBrende
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    E-mail: post@mfa.no
    Phone: + 47 23 95 00 00
    Address: 7. juniplassen 1, N-0032 Oslo


    Related articles (Oromian Economist Sources):

 

Oromia: #CalanqooMassacre, Calii Calanqoo 2ffaa: The number of  civilians killed by fascist Ethiopia’s (TPLF) security forces in Calanqoo (Chelenko) town, Meettaa district in east Haraghe zone of Oromia state has risen to 20;  more than a dozen were also wounded, many of whom are in critical condition

Democracy Now: Reports: Ethiopian Forces Crack Down on Oromo Protests, Killing up to 15

Opride: Ethiopia: Oromia hit by fresh #OromoProtests in response to state-sponsored killings

Ethiopia faces social media blackout after new ethnic unrest

U.S. Embassy Statement Following Deaths at Chelenko and Universities

 

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Ethiopian government used spyware against dissidents: report December 13, 2017

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It's never been easier for governments to keep track and spy on dissidents, but now that spyware software can be bought virtually off-the-shelf, any country can get in the game.

It’s never been easier for governments to keep track and spy on dissidents, but now that spyware software can be bought virtually off-the-shelf, any country can get in the game. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

 Listen 25:27

Read Story Transcript

In October 2016 at the Irreecha religious festival in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, at least 55 people were killed in a stampede after police fired tear gas into the crowds.

The deaths sparked nationwide protests and within days, a different kind of countermeasure got underway: cyberattacks.

AFP_GQ8ZL

Festival goers flee during a deadly stampede in Bishoftu. Several thousand people had gathered at a sacred lake to take part in the Irreecha ceremony, in which the Oromo community marks the end of the rainy season. (Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

‘The government was very nervous, the population was angry. So it was this time that they tried to hack me.’–  Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed

Given the work activist Jawar Mohammed does with the Oromia Media Network (OMN) and his profile online, he figured he’d be an obvious target, but it was how he was targeted that surprised him.

“When this suspicious email came, I did not open it. I passed it to our IT department. They looked at it, and they suspected it might be spyware,” he tells The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonti

“We in the media were providing the domestic and international community with updated information from every village. So the situation was extremely intense. The government was very nervous, the population was angry. So it was this time that they tried to hack me.”

AFP_GQ90A

Residents of Bishoftu crossed their wrists above their heads as a symbol for the Oromo anti-government protesting movement during the Oromo new year holiday Irreechaa in Bishoftu, October 2, 2016. (Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images)

Even before the protests, Mohammed says the government was using different hackers from Russia and China to get into his email and attack OMN’s website.
What made the email suspicious?

Mohammed says the email looked like it came from people he knew. There was also a link provided and when clicked, prompted an Adobe software download.

“That was quite strange so I stopped there and contacted our IT people,” he says.

Then the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab that studies surveillance and content filtering on the internet was contacted to investigate this email.

Computer search engine

Bill Marczak at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab says rules and oversight regarding lawful intercept are lacking. (Getty Images)

Bill Marczak, senior research fellow at the facility, says upon looking at Mohammed’s email, a link that looked like it was going to a website called EastAfro.com, which is an Eritrean online video portal, was not what it seemed.

“When we looked at the link, it actually appeared that someone had registered a website to look like EastAfro.com which was called EastAfro.net. So it was a lookalike website which was our immediate clue that something was suspicious,” Marczak tells Tremonti.

A virtual machine in the lab determined that when the link in Mohammed’s email was clicked and the software downloaded and installed, “it would have started sending information from the computer back to a server on the internet which is a telltale sign of spyware,” Marczak says.
Is this illegal?

While it’s typically illegal for a private individual to use spyware against someone else, Marczak says when it’s a government following this procedure, they can often use local law as a defence.

“But the problem is that governments like Ethiopia and other places, the rules and oversight regarding lawful intercept are lacking,” he says.

‘We found an IP address traced to Ethiopia.’– Bill Marczak

Marczak says the lab was able to trace a sample of the spyware from Mohammed’s email to a fake Adobe Flash update used by computer security researchers who investigate suspicious files.

“We noticed the second sample was signed by this company Cyberbit. And from there we looked at its website and found out that this is the company that claims to sell exclusively to governments,” he explains.

The spyware was traced to Ethiopia because the server attached to it had a publicly accessible log file, according to Marczak.

“This is not typically something that you want to have on your spyware server if you’re running a secret operation,” Marczak says, adding that the company probably forgot that this feature existed.

“The log file showed who was logging in to check the results of the spyware. In other words, who was logging in to download the data that was being uploaded by infected computers, and we found an IP address traced to Ethiopia.”

The Current did contact Canada’s privacy commissioner, Daniel Therrien, for comment on this story. A spokesperson replied that online surveillance by foreign governments is outside the commission’s jurisdiction, and directed The Current’s producers to Global Affairs. We contacted that department, but no one got back to us. 

The Current also contacted the Ethiopian embassy in Ottawa. A spokeswoman there said no one was available to speak to this issue today. 


Listen to the full conversation above — including Dmitri Vitaliev, co-founder and director of eQualit.ie, a Montreal-based nonprofit that provides support, training, and digital protection for journalists activists and civil society workers worldwide.


This segment was produced by The Current’s John Chipman and Susana Ferriera.

Oromia: #CalanqooMassacre, Calii Calanqoo 2ffaa: The number of  civilians killed by fascist Ethiopia’s (TPLF) security forces in Calanqoo (Chelenko) town, Meettaa district in east Haraghe zone of Oromia state has risen to 20;  more than a dozen were also wounded, many of whom are in critical condition December 12, 2017

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Two students were also killed last night at Shambu campus of Wolega university as student protests continued in several universities  

By Addis Standard staffs

December 12/2017 – The number of  civilians killed by security forces in Chelenko town, Meta woreda in east Haraghe zone of the oromia regional state has risen to 15;  more than a dozen were also wounded, many of whom are in critical condition.

According to Addisu Arega Kitessa, head of the Oromia region communication bureau, authorities at the highest level in Oromia region were investigating why and how these killings were “taken against peaceful civilians”. Addisu implicated the role of members of the national defense force but the locals say the killings were also committed by members of the Liyu Police operating in Ethio-Somali regional state and is accused of committing perpetual violence against civilians. According to Abdulatif, a nurse in Dire Dawa hospital who only wanted to be identified by his first name, many of the wounded who are currently being treated at the hospital have “are being treated for gun shots, some of which were from a close range,” he told Addis Standard by phone.

According to Addisu Arega, the protesters in the city have went out to the streets yesterday to denounce the killing of an individual called Ahimaddinnn Ahimad Asaasaa, by members of the Liyu Police.  Ahimaddinnn died on the way to a hospital, which led the town’s people to come out to the streets to protest.

Abdulatif told Addis Standard quoting “some of” the family members of the victims that the “protests were happening with the people of the town chanting ‘enough with the killings by [the] Liyu police’ when all of a sudden shots began to be fired.” According to him, protesters in other parts of the city have then begun blocking roads “to prevent the security forces access to protest areas, but the security forces have dismantled the road blocks using heavy military vehicles while at the same time shooting at the protesting civilians.”

Six people killed on the spot yesterday, according to Addisu. But that number has now risen to fifteen. Abdulatif said  many of the wounded admitted at the hospital “may not survive due to the severity of their wounds.”  Among them were women and children. Abdulatif couldn’t tell the exact number of civilians admitted to the hospital, but Addisu said yesterday that 14 people were wounded, six of whom seriously. On December 09/2017 residents of Babile and Moyale towns in east Hararghe and southern Ethiopia respectively have told the VOA Amharic that there were everyday killings committed by members of the Liyu police. Several pictures showing wounds of gun shots and dead bodies are circulating in Ethiopia’s social media space.

The burial of those who were killed yesterday is expected to take place today and security in the area remain tense.

University students protesting 

Meanwhile, two university students were killed last night at Shambu campus of the Wolega University, 305 km west of Addis Abeba, following “fights between the students,” according to Addisu Arega. He said several suspects were detained and were under investigation. Addisu provided no further detail but said he would release further information is due course.

The news comes as students in universities of Gonder & Woldiya in Amhara regional state and Ambo and Haremaya in Oromia regional state began protesting since yesterday in the wake of the killing of a student in Adigrat University in Tigrai regional state over the past weekend as a result of a fight between two students. Officials have not released adequate information surrounding the clear circumstances of the killing of student Habtamu Yalew Sinashaw, a second year management student who was from West Gojam Zone, Dega Damot Woreda, Dikul Kana Kebele of the Amhara regional state. But the news has stirred ethnic tensions in several university campuses. Protesting students also claim that the number of casualties is more than what is admitted by authorities.  A video allegedly showing the protest by Gonder university students has also surfaced.

The protests have continued until today and security forces are being dispatched to the university campuses.



 

Related:


Jiraattonni hedduun immoo haleellaa kanaan madaa’anii gara Hospitaala adda addaatti geeffamuu ibsamee jira.Kanneen daangaa irratti wal waraanaa jiraniif raashinni ykn nyaati haa ergamuu jechuun waajiira bulchiinsaa duratti hiriirree ituu jirru haleellaan kun nu irratti gaggeefamee jedhu Jiraattonni.

Bulchiinsi Godinaa Harargee Bahaa Obbo Jamaal Ahmadee walitti bu’iinsi kun uummauu mirkaneessee jiran.Walitti bu’iinsa kana dura daangaa anaa meettaa araddaa Sarkamaa irratti guyyoota darban lamaa fi sadiif Oromiyaa fi Naannoo Somaalee giddutti walitti bu’iinsa tureen gam lameen irraa namnii tokko tokko ajjefamuu ibsan.

Dargaggonnis ajjechaa Oromoo irratti gaggeeffamuun mufannaa qabaniin daandilee dhagaan cufanii yeroo hiriiranti raayyaan ittisaa daandii bansisuuf yaalii godheen walitti bu’iinsa ka’een namonin ajjefaman akkasumas mada’an akka jiran dubbatan.

Garu lakkoofsa isaanii hin qulqulleeffanne jedhan.Haala jiru adda baafatanii deebii akka nu kennan Obbo Jamaal Ahmedee waadaa nu seenanii jiru.

Gaaffii fi deebii gaggeeffame Caqasaa


Mass unrest in state of Oromia, federal forces blamed for killings, for more click here to  read at Africa news.

NEWSWEEK: DID ETHIOPIA ‘SPY ON OROMO DISSIDENTS’ LIVING IN THE UK? December 11, 2017

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“The solution for Ethiopia is not in spying over political dissenters like us, it is in listening to the people and meeting their demands” Habte said.

DID ETHIOPIA ‘SPY ON OROMO DISSIDENTS’ LIVING IN THE UK?

The Ethiopian government has allegedly carried out a spyware campaign targeting dissidents living abroad, including in the U.K., a report has claimed.

Canada-based research group Citizen Lab alleged that Ethiopian dissidents were targeted with emails containing “sophisticated commercial spyware posing as Adobe Flash updates and PDF plugins”.

The report further claimed that Ethiopia used a commercial spyware product manufactured by Israel-based Elbit Systems Ltd to spy on dissidents.

Those targeted included dissidents from the Oromo community, one of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups, the U.S.-based media outlet Oromo Media Network as well as one of the researchers conducting the investigation.

Etana Habte, an Oromo activist and PhD candidate and Senior Teaching Fellow at SOAS, University of London, was also targeted.

He believes the government allegedly targeted him to identify people behind protests in Ethiopia’s Oromia state, which was rocked by months-long demonstrations, some of which turned deadly.

“By spying over us they mainly want to identify a wide circle of people who communicate with us on the movement at home,” he told Newsweek.

“They wanted to break into our privacy, collect information from our communications with one another, because they believe the leadership of Oromo Protests communicates with us.

“The solution for Ethiopia is not in spying over political dissenters like us, it is in listening to the people and meeting their demands” Habte said.

The Ethiopian embassy in London has not responded to a request for a comment on the allegations.

Ethiopian Communications Minister Negeri Lencho declined to comment on the report, according to Reuters.

Researchers said their findings raised questions on Elbit’s human rights due diligence practices.

The company said in a statement: “The intelligence and defenses agencies that purchase these products are obligated to use them in accordance with the applicable law.” It added that it only sell products to defense, intelligence, national security and law enforcement agencies approved by the Israeli government.

Deadly protests explained

Oromia protests
People mourn the death of Dinka Chala who was shot by Ethiopian forces in the Yubdo Village, about 100 kilometers from Addis Ababa in the Oromia region, on December 17, 2015. Dinka Chala was accused of protesting, but his family says he was not involved. Oromia was rocked by months-long protests, some of which turned deadly.ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Demonstrations started in Oromia in late 2015, where people initially protested over government plans to expand the territory of the capital Addis Ababa, with farmers raising concerns that increasing the size of the city would lead to forced evictions and loss of farming land.

The government later scrapped the plans, but protests continued. Oromo people argued for a greater inclusion in the political process and the release of political prisoners.

The protests, labelled as the biggest anti-government unrest the country has witnessed in recent history, later spread to Amhara and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) region.

The unrest continued throughout 2016.

Last October, the government implemented a six-month-long state of emergency, which was further extended by four months in March, to tackle the unrest.

Critics of the state of emergency claimed the government was trying to quell protests by, among other things, restricting freedoms and banning certain media outlets, including the Oromia Media Network. The government denied the allegations.

Rights groups have criticizied Ethiopia for the way it handled protests, accusing the military and the police of using excessive force to quell demonstrations.

The response to the unrest resulted in the death of at least 669 people, a figure the government confirmed in a report released in April.

While the country’s Human Rights Commission recommended prosecution of some police officers, it maintained that the overall response by security forces was adequate.


 

The Citizen Lab report: A campaign of targeted malware attacks apparently carried out by Ethiopia’s regime from 2016 until the present with new commercial spyware, PC Surveillance System offered by Cyberbit December 6, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

HRW: Ethiopia: New Spate of Abusive Surveillance

Spyware Industry Needs Regulation


CHAMPING AT THE CYBERBITETHIOPIAN DISSIDENTS TARGETED WITH NEW COMMERCIAL SPYWARE

Key Findings

  • This report describes how Ethiopian dissidents in the US, UK, and other countries were targeted with emails containing sophisticated commercial spyware posing as Adobe Flash updates and PDF plugins. Targets include a US-based Ethiopian diaspora media outlet, the Oromia Media Network (OMN), a PhD student, and a lawyer. During the course of our investigation, one of the authors of this report was also targeted.
  • We found a public logfile on the spyware’s command and control server and monitored this logfile over the course of more than a year. We saw the spyware’s operators connecting from Ethiopia, and infected computers connecting from IP addresses in 20 countries, including IP addresses we traced to Eritrean companies and government agencies.
  • Our analysis of the spyware indicates it is a product known as PC Surveillance System (PSS), a commercial spyware product with a novel exploit-free architecture. PSS is offered by Cyberbit — an Israel-based cyber security company that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems — and marketed to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
  • We conducted Internet scanning to find other servers associated with PSS and found several servers that appear to be operated by Cyberbit themselves. The public logfiles on these servers seem to have tracked Cyberbit employees as they carried infected laptops around the world, apparently providing demonstrations of PSS to the Royal Thai Army, Uzbekistan’s National Security Service, Zambia’s Financial Intelligence Centre, the Philippine President’s Malacañang Palace, ISS World Europe 2017 in Prague, and Milipol 2017 in Paris. Cyberbit also appears to have provided other demos of PSS in France, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Serbia, and Nigeria.

1. Executive Summary

This report describes a campaign of targeted malware attacks apparently carried out by Ethiopia from 2016 until the present. In the attacks we document, targets receive via email a link to a malicious website impersonating an online video portal. When a target clicks on the link, they are invited to download and install an Adobe Flash update (containing spyware) before viewing the video. In some cases, targets are instead prompted to install a fictitious app called “Adobe PdfWriter” in order to view a PDF file. Our analysis traces the spyware to a heretofore unobserved player in the commercial spyware space: Israel’s Cyberbit, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems. The spyware appears to be a product called PC Surveillance System (PSS), recently renamed PC 360.

The attacks we first identified were targeted at Oromo dissidents based outside of Ethiopia, including the Oromia Media Network (OMN). Oromia is the largest regional ethnic state of Ethiopia by population and area, comprised mostly of the Oromo people.


Figure 1: Oromia Region, Ethiopia

We later discovered that the spyware’s command and control (C&C) server has a public logfile that appears to show both operator and victim activity, allowing us to gain insight into the identity of the operators and the targets. Based on our analysis of the logfile, it appears that the spyware’s operators are inside Ethiopia, and that victims also include various Eritrean companies and government agencies.

We scanned the Internet for similar C&C servers and found what appear to be several servers used by Cyberbit. The public logfiles on those servers seem to have tracked Cyberbit employees as they carried infected laptops around the world, apparently providing demonstrations of PSS to various potential clients. The logfiles appear to place Cyberbit employees at IP addresses associated with the Royal Thai Army, Uzbekistan’s National Security Service, Zambia’s Financial Intelligence Centre, the Philippine President’s Malacañang Palace, ISS World Europe 2017 in Prague, and Milipol 2017 in Paris. Cyberbit also appears to have provided other demos to clients we could not identify in France, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Serbia, and Nigeria.


Figure 2: Countries with Ethiopian Cyberbit targets.

This report is the latest in a growing body of work that shows the wide abuse of nation-state spyware by authoritarian leaders to covertly surveil and invisibly sabotage entities they deem political threats. After FinFisher, Hacking Team, and NSO Group, Cyberbit is the fourth vendor of nation-state spyware whose tools we have seen abused, and the second based in Israel.  Cyberbit’s PSS is also not the first spyware that Ethiopia has abused outside of its borders: in 2015, we discovered that Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency (INSA) was using Hacking Team’s RCS spyware to target US-based journalists at the Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT). Ethiopia has also previously targeted dissidents using FinFisher’s FinSpy spyware.

Citizen Lab has published a companion post outlining some of the legal and regulatory issues raised by this investigation. We also sent letters to Cyberbit and Adobe concerning the misuse of their respective products. Cyberbit responded on December 5, 2017, stating in part: “we appreciate your concern and query and we are addressing it subject to the legal and contractual confidentiality obligations Cyberbit Solutions is bound by.” Adobe respondedon December 6, 2017, stating in part: “we have taken steps to swiftly address this issue, including but not limited to contacting Cyberbit and other relevant service providers.”

2. Background

2.1. Oromo Protests and Diaspora Media Outlets

Largely peaceful protests erupted in the Ethiopian state of Oromia in November 2015, in response to a government decision to pursue a development project involving the razing of a forest and football field. Protesters coalesced around opposition to a larger plan, the Addis Ababa Master Plan, which they feared would displace some of the 2 million Oromo residents living around Addis Ababa. The government labeled the protesters terrorists and responded with lethal force and arbitrary arrests. Over the next year, security forces killed over 1000 people, many of them from Oromia, during anti-government protests. This culminated in a state of emergency that was called in October 2016 that lasted over 10 months.

Oromia Media Network (OMN) is a US-based media channel that describes itself as an “independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit news enterprise whose mission is to produce original and citizen-driven reporting on Oromia, the largest and most populous state in Ethiopia.”  OMN broadcasts via satellite, and also has an Internet and social media presence. According toHuman Rights Watch, OMN “played a key role in disseminating information throughout Oromia during the protests.” The government has “reportedly jammed OMN 15 times since it began operations in 2014” and arrested individuals for providing information to OMN or displaying the channel in their businesses.

2.2. Cyberbit and PSS

Cyberbit is an Israel-based cyber security company and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Israeli defense and homeland security manufacturer and contractor Elbit Systems. Cyberbit was established in 2015 in order to consolidate Elbit Systems’ activities relating to the Cyber Intelligence and Cyber Security markets.” Cyberbit merged with the NICE Cyber and Intelligence Division in 2015 after Elbit acquired that entity for approximately $158 million, with Cyberbit reportedly taking on the division’s employees. Elbit had previously acquiredC4 Security in June 2011 for $10.9 million; C4 described itself as “specializ[ing] in information warfare, SCADA and military C&C systems security.  According to one employee’s LinkedIn page, C4 also developed a product called “PSS Surveillance System,” billed as a “solution[] for intelligence and law enforcement agencies.” Cyberbit marketing materials1 refer to what appears to be the same system: “CYBERBIT PC Surveillance System (PSS).” PSS is also referenced on Elbit’s website as a solution “for collection from personal computers.” Elbit reportedly will be reorganizing Cyberbit, effective as of 2018, to separate its defense and commercial businesses, with Cyberbit continuing to operate the “C4i division and commercial cyber business.” Elbit’s major subsidiaries are located in Israel and the United States, and Elbit is listed on the NASDAQ and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.


Figure 3: Screenshot of PSS Console (Source: 
Cyberbit Marketing Materials).

Cyberbit is the second Israel-based nation-state spyware vendor we have identified and analyzed, the other being NSO Group. The two companies operate in the same market and have even been connected with the same clients. In an extradition request for former Panamanian President Martinelli, Panama alleged that Martinelli had directed the purchase of two spyware products: PSS and NSO Group’s Pegasus. Additionally, a leaked Hacking Team email about NSO claims that: “NSO only has mobile agents … Apparently the pc part is handled by another company, PSS.”

Cyberbit describes PSS as “a comprehensive solution for monitoring and extracting information from remote PCs.” As is standard in the marketing materials for spyware companies, Cyberbit represents that their design “eliminat[es] the possibility that the operation will be traced back to the origin.”


Figure 4: Data exfiltrated by PSS (Source: 
Cyberbit Marketing Materials).

Cyberbit says that PSS “helps LEAs and intelligence organizations to reduce crime, prevent terrorism and maintain public safety by gaining access, monitoring, extracting and analyzing information from remote PCs.”  Information that PSS can monitor and extract includes “VoIP calls, files, emails, audio recordings, keylogs and virtually any information available on the target device.”

3. Targeting of Jawar Mohammed

Jawar Mohammed is the Executive Director of the Oromia Media Network (OMN). He is also a prolific activist, with more than 1.2 million followers on Facebook. October 2, 2016 was the annual Irreecha cultural festival, the most important Oromo cultural festival. Millions of people each year gather at the festival site in Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa. In 2016, “scores of people” died at the festival “following a stampede triggered by security forces’ use of teargas and discharge of firearms in response to an increasingly restive crowd.” Jawar was active at the time on social media in stoking the passions of Oromo on the ground, circulating both verified and unverified information. On October 4, 2016, while in Minneapolis, USA, Jawar received the email in Figure 5.  He forwarded the email to Citizen Lab for analysis.

From: sbo radio <sbo.radio88[@]gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2016 16:50:13 +0300
Subject: Fw: Confidential video made publicWhat do you think of this video ? In case you don’t have the right version of adobe flash and can’t watch the video, you can get the latest version of Adobe flash from Here
http://getadobeplayer%5B.%5Dcom/flashplayer/download/index7371.html.———- Forwarded message ———-
From: sbo radio <sbo.radio88[@]gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Oct 10, 2014 at 4:23 PM
Subject: Video hints Eritrea and Ethiopia war is highly likely to continueDear Excellencies,Video : Eritrea and Ethiopia war likely to continue
http://www.eastafro%5B.%5Dnet/eritrea-ethiopia-border-clash-video.html

regards,Sbo Radio
Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Figure 5: An email sent to Jawar on October 4, 2016. The sender most likely crafted the email to make it appear that this was a forwarded message.
The site eastafro[.]net appears to impersonate the (legitimate) Eritrean video website eastafro.com. When a target clicks on an operator-generated link to eastafro[.]net, JavaScript on the site checks to see whether the target is using Windows and whether their Adobe Flash Player is up to date. If the script detects a Windows user with an out-of-date Flash Player, it displays a message asking the user to update their Flash Player. If clicked, or after 15 seconds, the user is redirected to a page on getadobeplayer[.]com, which offers the user a real Flash Player update bundled with spyware.
Figure 6: Message displayed when a target clicks on a link to eastafro[.]net.

If the user downloads and installs the malicious Flash update, their computer is infected. It is clear that this is a targeted attack: if a user simply types in eastafro[.]net into their browser’s address bar, they are redirected to the legitimate site, eastafro.com. If a user does the same with getadobeplayer[.]com, they are served a “403 Forbidden” message. Both sites have robots.txt files instructing search engines not to crawl them. Access to the spyware is granted only if the user clicks on a link sent by the operator.

In all, Jawar received eleven emails between 5/30/2016 and 10/13/2016, and one more than a year later on 11/22/2017. Each email contained links to what were purportedly videos on eastafro[.]net, or Adobe Flash Player updates on getadobeplayer[.]com. The 11/22/2017 email contained a link to eastafro[.]net that asked the target to install “Adobe’s PdfWriter,” a fictitious product. The download contained the same spyware as the malicious Adobe Flash Player updates, but was packaged with CutePDF Writer, “a proprietary Portable Document Format converter and editor for Microsoft Windows developed by Acro Software,” with no connection to Adobe.


Figure 7: “Adobe PdfWriter” Installation Prompt.

In many cases, the operators appear to have registered their own accounts to send the infection attempts. However, the email address sbo.radio88[@]gmail.com used by operators to target Jawar is associated with the radio station of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The account may have been compromised.

Table 1: Malicious emails received by Jawar.

Date Subject Sender
5/30/2016 Ethiopia Struggling with inside Challenges! eliassamare[@]gmail.com
6/15/2016 Tsorona Conflict Video! eliassamare[@]gmail.com
6/29/2016 UN Report and Diaspora Reaction! eliassamare[@]gmail.com
8/4/2016 Ethiopia and Current Options! eliassamare[@]gmail.com
8/15/2016 Fwd: Triggering Ethiopia Protests! eliassamare[@]gmail.com
9/5/2016 Saudi-Iran and the Red Sea! eliassamare[@]gmail.com
9/6/2016 Congrats – የኢሳት ፍሬዎች wadewadejoe[@]gmail.com
9/22/2016 Is Funding Ethiopia the Right time Now? eliassamare[@]gmail.com
10/4/2016 Fw: Confidential video made public sbo.radio88[@]gmail.com
10/10/2016 Egypt-Ethiopia new tension! awetnaeyu[@]gmail.com
10/13/2016 Confidential Videos made public wadewadejoe[@]gmail.com
11/22/2017 Gov official interrogated following leakage of national security meeting minutes lekanuguse2014[@]gmail.com

The Ethiopian Government charged Jawar with terrorism in February 2017 under the criminal code; Jawar and OMN denied all charges.

4. Investigation to Find Additional Targets

We set out to find additional targets. We conducted targeting testing of members of the Oromo community using Himaya, our email scanning tool, to determine whether they had received any similar malicious messages. We also found a public logfile on the spyware’s C&C server (Section 5.2); the logfile listed IP addresses of infected devices and we were able to identify additional victims based on their IP.

4.1. Other Targets

Etana Habte is a PhD student at SOAS University of London. He is a frequent commentator on Ethiopian issues and appears regularly on OMN.

Table 2: Malicious emails received by Etana.

Date Subject Sender
12/9/2016 Let’s stop EU & the World Bank from funding $500 m to Ethiopia shigut.gelleta[@]gmail.com
1/11/2017 Fwd: MONOSANTO (A multinational company)’s plan on Oromia networkoromostudies2015[@]gmail.com

The address shigut.gelleta@gmail.com appears to be an account created by attackers designed to impersonate Shigut Geleta, a member of the OLF.

Dr. Henok Gabisa is a Visiting Academic Fellow who teaches at Washington and Lee University School of Law and is the founder of the Association of Oromo Public Defenders (Public Interest Lawyers Association) in Oromia.

Table 3: Malicious emails received by Henok.

Date Subject Sender
3/6/2017 Why did MONOSANTO target the Oromiya region? networkoromostudies2015[@]gmail.com
3/13/2017 Democracy in Ethiopia: Can it be saved? networkoromostudies2015[@]gmail.com

Bill Marczak is a researcher at Citizen Lab and an author of this report. Marczak was targeted after he asked another target to forward an email sent by operators. At the time, the target’s email account was compromised (the target had been previously infected with this spyware).  On March 29, 2017, while in San Francisco, USA, Marczak received a message entitled “Martin Plaut and Ethiopia’s politics of famine,” from networkoromostudies2015[@]gmail.com. The email contained a link to eastafro[.]net.


Figure 8: Message received by Citizen Lab Senior Research Fellow Bill Marczak. The use of the Comic Sans font is due to the attacker’s font selection.

Other Targets: Several malicious emails we found were sent to multiple receipients, according to their headers.  We found 39 additional email addresses of targets using this method; at least 12 addresses appear to be linked to targets active on Oromo issues, or working for Oromo groups.

4.2. Logfile Analysis

Peculiarly, we found a public logfile on the spyware’s C&C server; the logfile recorded activity that allowed us to geolocate (or in some cases, identify) victims. We analyzed more than a year of logs showing victim (and operator) activity. Each logfile entry contains a unique identifier (a GUID) associated with the infection, a value indicating whether the entry records victim or operator activity, the IP address that the infected device (or operator) connected to the C&C server from, and finally a timestamp showing when the communication took place (for more details on the logfile, see Section 4.3). The format of the logfile allowed us to track infections as they moved between different IP addresses, such as when an infected target carried their laptop between home and work, or while traveling.

During more than a year of monitoring the server’s logfiles, we observed 67 different GUIDs.  All infections were operated by the same operator, who only ever used one IP address, which belongs to a satellite connection (except for a three hour period on a single day when the operator’s activity “failed over” to two other IP addresses, one address in Ethiopia and one VPN, perhaps due to transient satellite connection failure). We identified 11 of the 67 GUIDs as likely resulting from testing by the operator, or execution by researchers, based on their apparent short duration. Further, we noted that some GUIDs likely referenced the same infected device, as they represented consecutive, non-overlapping infections whose IP addresses corresponded with the same Internet Service Provider (ISP). This was the case for two GUIDs in the UK, two in South Sudan, and 12 in Uganda.

We arrived at 43 GUIDs that we believe represent distinct infected devices. We then sought to geolocate each infection to a country. We first ran the MaxMind GeoLite 2 Countrydatabase on each IP and associated a set of countries with each infection. For each infection that had only one country associated with it, we examined a small number of IP addresses from the infection, to see whether those IPs looked like they were actually in that country, or whether geolocation may have been incorrect due to the IP being associated with a VPN or satellite connection.

For infections that MaxMind associated with multiple countries, we determined the dominant country, based on the country with the largest number of logfile entries for that infection. For the dominant country, we checked a small number of IP addresses to make sure the geolocation was correct. For the other countries, we checked each IP in an attempt to eliminate incorrect geolocation. We noted four infections that predominantly connected from satellite connections, which MaxMind geolocated to UK or UAE; we changed the geolocation of these devices to Eritrea, as the infections either “failed over” to IPs registered to EriTel, or shared the same satellite IP address as other infections that “failed over” to EriTel IPs.

Table 4: Number of infections we geolocated to each country, for countries where we geolocated more than one infection.

Country # Infected Devices
Eritrea 7
Canada 6
Germany 6
Australia 4
USA 4
South Africa 2

Other countries in which we saw only a single infected device were: Belgium, Egypt, Ethiopia, UK, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Qatar, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and Yemen.

After we eliminated VPN IPs, and geolocated the four infections that predominantly connected from satellite connections, we found that 40 of 43 infections only ever communicated from a single country. The remaining three devices appear to have travelled between several countries. The three infections that traveled internationally are as follows:

  • A device that twice travelled from Eritrea (via Germany) to the United Nations in Geneva.  We geolocated this device to Eritrea.
  • A device that predominantly connected from the University of Tsukuba in Japan that travelled to Eritrea. We geolocated this device to Japan.
  • A device that predominantly connected from York University in Canada that travelled to Eritrea. We geolocated this device to Canada.

We were able to trace six of the infections (five in Eritrea, one abroad) to Eritrean government agencies or companies, suggesting that operators are likely targeting members of the Eritrean government in addition to Ethiopian dissidents.

4.3. Other Attacker Sites

During our analysis we, identified two other websites sharing the same IP address as getadobeplayer[.]com, which also appear to have been used by the same attackers to target victims with the same spyware: diretube.co[.]uk (impersonating diretube[.]com, an Ethiopian video site), and meskereme[.]net (impersonating meskerem[.]net, an Eritrean opposition website).

The diretube.co[.]uk site used the same Adobe Flash update ploy to direct users to malware on getadobeplayer[.]com, whereas the meskereme[.]net site displays a message saying “Problem reading Tigrinya? Install these fonts,” with links to the fonts bundled with spyware.  The legitimate website, meskerem[.]net displays the same message, but links to fonts without the spyware.

5. Attribution to Cyberbit and Ethiopia

This section describes how we attributed the spyware to Cyberbit and Ethiopia.

5.1. Digital Signature Points to Cyberbit

By monitoring getadobeplayer[.]com, we found and analyzed five samples of the spyware as it was updated over time.

Table 5: The samples from getadobeplayer[.]com that we analyzed.

MD5 Name
568d8c43815fa9608974071c49d68232 flashplayer20_a_install.exe
80b7121c4ecac1c321ca2e3f507104c2 flashplayer21_xa_install.exe
8d6ce1a256acf608d82db6539bf73ae7 flashplayer22_xa_install.exe
840c4299f9cd5d4df46ee708c2c8247c flashplayer23_xa_install.exe
961730964fd76c93603fb8f0d445c6f2 flashplayer24_xa_install.exe

Each sample communicates with two command and control (C&C) servers: time-local[.]comand time-local[.]net.

We found a structurally similar sample (see Section 7 for details on structural similarities) in VirusTotal:

MD5: 376f28fb0aa650d6220a9d722cdb108d
SHA1: c7b4b97369a2ca77e916d5175d162dc2b823763b
SHA256: c76d2a8c1c8865b1aa6512e13b77cbc7446022b7be3378f7233c5ca4a5e58116

That sample communicated with a C&C server at the following URL: pssts1.nozonenet[.]com/ts8/ts8.php (note the use of “PSS” in the URL). The sample also drops an EXE file containing a digital signature (valid as of the date submitted to VirusTotal) produced by a certificate with the following details:

CN = C4 Security
O = C4 Security
STREET = 13 Noach Mozes St
L = Tel aviv
S = Gush Dan
PostalCode = 67442
C = IL
RFC822 Name=tal.barash@c4-security.com

Note that c4-security.com was the official website of C4 security, according to a brochureposted on the website of the Israeli Export Institute.

5.2. Public Logfile Analysis Points to Ethiopia and Cyberbit

While monitoring additional PSS C&C servers that we discovered during scanning (Section 6.1), we found that one of these servers temporarily exposed a directory listing in response to a normal GET / HTTP/1.1 request (Figure 9). The directory listing contained the text: “Apache/2.4.7 (Ubuntu) Server at cyberbitc[.]com Port 80,” indicating that the server was associated with Cyberbit. The website cyberbitc[.]com is owned by Cyberbit and was used by Cyberbit before they acquired cyberbit[.]com in March 2017.2


Figure 9: Directory listing on one of the servers that earlier matched our fingerprint.

This directory listing also revealed the existence of several files, including a file called rec.dat, which at first glance we noticed was encoded in binary format. We suspected that rec.dat might be a logfile, as it appeared to be constantly updated on the C&C servers. We noticed that rec.dat existed on all of the C&C servers we detected in our scanning and were able to test (Section 6.1), including on time-local[.]com and time-local[.]net, the C&C servers associated with the spyware samples sent to Oromo targets.

5.2.1. Logfile Analysis Shows Ethiopian Operator

To verify our logfile hypothesis, we performed a test infection of a virtual machine using one of the samples sent to Oromo targets and we allowed the virtual machine to communicate with the C&C server. The traffic comprised HTTP POST requests (Section 7.7), each of which contained an agentid, a GUID initially {00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000} and later nonzero.

After the infection, we downloaded rec.dat and found that it contained a series of records, several with our IP address, and our agentid GUID, in binary form. Each record of the logfile is delimited by the string \x41\x41\x41 (‘AAA’) and can be parsed with the following regular expression:

‘(.{4})\x00\x00(.)(.{4})(.{16})AAA’

The first group of four bytes is a UNIX timestamp, the second group of 1 byte is a type value (which, in our testing was always 2, 17, 21, 33, or 37), the third group of 4 bytes is an IP address, and the fourth group of 16 bytes is a GUID. The file appears to be a circular (i.e., size-capped) logfile stored in binary format whose maximum size is defined in config.ini to be 10MB. Old entries are removed from the front of the file as new entries are written to the end.

Peculiarly, we noticed additional entries in rec.dat with our GUID but with a different IP address, 207.226.46.xxx. We noticed that 207.226.46.xxx was also associated with every other GUID in rec.dat. We determined that this IP address is associated with a satellite connection.

Over a period of more than a year, we downloaded and analyzed this file at regular intervals, obtaining a total of 388 rec.dat samples from each of time-local[.]com and time-local[.]net (we also began pulling samples of rec.dat from new servers we detected in scanning). Our rec.dat files from time-local[.]com contain more than 32 million entries (more than 28 million entries are operator interactions and approximately 4 million are victim interactions).

In all of our rec.dat samples from time-local[.]com and time-local[.]net, we noted that entries in the logfile for all GUIDs with types 2, 21, and 33 only ever involved the IP address 207.226.46.xxx (except for a brief period of three hours on a single day, where we saw the activity “fail over” between 207.226.46.xxx and two other IP addresses, one VPN address, and one address in Ethiopia). Thus, we suspect that types 2, 21, and 33 represent interaction by the operator. We suspect that types 17 and 37 correspond to interactions by infected devices.

Table 6: IP addresses that the Ethiopian operator connected from.

IP Provider
207.226.46.xxx Satellite Connection
197.156.86.xxx Ethio Telecom
192.186.133.xxx CyberGhost VPN

That the attacker’s activity “failed over” between their satellite IP and an Ethio Telecom address suggests that the operator is inside Ethiopia.

5.2.2. Thirteen Servers Show a Cyberbit Nexus

Our scanning found 15 PSS C&C servers in all. Of those, two were the Ethiopia servers. Of the remaining 13 we found, we suspect all are operated by Cyberbit, perhaps as demonstration or development servers. Ten of the servers’ logfiles included the IP address 37.142.120.xxx, which is pointed to by a subdomain of cyberbit[.]net. Two other servers’ logfiles included the IP address 64.251.13.xxx, which also appeared in the logfile of one of the seven servers, as an operator of infections connecting back from 37.142.13.xxx, an IP address pointed to by a subdomain of cyberbit[.]net.

One of the servers, pupki[.]co, was unavailable when we tried to fetch rec.dat. The domain name was registered to a “Yevgeniy Gavrikov”. An individual by this name currently works as an “integration specialist” for Cyberbit, according to LinkedIn.

6. Other PSS Activity

6.1. Scanning for More C&C Servers

We fingerprinted the command and control (C&C) servers used by the spyware, time-local[.]com and time-local[.]net, based on the fact that they typically returned the following distinctive message upon a normal GET / HTTP/1.1 request:

PHP Configuration Error. Can not fetch xml request string

Over the course of our scanning, we found a total of 15 IP addresses matching this same fingerprint.

Table 7: PSS C&C servers we found in IPv4 scanning.

C&C IP Address Domain Name3
51.15.48.xxx
80.82.64.32 time-local[.]com
80.82.67.xxx
80.82.79.44 time-local[.]net
89.248.170.xxx
93.174.89.xxx
93.174.91.xxx
93.174.91.xxx
94.102.53.xxx
94.102.60.xxx
94.102.63.xxx
104.236.23.3 pupki[.]co
111.90.147.xxx
185.125.230.xxx
185.125.230.xxx

6.2. Demonstration Websites

By examining sites on the same IP address as eastafro[.]net, we found two additional sites: one site impersonating Download.com and one website impersonating the homepage of Avira Antivirus. These sites contained versions of several apps bundled with PSS, including Avira Antivirus, Ventrilo, Avast AntiVirus, and CCleaner. The versions of PSS we found talked to C&C servers in the list above that we identified as Cyberbit-run servers.

6.3. Public Logfile Analysis of Other Servers

In addition to the Ethiopia servers (Section 5.2), we analyzed the logfiles of 12 of the 13 other servers. We were able to identify what we believe are several product demonstrations to various clients around the world. Most of the demonstrations show similar patterns: activity during business hours from IP addresses that appear to belong to potential clients and activity off-hours at IP addresses that appear to belong to hotels. In a few cases, the activity is preceded or followed by activity from what appears to be airport Wi-Fi access points.


Figure 10: Cyberbit product demonstrations suggested by C&C logfiles.

In our analysis here, we introduce a notion of a period of activity to try and abstract away gaps between logfile entries that may be uninteresting. We say that a spyware infection is active between two logfile entries (we only include activity from the infected device here, i.e., types 17 and 37) if there is no more than an hour in between the entries. We omit periods of activity that are less than one minute from our consideration (except if they provide evidence that the infected device has moved). In each country case we present here, we are listing all the activity we found across the nine Cyberbit-operated C&C servers (perhaps excluding periods of activity less than a minute).

6.3.1. Timeline of Suspected Demonstrations

3/2016: Thailand (2 days). We found infections in Thailand from the IP 202.29.97.X, in AS4621, which appears to be an ASN used by various Thai universities. Tracerouting to 202.29.97.X yields the hop (royal-thai-army-to-902-1-5-gi-09-cr-pyt.uni.net.th). The IPs 202.29.97.(X-3) and 202.29.97.(X-1) return a TLS certificate whose CN is a subdomain of signalschool[.]net, which is registered to the Royal Thai Army’s Signal School. We did note that 202.29.97.X also appears to be a VPN. Nevertheless, it seems that the IP is under the control of the Royal Thai Army. We also observed each infection changing between several IPs that appear to belong to various mobile data providers.

The table below lists periods of activity for each infection; the first column (#) indicates the number of the infection; the second and third columns provide the minimum and maximum date and time of the period of activity (in the country’s local time, accounting for DST); the fourth column provides the duration of the period of activity (H:MM:SS); and the fifth column lists the location where the activity took place (or the likely identity of the agency receiving the demonstration).

Table 8: March 2016 suspected demo to Royal Thai Army.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 09:22:17 Day 1 10:07:05 0:44:48 Royal Thai Army
2 Day 1 14:52:10 Day 1 15:38:13 0:46:03 Royal Thai Army
3 Day 2 14:45:51 Day 2 17:01:11 2:15:20 Royal Thai Army

3/2016: Uzbekistan (3 days). We found four infections in Uzbekistan. The first two were from an IP address pointed to by a subdomain of rdhotel[.]uz, which is registered by an individual who is listed on LinkedIn as the manager of the Radisson Blu in Tashkent. The latter two were from an IP address linked to Uzbekistan’s National Security Service by the leaked Hacking Team emails.

Table 9: March 2016 suspected demo to Uzbekistan National Security Service.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 23:26:52 Day 2 00:10:00 0:43:08 Radisson Blu Tashkent
2 Day 2 08:46:20 Day 2 09:06:36 0:20:16 Radisson Blu Tashkent
3 Day 2 15:40:02 Day 2 15:45:52 0:05:50 National Security Service
3 Day 2 17:16:32 Day 2 18:24:42 1:08:10 National Security Service
4 Day 3 12:09:17 Day 3 12:41:35 0:32:18 National Security Service
4 Day 3 14:27:04 Day 3 14:53:39 0:26:35 National Security Service

10/2016: France (1 day). We found two infections in France on the same day in October 2016.  The first appeared to be from an IP address associated with the airport Wi-Fi at Paris’s Charles De Gaulle (CDG) airport. The second was from what appeared to be a landline IP address in Paris, which we could not attribute.

Table 10: October 2016 suspected demo to unknown clients in France.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 11:19:15 Day 1 11:24:04 0:04:49 CDG Airport Wi-Fi
2 Day 1 15:24:55 Day 1 16:08:03 0:43:08 86.245.198.xxx

11/2016: Vietnam (2 days). We found three infections in Vietnam. One was linked to an IP address that is numerically adjacent to another IP address that returns a web interface for an “HP MSM760 Controller” that displays the following information:

System name: Hilton Gardent Inn-HANOP
Location: Hanoi

We suspect that this activity is associated with the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel in Hanoi. The other activity appears to be from mobile broadband IP addresses; the identity of the potential client is not indicated by the data.

Table 11: November 2016 suspected demo to unknown clients in Vietnam.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 16:34:36 Day 1 18:52:09 2:17:33 Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi
1 Day 1 18:52:48 Day 1 19:01:12 0:08:24 (Mobile Broadband)
1 Day 1 19:35:50 Day 1 19:41:14 0:05:24 Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi
2 Day 2 11:34:24 Day 2 12:12:26 0:38:02 (Mobile Broadband)
3 Day 2 15:32:15 Day 2 17:13:41 1:41:26 (Mobile Broadband)

12/2016: Kazakhstan (1 day). We found an infection from an IP address registered (according to WHOIS information) to “Saad Hotel LLP” with an address matching the Marriott Hotel in Astana.

Table 12: December 2016 suspected demo to unknown clients in Kazakhstan.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 14:20:07 Day 1 14:35:39 0:15:32 Marriott Hotel Astana

12/2016: Zambia (2 days). Most of the activity was from mobile broadband IPs. However, the second infection was from an IP pointed to by a subdomain of fic.gov[.]zm, the website for Zambia’s Financial Intelligence Centre.

Table 13: December 2016 suspected demo to Zambia Financial Intelligence Centre.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 21:23:21 Day 1 21:57:52 0:34:31 (Mobile Broadband)
1 Day 2 05:20:05 Day 2 05:43:38 0:23:33 (Mobile Broadband)
2 Day 2 11:00:52 Day 2 11:29:37 0:28:45 Financial Intelligence Centre

1/2017: Rwanda (2 days). We could not attribute any of the IPs in Rwanda.

Table 14: January 2017 suspected demo to unknown clients in Rwanda.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 17:10:48 Day 1 18:28:47 1:17:59 (Unknown Loc 1)
1 Day 1 22:49:12 Day 1 23:27:30 0:38:18 (Unknown Loc 2)
2 Day 1 23:30:16 Day 2 04:18:06 4:47:50 (Unknown Loc 2)
3 Day 2 09:14:59 Day 2 09:27:34 0:12:35 (Unknown Loc 1)
4 Day 2 09:54:15 Day 2 10:51:47 0:57:32 (Unknown Loc 1)
5 Day 2 10:01:45 Day 2 12:54:13 2:52:28 (Unknown Loc 1)

2/2017: Philippines (5 days). We found an infection in February 2017 at 116.50.244.15. The IPs 116.50.244.10, 116.50.244.7, and 116.50.244.8 are pointed to by manila.newworldhotels.com or subdomains thereof. 116.50.244.7 is a Cisco VPN login page, which lists the “Group” as “New_World_Makati.” We assume that the Manila New World Makati Hotel is also the owner of 116.50.244.15.

This was followed by an infection one day later at an IP address pointed to by a subdomain of malacanang.gov[.]ph, which is the website of Malacañang Palace. The palace is the primary residence and offices of the Philippine President (Rodrigo Duterte as of the date of the demo).  The Malacañang Palace infection was followed by an infection from two other IP addresses in the Philippines.

Table 15: February 2017 suspected demo to Philippines Presidency.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 18:40:13 Day 1 18:55:01 0:14:48 New World Makati Hotel Manila
2 Day 2 12:01:08 Day 2 12:25:50 0:24:42 Malacañang Palace
3 Day 3 11:32:08 Day 3 11:53:13 0:21:05 112.198.102.xxx
3 Day 5 21:52:32 Day 5 22:28:55 0:36:23 202.57.61.xxx

3/2017: Kazakhstan (1 day). We found an infection from an IP address pointed to by kazimpex[.]kz. According to an article on IntelligenceOnline, Kazimpex is said to be closely linked with the “National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan” (KNB), an intelligence agency in Kazakhstan.

Table 16: March 2017 suspected demo to Kazimpex in Kazakhstan.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 11:29:55 Day 1 12:03:32 0:33:37 Kazimpex

3/2017: Serbia (2 days). We found activity from Serbia on a single IP address registered to “NBGP Properties Doo,” which is the trading name of an apartment complex and business centre located adjacent to the Crowne Plaza in Belgrade. Both NBGP and the Crowne Plaza are owned by Delta Holding, a major Serbian company. It is possible that activity from the IP 79.101.39.101 includes activity from both NBGP and the Crowne Plaza.

Table 17: March 2017 suspected demo to unknown clients in Serbia.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 12:20:42 Day 1 12:55:11 0:34:29 Delta Holding Complex
1 Day 2 00:15:30 Day 2 00:33:06 0:17:36 Delta Holding Complex
2 Day 2 00:51:04 Day 2 01:15:15 0:24:11 Delta Holding Complex
2 Day 2 06:58:53 Day 2 07:41:58 0:43:05 Delta Holding Complex

3/2017: Nigeria (2 days). We found one infection in Nigeria from two IPs. We could not identify the IPs.

Table 18: March 2017 suspected demo to unknown clients in Nigeria.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 16:38:52 Day 1 17:11:57 0:33:05 (Unknown Loc 1)
1 Day 1 18:21:41 Day 1 19:13:24 0:51:43 (Unknown Loc 1)
1 Day 2 10:26:20 Day 2 11:43:28 1:17:08 (Unknown Loc 2)

4/2017: Kazakhstan (1 day). We found an infection from the Marriott hotel in Astana, followed by an infection from an IP pointed to by a subdomain of mcmr[.]kz, the website of “Mobil Realty,” a commercial real estate management company.

Table 19: April 2017 suspected demo to unknown clients in Kazakhstan.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 12:26:04 Day 1 12:37:55 0:11:51 Marriott Hotel Astana
2 Day 1 18:09:50 Day 1 18:21:54 0:12:04 Mobil Realty

6/2017: ISS World Europe (2 days). We saw four infections between 6/14/2017 and 6/15/2017 from IP address 82.142.85.165 in the Czech Republic. ISS World Europe 2017 was held in Prague, Czech Republic from 6/13/2017 – 6/15/2017, and Cyberbit gave a presentation on 6/13/2017, according to the schedule. This same IP address appears in the headers of leaked Hacking Team emails sent by two employees on 6/3/2015 and 6/4/2015. These employees mentioned that they would be attending ISS World Europe on 6/3/2015, held at the same venue as the 2017 ISS World Europe. The IP address 82.142.85.165 may be associated with the Clarion Congress Hotel in Prague (the ISS World Europe venue).

Table 20: June 2017 suspected demo at ISS World Europe in Prague.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 2017-06-14 13:17:46 2017-06-14 13:52:04 0:34:18 ISS World Europe
3 2017-06-14 16:45:04 2017-06-14 17:27:33 0:42:29 ISS World Europe
3 2017-06-15 07:18:23 2017-06-15 07:19:38 0:01:15 ISS World Europe
4 2017-06-15 08:17:18 2017-06-15 09:36:03 1:18:45 ISS World Europe

6/2017: Zambia (2 days). Most of the activity was from mobile broadband IPs.

Table 21: June 2017 suspected demo to unknown clients in Zambia.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day 1 19:00:54 Day 1 19:38:34 0:37:40 (Mobile Broadband)
2 Day 2 09:44:48 Day 2 10:22:28 0:37:40 (Mobile Broadband)
3 Day 2 14:36:18 Day 2 15:00:00 0:23:42 (Mobile Broadband)
3 Day 2 21:59:59 Day 2 22:19:09 0:19:10 (Mobile Broadband)

11/2017: Philippines (6 days). In November 2017, we observed what appeared to be two different Cyberbit employees travelling together from Israel to the New World Makati Hotel in Manila.

The infections started out in Israel, one on 10/15/2017 and one on 11/2/2017. While in Israel, and during the workweek (Sunday to Thursday), both infections connected from what appears to be Cyberbit’s office (37.142.13.xxx, pointed to by two subdomains of cyberbit[.]net) during business hours (roughly 09:00 – 18:00 local time). After hours, the infections connected back from what we believe are home IP addresses of the employees. Each infection connected back from different home IPs during overlapping periods, which leads us to believe that the two infections represent different Cyberbit employees. It appears that each employee was carrying an infected laptop between home and the office each day (perhaps for spyware development and testing purposes).

After they last connected from Israel, one infection connected 15 hours later from Hong Kong for six minutes, between 14:52 and 14:58 local time. The infections then connected from the Philippines (116.50.244.xxx) as early as 22:41 local time, suggesting a flight itinerary from Tel Aviv to Manila, by way of Hong Kong.

Table 22: Employee #1 traveling from Israel to Manila; suspected demo to unknown clients.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
1 Day -1 15:46:24 Day -1 15:46:24 0:00:00 (DSL IP in Israel)
1 Day 1 14:52:15 Day 1 14:58:04 0:05:49 (Hong Kong)
1 Day 1 23:00:03 Day 1 23:56:11 0:56:08 New World Makati Hotel Manila
1 Day 3 20:19:20 Day 3 21:01:09 0:41:49 New World Makati Hotel Manila
1 Day 4 14:42:43 Day 4 14:44:39 0:01:56 (Mobile Broadband)
1 Day 4 16:14:21 Day 4 18:31:40 2:17:19 (Mobile Broadband)
1 Day 4 20:54:47 Day 5 08:00:09 11:05:22 New World Makati Hotel Manila
1 Day 9 09:05:14 Day 9 12:59:54 3:54:40 Cyberbit

 

Table 23: Employee #2 traveling from Israel to Manila; suspected demo to unknown clients.
# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
2 Day -1 15:00:24 Day -1 17:32:38 2:32:14 (DSL IP in Israel)
2 Day 1 22:41:32 Day 2 00:00:08 1:18:36 New World Makati Hotel Manila
2 Day 3 20:49:07 Day 3 21:07:51 0:18:44 New World Makati Hotel Manila
2 Day 4 10:30:03 Day 4 18:24:22 7:54:19 (Mobile Broadband)
2 Day 5 10:32:42 Day 5 10:56:48 0:24:06 (Mobile Broadband)
2 Day 5 13:04:42 Day 5 15:43:05 2:38:23 (Mobile Broadband)
2 Day 6 15:56:27 Day 6 17:47:18 1:50:51 New World Makati Hotel Manila
2 Day 9 09:13:20 Day 9 18:56:35 9:43:15 Cyberbit

11/2017: Milipol Paris (4 days): From 11/21/2017 – 11/24/2017, we found an infection active from an IP address 185.113.160.20, which appears to be associated with the Paris Nord Villepinte exhibition center. The IP is pointed to by several subdomains of villepinte2017.dynu[.]net and also by pnv.vipnetwork[.]fr. The Milipol Paris 2017 exhibition was held between 11/21 and 11/24 and the Paris Nord Villepinte exhibition center. Thus, it appears that Cyberbit employees were performing demos there.

Table 24: November 2017 suspected demo at Milipol Paris.

# Activity Start (Local) Activity End (Local) Duration Location
3 Day 1 08:15:24 Day 1 09:18:21 1:02:57 Milipol Paris
3 Day 1 10:44:02 Day 1 13:21:09 2:37:07 Milipol Paris
3 Day 1 14:50:25 Day 1 15:32:46 0:42:21 Milipol Paris
3 Day 2 08:29:27 Day 2 17:01:11 8:31:44 Milipol Paris
3 Day 3 08:10:28 Day 3 09:34:09 1:23:41 Milipol Paris
3 Day 3 13:02:05 Day 3 14:59:37 1:57:32 Milipol Paris
3 Day 3 15:43:03 Day 3 17:02:29 1:19:26 Milipol Paris
3 Day 4 08:31:07 Day 4 10:43:35 2:12:28 Milipol Paris

6.3.2. Suspected Researcher Activity

We found several short-lived infections on Cyberbit-operated servers that seem less likely to be purposeful infections and more consistent with activity by cybersecurity researchers or other testing activity. We group activity that is temporally similar below, though it is unclear if this activity is related.

We found one infection in the UK on 11/10/2016 lasting ~15s.

We found one infection from Google on 2/7/2017 (lasting 11m), followed by three infections in Germany on 2/7/2017 and 2/8/2017. In Germany, there was one initial infection 14 minutes after the Google infection, with a single pingback. 2h10m later, there was an infection lasting 1 minute. 13h later, there was an infection with a single pingback.

We found an infection with a single pingback from an IP address in Everett, Washington, USA on 10/17/2017. We found two overlapping infections in Russia on 10/18/2017 (~2m each), followed 20 minutes later by two infections in China, 45 minutes apart (~30s each). We found a ~20s infection in Canada on 10/19/2017.

We found an infection with a single pingback from an IP address registered to Brandon University in Canada on 10/31/2017. We found two infections in Norway on 11/1/2017 (one infection with a single pingback, and one infection 3m30s later lasting for ~20s).

6.3.3. Unexplained Activity

We found several infections on the Cyberbit-operated PSS C&C servers that were long-running, and not from VPN connections or from countries where Cyberbit has a known presence. Thus, this activity did not immediately seem to represent demonstrations or development activity. We found one infection in Iran between 9/20/2016 and 11/22/2016. We found one infection in Canada between 3/7/2017 and 11/22/2017. We found one infection in Finland between 5/26/2017 and 11/28/2017. We found one infection in Indonesia from 10/28/2017 to 11/10/2017. We found one infection in Slovakia from a single IP address active between 11/1/2017 and 12/1/2017. We found one infection in Ethiopiafrom 10/25/2017 to 12/1/2017, with no known overlap with the Ethiopia client’s IP address space.

6.4. Spoofed Code Signing Certificates?

We identified several cases where we suspect that the spyware operators, or Cyberbit themselves, obtained digital certificates in the names of real companies, including an Israeli intellectual property law firm.

One malicious Adobe Flash executable we found used by the Ethiopian operator was signed by an authenticode certificate issued by Comodo to a named entity called “Flashpoint IP.”

CN = Flashpoint IP
O = Flashpoint IP
STREET = 2nd Raban Gamliel
L = Elad
S = Israel
PostalCode = 40800
C = IL
RFC822 Name=ben.wiseman@flashpoint-ip.com

We found a company called “Flash Point IP,” with the same street address as in the digital certificate, included the Patent Attorneys Ledger published by Israel’s Ministry of Justice. The website listed by the Ministry of Justice for the firm is flashpointip.com. However, the website in the certificate’s RFC822 name appears to be a lookalike domain that is subtly differentflashpoint-ip[.]com.

We examined the WHOIS registration of the lookalike domain flashpoint-ip[.]com:

Registrant Name: BEN WISEMAN
Registrant Organization: FLASHPOINT IP LTD
Registrant Street: RABAN GAMLIEL 2
Registrant City: ELAD
Registrant State/Province: SHOMRON
Registrant Postal Code: 40800
Registrant Country: IL
Registrant Phone: +972.525649427
Registrant Email: BENWISEMAN99@GMAIL.COM

The firm’s website, flashpointip.com, has a New York registration address, a different registrant name, and a @bezeqint.net contact address.

We found one additional domain, cd-media4u[.]com, registered with the same phone number as flashpoint-ip[.]com. The WHOIS information is:

Registrant Name: DAN WISEMAN
Registrant Organization: C. D. MEDIA LTD
Registrant Street: BEN YEHUDA 60
Registrant City: TEL AVIV
Registrant State/Province: TEL AVIV
Registrant Postal Code: 6343107
Registrant Country: IL
Registrant Phone: +972.525649427
Registrant Email: DANWISEMAN99@GMAIL.COM

Note the similar names Dan Wiseman and Ben Wiseman and the similar email addresses danwiseman99@gmail.com and benwiseman99@gmail.com. We found one reference to “CD Media Ltd” which appears to be an Israeli software publisher (http://www.cd-media.co.il/).

Given that we found two instances where the same entity (WHOIS phone number +972.525649427) registered what appear to be lookalike domains for two different Israeli companies, it is possible that these certificates may have been improperly obtained. This is not the first instance in which improperly obtained digital certificates may have been used with commercial spyware. Hacking Team appears to have obtained several digital certificates in the names of people whose passport photos appeared on a now-defunct site, thewhistleblowers[.]org.4

We identified two further digital certificates used by the operators, in the names of “Etefaq Consulting Ltd,” and “Emerging European Capital.” These certificates were on samples we downloaded from getadobeplayer[.]com, as well as samples from the Avira Antivirus and Download.com impersonation websites (Section 6.2). Unfortunately, the signatures did not contain the RFC822 Name field, so we do not have any indications as to their legitimacy.

CN = Emerging European Capital
O = Emerging European Capital
STREET = Svaetoplukova 12
L = Bojnice
S = Slovakia
PostalCode = 97201
C = SK

We found what appears to be the website of “Emerging European Capital” (http://ee-cap.com), which is described as a company offering “Private Banking services to High Net Worth Individuals in Central and Eastern Europe.” The address in the digital certificate matches an address listed on the website. The individual mentioned on the website, Martin Masar, appears to be a real individual, and is listed as serving on the Supervisory Board of Petrocommerce Ukraine Bank. However, without more information, we cannot know whether the digital certificate is legitimate or not.

CN = ETEFAQ CONSULTING LIMITED
O = ETEFAQ CONSULTING LIMITED
STREET = 1 MYKONOS STREET
L = NICOSIA
S = NICOSIA
PostalCode = 1045
C = CY

We found an “ETEFAQ CONSULTING LIMITED” in the Cyprus corporate registry (# ΗΕ 329071). However, the registered address did not match the address in the digital certificate. The company’s line of business is unclear, and it appears to maintain a simple (hacked) website with a “Contact Us” form (http://etefaqconsulting.com/).

7. Technical Analysis of the Spyware

Altogether, we analyzed nine samples. This includes the sample from VirusTotal signed by the “C4 Security” certificate (Section 5.1), as well as five samples gathered from getadobeplayer[.]com, and three samples gathered from the Avira Antivirus and Download.com impersonation websites (Section 6.2).

Based on strings found during our analysis of configuration files used by the spyware, these samples cover versions of PSS ranging from v4.3.3 to 6.1.0. Major version changes contain changes to obfuscation techniques, overall structure, and general functionality, while minor version changes seem to contain smaller, less noticeable changes. The following analysis covers the general behavior and characteristics of PSS, with version-specific differences noted where appropriate.

Table 25: Versions of PSS we analyzed

MD5 Source PSS Version
376f28fb0aa650d6220a9d722cdb108d VirusTotal 4.3.3
568d8c43815fa9608974071c49d68232 getadobeplayer[.]com 5.7.5
80b7121c4ecac1c321ca2e3f507104c2 getadobeplayer[.]com 5.1.0
8d6ce1a256acf608d82db6539bf73ae7 getadobeplayer[.]com 5.9.7
840c4299f9cd5d4df46ee708c2c8247c getadobeplayer[.]com 6.0.0
961730964fd76c93603fb8f0d445c6f2 getadobeplayer[.]com 6.0.0
0488cf9c58f895076311bf8e2d93bf63 Avira Antivirus Impersonation Website 6.0.0
ca782d91daea6d67dfc49d6e7baf39b0 Download.com Impersonation Website 6.0.0
f483fe294b4c3af1e3c8163200d60aae Download.com Impersonation Website 6.1.0

7.1. Overview

Overall, the samples we analyzed are made up of four main components: the AgentLnkProxyPayload DLL, and Pipeserver. The Agent is the main program responsible for providing operators remote access to an infected machine and carries out most activity after infection. If the Agent is not installed with administrator privileges, then the LnkProxyfacilitates the replacement of shortcut (lnk) and executable (exe) files with malicious versions that will try to trick the user into granting administrator privileges to the Agent. The Payload DLL is a small DLL file that is used to infect certain whitelisted DLLs as a persistence mechanism, to ensure that the Agent is running. Finally, the Pipeserver is used to coordinate access to global handles and perform network communication.

Each of these four components is packed and stored inside the initial spyware payload. The earliest version we analyzed (4.3.3) stored these files as either plaintext or as zlib compressed data. Later versions added AES-256-CBC encryption and the use of different keys per dropped component for additional obfuscation (Section 7.3).

7.2. Installation and Persistence

Once a victim executes one of the initial payloads (e.g., a fake Adobe Flash update), the spyware unpacks the Agent component (described in Section 7.4) and saves it to %TEMP%\Profile. Then, the spyware checks to see if it is running with administrator privileges.  If so, then the spyware executes the dropped Agent; if not, then the spyware unpacks and installs the LnkProxy component (described in Section 7.5) in an attempt to trick the user into giving it administrator privileges.

Once the dropped Agent has been executed with administrator privileges, either via the main installer or by tricking the user via the LnkProxy technique, the Agent unpacks its configuration file into memory. Next, the Agent checks to see if there is already a version of PSS installed on the victim’s system by checking for the existence of the storage directory used by the spyware. Depending on the configuration of the current and previous Agents, the Agent may either replace the existing agent or attempt to upgrade the old version. If PSS is not already installed, then the Agent begins installation.

The Agent creates its main storage directory at %CommonAppData%\Profile. Then, it writes its configuration file into the storage directory, using a name defined in the configuration file (versions 4.x and 5.x use the filename diskdrv.dll, while version 6.x uses igfxcls.cfg). The Agent then copies itself into the storage directory (versions 4.x and 5.x use the filename crisvc.exe for the agent, while version 6.x use the filename igfxcri.exe) while deleting the dropped copy from %TEMP%\Profile.

Next, the Agent unpacks and drops 32- and 64-bit versions of the PipeServer component into the storage directory. These files are named mssvt.dll and mssvt64.dll across all versions of PSS that we have analyzed.

After it has created the necessary files, the spyware sets up its persistence mechanism by infecting copies of certain DLLs on the system with the Payload DLL (which is not saved to disk as a standalone file). The infected copies are placed in the same folder as the executable that will load them, ensuring that the infected DLLs are loaded instead of their legitimate counterparts that may be in other folders (Windows will search the folder containing the application first). The DLLs we saw chosen for infection are related to common web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Since web browsers are some of the most commonly used applications on computers, these DLLs are a good choice to ensure that the spyware is running most of the time that the target device is being used.

Finally, the spyware initializes the appropriate PipeServer component by creating a new Desktop, referred to as a “HiddenDesktop” by the spyware and launching one or more of the EXEs whose DLLs have been replaced with infected versions on this new desktop. When an infected DLL is loaded (Section 5.6), it launches the PipeServer if not already running; the PipeServer in turn launches the Agent if not already running. The Agent then enters into its main command handling loop.

7.3. Obfuscation

The first version of the spyware we analyzed (4.3.3) stored most components as either plaintext data or as zlib compressed binary data. Version 5.x of PSS introduced the additional use of AES-256-CBC encryption for the components. Components obfuscated in this manner contain a short header struct followed by the AES-256-CBC encrypted, zlib compressed data:

struct HEADER {
char[6]: magic_number
uint32:  iv
uint32:  checksum
uint32:  length
}

In this header struct, magic_number is the magic_number for a 7z file [0x37, 0x7a, 0xbc, 0xaf, 0x27, 0x1c], iv is the first 4 bytes of the initialization vector used in the AES cipher, checksum is a CRC32 checksum of the data, and length is the length of the encrypted data. The initialization vector is padded with null bytes to the correct length for the AES-256-CBC cipher. Version 6.x added an additional data format for AES-256-CBC encrypted data that removes the magic_number. For all versions, the AES key is hardcoded in the executable performing the decryption. Beginning with version 6.x, the spyware additionally began to obfuscate strings, deobfuscating them only when needed.

Version 4.x drops all of its various components directly to disk in an unpacked form when installed. Starting with version 5.x, the spyware began to drop intermediate loader executables instead of final components. These loader executables store a component, often the Agent, in the same AES-256-CBC encrypted, zlib compressed format as above. When executed, these loaders mimic the Windows executable loader by unpacking their stored payload, mapping the unpacked PE file’s sections into memory, and resolving any imports before jumping to the PE’s entrypoint. This technique of storing the unpacked component only in memory is likely an attempt to evade static, file-based analysis and detection techniques.

Within the Agent component, the configuration file is an SQLite database obfuscated using bzip compression, followed by XOR encryption using both the current and previous bytes, along with one byte from the key. This obfuscation format, and an unusual 36-byte XOR key, the string DC615DA9-94B5-4477-9C33-3A393BC9E63F, are shared across all the samples we analyzed.

7.4. The Agent

The Agent is the central component of the spyware and is responsible for carrying out most of the behavior of PSS. The Agent is a feature-rich spyware capable of a wide range of behaviors. Across all samples we analyzed, we have seen the following capabilities:

  • Audio/Video recording including scheduling recordings for a later time
  • Reading browser history and stored passwords
  • Filesystem operations including creating, deleting, moving, renaming, uploading, and downloading files
  • Editing/Querying registry keys
  • Geolocation based on available wifi networks
  • Accessing Skype databases, call logs, and contacts
  • Listing network connections and devices
  • Starting/Stopping processes
  • Taking screenshots
  • Keylogging
  • Accessing clipboard data
  • Accessing recently used file list

7.5. LnkProxy

The LnkProxy component is only used when the spyware is initially installed without Administrator privileges. In this scenario, the spyware searches through the Windows Desktop, Start Menu, and Quick Launch folders looking for lnk and exe files. Any files it finds are replaced with malicious copies designed to request administrator privileges, launch the legitimate application, and then launch the spyware. This process is designed to trick the user into giving PSS administrator privileges.

The LnkProxy makes a backup of all replaced files, which are restored upon spyware uninstallation or when the user unwittingly grants the spyware administrator privileges.

7.6. Payload DLL

The Payload component of the spyware is a short DLL that is used to infect whitelisted DLLs on the victim’s system as a persistence mechanism. During installation, the spyware searches the victim’s computer for targeted DLLs and for each that it finds it appends the Payload component to the targeted DLL’s .text section. The entrypoint of the DLL is then changed to point to this appended code and the infected file is copied to the same directory as the application that uses the DLL. This ensures that the infected DLL is loaded by the application instead of the original, uninfected version. Figure 11 shows an example of a modified binary infected with the Payload component.


Figure 11: Comparison of entrypoint before and after Payload infection.

The infected DLL starts by checking to ensure that the infected DLL is being loaded by the target program only. It does this by calling the original entrypoint for the infected DLL to get the ImagePathName field of the ProcessParameters struct in the Process Environment Block (PEB). The ImagePathName contains the path of the currently running executable. This is then compared to a hardcoded checksum value stored in the DLL as part of the infection process.

If this check succeeds, the Payload then performs its functions. It first checks to see if the PipeServer is currently loaded. It does this by decrypting an XOR-encrypted string in the DLL containing the location of the PipeServer component, calculating a checksum of this string, and then walking the InMemoryOrder list of loaded modules, checksumming the ImagePathName of each and comparing it to the checksum of the PipeServer’s path. If the PipeServer is not currently loaded, the infected DLL loads the PipeServer component and transfers execution to it.

7.7. PipeServer

The PipeServer component starts by unpacking and loading a small configuration file. This is a small file containing ASCII strings separated by \x00’s that define various config options used by the PipeServer. In version 6.x, this file is zlib compressed and encrypted using AES-256-CBC. After loading the configuration file, the PipeServer creates a series of threads, global events, and mutexes that are used to synchronize actions between components of the spyware, log messages, and communicate with the command and control server. Next, the PipeServer creates a named pipe for communication with running Agent components. Finally, the PipeServer starts an instance of the Agent if one is not already active before entering a main command handling loop. The spyware uses a XML-based networking protocol for command and control communication. Each request and response is sent as a “transaction.” An example of the XML format used is given below.

<?xml version=”1.0″>
<transaction
type=”fromagent”
agentid=”<ID>”
sn=”<NUM>”
crc=”<CRC>”
encoding=”base64″
encryption=”aes-256″
compression=”<zip|none>”>
<DATA>
</transaction>

DATA is the information to be communicated and is compressed, encrypted, and encoded as described in the response attributes. The AES key used can be either a master key included in the Agent’s configuration or an individual private key created after the malware has been installed and initialized. The master key is hard-coded and is the same across all samples we analyzed.

8. Conclusion

We have uncovered the use of PC Surveillance System (PSS) spyware by what appears to be agencies of the Ethiopian government to target dozens of individuals. Our investigation shows these targets include an Oromo media outlet based in the United States, OMN, a PhD student, and a lawyer who have worked on Oromo issues, as well as a Citizen Lab Research Fellow, Bill Marczak. Our analysis also indicates apparent demonstrations of the spyware in several other countries where leaders have exhibited authoritarian tendencies, and/or where there are political corruption and accountability challenges, such as Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uzbekistan, and Zambia.

The habitual misuse of spyware by the Ethiopian government against civil society targets is testament to the lack of repercussions for such behavior by states and complicity within the commercial spyware industry that supplies them. Evidence indicating the Ethiopian government’s misuse of spyware (including Hacking Team’s RCS and Gamma Group’s FinSpy) against journalists, activists, and others has been laid out in prior research over multiple years, as well as in a lawsuit filed in US federal court. In a portentous ruling, that suit was dismissed on grounds that a tort is not committed entirely in the US — a showing of which was required to obtain jurisdiction over a foreign sovereign — when a government’s digital espionage is conceived of and operated from overseas, despite the fact that the infection occurs and harm is experienced within the US. The digital nature of the tort essentially allowed a foreign government to violate US laws with impunity. Unsurprisingly, as this report makes clear, the extraterritorial targeting continues, as do spyware sales to Ethiopia.

This report also uncovers another player in the nation-state spyware business: Cyberbit, the company that provides PSS. As a provider of powerful surveillance technology, Cyberbit has the responsibility under both Israel’s export control regime as well as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to concern itself with the potential for human rights abuses facilitated through use of its product. The fact that PSS wound up in the hands of Ethiopian government agencies, which for many years have demonstrably misused spyware to target civil society, raises urgent questions around Cyberbit’s corporate social responsibility and due diligence efforts, and the effectiveness of Israel’s export controls in preventing human rights abuses. The apparent locations of PSS demonstrations reinforce those concerns. Moreover, the manner in which the PSS spyware operates suggests that, to achieve infection, the spyware preys on user trust in legitimate third-party companies and software, such as Adobe Systems, or the code-signing certificate verification process. These techniques undermine security in the larger digital ecosystem and contravene terms of service as well as clear legal standards that exist in many jurisdictions to prevent appropriation of intellectual property. If spyware companies themselves incorporate such techniques in order to build a successful product, action is necessary to address the negative externalities that result. We have sent a letter to Cyberbit regarding these issues and received a response.

As we explore in a separate analysis, while lawful access and intercept tools have legitimate uses, the significant insecurities and illegitimate targeting we have documented that arise from their abuse cannot be ignored. In the absence of stronger norms and incentives to induce state restraint, as well as more robust regulation of spyware companies, we expect that authoritarian and other politically corrupt leaders will continue to obtain and use spyware to covertly surveil and invisibly sabotage the individuals and institutions that hold them to account.

9. Acknowledgements

This work was supported in part by the Center for Long Term Cybersecurity (CLTC) at UC Berkeley. Thanks also to Erik Zouave, Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Lex Gill, Etienne Maynier, Adam Senft, Miles Kenyon, Jawar Mohammed, Etana Habte, Henok Gabisa, and Felix Horne and Cynthia Wong from Human Rights Watch.

Footnotes

  1. We found these materials in a Google search. The materials are hosted in an Amazon S3 bucket whose name is cyberbit. Inspecting the source code of Cyberbit’s website (https://web.archive.org/web/20170930094240/https://www.cyberbit.com/) yields several references to the same S3 bucket.  Thus, we assume Cyberbit controls the S3 bucket named cyberbit and that the marketing materials are Cyberbit originals.
  2. In January 2016, Cyberbit attempted to convince the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center to transfer the domain to it from Cyberbit A/S, but the panel refused and declared that Cyberbit had engaged in reverse domain name hijacking by bringing its complaint in bad faith. However, Cyberbit apparently purchased the domain in March 2017, judging by WHOIS records.
  3. We redact the domain names of non-Ethiopia servers that are still online.
  4. e.g., https://web.archive.org/web/20150710202350/http://www.thewhistleblowers.org:80/?cat=3874

EGYPT: MPs submit memorandum rejecting Ethiopian PM’s visit to Egyptian parliament December 5, 2017

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Egyptian MP, Abdel Hamid Kamal, along with 18 other MPs submitted an urgent memorandum to the Parliamentary Speaker, Ali Abdelaal, rejecting the scheduled visit of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia to the Egyptian Parliament, in order to discuss the potential dangers of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

“Due to the seriousness of the anticipated visit of the Ethiopian Prime Minister to the House of Representatives, which he [plans] in the month of December, we have reservations against the visit.”

The MPs’ memorandum went on explaining their reservations and concern about the Ethiopian PM piling pressure against Egypt, claiming he will “spare no effort against Egypt in all international forums,” in pursuit of gaining support and continuing construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The memorandum then explicitly warned that Ethiopian pressure will involve spreading “legal, political, and economic lies that negatively affect our national cause of the Nile waters.”

The water of the River Nile is an integral part of Egypt’s national security, labeling it a “red line,” before asserting “we announce our rejection to the [Ethiopian PM’s] visit.”

Additionally, the memorandum called for meetings between MPs and ministers for agriculture, irrigation, and foreign affairs, as well as national experts, to discuss the ongoing issue of the dam.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm


 

“We Have Wounded the Beast, and That Isn’t Enough” (Lemma Megersa). December 5, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

It is clear who has been orchestrating and and abusing the land and resource of Oromia so far. It has been done in the name of investment, development corners and mining, all being incepted out of ignoble and greedy motives of the thieves and robbers.
Obbo Lemma Megersa also asserts that after his administration has started against this illegal land grab and illicit trades that drained the land resources of Oromia, “those thieves and robbers launched war against Oromia and and his administration.

via “We Have Wounded the Beast, and That Isn’t Enough” (Lemma Megersa).

Ethiopia: Famine watchdog warns of hunger crisis in parts of southeast Ethiopia December 2, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized, Famine in Ethiopia.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Famine watchdog warns of hunger crisis in parts of southeast Ethiopia

The Messenger Aafrica    

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network says some families in southeastern Ethiopia face a potential ‘catastrophe’ after large-scale livestock die-offs in the past year.

The USAID-funded watchdog writes in its latest November update that some populations of Ethiopia are forecasted to reach levels 4 to 5 on the five-point scale used to measure food security and famine.

“A major food security emergency is expected to continue in southeastern Ethiopia into mid-2018. Worst-affected areas include Dollo, Korahe, and Jarar zones, along with parts of Afder and Liben, which will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through May 2018, while some households will be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5),” the watchdog group says.

FEWS NET works with agricultural, market, and weather data to forecast gaps that could lead to widespread hunger or famine.

Recently, southeast Ethiopia’s ongoing Deyr/Hagaya season (which runs from October to December) has performed better than other recent seasons. However, the report questions whether this improvement is enough to keep pastoral and agropastoral families in the region from falling into hunger.

“Substantial time and favorable performance in upcoming seasons is needed for households to reconstitute livestock herds and recover their key livelihood activities, following very high excess livestock deaths and sales due to drought in 2016/17,” reads the report.

Food security is also expected to be ‘stressed’ in parts of the Southern Nations Region from February to June next year, due to poor harvests this year, but humanitarian needs there will not be as bad as the Somali region.

FEWS NET recommends “large-scale, sustained assistance… in order to mitigate food consumption gaps and limited increases in acute malnutrition and the risk of excess mortality.”

The severe food insecurity in southeastern Ethiopia is similar to that experienced in neighboring Somalia, which has been suffering from a bad drought as well as an ongoing civil war.


Click here to read related article,  from Orromian Economist source: Oxfam: Hungry in a world of plenty: millions on the brink of famine: In Ethiopia alone, 700,000 people are on the verge of starvation. It is estimated that 8.5 million people are hungry in the country.

Ethiopia: The Suicidal Decisions of the TPLF and its Self-Defeating Strategies  December 1, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistThe rise and fall of fascism in Horn of Africa (Ethiopia). The case fascist TPLF (Woyane)

The Suicidal Decisions of the TPLF and its Self-Defeating Strategies 

Dr. Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni
______________________________________________

It is rare to see political parties commit suicide. The TPLF just did that. The regimes that came before the TPLF died trying to save themselves. The Derg Regime declared mixed economic policy on the verge of its collapse. The Regime of Emperor Haile Selassie established new cabinet to deal with the grievances of the people. Both failed to implement their initiatives or their measures were too little too late and couldn’t prevent their ultimate collapse.

The TPLF is not even trying. The abysmal and disastrous failure of the TPLF to come up with no new policy, transformative idea or even a new face at the helm of its leadership positions to meet the challenges of a country at crossroad after three months of marathon meeting proved that the TPLF is the 1960s organization with no vision and purpose to exist in 21st century Ethiopia. In fact, the TPLF before this meeting was way better than the TPLF that come out after this disastrous meeting mortally wounded.

The only purpose the TPLF served in this meeting is unifying all the political forces in Ethiopia against itself. By this meeting, the TPLF ended any glimpse of hope and expectation that one may have that the TPLF might be part of the solution to the problem it created over the last 26 years. It proved that TPLF has no vision and mission that serves the national interests of the Ethiopian people except its failing attempt to hold onto political power through repression, violence and divide and rule.

By this meeting, the TPLF proved that it has no respect for the Ethiopian people. All the people it nominated and appointed to its leadership positions are the same people who created the mess and the disastrous policies and structural problems the Ethiopian people are fighting to change. It is also important to mention the elevation of Mr. Getachew Reda, the man who called the Oromo people devils and vowed to turn the relationship between the Oromo and Amhara people into that of hay and fire. It is highly irresponsible for the TPLF to elect this man to the Executive Committee of the TPLF. It shows the disrespect TPLF has for the Amhara and Oromo people.

Right now the political spaces in Ethiopia are dominated by three political forces. The TPLF by failing to heed to any of the three groups unified each and every one of them against itself. The first and the most important political actor and political force that presently occupied the top tier of the political movement in Ethiopia are the Ethiopian people. The Ethiopian people, led by the Oromo Protests, are mobilized to restore back political power into the hands of the Ethiopian people from groups like TPLF and individual dictatorship based politics of the 20th century. The Ethiopian people want to own and lead their country by exercising full and unhindered political power by eliminating group and individual dictatorship.

The end goal and objectives of the current political movement of the Ethiopian people are to establish the government of the people by the people from the people under the rule of law where justice, equality, and fairness are the rule, not the exception. The TPLF is the primary enemy of this agenda of the Ethiopian people to restore political power back into the hands of the Ethiopian people. TPLF is struggling to continue its agenda of a group and individual dictatorship to control the Ethiopian political, economic and security space by its members and few strong personality against the will of the Ethiopian people.

The outcome of the TPLF meeting will put the TPLF in a direct collision course with the Ethiopian people’s agenda and unify all the Ethiopian people against the TPLF. There is no ifs and buts here. TPLF is the obvious loser of this political war between the TPLF and the Ethiopian people. The recent meeting of the TPLF and its decision to keep the status quo simply delimits the political battle lines between the TPLF and the Ethiopian as black and white with no ambiguity.

The second political forces that presently occupied the Ethiopian political space is the political struggle by member parties of the EPRDF to liberate themselves from the TPLF dictatorship. All member parties of the EPRDF are struggling to liberate themselves from the slave and master like relationship between the TPLF and the other three groups: namely the OPDO, the ANDM and the SEPDM. TPLF has no friends here except opportunists. All three of these parties want some form of liberation from the TPLF repressive, violent and divide and rule policies. All these parties want the EPRDF either to be democratized where TPLF will become the junior partner of all the three but the EPRDF survives. Absent this change, it is very likely that the OPDO, the ANDM, and the SEPDM will form a unified front and vote the TPLF out of office or end up dismantling the EPRDF where each group will go its own way for self-preservation. None of the options will keep the TPLF in dominant positions.

In the last 26 years, with less than 6% population base, the TPLF controlled full political, economic and security power with undisputed and uncontested veto power on everything and anything over these satellite parties, who don’t want to remain satellites anymore, who theoretically represents the rest of the Ethiopian people. None of the EPRDF members want that status quo to continue. The OPDO and the ANDM are already at the forefront of this power struggle, with the SEPDM not that far behind. With the fierce and popular wave of resistance behind them, it is more than likely that the three members of the EPRDF will liberate themselves and their members from TPLF medieval and most brute rule or end up dismantling the EPRDF.

All the TPLF is left to do is to try to buy some members of these political parties with money and false political positions, a method the TPLF used well in the past but now completely unthinkable in the face of the fierce popular opposition and resistance against such parasitic and scavenger members which will cost them their life.

The third political force that the TPLF unified against itself is the Ethiopian political opposition of all shreds. Thanks to the TPLF repression, machination, and sabotage, the Ethiopian political oppositions are poorly organized with no clearly defined political vision for the country. Yet, even here, the TPLF has little allies with whom it could make backdoor deals. Even if the TPLF attempts to deal with some urban-based political opposition groups for face-saving as the failed so-called “opposition groups meeting of over the last one year”, they have no popular support to wield to the save the TPLF. That will lead even the weakest and opportunist Ethiopian oppositions to be unified and resist the TPLF.

The TPLF may attempt to use the following six self-defeating strategies to outmaneuver all of the three political forces it lined up against itself.

1. Using the Ethiopian military, the national security and the law enforcement. Over the last 26 years, the TPLF used and abused these three government institutions against the Ethiopian people, the EPRDF members who resented its rule and the Ethiopian oppositions. It may try to use these three entities again. But, the time has changed. Ethiopian people have said enough is enough. Any further attempt to use the Ethiopian military, the Ethiopian intelligence and law enforcement institutions including courts for further killing, torture, and repression will completely dismantle these institutions. The reason is simple. Every other Ethiopian working in these institutions will pull back and side with the Ethiopian people. The division within the EPRDF will not take any time to manifest in the division within the military, the national intelligence, and the law enforcement institutions. The TPLF dominated chain of command in these institutions have no power to prevent this from happening. The signs are abundant already that Oromo and Amhara military, security and law enforcement officers are resisting TPLF commanders and officials. If the TPLF intends to continue this deadly routes of using these three institutions to hold onto power and repress others, it is more than likely that these institutions will be dismantled in a very short time.

2. Rebuilding TPLF and EPLF alliance to counter Oromo-Amhara Rapprochement. This tactical strategy to counter the Oromo-Amhara rapprochement by building what the TPLF calls the “Union of the Agazians” if the EPLF fails for it, could potentially help the TPLF in one of the following ways. 1) It will help the TPLF by easing the tension with the EPLF at a time when most Ethiopians may not aid the TPLF if a conflict arises between the two groups. 2) The TPLF might try to package this tribal alliance between two Tigrigna speaking groups for dubious purpose as a peace effort and the effort to normalize relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia by implementing the Algiers agreement to win the support of the West. 3) It may also help Eritrea in getting the territories it lost in war, including Bademe, if the EPLF subscribes to the TPLF political power gamble in Ethiopia. 4) Last but not least the strategy may also help the TPLF to mobilize its security and intelligence resources to Oromia and Amhara to attack and cause more harm than it is causing now. Unfortunately, this strategy is self-defeating for at least couple of reasons. One, the TPLF strategy to find alliance with Eritreans to attack other Ethiopians will not find national support in Ethiopia. Second, Eritreans will not be played again by the TPLF after the bitter 1998-2000 war and the strategic blunder and lose it sustained at the end of the country’s civil war in 1991 which lead to the emergence of the TPLF as a dominant force in the region. Third, the chance of TPLF staying in power in Ethiopia is hugely diminished after the Oromo protests and Amhara resistance making any deal the Eritrean side might reach with the TPLF unsustainable and with no future. Fourth, any territorial transfer to Eritrea in the name of implementing the Algiers agreement will cause popular fury and fire that will consolidate the popular movement against the TPLF and ultimately deposing it from power.

3. Consolidating the Somali Janjaweed Militias attack on the Oromo and creating more Janjaweed style Militias everywhere else. This is one of the most disastrous policy the TPLF chose in order to maintain its divide and rule policy to stay in power in Addis Ababa. Here, the TPLF is assuming that the TPLF will always be the ultimate power broker while everybody else is a weapon of war in the hand of the TPLF waiting to be used anytime the TPLF wants to use it. Over the last two to three years, the Somali Janjaweed Militia served the interests of the TPLF very well. The criminal militia that now stands at over 68,000 thousand according to multiple internal sources, displaced over 600,000 Oromo civilians inside Oromia and evicted over 70,000 Oromo civilians from the Somali Region using TPLF adopted ethnic cleansing models copied for Darfur. Still, the Somali Janjaweed Militia continued to attack the Oromo people at the direction and pleasure of the TPLF commanders in order to divert the people’s attention from the TPLF crimes at the center. This policy appears to have run its course now. Poor Oromo and Somali militias will not continue to kill each other to serve the interests of the TPLF over the land and territory each group knows will be restored back in the hand of the Oromo people once the TPLF is removed from power. Instead, it is very likely that both the Oromo and the Somali groups will soon return back to attacking the economic and security interests of the TPLF which will effectively end any meaningful presence of the TPLF either in Oromia, Somali or other Regions of Ethiopia where such strategies will be attempted. This self-defeating strategy of the TPLF to incite violence among various ethnic groups everywhere else will soon fire back by producing nationwide hatred and attack on anyone affiliated with the TPLF including attacks on the economic interests of the TPLF, the Ethiopian military, the federal police and intelligence officers who are being used by malicious TPLF commanders and political leaders. It is also very unlikely that the West will continue to finance and support such criminal enterprise. If the TPLF continue this avenue, it is likely that the Ethiopian military will collapse and the federal government is likely to disintegrate within a very short period of time.

4. Increasing the Urban-Rural Divide: This is one of the strategies of the TPLF is using to contain the ongoing popular movement to take power from the TPFL and restore back into the hands of the Ethiopian people. Except for few cities in Oromia and Amhara regions, most cities in Ethiopia were passive over the last three years of the Oromo protests and the Amhara resistance. The TPLF want the situation to continue that way. It believes it is the dividend and the pay off of the TPLF silo economy dominated by TPLF affiliated local and international benefactors in urban areas by transferring land and natural resources of the Ethiopian people to these TPLF affiliated groups. The Addis Ababa Masterplan and the recently tabled National Urban Planning Proclamation (the Addis Ababa Masterplan in a different name) is meant to play the urban-rural divide to contain the popular movement. This is another self-defeating strategy for a number of reasons. One, noticing the so-called Urban and rural divide as a divide between the TPLF affiliated economic monopolies in the cities and the surrounding Ethiopian poor is very easy. The TPLF silo economy only benefited very few urban dwellers at the expense of the impoverished millions. Every interest group in the urban area including small businesses, civil servants, the youth and the political class will soon turn up the heat on the TPLF. Second, every urban dweller has relatives in the rural Ethiopia and shares the suffering of the rest of the Ethiopian people. Third, as the resistance in the rural areas mounts, the life in the urban areas will collapse and the urban dwellers will join the Ethiopian people to preserve themselves. Fourth, the division within the EPRDF will soon trickle down to the ranks and files of the EPRDF which will soon transfer itself to urban movement. Fifth, the large student population in urban areas will soon build bridges with the urban dwellers to join the popular movement.

5. Faking Individual liberties narratives at the expense of group rights narratives: The TPLF ruled through fake group rights narratives for the last 26 years. It used the Oromo and Southern elites in the name of group rights narratives against the urban-based Amharic speaking elites who mostly were against group rights narratives. After the Oromo and Amhara people started asserting their group rights through the Oromo protests and the Amhara resistance, the TPLF now changed tactic by buying into the urban Amharic speaking elite’s narratives of individual rights and liberties narratives. It might even establish fake individual rights based political party. Theoretically, there is no difference between individual rights and groups rights. These are not mutually exclusive rights. They are mutual complementary rights. One does not exist without the other. But, the TPLF might attempt to venture into this route to buy time and continue its policy of divide and rule if it finds shortsighted urban Amharic speaking elites who will fail for this. Unfortunately, the Ethiopian people are not demanding for the selective implementation of this right or that right. The people are demanding for the transfer of political power into the hands of the people to establish a government of the people by the people for the people where equality, justice and fairness reigns. No group or individual rights will be respected and protected unless the political power is restored back in the hand of the Ethiopian people. Even the dullest of political groups in the country are taking note of this fact and understanding the essence of the Ethiopian peoples’ demand. That leaves no room for the TPLF to manipulate and maneuver.

6. Expanding the EPRDF to dilute the resistance of EPRDF members against the TPLF. The TPLF might attempt to expand the membership in the EPRDF if the resistance from the OPDO, the ANDM, and SEPDM increases. At face value, this might seem a plausible option. One might think TPLF can add the Somali Janjaweed Militia and other groups as EPRDF members to dilute the power balance in its favor within the EPRDF. There are many reasons why this strategy will not work. One, if the TPLF touches the current structure of EPRDF, it is very likely that all the three members of the EPRDF(the OPDO, the ANDM, and the SEPDM) will demand population size based representation within the EPRDF the same way it is in the parliament. If that scenario happens, there is no option out there that will save the TPLF from its minority position. More than 85% of the political power will be in the orbit of other members of the EPRDF. Furthermore, it is very unlikely any ethnic minority group will choose to ally itself with the TPLF against any Amhara and Oromo groups which will hurt them down the line when the TPLF will be removed from power.

Therefore, the TPLF suicidal decision not to reform let alone to transform and adopt new policies, structures and strategies to meet and address the demands of the Ethiopian people will strengthen the popular movement and resistance of the Ethiopian people to take political power and permanently end group and individual dictatorship in Ethiopia.

OPINION: DECOLONIZING ETHIOPIAN STUDIES December 1, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. Africa Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Addis Standard

OPINION: DECOLONIZING ETHIOPIAN STUDIES

 

Photo from the Addis Abeba Ethnographic Museum

One of the dilemmas of studying contemporary Africa is the issue of researching the continent with terms and ideologies that were born outside the continent and outside African languages. When the scramble for Africa began, and European powers needed legitimacy to push for colonization, Phrenological works and Social Darwinist ideas became central to this effort for legitimacy. Consequently, in the early 20th century, ethnographic works developed which show the persistence of Eurocentric ideas in the research undertaken at the time. For example, structural functionalist anthropology that existed in pure form up to the 1930s and 1940s include scholars such as Malinowski and Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard[1] who inscribed Africa into a literary colonial culture and legacy. Such works simplified cultures and societies; they operated on the assumption that cultures are bounded-entities that could be studied and limited to a single book. This simplification of cultures, among other issues, explained the simplification of Africans, their languages and their customs, convincing colonialists of the need to ‘civilize’ them. These works portrayed Africa as disease ridden, poverty-stricken, uncivilized, illiterate, and pagan, with Europe as its successful inverse. Though discourses of ‘Africa rising’ and ‘Ethiopian renaissance’ are slowly coming to the fore, the persistent image of Africa as a trouble-child traces its roots from the continuation of the image of pre-colonial Africa.[2]

Post-independence, most African states were called upon to “exercise all aspects of modern sovereignty at once”.[3]From the 1960s up-to the 1980s, new independent African states tried to develop their countries autonomously based on ‘developmentalism’ and state socialism, but were dismantled later by the collapse of the USSR, US imperialism and influence of other prior colonizers in the 70s. From the 80s onward, structural adjustment plans enforced by the IMF and the World Bank forced most countries to open up their economies as well as several other sectors to the global market. There was no question to the premise that Africa must follow Europe. In addition to this, except for secession movements that later engulfed the continent, there were few who questioned the existence of the nation state as bound to borders, adopted from the Berlin-West Africa conference.[4] In several ways, Europe remained central to the political, and socio-economic narrative of post-independence African countries.

Europe as an idea has thus become an essential part of studying the African continent. It is, however, inadequate.[5] The global significance of Europe is clear. But it is also important to acknowledge that non-European sources of knowledge, leadership, political and economic ideals are as significant and important in the African continent. In terms of knowledge production, this inevitable yet inadequate nature of Europe to study Africa has been recently challenged by decolonizing movements emerging from Africa as well as Europe itself. I do not refer to the colonial independence movements from the past, but student led movements such as the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, which originated  at the University of Cape Town and spread to European universities such as Oxford, challenging the production, ownership and studying of Africa through the glorification of European ideas, and at times at the risk of ignoring the faults of these European scholars.

I will proceed to present the complexities of studying Ethiopia and how even a country that allegedly wasn’t colonized needs to embark upon similar attempts at decolonization.

Language and Ethiopian Studies

Parallel to the anthropologists of pre-colonial Africa, Ethiopia has had its fair share of European scholars attempting to study it. (An example is Eike Haberland, who misrepresents and essentializes “the Galla” at a time when the Imperial Southern Marches were in full swing.[6]) The difference is that as home-grown systems of Ethiopian education were not centered on Europe or done through European languages; they have had no place in Ethiopia’s scholarly world – i.e., until late 20th century[7]. Further, Ethiopia’s sovereignty also led to its subsequent removal from contributing meaningfully to scholarship on African history, or African studies. Whereas, independence allowed Ethiopians to continue using their own languages to write, discuss, and evaluate their history, it also hindered the spread of their knowledge into other countries. The knowledge produced by most Ethiopian scholars is thus to-date limited to the nation. This means that subsequently, what Ethiopians write does not receive as much credit on the global scale because of the language barrier. Even if the narrative of their history, lives, and society differs vastly from common Eurocentric narratives, they are made voiceless because they do not write in English or French or say, German.

It also goes the other way that Ethiopian scholars, to be read and to find jobs, have to write in English, or French. This spreads into the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, the most important secular institute of Ethiopian epistemology. One would assume, at least for the Ethiopian studies based in Ethiopia, that Ethiopian languages be at the front of the scholarship being produced about Ethiopia. But no, that is far from the reality. The trouble here is that the foundation of the Ethiopian Studies initially took place outside of Ethiopia, to this- Ullendorf accredits Hiob Ludolf as the founder of Ethiopian Studies, and its foundation in Ethiopia is accredited to Richard Pankhurst. While it is important to acknowledge the strides taken in the field of Ethiopian studies from abroad and with the contribution of foreign scholars, the critique of this paper is precisely that Ethiopians seem to have little agency in the institute that studies them and takes them as the center of analysis. While Hiob Ludolf must be noted in his opening of the IES in Europe, it should also be as commonly known that it was an Ethiopian monk who taught him what he knows about Ethiopia, namely Aba Gorgorious.

Globally acclaimed works on Ethiopians are rarely written in Ethiopian languages. Languages carry culture and engraved with in them are the history, priorities, aspirations and fabric of the society they emerge from. Studying a society through the lens of foreign languages has troubling implications. Primarily, one will certainly fail to understand fully how a given society understands itself. Using European ideals and languages changes the basic way of how we understand ourselves; almost always, it forces us to accept that we are trying to be like Europe. It is why it may be necessary to also create room for Ethiopian, or other African ways of describing, labeling, and categorizing ideas.

Ethiopian Studies in this regard has yet to face resistance from Ethiopians. The resistance I mention has several unanswered questions to it: primarily, what would a resistance look like in Ethiopian Studies and where could it get inspiration from? I am primarily discussing a break from the exclusion of Ethiopian languages in journals, publications, research and methodologies. Further, another problem is that Europeans having authority over scholarship produced about Ethiopia means that Ethiopians are constantly looking to the West as the source of Ethiopian knowledge. At what point does it become necessary to question where the agency and ownership of Ethiopians is in the knowledge produced about them?

For example Ethiopia’s Axumite civilization is a key point on which foreign and vernacular narratives of Ethiopian history diverge, but where the European interpretation has dominated the field. Foreign scholars have stated boldly that indigenous Ethiopians were invaded by Arabians;[8] which must explain why Ethiopians were able to design their own written forms of languages, and adopt Christianity among other aspects of their civilization. This narrative is singularly the most Euro-centrist way of studying Ethiopia.[9] A land of black Africans who have achieved equal, if not greater, in their history stands to shake the core belief that white-Europe is the epitome of human civilization. Representing discomfort at all cost, Ethiopians are thus presented as not entirely black, with Arab features, and not appearing ‘African enough’. The silver lining of this is, ‘they must have been foreign to Africa. They could not have achieved this without foreigners helping them’.

Such discourses continue in scholarship and engagement with Ethiopia today. One way scholarship on Ethiopian studies remains problematic is that a large number of non-Ethiopian Ethiopianist scholars do not wholly understand Ethiopian languages. Yet, most have been confident in their ability to translate, or write books based on works written in these same languages. The dilemma is precisely that there is an asymmetry of ignorance, the idea that students can study Africa through European ideals and languages but Europeans do not have to use African ideals and language to study the same continent. This allows for an unchecked interpretation of Ethiopian history, politics and society. Because of the global attention papers written in European languages get, it is now a trend to simply ignore Ethiopian scholarship. Further, not only is the product of Ethiopians disregarded, it trickles down to entirely disregarding the guardians of Ethiopian history, Ethiopians themselves.  On numerous occasions, I have sat through discussions about Ethiopia with non Ethiopian scholars invited on the panels of globally influential institutes; with Ethiopianists who have little to no understanding of any of the country’s major languages and who boldly assert, at times, laughable claims about the country. For example, at an Oxford University seminar, a renowned European scholar confidently stated that the Ethiopian holiday Buhe was the equivalent of Halloween.

What is apparent here is that Ethiopian scholars, both traditional and contemporary scholars, and Ethiopians themselves have been pushed to the margins of Ethiopian studies, forcing the scholarly work to revolve around European ideals, writers and scholars which is also vastly incomprehensible to the average Ethiopian. Shouldn’t Ethiopian Studies be attributed to Ethiopian scholars instead of Europeans (some of whom never even set foot in Ethiopia)? By this I mean, Ethiopian Studies Institutes should also strive to be understood as primarily shaped and influenced by Ethiopians and Ethiopian languages, feature more Ethiopians in directorial positions, encourage European scholars to learn Ethiopian languages and cite more Ethiopian scholars, encourage joint research projects with Ethiopians in the leading roles, translate all publications of Ethiopian Studies journals into Amharic and other languages, and provide open source and affordable access to research articles/books for Ethiopians in Ethiopia. What use is the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, if it remains primarily a European dominated field far removed from the lives of the subjects of the institute? This is of course a problem of the social sciences in the Western world in general; and a question I cannot answer in this article. What is the place of vernacular views in the ways Ethiopia is represented globally?

Any place to begin?

Agreeably, there are barriers to the development and dominance of Ethiopian languages and ideas in Ethiopian studies. As a keen observer  and Ethiopianist scholar, Michael Kebede posits, where should the decolonization effortbegin? Which institution? Should one language have primacy? How to allocate scarce resources between Ethiopia’s many languages? How to deal with the dominance of Amharic in Ethiopian-produced literature? Who will pay for the effort? Or is it a question of a redirection of existing resources? Is there a resource scarcity problem? Does funding decide the response to your proposal?

If history is to be studied by using ‘Europe’ as the thematic subject, then we should be able to find space for other cultures that do not fit into such categories. There should be space for non-European terminologies and languages to study the continent. And in the case of Ethiopia, it is crucial to be able to write a paper in, say, Amharic and present one’s work on a global scale as that is as important and is even closer to the subjects studied, as compared to French or English or Italian works. It is one thing to have escaped direct colonization, but it is also important to strive to have freedom in our ability to produce knowledge based on the people’s interpretations and ideals of what is important to them. Ideally, one of the many end goals is to have equal say in contemporary scholarly work as provisioned and written by Ethiopians in the various Ethiopian languages. It is simply not adequate to use Europe to study Ethiopia, or other African countries. AS


ED’s Note: Hewan Semon can be reached at hewanmarye15@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer’s and do not necessarily
reflect the editorial of Addis Standard.


 Endnote

[1] Malinowski and Evans-Pritchard’s works are central in structural functionalist anthropology. Some of their works include, Argonauts of the Wesern Pacific, see Malinowski, Bronislaw, 1978, London : Routledge, Ebook 1978 and The Nuer, see Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (Edward Evan), Oxford University Press, Alexander Street Press, 1940, respectively.

 [2] This discussion relies heavily on V. Y. Mudimbe’s The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy, and the Order of Knowledge (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988).

 [3] Herbst, Jeffrey, States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control, New Jersey: Princeton UP, 2000, p 130.

 [4] Herbst, Jeffrey, ‘Responding to State Failure in Africa,’ International Security 21, 3 (1996), p 122. (Pan Africanists such as Nkrumah wanted to get beyond the nation-state, without being secessionists.)

 [5] Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2000, p 4.

[6] Messay Kebede’s 2003 article is a work to consider reading if one wants to see how European scholars have, at times, through racist narratives tried to define Ethiopian history.

[7] Yirga Gelaw’s recent book Native Colonialism discusses this particular evolution of Eurocentrism in Ethiopian Studies, from the point of view of Ethiopian agency in this. Gelaw, Yirga. Native Colonialism. 2017. Red Sea Press.

[8] Among the few that argue for this point are Ullendorf, The Ethiopians, Budge

[9] Kebede, Messay. ‘Eurocentrism and Ethiopian Historiography: Deconstructing Semitization’, Vol 1, No.1, 2003.

​Ethiopia (TPLF): Privatizing EFFORT: why & how?  — Ethiopian Think Thank Group December 1, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

The TPLF Corruption network

Why privatize it?  Because they now realize they are likely to loose political power and the new power holders whoever they might be will be tempted to nationalize the EFFORT conglomerate. So privatizing it before hand is a preemptive measure. They assume no new regime will be brave enough to nationalize private company. Note that although privatized the company will continue to fulfill its founding objective…allow Tigrean elites dominate the economy. They new ‘private’ owners will be party leaders, relatives and loyalists who will own it on behalf of the oligarchy.

 

TPLF leaders are planning to transfer EFFORT to their individual ownership in the name of make it IPO, document reveals. Remember they claim EFFORT was established by money they got from Western donors due to the 1980s drought and meant to rehabilitate war affected people of Tigray. In reality most of the seed money was […]

via ​Privatizing EFFORT: why & how?  — Ethiopian Think Thank Group

የማዕከላዊ ሰቆቃ፦ የሸጊቱ ስቃይ፥ የደስታ መከራ! November 29, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

​ሸጊቱ ነገዎ፦ 

“2009 ዓም ሻሸመኔ ከተማ ነው የተያዝኩት። ሻሸመኔ ፓራዳይዝ ቫሊ ኮሌጅ ውስጥ ነበር የምሰራው። ሌላ ድርጅት ውስጥ አልሰራም። የተከሰስኩት ግን ሌላ ድርጅት ውስጥ የሚሰሩ ሰዎችን ሰብስበሽ ትሰሪያለሽ ተብዬ  ነው።  ……ማዕከላዊ በማላውቀው ጉዳይ ላይ ነው ተገድጄ የፈረምኩት። ጆሮዬ እስኪደማ ድረስ ተደብድቤ ተጎድቷል።ግራ እጄ ታሟል። በእግራቸው ነበር የሚረግጡኝ። ፀጉሬን እየጎተቱ ነበር የሚደበድቡኝ። ይደበድቡኝ የነበረው ያልሰራሁትን ነገር ሰርተሻል እያሉ ነው። እኔ ምንም የሰራሁት ነገር የለም። የሰጠሁት ቃል የለም። በግድ ነው የፈረምኩት። የደበደቡኝን መርማሪዎች ስማቸውን አላውቅም። ከቤ፣ ከቤ ነው የሚባባሉት። “

 

via የማዕከላዊ ሰቆቃ፦ የሸጊቱ ስቃይ፥ የደስታ መከራ!

COMMENTARY: WAS/IS THERE ETHNIC CONFLICT/ VIOLENCE IN ETHIOPIA? November 29, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

In this regard, two particularly serious events require investigation by an independent international body. The recent displacement of more than 150,000 and the killings of hundreds of members of the Oromo community might fall within the international legal definition of ethnic cleansing.[1] The other one is the extended displacement, population engineering and death of thousands of members of the Amhara community of Wolqait. This has all the traits and features of slow motion genocide.[2] These two, perhaps among many others, cannot be ignored by the international community as the usual ‘ethnic conflict’; they are atypical in scale, precision, latitude and nature of execution. To discount them is not only to implicitly condone these heinous acts, but also to buoy others to act with impunity. As all justice loving people applauded the recent conviction of the “the butcher of Srebrenica,” Ratko Mladić, former Bosnian Serb general, by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his role in the Bosnian genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the international community must also track other Mladic’s in various parts of the world and bring them to justice.


 Even though more than eighty ethnic groups make-up the country’s hundred million population, key structural, administrative and command and control positions are overwhelmingly reserved for members of the Tigray Peopele’s Liberation Front (TPLF), that claims to represent less than 6% of the country’s multi-ethnic population. This lack of national character and national allegiance within the military and security apparatus lends itself to a conclusion that these institutions are subordinates of and only loyal to the minority ruling elites.

 


 

COMMENTARY: WAS/IS THERE ETHNIC CONFLICT/ VIOLENCE IN ETHIOPIA?

By Alem Mamo, for Addis Standard November 27,  2017



Conceivably, if there is a single most important question that requires in depth interrogation in the present political atmosphere of Ethiopia it is this one: was/is there ethnic conflict in Ethiopia? Though it seems straightforward enough, it is an enormous research question that necessitates proper scrutiny and systemic analysis. Moreover, to provide an honest and somehow adequate answer to this crucial question it is important that both the past and the present be examined without indulging in sensationalism and one-dimensional political melodrama. But why ask this question now? Expressly, it is now more than two decades since the current federal political configuration has ‘commendably resolved’ all the lingering issues associated with ‘nations and nationalities.’ Well, the concise answer is contrary to this claim of ‘achievement.’ There is a persistent political revolt across the country rebuffing the government’s assertion that the ‘ethnic question’ has been ‘put to rest’ through the federal constitution and delineation of boundaries on linguistic as well as ethnic lines.

Furthermore, in recent instances some senior government officials, both at a national and regional levels, political groups, media outlets and individual commentators are chillingly pronouncing the current political and security environment in the country as an apocalypse of ‘ethnic conflict,’ ‘ethnic cleansing’ and even ‘genocide.’ This message is communicated sometimes with implicit and other times explicit countenance of mass ethnic violence that has taken place. Often these terms are used interchangeably, as if they are one and the same.  Indeed, these three different classifications of conflict and violence demand careful conflict analysis methods before reaching a conclusion as to whether or not they have occurred. Most importantly, those who claim they have occurred should know the seriousness of the matter and at least endeavor to present qualitative and quantitative evidence that supports their assertion. Additionally, if in fact these claims are true, they must be put in the right context and their dynamics and nature (who, when, what and where) should be mapped and considered judiciously.

What is more disconcerting is the casual and banal use of theses terms without providing any background analysis or supporting data. This is particularly troubling because it is emanating from those who should be more responsible, cautious and disciplined in their evaluation, deliberation and communication with the public. Unfortunately, they are evoking these words in a way one would comment on spectator sports matches. The misuse, misinterpretation and exploitation of terms such as ‘ethnic conflict’, ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘genocide’ for the purpose of inverted victim-hood narrative is repugnant and should not be tolerated. This reality reflects grave moral and ethical decay among the political class.

Meanwhile a different form of quandary lurks within academic circles in the study of ethnic conflict, ethnic violence and related inquiry. This is deeply ingrained assumption among academia, ‘experts’ and policy makers is the hypothesis that state ethnic groups are primordial entities who are inherently bound for conflict, animosity and violence against each other rather than coexistence and congruence. This presupposition remains entrenched within ethnic and ethnic conflict studies programs across universities and college campuses. This is not to say, however, that there are no conflicts and violence between and among different ethnic groups. Indeed, they occur on different scales and magnitude, sometimes with a devastating effect, other times with a mild skirmishes and sporadic confrontations.

The problem is the mindset and pre-concluded notion of the inevitability of ethnic groups engaging in ‘old rivalry,’ which finds its roots in the legacy of colonialism slavery and apartheid. Furthermore, there are more ethnic studies and ethnic conflict studies programs in the West (focused on Africa and the “third world”) than in the regions where the ‘problem’ exists. In fact, in the Western academic institutions these programs have exploded over the last twenty or so years. This has led to a ‘confirmation bias,’ which is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and evoke information in a way that validates one’s pre-existing beliefs or hypotheses while offering unreasonably less consideration to evidence that challenges or contradicts it. This is perhaps the most persistent mistake conflict studies professionals make during a conflict analysis process.

In an academic sense there are four school of thoughts in understanding of ethnic identity and its potential for conflict. The primordial school of thought explicates ethnicity as a fixed characteristic of individuals and communities. Additionally, for primordialists, ethnicity is embedded in inherited biological attributes, a long history of practicing cultural differences, or both. Ethnic identity is unique in its intensity and strength and as an existential feature defining individual self-identification and communal distinctiveness. The psychocultural orientation of ethnicity offers deep cultural and psychological roots which shape the groups’ shared world views. Hence, ethnic identity cannot be changed, only made more tolerant and open-minded. Promoters of a different school of thought, called as social constructivism, emphasize the social nature of ethnic identity. In their assessment, ethnicity is neither immovable nor entirely open. Thus, ethnic identity is created by social exchanges between individuals and groups and stays beyond a person’s choice. For instrumentalists, ethnicity is a product of personal choice and mostly neutral from the situational circumstances or the existence of cultural and biological traits.

The most potent ingredient in a politically motivated ethnic violence is the construction and promotion of hateful narratives against an ethnic group or more than one ethnic group. Stories, songs, literature mixed with myth, and history serve as a mobilizing propaganda campaign strategy as well as dehumanizing the ‘other’ to the point that justifies killing or harming. In the same way these stories of dehumanization are transmitted intergenerationally to keep the hate message alive. There are groups and individuals at the highest leadership positions involved in such a dangerous and divisive campaign against more than one ethnic group. In fact, this reckless venture continues to be employed as a political tactic and strategy to retain hold on power.

In this regard, two particularly serious events require investigation by an independent international body. The recent displacement of more than 150,000 and the killings of hundreds of members of the Oromo community might fall within the international legal definition of ethnic cleansing.[1] The other one is the extended displacement, population engineering and death of thousands of members of the Amhara community of Wolqait. This has all the traits and features of slow motion genocide.[2] These two, perhaps among many others, cannot be ignored by the international community as the usual ‘ethnic conflict’; they are atypical in scale, precision, latitude and nature of execution. To discount them is not only to implicitly condone these heinous acts, but also to buoy others to act with impunity. As all justice loving people applauded the recent conviction of the “the butcher of Srebrenica,” Ratko Mladić, former Bosnian Serb general, by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his role in the Bosnian genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the international community must also track other Mladic’s in various parts of the world and bring them to justice.

When analyzing the conflict and violence dynamics in Ethiopia, we encounter one incontrovertible detail which gives credence to the ‘ethnic conflict’ argument. That is the militarization of ethnicity and the ethnicization of the military. This is particularly factual for the ethnic party directly associated with the ruling elite. Reminiscence of the guerrilla years, all units of the army and security reflect ethnic hegemony. This way of structuring the military is the most troubling feature of the political dynamic in the country. Even though more than eighty ethnic groups make-up the country’s hundred million population, key structural, administrative and command and control positions are overwhelmingly reserved for members of the Tigray Peopele’s Liberation Front (TPLF), that claims to represent less than 6% of the country’s multi-ethnic population. This lack of national character and national allegiance within the military and security apparatus lends itself to a conclusion that these institutions are subordinates of and only loyal to the minority ruling elites.

In addition, the presence and involvement of federal and regional paramilitary groups with a sworn loyalty to their ethnic parties in quashing popular uprisings and revolts demanding change appears to be an affirmation that government backed institutional ethnic violence is taking place. Since these groups are organized by and report to their ethnic military and political power command, it is safe to say the violence contains an ethnic element. The conventional rationale for such violence is often the fear of a minority that the majority will abuse power to the disadvantage of the minority in the political arrangement. While this analysis is true for much of ethnic conflict/violence in various parts of the world, the minority-majority dynamics is set up in reverse in Ethiopia. In other words, the minority group controls the political and economic power, while the majority is marginalized.

As of late, non-conformist and independent leadership within the political landscape of the country is making an appearance. Inter-ethnic collaboration inside the country and within the diaspora both at a community and political party levels is gathering momentum. All in all, despite the weight of injustice and the pain of oppression, there is some modest wind of hope and optimism blowing on the majestic mountains, valleys and farmlands. Hope and optimism, the unbreakable spirit of the people that broke the back of European fascism, is  once again ready to fight for its freedom, be it against external threat or homegrown transgressions.

It is clear that regional ethnic parties that make up the ruling EPRDF do suffer from authenticity and credibility deficits due to the original nature of their creations. Both the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) and the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) didn’t come to being through an organic process. They were formed by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) during the civil war. In recent months, these two groups have shown a very practical as well as psychological (symbolic) demonstration of unity and leadership to their constituencies and the entire country. Given the fact that trust between authority and citizenry is often absent in Ethiopian governance structure, ANDM and OPDO must travel a great length before they gain the full trust and support of the people. In return, the people of Ethiopia must offer them the benefit of the doubt and give them sometime to prove themselves.

Justifiably, the majority of the Ethiopian public views the military, the police and security apparatus as a threat rather than a protection. In addition, the lack of unifying symbols and expressions, such as a national flag or national anthem, have resulted in the use of competing symbols rather than commonly shared ones, further dividing the society not only on a substantive level but also at a symbolic level.

In an apparently leaked document entitled ‘Security situation analysis,’ a little-known body called the National Security Council derided that the country’s political, social and economic order is unraveling and inter-ethnic violence including genocide is “threatening” the country’s very existence. Unfortunately, this rather alarming assessment doesn’t substantiate, quantify or offer any background analysis about this gloomy situation. The reports claim that “genocide has taken place in the eastern part of the country” is obviously startling, but lack of further investigation by an independent international body is equally disturbing.

In contextualizing and analyzing the current dynamics in Ethiopia, it is safe to say that there is no mass inter-ethnic violence. However, there is unambiguous evidence that federal and state level institutions, such as the military, special units and regional police forces with an ethnic administrative and structural commands have been used to target ethnic groups.  This should make the identification, investigation and prosecution of the responsible individuals much easier than mass ethnic conflict.

History’s pitfalls and blood stains are not unique to Ethiopia. They are the tragic scars and contours that mark the nation. Some of the terrains of our past show the blood-stained footprints of our ancestors. However, the prejudice and injustice of our past must not serve to engineer the suffering of our present. Thus, the study and honest interrogation of the past will obviously bring discomfort and pain. We must look at them, touch them, and feel them. This, all of us to face and do by unlocking our hearts and making it our collective tragedy. Most importantly these experiences, however painful, are sacred pages of our history and they should be treated as such. Any meditative calculation to use them as political stock to build division between groups and sustain a grip on power is not only dangerous, it also falls outside the moral decency and cultural norms of the people of this land. The seeds of division and hate, in spite of how deep they were planted and how loud they were propagated, they failed to sow permanent discord between communities with shared history and experience. For that we as people should be proud.

Despite the uncomfortable and at times painful chapters of the country’s history, people across this land have kept their decency and sanity. Never in this country’s history has an ethnic group mobilized to wage a war or terrorized another ethnic group. Yes, state armies and groups manipulated by elites past and present have executed the desire and agenda of the ruling class. But there was no deep rooted, hate-filled animosity that indented neighbor against neighbor, village against village or community against community. Not for lack of trying by the elites, but by people’s rejection of hate and division. Ultimately, the people must join together to build a shared future.


ED’s Note: The writer can be reached at Alem6711@gmail.com. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer’s and do not necessarily reflect the editorial of Addis Standard.


[1] A United Nations Commission of Experts mandated to look into violations of international humanitarian law committed in the former Yugoslavia defined ethnic cleansing in its interim report as “… rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area.” In its final report, the same Commission described ethnic cleansing as “… a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.”

[2] See United Nations definition of genocide: http://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/genocide.html.

Oromia: Borana zone leaders letter of complaint against Ethiopia’s Defence Forces members. #OromoProtests #Prevent #Genocide November 28, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistThe UN is silent as over 45 million Oromo people are subjected to genocide

የቦረና ዞን አስተዳዳሪ በመከላከያ ሰራዊት አባላት ላይ ያቀረቡት የክስ ማመልከቻ (ደብዳቤ)click here to read the  letter’s full text

Related article:- https://oromianeconomist.com/2017/11/25/prevent-genocide-the-un-is-silent-on-the-ethiopias-regimes-continuation-with-genocidal-mass-killings-displacements-mass-arrests-and-torturing-of-oromo-people/

 

Oxfam: Hungry in a world of plenty: millions on the brink of famine: In Ethiopia alone, 700,000 people are on the verge of starvation. It is estimated that 8.5 million people are hungry in the country. November 26, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist
13.6 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are facing dangerous food shortages.
In Ethiopia alone, 700,000 people are on the verge of starvation. It is estimated that 8.5 million people are hungry in the country.
A prolonged drought has caused crops to fail and livestock to die in huge numbers.
The situation could get much worse between now and September and likely to continue until April 2018, if people cannot get the help they need, as food stocks are low before the next harvest.

 

Across the Lake Chad Basin, some 7 million people struggling with food insecurity need asistance.

“Famine does not arrive suddenly or unexpectedly, it comes after months of procrastination and ignored warnings. It is a slow agonizing process, driven by callous national politics and international indifference.” By Nigel Timmins, Oxfam

 


Today, the world stands on the brink of unprecedented famines. About 30 million people are experiencing alarming hunger, severe levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen. 10 million of them are facing emergency and famine conditions. Famine is already likely happening in parts of northern Nigeria, while Yemen and Somalia are on the brink. Thanks to aid efforts, it has been pushed back in South Sudan but the food crisis continues to spread across the country.

These are just four of the many countries that are facing high levels of food insecurity this year. In Malawi, Sudan, Afghanistan, DRC or Syria millions of people do not have enough food to feed their families. The situation in some of these countries could worsen if the international community do not address urgent needs and resolve the root causes.

What is famine?

Famine represents the most serious food insecurity situation in terms of both scale and severity.

It occurs when a substantial number of people are dying due to a lack of food or because of a combination of lack of food and disease. When more than 20% of households cannot eat, acute malnutrition exceeds 30% and death and starvation are evident we cannot talk about a humanitarian “emergency” situation anymore but a “famine”. Learn more about the language of food crises.

Famine threat on the map

Famine threat on the map, 8.5 million people are hungry in Ethiopia alone

 

What are the main causes of famine?

There is not a single root cause that just explains all famines – each context has its unique aspects. However, there is always a fatal combination of various factors that can include conflict, insecurity, access, chronic poverty, lack of trade and severe weather events such as persistent drought.

For example, ongoing war and conflict are the primary drivers of the situation in north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen, and for Somalia it is drought and weak governance after years of conflict. In some parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, communities are also suffering from a catastrophic drought which makes it incredibly hard for them to buy food locally or have any source of income.

What is sure is that we always have the power to prevent and end famine, but we always let it happen. A declaration of famine is effectively an admission that the international community has failed to organize and act in time and that national governments have been unable or unwilling to respond.


“ማስተር ፕላኑ ተመልሶ መጣ!” – ረቂቅ አዋጁ ለፌዴሬሽን ምክር ቤት ተመርቷል November 26, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Say no to the master killer. Addis Ababa master plan is genocidal plan against Oromo people

via “ማስተር ፕላኑ ተመልሶ መጣ!” – ረቂቅ አዋጁ ለፌዴሬሽን ምክር ቤት ተመርቷል

#Prevent #Genocide! The UN is silent on the Ethiopia’s regime’s continuation with genocidal mass killings, displacements, mass arrests and torturing of Oromo people. November 25, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Horn of Africa Affairs, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure. African Heritage. The Genocide Against Oromo Nation, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

As over 610,000 Rohingya people have been displaced, the UN report details ‘devastating cruelty’ against Rohingya population http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56103. While   over  690,000 Oromo people have been displaced from Eastern Ethiopia  by the coordinated TPLF Ethiopia’s regime’s cruel forces, the UN and the International Community are silent.  Millions  of Oromo people, children, women, elders, young and adults have been evicted from their homes through systematic land grabs, ethnic cleansing and direct wars declared on them. Thousands killed and over a quarter million are in Ethiopia’s regime’s torture camps. The genocide war against Oromo people is in its full swing and unstopped on daily basis.

The UN is silent as over 45 million Oromo people are subjected to genocide

The internally displaced Oromo people are suffering  without food and shelter.

 

(OPride) — Emails between senior Ethiopian government officials, obtained exclusively by OPride, shed new lights on the state-run Ethio Telecom’s abrupt decision to halt the text-to-give campaign launched by Oromia State in September. The disclosures also pinpoint the key government officials behind the action.

“Help rehabilitate our people displaced from the Ethiopian Somali region by texting “O” to 700 to give 5 birr,” Addisu Arega, the spokesperson for Oromia State, announced on Sep. 28, 2017 via Facebook and Twitter. “We thank Ethio Telecom for their huge support in setting up the campaign free of charge.”

However, the campaign that was meant to raise relief funds for the more than half a million Oromos displaced from the Somali Regional State lasted a mere five hours.



የተባበሩት መንግሥታት ከኢትዮ ሱማሌ በግፍ ለተፈናቀሉት ህዝቦችን መርዳት እንደለበት ዶ/ር ነጋሶ ጊዳዳ ጠየቁ።


በኢትዮጵያ ታሪክ ታይቶ በማይታወቅ ሁኔታ ከግማሽ ሚሊየን ህዝብ በላይ ተፋናቅሎ ከራሱ መንግሥት ጭምር በቂ እርዳታ ሳያገኝ መቅረቱ በጣም አሳዘኝ ብቻም ሳይሆን አሳፋሪም ነው። ኦሮሚያ ክልል የኢትዮጵያ አካል እንዳልሆነ ነገር ፌዴራል መንግሥት ዝምታ ከመምረጥ አልፎ በቴሌ በኩል የተጀመረው የsms እንዲቋረጥ አድርጎዋል።
ኢትዮጵያ የጎረቤት ሀገር ስደተኞችን ተቀብላ በማስተናገድ ቀዳሚ ነኝ እያለች በምትገልጽበት ወቅት ላይ የራሷ ዜጎች እንዲህ ትኩረት መነፈጋቸው ትርፉ ትዝብት ነው። ለኦሮሞና ለኦሮሚያ መንግስት ትልቅ መልዕክት አስተላልፏል። የፖለቲካ የበላይነት ከሌለህ ዋጋ እንደሌለ።
ዶ.ር ነጋሶ ግዳዳ UN እስካሁን ምንም እርዳታ አለማድረጉን ጠቅሶ የሚመለከተው አካል ግፊት ማድረግ አንደለበት አሳስቧል። በመሆኑም በሀገር ውስጥና በውጭ የሚኖሩ ኢትዮጵያዊያን በሰላማዊ ሰልፍ በደብዳቤና በተለያዩ ማህበራዊ ሚዲያ ግፊት ማድረግ አለባቸው።

 

on 23 December 2017 the fascist TPLF forces attacked Oromo residence in Borana, Southern Oromia and killed 13 and wounded over 23 Oromo nationals.

VOA Afaan Oromoo akka gabaasetti: Boorana, Aanaa Areeroo Keessatti Liyyu Poolisii fi Humna Federaalaatiin Halellaa Geggeessame Jedhameen Namoonni Garii Du’anii Kaan Madaawan

Fascist TPLF Ethiopia’s regime Agazi forces continue with mass killings in Oromia (Ethiopia): At least 10 killed and 20 wounded in Ambo. #OromoProtests, read in Oromian EconomistOctober 28, 2017

Oromo group decries ‘ongoing genocide’ in Ethiopia

Ethiopia: The Never Ending Horror Against the Oromo Nation

The peaceful street protests in Oromia that shook Ethopia for over one year (November 2015-October 2016) turned violent after the reckless action by the government when its military attacked civilians and murdered over 700 at the Oromo Irrecha Festival  on October 2, 2016.

The  fascistic action of the Ethiopian government turned a peaceful protest into a violent one  in which many people were killed and government property was destroyed by the angry protesters.

The TPLF/EPRDF government declared a six- month state of emergency- later extended to ten months- on October 8, 2016 with the pretext of calming the violence in Oromia. During the  State of Emergency, the government killing squad members were deployed in all villages of the Oromia Regional state where they committed killings, kidnappings, and arrests during the ten months of the State of Emergency.


Under the State of Emergency, the TPLF/ EPRDF government- trained  Liyu Police led by the killing  Squad Agazi  were deployed  along  the long border  between Somali and Oromia regional states and occupied 32 districts of Oromo land from the  south Borana zone to the northeast  Hararge zone; many people were killed from both sides. During the six- month war between the federal government force backed Liyu Police and Oromo farmers  over 500 people have been killed, and many other Oromos have been forcefully kidnapped  and taken to Somali Region.


Ethiopia: Government-Fuelled Conflict & the Need for Unity

Despite the governments claims to the contrary, Ethiopia is essentially a one-party state in which power is monopolized by the EPRDF, which despite claiming to be a democratic coalition, is in fact a dictatorship ruled by men from Tigray under the TPLF banner. It is an illegitimate government supported by the West, – America, Britain and the European Union (EU) being the largest benefactors – politically and economically. With the exception of the EU, these powers not only remain silent in the face of State Terrorism, but also spread Ethiopian propaganda through the mainstream media and act in collusion with the EPRDF in relation for example, to the arrest of opposition party leaders. Instead of supporting the ruling party, donors should be applying pressure on it to respect human rights and adhere to the democratic principles laid out in the country’s constitution. Their silence and dishonesty makes them complicit in the crimes of the government, which are heinous and widespread.

Successive Ethiopian regimes have never displayed humanity or respect for Oromo and denied opportunities to build their social, economic, political, cultural and organizational infrastructures. In all spheres of life, discrimination, subjugation, repression and exploitation of all forms were applied. Everything possible was done to destroy Oromo identity – culture, language, custom, tradition, name and origin. In short, the leaders of Ethiopian empire maintained the general policy of genocide against the Oromo people.

Current state terrorism (by TPLF junta):

Reduction project of TPLF is on track with multiple fronts. Here is the TPLF slogan: We, TPLF or Tigrean sons and daughters, will reduce the number of Oromo from 40 million to the minority group without their awareness and knowledge of the world.”

  • Through Massacre and Displacement example recent action in Eastern Oromia, thousands of silent death across Oromia in the night, in detention camp and special torture branch in Meqelle (Tigrai).
  • Through targeted shootout on the street, by kidnapping and mutagenic process
  • Through indirect actions (denying well-functioning health care system and inhibiting economic empowerment).

Humiliation project of TPLF: Here is the TPLF Motto: We, TPLF- or Tigrean sons and daughters, have to show to the Ethiopian empire nations that we are unbeatable masters.

  • Through imprisoning and torturing
  • Through land grab
  • Through culturing puppets, traitors, servants and opportunistic individual

Powerless unity project of TPLF: Here is the TPLF plan: Especially to deny Oromo people the powerful unity and strong organization we TPLF-staff or Tigrean sons and daughters have to work tirelessly.  Source: Ethiopian Empire Policies are Fecal Occult Blood, While Their Actions are Considerably Hemorrhagic, by Dr. B. K. Deressa in Kichuu inf

 


The regime’s officials and armed forces engaged in systematic looting of Oromo resources, economic corruption, black markets in commodities and foreign exchanges.  click here to  read THE SOUR TASTE OF SUGAR IN ETHIOPIA

Click here to read the case of  TPLF Ethiopia’s Regime Money Laundering Activities & Its Networks 

 


Ethiopia: Where are the legislators? November 25, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistEthiopia parliament the rubber stamp of the Woyane. Woyane women sleeping in parliament

In what seems to be an unprecedented state of affairs, the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) is conducting its regular session in visibly low attendance. On Thursday the House barely met the required quorum of 50 percent plus one or the 275 threshold in the 547-member Ethiopian parliament.

via Where are the legislators?

Oromia: #OromoProtests: Thousands marched in protests against Al AMoudi’s gold exploitation and land grabs in Aagaa Waayyuu, Guji zone, Southern Oromia November 22, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Uncategorized.
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(VOA Afaan Oromoo, Saadasa 21 Bara 2017): Godinaa Gujii Bahaa, aanaa Sabbaa-Boruu, ganda Qanxichaa keessatti uummatni kumaa hedduutti lakkaawamu har’a, gara magaalaalaa Qanxichaatti yaa’uudhaan hiriira mormii guddaa geggeesse. Rakkoolee baroota hedduuf nu irra bubbulan – jedhu, keessumaa kan qabeenyaa mootummaa tahe – warshaa Dhaabbata Taantaalemii Qonxichaa irraa uummatni naannoo faayidaa isaaf mal otuu hin argatiin waggoota 26f ture – jedhan balaaleffachaa turan – hiriirtonni. Sababaa warshaa kanaa fi warshaalee ka biroo naannoo sanaatiif summaa’uu qilleensaaf saaxilamuu isaanii illee himatan.

Rakkolee sababaa warshaalee fi qotinsa albudaatiin uumaman malees rakkoo du’aa fi jireenyaa tu akka Oromootti nu mudataa jira – jedhan. Bulchiinsi aanaa Sabbaa-booruus iyyannaan uummata har’a hiriira bahee himannaa haqaa tahuu dubbata.

Gabaasaa guutuu dhaggeedhaa

Oromia: Athletic Nation Report: Oromo athletes Almaz Ayana Ebba (f) and Berhanu Legese Gurmessa (m) clinched victor in the 2017 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon November 20, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Athleteics, Athletic nation, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

 

Oromo athletes Almaz Ayaanaa Eebba (f) and Berhanu Legese Gurmessa (m) win 2017 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday 19 November 2017.

Oromo athlete  Berhanu  Almaz Ayana Ebba wins the  2017 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon  on 19th November 2017.png

Oromo athlete  Berhanu Legese Gurmessa wins win 2017 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on 19th November 2017.png

For more details read the following from Punjab News Express:

Berhanu Legese and Almaz Ayana win 2017 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon


By Balbir Singh, Punjab New Express,  NEW DELHI,  November 20, 2017 

Berhanu Legese and Almaz Ayana won the 2017 edition of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon which lived up to its legacy of being the World’s most prestigious half marathon, with Procam International announcing and delivering a slew of initiatives to be able to provide athletes with a better running environment.

The race turned out to be a bag full of surprises as favourites made way for new champions. The Indians had a fabulous race with Indian elites Nitendra Singh Rawat and L Suriya smashing the course records in their respective categories.

Winner of 2015 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon Berhanu Legese repeated his feat on Sunday winning the Men’s Elite Category in 59:46. Making her half marathon debut, reigning 10,000m world champion and world record holder Almaz Ayana beat the women’s field with 1:07:11.

Legese led Ethiopia’s 1-2 placing with compatriot Andamlak Belihu coming in five seconds later on his debut over the distance and American Leonard Korir came third clocking 59:52. 2017 IAAF World Championships Marathon gold medalist Geoffrey Kirui finished a disappointing sixth with a timing of1:00:04.

Delighted at his repeat feat, Legese said the weather conditions were perfect to go for the kill. “The weather was great, there was no issue at all. In fact the weather was favourable for a run like this. I would love to come back to Delhi to participate in the event again,” said Legese, who clocked 59:20 to win the 2015 Airtel Delhi Half Marathon.

Minister of State (IC) – Youth Affairs and Sports Col (Retd.) Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore flagged off the race. Airtel Delhi Half Marathon International Event Ambassador Anthony Ervin, PUMA legend Anthony Ervin and Honourable Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation Vijay Goel were present at the event.

Nitendra Singh Rawat took home the Indian Elite Men’s title beating defending champion G Lakshmanan in a thrilling photo finish (1:03:53). Rawat and Lakshmanan were neck-to-neck through the entire course. It was the last 100 metres when the real battle started as Lakshmanan and Rawat sprinted to the finish line. In what looked like Lakshmanan would go on and defend his title, Rawat pipped him at the post as his foot touched the finishing line before the defending champions. Avinash Sable came third with 1:03:58.

Heading to the podium, Rawat, Lakshmanan and Sable also beat the course record set by Deepchand Saharan in 2009 of 1:04:00. Rawat said he had a point to prove by winning the race here. “I wanted to prove myself by winning this race so my strategy was to not take lead but keep going on until end. This win will prove that I belong to the national camp,” said Rawat while speaking to media.

Reigning world 10,000m champion Ayana was making her debut over the half marathon distance but hardly looked like a novice as she led home an Ethiopian clean sweep of the podium positions in the women’s race.

The outcome was decided in the final kilometre as she pulled away from her rivals. Ababel Yeshaneh was second again, as she was in 2016, and set a personal best for the second consecutive year as well, crossing the line in 1:07:19 to slice 33 seconds from her personal best. Completing the all-Ethiopian top three, Netsanet Gudeta also set a personal best of 1:07:24 to improve her best by seven seconds.

Asked how she felt to win on her half marathon debut, Ayana said, “There were not many good track competitions so I decided to participate in this event. I always run to win, and this race too wasn’t different,” said Ayana. When asked if she would come back to Delhi after making a winning debut, “Yes, I will come back next year,” Ayana said at her post race interview.

The Indian Elite Women’s category saw L Suriya clinching the top spot. “My coach Surendra sir told me to run my own race and maintain the pace throughout. I just did that but this wasn’t my best honestly,” said Suriya, who won the race by a minute. In the process, the 27-year old from Tamil Nadu set a course record with 1:10:31, beating Lalita Babar’s 2015 record at the event of 1:10:52. Her performance should be good enough to secure her a place on the start line of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in the Spanish city of Valencia next March, which would be her first global championship outing.

Veteran Sudha Singh came second with 1:11:30 followed by Parul Chaudhary at 1:13:09.

The winners got richer by US$27000 while runners-up got US$20000 and third-placed runners earned US$13000. First placed Indian Elite athletes earned Rs. 3,00,000 with runners up getting Rs. 2,50,000 and third placed runners winning Rs. 1,75,000.

A course record jackpot of Rs. 2,00,000 will be shared amongst all three Indian Elite Men’s winners Rawat, Lakshmanan and Sable while L Suriya will have the entire sum to herself.

The mega event with a participation of over 34,000 would not have been possible without complete coordination and cooperation with the authorities.

Results:

Overall Athlete Men:

Berhanu Legese (ETH) 00:59:46; Andamlak Belihu (ETH) 00:59:51; Leonard Korir (US) 00:59:52; Asefa Negewo (ETH) 00:59:54; Jorum Okumbo (KEN) 00:59:58; Geoffrey Kirui (KEN) 01:00:04; Edwin Kiptoo (KEN) 01:00:06; Abadi Hadis (ETH) 01:00:25; John Langat (KEN) 01:00:41; Nitendra Singh Rawat (IND) 01:03:53

Overall Athlete Women:

Almaz Ayana (ETH) 01:07:11; Ababel Yeshaneh (ETH) 01:07:19; Netsanet Gudeta (ETH) 01:07:24; Helah Kiprop (KEN) 01:08:07; Worknesh Degefa (ETH) 01:08:09; Paskalia Chepkorir (KEN) 01:08:46; Veronica Nyaruai (KEN) 01:09:02; L Suriya (IND) 01:10:29; Daria Maslova (KYR) 01:11:28 Sudha Singh (IND) 01:11:28.


 

Oromo group decries ‘ongoing genocide’ in Ethiopia November 20, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Oromo group decries ‘ongoing genocide’ in Ethiopia

New group wants Americans to more forcefully oppose alleged abuses in Ethiopia.
itemprop

ERIN ADLER, STAR TRIBUNELeft to right: Amy Bergquist, Advocates for Human Rights staff attorney joins Husen Beriso, Endris Hundissa, Kathleen Seestadt, Nagessa Oddo Dube, Genemo Uka and Amsalu Mayessa, all members of the United Oromo Voices group. A panel discussion will focus on publicizing the plight of the Oromo people, including ongoing alleged human rights violations that some say the U.S. government ignores while continuing to support Ethioipia. Oromia is a region of Ethiopia and Oromos are an oppressed ethnic minority.

A new group dedicated to raising awareness of human rights violations in Ethiopia against the Oromo — an Ethiopian ethnic minority with a significant Minnesota presence — held its first event Sunday in Minneapolis.

More than 70 people crowded into Norway House to hear the “Ethiopia to Minnesota” speakers panel, sponsored by United Oromo Voices, a coalition formed about six months ago.

Panelists spoke about Ethiopia’s history and ethnic groups, its current government and ideas for how the country can change.

“We need Americans to understand us, to push their representatives to [be a] voice for the Oromos to stop the ongoing genocide,” said Nagessa Oddo Dube, a United Oromo Voices member.

Minnesota has the largest concentration of Oromos in the United States. The Oromos are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, making up between 33 and 50 percent of the country’s population.

The state demographer’s office says 8,500 Oromos live here, but the Oromo Cultural Institute of Minnesota believes the number is much higher. Oromos are often mistaken for Somalis in Minnesota and thus not very visible, Dube said.

Dube recounted how he survived years of persecution in Ethiopia as an Oromo activist, including repeated arrests, beatings, threats and a murder attempt.

Ethiopian security forces have killed more than 400 protesters and others and arrested tens of thousands more during widespread protests in the Oromia region since November 2015, according to Human Rights Watch.

United Oromo Voices aims to inform Americans that Ethiopia is the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid among low-income countries, funds they say support a government that terrorizes the Oromos by unlawfully arresting them, imprisoning, torturing and even killing them.

The St. Paul-based Center for Victims of Torture sees more Oromos than any other ethnicity, said Curt Goering, the center’s executive director.

Staff there treat torture victims’ physical wounds — broken bones and perforated eardrums — and provide counseling for the psychological ones, Goering said.

“It gives you some sense of the magnitude of the severity of the human rights violations,” Goering said on the panel.

Sen. John Hoffman, DFL-Champlin, attended the discussion to show support for the Oromo, many of whom are his constituents, he said.

“My neighbors are Oromo, my best friends are Oromo,” said Hoffman, who authored a Minnesota Senate resolution in 2014 calling out Ethiopia for killing 85 college students.

Pending resolutions in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives condemn the Ethiopian government’s human rights violations — including allegedly killing hundreds and arresting thousands of dissidents, journalists and other civilians — and demand political prisoners’ release.

Kathleen Seestadt, an event organizer and group member, has been working with the Oromo community since 2001. The night was a success, especially because many non-Oromos showed up, she said.

“The real challenge is to get people who don’t know the Oromos [to come],” Seestadt said.


The Oromo Alternative: Freedom, Equality, Justice and Dignity in a Participatory Democracy November 19, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

The Oromo Alternative: Freedom, Equality, Justice and Dignity in a Participatory Democracy

By Ezekiel Gebissa & Jawar Mohammed, Horn Arguments,  November 17, 2017


 

The Oromo Protest, approaching its fourth year, is now an established historical fact as an Oromia-wide, yearlong resistance movement involving the entire Oromo population. Despite frustrating obstacles to the attainment of its broad goals, the resistance has had many successes. It has rocked an entrenched authoritarian political system to its roots, nibbling down the Ethiopian federal government to paralysis and compelling the Oromia regional government to embrace the demands of the Oromo people. It has exposed the inequities of an economic system purported to be on an inexorable trajectory of growth and broad-based benefits for all citizens. The Ethiopian military, the third largest in Africa, deployed extensively to put down the resistance, was shown to be impotent against unarmed but determined protestors. In sum, the Oromo Protest, an epochal event in Ethiopia’s history, has occasioned the rise of an emergent Oromo nation and a resurgent Oromo nationalism.

In the last half century, the goals of Oromo nationalists have always been the same as the political demands of other Ethiopians. But when the Oromo raise them, they invariably evoke a rhetorical question: “What do the Oromo really want?” This is not an honest query but a mischievous scheme designed to marginalize the Oromo nation, disparage Oromo political demands, and criminalize the Oromo nationalist movement. It is a ploy employed by Ethiopia’s powerholders to make the Oromo the perpetual outsider and cast the Oromo national movement into a subversive nationalism.

Within the framework of this ploy, Oromo nationalism is consistently labeled as a separatist movement that injects discord into domestic politics and threatens the stability of the existing state system in the Horn. In scholarly literature, Oromo nationalists are depicted as disciples of Eritrean secessionists whose objective is the dismemberment of the Ethiopian state. In Ethiopian popular consciousness, Oromo nationalists came to represent a relic of the era of liberation movements who, unlike the levelheaded “democrats” of our time, want to tear down the state, subvert democracy, thwart development and disrupt peace. Simply put, Oromo nationalism was rendered a genie that should be kept inside the bottle.

The eminent British anthropologist Paul Baxter observed this phenomenon nearly forty years ago. In a definitive article published 1978, “Ethiopia’s Unacknowledged Problem: The Oromo,” he wrote:

The efflorescence of feelings of common nationhood and of aspirations for self-determination among the Oromo has not been much commented upon. Yet the problem of the Oromo people has been a major and central one in the Ethiopian Empire ever since it was created by Minilik in the last two decades of the nineteenth century.  If the Oromo people only obtain a portion of the freedoms which they seek then the balance of political power in Ethiopia will be completely altered. If the Oromo act with unity they must necessarily constitute a powerful force.

For the next four decades, even though both the Oromo nation and Oromo nationalism continued to play a critical role in matters of war and peace, in the formation and fall of regimes, and in the quest for equality and justice, the Oromo question remained Ethiopia’s unacknowledged problem that must be confined the periphery of Ethiopian politics.

Ethiopia’s Unacknowledged Problem

The contemporary Oromo struggle emerged during the revolutionary fervor of the late 1960s as a movement against national and class oppression. During this time, the impoverished, overtaxed and landless Oromo peasants Bale presented their grievances in an armed rebellion, the Bale Rebellion, which lasted several years. Oromo elite who served in the imperial regime as civilian and military officials, realizing that their place was always subordinate to the dominant Amhara, started to join the nationalist camp. In 1963, their dissatisfaction coalesced into an organized movement with the establishment of the Mecha Tulama Self-help Association (MTA).

By the late 1960s, the Bale rebellion had been quelled and the MTA had been outlawed by the imperial government. In response, Oromo nationalists founded a political organization named the Ethiopian National Liberation Front (ENLF) in 1971.  Led by Hajji Hussien Sorra, one of the leaders of Bale rebellion, the ENLF’s declared objective was to overthrow Haile Sellassi’s “feudal regime” and to create a “progressive republic” based on a decentralized union comprised of autonomous regions. Specifically, it supported land distribution to peasants, freedom of the press, release of political prisoners and the right to organize political parties and professional associations. Put succinctly, the focus of the Oromo nationalists during this period was on the restoration of human dignity for an Oromo and respect for the identity of the nation.

In the 1970s, the Ethiopian Student Movement (ESM) became the locus of opposition political activities against the imperial government. Oromo nationalists were not just members of the ESM unions but also served in various leadership roles. In these capacities, they participated in the articulation of the two major political questions, encapsulated in the motto of “land to the tiller” and “the question of nationalities,” that have since shaped Ethiopian politics. These same political demands that animated the ESM also galvanized Oromo nationalists.

The twin questions of land and identity culminated in the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974. During the early phases of the revolution, Oromo nationalists gave critical support to the Derg government for issuing the Land Nationalization Proclamation of 1975 and introducing various measures to allow cultural expressions of the various nationalities of Ethiopia. Many Oromo nationalists became leaders of the various political parties of the time including the All Ethiopia Socialist Union or Me’ison (Haile Fida) and the Revolutionary Struggle of Ethiopia’s Oppressed or Eche’at (Baro Tumsa) and the League of the Proletariat or Wez Liig (Senay Likki). Once the Derg consolidated its power, it made any talk of the nationalities question a treasonable crime. Oromo nationalists in urban centers were subsequently imprisoned, tortured and killed. Oromo farmers in the eastern region were labelled collaborators of the Said Barre regime, rounded up indiscriminately and summarily executed.

In the aftermath of this unparalleled brutality, some Oromo nationalists joined the armed struggle in the Chercher highlands in the East. At the same time, Oromo nationalist intellectuals framed Oromo nationalist goals in terms of freedom from the Amhara nafxanya class who had oppressed and persecuted Oromo peasants and from the descendants of the nafxanya in urban areas who kept Oromo professionals in perpetual second class status. As Leenco Lata, a leading leader of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) put it in a recent interview on ESAT, “framing the Oromo national question as a colonial question was necessary because Oromoness itself was threatened with extinction by the assimilationist policies of the imperial regime.”  The political program that was sketched in the context of a worldview shaped by the prevailing realities of the time culminated in the regime change of 1991.

In the 1990s, the Oromo struggle began to move away from the guerilla movement posture it had for decade to a mass movement on Ethiopia’s national political stage. Within the framework of the language-based federal structure, the use of the Oromo language as the working language in Oromia and the use of Latin script in writing in Afaan Oromo, the Oromo people gradually overcame the cultural domination of the era of assimilation and came to realize that they have a common destiny as a unified nation. This sense of unity was reinforced by protest songs, resistance literature, cultural performances and a public display of new symbols of national pride. The annual Irreecha festival, celebrated in Bishoftu from the early 1990s onwards, became a manifestation an Oromo cultural renaissance and a nationalist struggle that had entered a more mature stage of political evolution.

By 2000, Oromo cultural consciousness, resulting from cultural renaissance and mounting deprivation caused by the barefaced exploitation of the Woyyane era, began to coalesce as an organized collective action. The forest fire of 2000 in Bale and opposition to the relocation of the capital of Oromia from Addis Ababa to Adama in 2003 prefigured a more powerful and resilient civic action that erupted a decade later in 2014. This was the university student-led protests opposing the planned implementation of the now infamous Addis Ababa and Surrounding Oromia Special Region Integrated Development Master Plan.

Since 2014, despite ebbs and flows, the Oromo protest has continued to this day. Even though this epochal phenomenon has yet to achieve its goals, it has incontrovertibly changed the face of Ethiopian politics permanently. With the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) ending its quarter century long drama of dissimulation and promoting the longstanding agenda of Oromo nationalist movement, Oromo nationalism become the leitmotif of politics in Oromia and in Ethiopia. As such, the fate of the Ethiopian polity is now inextricably linked with answering the Oromo demands for freedom, equality and justice. Ethiopia’s unacknowledged problem has been acknowledged as Ethiopia’s political problem that can no longer be externalized or pushed to the periphery.

Oromo Protest, an Oromo Renaissance

The Oromo Protest, the current stage of the long Oromo struggle, is characterized by fast, aggressive, sharp-paced resistance actions that took advantage of technology, artistic expressions and the ingenuity of organizers. Tech-savvy activists creatively employed new communication technologies—especially social media via the Internet—for the mobilization of collective action and the subsequent creation, organization, and implementation of tactical moves in pursuit of strategic goals. They were able to use the Internet to initiate and organize a broad spectrum of activities, including consumer boycotts, public protests, stay-at-home strikes, and demonstrations.

In addition to organizing and implementing collective actions on the ground in Oromia, social media technologies were used to coordinate transnational actions between activists in the diaspora and their counterparts at home. The technologies were used in promoting a sense of community and collective identity among Oromo society, creating less-confined political spaces, establishing connections with other social movements, and publicizing the Oromo cause to gain support from the global community.

One of the internal characteristics of the Oromo protests is the activists’ devotion to planning and execution of sophisticated civil actions. The activists created symbols, notably the crossed hands over the head, and employed new methods, tactics and actions which were quickly adopted by protestors in major cities, towns and villages across Oromia. Though Oromia-wide in scope, the network of activists who organized and led the protests remained invisible to the regime’s security apparatus. Unable to pin-down the organization and leadership of the protests, the regime resorted to a dragnet approach which landed leading Oromo political leaders in jail and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Oromo in concentration camps. Thousands more were forced into exile while thousands more were summarily executed by security forces acting with impunity.

Their sacrifices are not in vain. The Oromo Protest has ended the era of secretly-conceived, elite-directed and vertically-implemented bad policies. Confronting the regime with waves of demonstrations and insisting to have a voice in their government, the protestors have impressed on the current and future powerholders the true meaning of the principle of popular sovereignty. Streaming into the streets for nearly a year in the face of a heavily armed military that has no qualms raining bullets on unarmed citizens, the Oromo protesters have shown the futility of the use of brute force against a conscious and determined citizenry. Demanding respect for the constitution, the federal arrangement, and the rule of law, the protestors have defended the gains of the Oromo national movement.

Until the Oromo Protest, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) managed to remain in power by dividing the Oromo people into supporters of the “good” OPDO who are pro-peace, pro-democracy and pro-development “patriots” and of the “evil” OLF who are anti-peace, anti-democracy and anti-development “terrorists.” These dichotomies have now dissolved. The political rhetoric of the current OPDO leaders is indistinguishable from those of an OLF nationalist whom they have despised for a quarter century. Oromia government officials and diaspora-based activists now speak with one voice about the future. This signifies the convergence of Oromo interests and an emerging consensus in addressing the longstanding and current demands the Oromo people.

The apparent unity purpose among Oromo political forces is one of the enduring legacies of the Oromo Protest. Oromo demands are no longer the pawn of the competing positions enunciated in political programs. Through the slogans, chants, placards, speeches, songs and other forms of expression, the Oromo protestors have re-articulated the longstanding Oromo quest for self-determination. At this stage of the struggle, the Oromo people demand positive liberty, the freedom to exercise democratic rights, constitutional rule, respect for human rights and the right to live in peace. They also demand negative liberty or freedom from violence, authoritarian rule, deprivation, arbitrary detention, torture and murder by security forces.

Rearticulated as such it is clear that the longstanding demands of the Oromo people for self-determination are not antagonistic to the demands of all peoples in Ethiopia. They are not only the same demands as other peoples of Ethiopia but also consistent with the rights that are enumerated in the Ethiopian constitution and in notable international human rights declarations and convents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). By expressing Oromo demands so clearly and unambiguously, the Oromo protestors have rendered ineffective the TPLF’s tactic of presenting Oromo demands as a plot designed to dismember and destroy the Ethiopian state.

The Oromo Protest’s immediate impact is on the Oromia government leaders. At least three cases exemplify the new leaders’ transformation. First, when Lemma Megersa, President of the Oromia region, decided to stay away from the Irreecha celebrations of 2017, he showed a rare political acumen of exercising leadership by refraining from acting impulsively. Second, during the celebrations at Lake Arsadi, Burayuu and in other places all over Oromia, the Oromia police acted in the best police tradition that the force’s mission is “to protect and serve.” Third, after the Liyu Police of the Somali region engineered the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Oromo from the Somali region, the regional government quickly organized a relief effort to attend to the needs of the displaced. The senior leader of the OPDO, Abba Duulaa Gammada, realizing that his seat of power wasn’t matched by the authority to effect change, resigned in protest. In recent weeks, the new leaders have foiled the plot to instigate conflict between the Amhara and Oromo people and helped diffuse public fear of an impending inter-ethnic conflict by holding a solidarity conference in with the people of the people of the Amhara region.

It is true that the current OPDO leaders were forced by the resilience and determination of the Oromo Protest to respond to popular demands. Regardless, they made the right decision in choosing to heed the people’s voice, embrace the protestors’ vision and desist from doing more harm. Beyond these overall adjustments, the specific actions they made since the Ireecha festival of 2017 are important not just in resolving existing problems but also in terms of their implications for the future. A leader avoiding an opportunity to bask in limelight is a first in Ethiopia. A police force exercising restraint not to shoot at protestors sets a precedent that will be a model of police behavior in the future. A high level official giving up power rather than continue to be a hatchet man presages a new era in Ethiopian politics. The ‘reformed’ OPDO is an unmistakable example of the institutionalization Oromo nationalism.

The Oromo Protest has also reshaped Oromo nationalism forcing its intellectual leaders to reckon the many lost opportunities, strategic blunders, and self-destructive initiatives that have obviated progress toward self-determination. There is now an emerging Oromo nationalism that is pragmatic and is oriented towards solving the problems of everyday life. It is nationalism that is not and cannot be depicted as destructive, dystopian and iconoclastic. It is nationalism that is rational and has a responsible approach to nation-building. No longer the pariah in Ethiopian politics, the new generation of Oromo nationalists is now a positive force for desirable change and for devising workable solutions for Ethiopia’s future.

The Oromo Protest has shown that the force that poses a threat to the unity of Ethiopians is not the Oromo demand for self-determination, which in fact is the ultimate exercise of democratic rights, but a government that is committed to perpetuating a single group’s domination of the state by pitting against each other the various nations and nationalities in the country. The solution to the country’s ills cannot be achieved by denying the right to choose one’s ethnonational identity. The future of unity lies in the construction of a genuine multinational federation based on equality, justice, human dignity and constitutional rule. This is the Oromo alternative vision to a workable social contract for a future of peace and prosperity.

The Oromo Alternative

Nearly forty years after Paul Baxter bemoaned Oromo political marginalization and lack of unity among them, in 2012, the eminent University of Chicago sociologist, the late Donald Levine, expressed optimism about the role of the Oromo in Ethiopia in an article entitled “the Oromo vision could electrify Ethiopia.” He writes:

Oromo leaders could promote wider understanding of the democratic ethos of the remarkable political Gada system and invite themselves more robustly into the Ethiopian center, with a vigorous campaign to reform democratic procedures, protect human rights, and guarantee civil liberties for ALL Ethiopians. Such a role would be in keeping with the expansive project of the Oromo people and their most salient traditional virtues.”

The Oromo vision that Levine proposed for Ethiopia is precisely the vision that the Oromo Protest has put forth. It is a vision of a freedom, equality, justice and dignity in a participatory democracy. What makes it so compelling is that it is shaped by Oromo indigenous knowledge traditions rather by transplanted ideologies or borrowed experiences that have thus far proven to produce only failed experiments and false starts for positive change. The Oromo vision reaffirms Oromo democratic ethos, notions of inclusive economic development, principles of peace-maintenance and respect for human rights rather than by opposition to the now defunct Ethiopian colonialism. As such, it offers a refreshing alternative to the current one-party dictatorship and holds out a realistic hope for attaining a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Ethiopia.

In addition, Oromo nationalism is no longer an urban-centered movement led by a handful of elites but a broad-based social movement involving Oromos from all walks of life. Protests occurred in all of the twenty-one zones of Oromia and in over 200 cities and numerous villages. The absence of a distinct class of elite leaders did not result in chaos and the reign of unruliness in Oromia during the protests. Despite the effort to fan inter-ethnic suspicion and instigate conflict, the protest exercised great restraint not to let emotions run high and create a circumstance where non-Oromo citizens in Oromia could be harmed. By acting responsibly, the protestors have shown that Oromo nationalism isn’t a negative nationalism that poses a threat to non-Oromo or to Ethiopia’s unity but a movement rooted in the Oromo tradition of social inclusiveness, tolerance and willingness to relate to non-Oromo on the basis of common humanity.

These are positive reasons as to why non-Oromo Ethiopians should find a more reliable, stable, and enduring partner in Oromo leaders to create people-based solidarity against domination. Because of the new realities in Ethiopia, solidarity is now possible on the basis of broadly shared democratic, cultural and geographic values. The majority of Ethiopians are members of a national community of the badly governed. The risk of not having solidarity is too grave and the penalty of refusing to forge one too high. That imposes the moral imperative of seeking solidarity based not on ill-defined uniformity or uncritical acceptance of the other but on common ground and common purpose, and mutual acceptance of each other’s differences, and a willingness to tolerate each other’s excesses. It is solidarity for a more positive future which envisions a shared commitment to the ideals of democracy, human rights, government accountability and transparency and other ideas of both positive and negative freedoms.

Even governments who have interest in the Horn of Africa region should find in the Oromo a more credible and better alternative to the incumbent regime to stabilize the region. This is not to suggest that the Oromo cause should be subservient to the needs of the rest of the world, but a simple statement that the Oromo peoples’ quest for fundamental human rights, rooted in its own heritage and traditional values, is not antithetical to international principles that have avoided conflict and sustained peace in the world. Oromo nationalist leaders realize that the Oromo cause is more attainable if it is aligned with the needs of the international community.

OROMIA: BAKKA QABSOON GEESSEE FI SHOORA BARATTOOTA YUNIVARSITII November 18, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

BAKKA QABSOON GEESSEE FI SHOORA BARATTOOTA YUNIVARSITII

Jawar Mohammed irraa


Dhalachuu qabsoo bilisummaa Oromootirraa kaasee hamma ammaatti gaheen barattootni Dhaabbilee Ol’aanoo qaanqee qabsoo qabsiisurraa kaasee hamma ammaatti qaban baay’ee ol’aanaa ta’uun isaa ni beekama.

Barootuma as kaluu kanaahuu yoo ilaalle gubachuu bosonaa Baaleetirraa kaasee hamma #OromoProtests tti mormiilee turaniif qaanqee kan ta’e barattootaafi mooraa Yuunivarsitiidhaati. Qabsoo kanaafis kibiriita bifa lamaan ta’aa turan. Tokkoffaa mooraa keessatti wal gurmeessuudhaan mormii qabsiisanii qaanqee mormii sanii uummatatti facaasuudhaani. Kan lammataa yeroo boqonnaa isaanii qe’eetti galuun uummata dadammaqsuufi qindeessuudhaani.

Yeroo ammaa kana ibiddi qaanqeen sun qabsiifte Oromiyaa hunda walgahee masaraa warra gita bittuu keessayyuu seenee jira. Kana jechuun garuu sila qabsoon sadarkaa kana gaheef barattootni qaanqee qabsoo ta’anii itti fufuu isaanii haa dhaaban jechuu miti. Yeroo uummanni hundi dammaqee falmachaa jiru kanatti shoorrii barattootaafi mooraalee barnoota ol’aanaa tarkaanfii takkaa lama dursee deemuun qaanqee bifa haarayaa ta’ee mul’achuu waan qabuuf shoorri isaaniis jijjiramaa deemuu qaba. Kanas bifa armaan gadiin osoo godhamee qabsoof faayidaa qaba natti fakkaata.

Akkuma yeroo adda addaa jechaa turre, qabsoon teenya gara goolabbiitti dhihaattee jirti. Qabsoo tana bifa nuuf taatuun goolabuuf bakka sirni nama nyaataan kun kufetti sirna kaayyoo qabsoo teenya bakkaan gahu ijaaruuf yeroo ammaa kanatti hojii sammuu guddaa gaafata. Sirna karkarsine kana akkamiin akka nurratti hin jigne ofirraa qabnee kara nuuf ta’utti lafaan dhoofna? Sirna dullacha kanarraa haaraatti dabruuf tooftaa cehumsaa ( transitional) akkamii dhaabuu qabna? Erga kufee hoo bakka isaatti sirna akkamii yoo dhaabne bilisummaan, nageenyifi misoomni sabni keenya dheebote sun dhugoomuun mala? Imaammata diinagdee, hawaasummaa, nageenya ( security), barnootaafi kkf akkamiitu nu baasa? yeroo ammaatti Wayyaaneen saboota hundaan walitti nu buusuu barbaaddi. Kana ammoo madaa amma dura tureefi walshakkii jiranitti fayyadamti. Shira ishii kana fashaleessuufi hariiroo ummatoota kana gara fuulduraatiif utubaa jabaa dhaabuuf shoorri dhaabbilee barnoota ol’aanaa guddaadha. Hariiroon Oromoofi saba biraa jidduu jiru maal ta’uu qaba? saboonni biyyattii aangoo siyaasaafi diinaagdee akkamiin hirachuu qabu?

Gaaffilee kana hundaaf deebii har’a qopheessuu qabna. Kanaaf ammoo hayyoonni keenya roga hundaan qorannaa gochuu qabu. Qorannoon isaanii kun ammoo mariidhaan bilchaachuu qaba. Qorannoo kana kan mariidhaan gabbisuu danda’uufi qabu ammoo hawaasa barattoota dhaabbilee ol’aanoo keessaati. Sababni isaas yaadrimee hayyoonni dhiheessan ta’ee dhugaa (reality) hawaasa keessa jiru kan wal biratti madaalee wal simsiisuu danda’u isaan waan ta’aniifi. Yaadonni qorannoo kun hayyootaan dhiyaatanii barattoota Yuunivarsitiitiin erga bilchaatanii booda uummatatti dhiyaachuu qabu.

Kanaafuu, miirri qabsoo mooraalee Yuunivarsitiilee keessa jiru kun ummata bal’aa dura akka tarkaanfatu gochuun barbaachisaadha. Waltajjiileen marii dhimmoota ijoo kanneen irratti xiyyeffatan gaggeessuunis murteessaadha. Dhaabbileen barnootaa, miidiyaaleenif qaamni mootummaa waltajjii qindeessuufi haala barbaachisaa hunda mijeessuu qabu.

Hubadhaa! wayyaaneen bakka gaaffii uummatootaa deebiftu bira dabartee jirti. Yeroo ammaa kanatti gaaffii saba biroo deebisuu dhiisaa gaaffiidhuma miseensota ishii jidduu ka’aa jiru furuu dadhabdee jaanjoftee jirti. Gaaffii uummata keenyaatiif amma booda deebiin isaa harkuma hayyootaafi hoogganoota isaa jira. Deebii kana ammoo qorannoo gochuufi gabbisuudhaan deebisuutu barbaachisa. Dhimmi hariiroo Oromoofi saboota biroos qorannoofi marii isaan waliin goonuun bilchaataa deema. Walumaagalatti hireen Oromoofi saboota waliin jiraannu amma bodaa jechaafi gocha Oromoofi Oromiyaa irratti hundaa’a. Oromoo keessaa ammoo qaama barate, keessattuu kan dhaabbilee barnoota ol’aanaa keessa jiran irratti kufee jira. Dirqama kana bahuuf hayyoonniifi barattootni keenya tasgabbiifi waldhagahuudhaan deemuu qabdan.Jeequmsis ta’ee mooraalee barnootaa dhiisanii deemuun dirqama kana bahuuf hiree jiru of duraa cufuudha. Yeroo ammatti barattoonni Oromoo ofii isaaniitiif mooraa jeequu dhiisii kan jeeqameeyyuu tasgabbeessuu qabu. Mooraa dhiisanii deemuu dhiisii yoo bahaa jedhamaniiyyuu didanii turuu qabu. Maaliif? Mooraa keessa turuun dirqama qabsoon yeroo ammaatti qaama hawaasaa sanirraa eegdu bahuuf mooraa turuniifi barnoota itti fufuun baay’ee barbaachisaa waan ta’eef. Dabalataanis barattootni saba biraa akka olola diinaatiin hin jeeqamneefi mooraa dhiisanii hin deemne qabatamaan amansiisuu qabdan.

Kanaafuu barattotni dhaabbilee barnootaa ol’aanaa akkuma qaanqee ta’uun qabsoo kanaaf daandii irratti ibsaa asiin geessan ammas xurree ce’uumsaafi sirna haarayaa uummata keenyatti akeekuuf dirqama isinirra jiru bahuuf hiree hundatti akka fayyadamtan isiif dhaama.

Ethiopia in 2017: The enemy of Internet and freedom: Ethiopia is the 2nd worst in the world in the Internet freedom after China and a continuous deteriorating trend. Syria (3rd) November 18, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Censorship, Internet Freedom, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Freedom House Freedom on the Net 2017 Ethiopia Country Profile STATUS:

NOT FREE

Ethiopia the 2nd worst in the world in Internet freedom in 2017

 The prominent opposition activist Yonatan Tesfaye, was found guilty of terrorism based on Facebook posts that criticized the government’s handling of the Oromia protests.

Key Developments: 

JUNE 2016–MAY 2017

  • Internet and mobile phone networks were deliberately disrupted during antigovernment protests and student exams; social media and communications platforms were periodically blocked throughout the year (see Restrictions on Connectivity and Blocking and Filtering).
  • Self-censorship heightened following the state of emergency instituted in October 2016 (see Media, Diversity, and Online Manipulation).
  • The state of emergency eroded fundamental rights and restricted certain online activities, including supporting protests on social media (see Legal Environment).
  • The Computer Crime Proclamation enacted in June 2016 criminalizes online defamation and incitement and strengthened the government’s surveillance capabilities by enabling real-time monitoring or interception of communications (see Legal Environment and Surveillance, Privacy, and Anonymity).
  • Numerous individuals were arrested for online speech or protests; two were convicted and handed multi-year prison sentences (see Prosecutions and Detentions for Online Activities).
Introduction:

Internet freedom declined dramatically in the past year as the government imposed emergency rule to crack down on antigovernment protests and the digital tools citizens used to organize them.

The authoritarian government declared a six-month state of emergency in October 2016 following months of escalating protests. Starting in the Oromia region in November 2015 as a protest against the government’s plan to infringe on land belonging to the marginalized Oromo people, the protests spread across the country throughout 2016, turning into unprecedented demonstrations seeking regime change and democratic reform. Emergency rule derogated fundamental rights in violation of international standards,1 banned unauthorized protests, and allowed the authorities to arbitrarily arrest and detain citizens without charges. More than 21,000 people were arrested before the state of emergency was lifted in August 2017.

The state of emergency restricted certain online activities and the internet was shut down for several days. The authorities criminalized accessing or posting content related to the protests on social media, displaying antigovernment symbols or gestures, as well as efforts to communicate with “terrorist” groups—a category that includes exiled dissidents. Penalties included prison terms of between three and five years.

Numerous individuals were arrested for online activities, and two were convicted to long prison sentences. In May 2017, a prominent opposition activist, Yonatan Tesfaye, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison on terrorism charges based on Facebook posts in which he criticized the government’s handling of the Oromia protests. Also in May, Getachew Shiferaw, editor-in-chief of opposition outlet Negere Ethiopia, was sentenced to one and a half years in prison on subversion charges for Facebook comments published in support of an exiled journalist. He was released on time served.

The legal environment for internet freedom became more restrictive under the Computer Crime Proclamation enacted in June 2016, which criminalizes defamation and incitement. The proclamation also strengthens the government’s surveillance capabilities by enabling real-time monitoring or interception of communications.

Obstacles to Access:

(Freedom on the Net Score: 0=Most Free, 100=Least Free)

Internet and mobile phone networks were deliberately disrupted during antigovernment protests and student exams throughout the year. Meanwhile, poor infrastructure, obstructionist telecom policies, and a government monopoly on the information and communication technology (ICT) sector make ICT services prohibitively expensive for the majority of the population.

Availability and Ease of Access

Ethiopia is one of the least connected countries in the world with an internet penetration rate of only 15 percent in 2016, up from 12 percent the previous year, according to the latest data from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).2 Mobile phone penetration is also low at 51 percent, up from 43 percent in 2015.3 Low penetration rates stem from underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure, which is almost entirely absent from rural areas, where about 85 percent of the population resides. A handful of signal stations service the entire country, resulting in network congestion and frequent disconnection.4 In a typical small town, individuals often hike to the top of the nearest hill to find a mobile phone signal.

Access to ICT services remains prohibitively expensive for most Ethiopians, largely due to the government’s monopoly over the telecom sector, which provides consumers with few options. Prices are set by state-controlled EthioTelecom and kept artificially high.5 William Davison, Bloomberg’s Ethiopia correspondent, described the issue on Facebook in March 2016: “It cost me 44 birr ($2.05) to watch Al Jazeera’s latest 3-minute dispatch on Oromo protests using 4G network on my phone, which is not that much less than the average daily wage of a daily laborer in Ethiopia.”6 Ethiopians can spend an average of US$85 per month for limited mobile or fixed wireless internet access. Better quality services in neighboring Kenya and Uganda cost less than US$30 a month. One comparative assessment of internet affordability put Ethiopia among the world’s most expensive countries for access.7

Telecommunication devices, connection fees and other related costs are also beyond the means of many Ethiopians. As a result, Ethiopia has one of the lowest smartphone ownership rates in the world at only 4 percent, according to a 2016 Pew survey.8 Consequently, the majority of internet users rely on cybercafes for internet access. A typical internet user in the capital, Addis Ababa, pays between ETB 5 and 7 (US$ 0.25 to 0.35) for an hour of access. Because of the scarcity of internet cafes outside urban areas, however, rates in rural cybercafes are higher. In addition, digital literacy rates are generally low.

Connection speeds have been painstakingly slow for years, despite the rapid technological advances improving service quality in other countries. According to Akamai, the average connection speed in Ethiopia was 3 Mbps in the first quarter of 2017, significantly lower than the global average of 7.0 Mbps. In practice, such speeds result in extremely sluggish download times for even simple images. Logging into an email account and opening a single message can take as long as five minutes at a standard cybercafe with broadband in the capital, while attaching documents or images to an email can take eight minutes or more.9

Restrictions on Connectivity

Throughout 2016 and 2017, network traffic in and out of Ethiopia registered a significant decline as a result of continual throttling and repeated internet shutdowns.

Network shutdowns occurred several times during the coverage period:

  • During widespread antigovernment protests on August 6 and 7, 2016, internet services were completely inaccessible in the Amhara, Addis Ababa, and Oromia regions. The government responded to the protests with excessive force, resulting in the deaths of at least 100 people.10
  • In October 2016, mobile internet services were shut down for several days when the government declared a state of emergency.11 Mobile internet service and social media remained intermittently accessible for months (see Legal Environment).
  • The government shut down all telecommunications networks from May 30 to June 8 following the conviction of two human rights activists for online expression in May 2017 (see Prosecutions and Detentions for Online Activities).12
  • In separate incidents in July 2016, August 2016, and June 2017, the authorities shut down fixed and mobile internet services in select regions to prevent students from cheating during national university exams.13

The ICT shutdowns were costly. According to October 2016 research by the Brookings Institution, network disruptions between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017 cost Ethiopia’s economy over USD $8.5 million.14 September 2017 research by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) calculated the economic cost of Ethiopia’s internet disruptions between 2015 and 2017 at nearly USD $3.5 million a day. Calculated separately, disruptions to apps cost nearly USD $875,000 a day.15

The Ethiopian government’s monopolistic control over the country’s telecommunications infrastructure via EthioTelecom enables it to restrict information flows and access to internet and mobile phone services. As a landlocked country, Ethiopia has no direct access to submarine cable landing stations; thus, it connects to the international internet via satellite, a fiber-optic cable that passes through Sudan and connects to its international gateway, and the SEACOM cable that connects through Djibouti to an international undersea cable. All connections to the international internet are completely centralized via EthioTelecom, enabling the government to cut off the internet at will.

ICT Market

State-owned EthioTelecom holds a firm monopoly over internet and mobile phone services as the country’s sole telecommunications service provider. Despite repeated international pressure to liberalize telecommunications in Ethiopia, the government refuses to ease its grip on the sector.16 The space for independent initiatives in the ICT sector, entrepreneurial or otherwise, is extremely limited.17

China is a key investor in Ethiopia’s telecommunications industry,18 with Zhongxing Telecommunication Corporation (ZTE) and Huawei currently serving as contractors to upgrade broadband networks to 4G in Addis Ababa and expand 3G networks elsewhere.19 The partnership has enabled Ethiopia’s authoritarian leaders to maintain their hold over the telecom sector,20 though the networks built by the Chinese firms have been criticized for their high cost and poor service.21 Furthermore, the contracts have led to increasing fears that the Chinese may also be assisting the authorities in developing more robust ICT censorship and surveillance capacities (see Surveillance, Privacy, and Anonymity).22 In December 2014, the Swedish telecom group Ericsson also partnered with the government to improve and repair the mobile network infrastructure,23 though ZTE remains the sector’s largest investor.

Onerous government regulations also stymie other aspects of the Ethiopian ICT market. For one, imported ICT items are tariffed at the same high rate as luxury items, unlike other imported goods such as construction materials and heavy duty machinery, which are given duty-free import privileges to encourage investments in infrastructure.24Ethiopians are required to register their laptops and tablets at the airport with the Ethiopian customs authority before they travel out of the country, ostensibly to prevent individuals from illegally importing electronic devices, though observers believe the requirement enables officials to monitor citizens’ ICT activities by accessing the devices without consent.25

Local software companies also suffer from heavy-handed government regulations, which do not prescribe fair, open, or transparent ways of evaluating and awarding bids for new software projects.26 Government companies are given priority for every kind of project, while smaller entrepreneurial software companies are completely overlooked, leaving few opportunities for local technology companies to thrive.

Cybercafes are subject to burdensome operating requirements under the 2002 Telecommunications (Amendment) Proclamation,27 which prohibit them from providing Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services, and mandate that owners obtain a license from EthioTelecom via an opaque process that can take months. In the past few years, EthioTelecom began enforcing its licensing requirements more strictly in response to the increasing spread of cybercafes, reportedly penalizing Muslim cafe owners more harshly. Violations of the requirements entail criminal liability, though no cases have been reported.28

Regulatory Bodies

The Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency (ETA) is the primary regulatory body overseeing the telecommunications sector. In practice, government executives have complete control over ICT policy and sector regulation.29 The Information Network Security Agency (INSA), a government agency established in 2011 and controlled by individuals with strong ties to the ruling regime,30 also has significant power to regulate the internet under its mandate to protect communications infrastructure and prevent cybercrime.

Limits on Content:

(Freedom on the Net Score: 0=Most Free, 100=Least Free)

Social media and communications platforms were repeatedly blocked throughout the coverage period. Self-censorship heightened following the state of emergency instituted in October 2016, which placed restrictions on the use of social media for certain types of speech.

Blocking and Filtering

One of the first African countries to censor the internet,31 Ethiopia has a nationwide, politically motivated internet blocking and filtering apparatus that is reinforced during sensitive political events.

Tests conducted by the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) in December 2016 found a wide range of websites blocked in Ethiopia, including the websites of Ethiopian news outlets known for critical reporting, political opposition groups, LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex) groups, human rights organizations, and circumvention tools. In total, at least one hundred websites were inaccessible.32 OONI tests also found the mobile version of WhatsApp completely blocked.33

Other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were repeatedly blocked for periods of time throughout 2016 and 2017, limiting their utility for political organizing even when the internet had not been completely shut down.34 In one case unrelated to political unrest, the authorities also blocked access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Viber, IMO, and Google+ to prevent cheating during university examinations in July 2016.35 The blocks followed a full internet blackout for the same reason (see Restrictions on Connectivity). A government spokesperson stated that blocking social media during the exam would help students concentrate.

However, some progovernment media organizations and commentators seemed to have exclusive access to social media during the block,36 which reinforced the popular belief that government supporters are not disadvantaged during shutdowns to the extent that citizens are. Tools that help internet users bypass censorship are frequently blocked in Ethiopia, but some may remain available for approved uses. When social media platforms were blocked in the past year, diaspora-based activists publicized virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent the censorship, but certain VPNs were also subsequently blocked.37 Local sources suspected progovernment commenters were reporting some tools to the authorities for enabling censorship circumvention.

Digital security tools and information are also blocked. The Amharic translation of the Electronic Frontier Foundations’ “Surveillance Self-Defense” web guide was blocked two weeks after it was published in October 2015.38 One source reported that keywords such as “proxy” yield no search results on unencrypted search engines,39 reflecting the government’s efforts to limit users’ access to proxy servers and other circumvention tools. Tor, a circumvention tool that enables users to browse anonymously, has been subject to restrictions since May 2012.40

To filter the internet, specific internet protocol (IP) addresses or domain names are generally blocked at the level of the EthioTelecom-controlled international gateway. Deep packet inspection (DPI), which blocks websites based on a keyword in the content of a website or communication, is also employed.41

There are no procedures for determining which websites are blocked or why, precluding any avenues for appeal. There are no published lists of blocked websites or publicly available criteria for how such decisions are made, and users are met with an error message when trying to access blocked content. The decision-making process does not appear to be controlled by a single entity, as various government bodies—including the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), EthioTelecom, and the ICT ministry—seem to be implementing their own lists, contributing to a phenomenon of inconsistent blocking. This lack of transparency is exacerbated by the fact that the government denies implementing censorship. Government officials flatly deny blocking websites or jamming international satellite operations, while also stating that the government has a legal and a moral responsibility to protect the Ethiopian public from extremist content.

Content Removal

Political content is often targeted for removal, often by way of threats from security officials who personally seek out users and bloggers to instruct them to take down certain content, particularly critical content on Facebook. The growing practice suggests that at least some voices within Ethiopia’s small online community are closely monitored. For instance, during antigovernment protests in Oromia, activists who wrote messages of solidarity for the protestors on Facebook were asked to delete their posts.42

Media, Diversity and Content Manipulation

Increasing repression of journalists and bloggers has had a major chilling effect on expression online, particularly in response to the spate of blogger arrests in the past few years (see Prosecutions and Detentions for Online Activities). Many bloggers publish anonymously to avoid reprisals,43 while fear of pervasive surveillance has also led to widespread self-censorship.

Self-censorship heightened during the state of emergency instituted in October 2016, which explicitly prohibited sharing information about protests through social media platforms, communicating with exiled dissident groups regarded as terrorists, organizing demonstrations, and displaying political gestures (see Legal Environment).

Lack of adequate funding is a significant challenge for independent online media in Ethiopia, as fear of government pressure dissuades local businesses from advertising with politically critical websites. A 2012 Advertising Proclamation also prohibits advertisements from firms “whose capital is shared by foreign nationals.”44 The process for launching a website on the local .et domain is expensive and demanding,45 requiring a business license from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and a permit from an authorized body.46 While the domestic blogosphere has been expanding, most blogs are hosted on international platforms or published by members of the diaspora.

Despite Ethiopia’s extremely low levels of internet access, the government employs an army of trolls to distort Ethiopia’s online information landscape.47 Opposition groups, journalists, and dissidents use the mocking Amharic colloquial term kokas to describe the progovernment commentators.48 Observers say the kokas regularly discuss Ethiopia’s economic growth in favorable terms and post derogatory comments about Ethiopian journalists and opposition groups on Facebook and Twitter. In return, they are known to receive benefits such as money, land, and employment promotions. The government also manipulates online content through propaganda that aims to convince Ethiopians that social media is a dangerous tool co-opted by opposition groups to spread hate and violence.49

Digital Activism

Online tools were essential for the mobilization of antigovernment protests throughout 2016, enabling activists to post information about the demonstrations and disseminate news about police brutality as the government cracked down on protesters.50 Digital activism was muted following the October 2016 state of emergency, which banned demonstrations and online mobilization. Repeated internet shutdowns and blocks on social media platforms also hindered mobilization efforts (see Blocking and Filtering and Restrictions on Connectivity).

Violations of User Rights:

(Freedom on the Net Score: 0=Most Free, 100=Least Free)

A state of emergency declared in October 2016 derogated fundamental rights and restricted certain online activities. The Computer Crime Proclamation enacted in June 2016 criminalizes defamation and incitement; observers say it could be invoked to suppress digital mobilization. The proclamation also strengthens the government’s surveillance capabilities by enabling real-time monitoring and interception of communications. Numerous individuals were arrested for online activities, particularly protests, while two people were sentenced to prison for several years each during the coverage period.

Legal Environment

The government imposed a six-month state of emergency in October 2016 and shut down the internet for several days to quell escalating antigovernment protests. Specific online activities were restricted under emergency rule.51 The authorities criminalized accessing or posting content related to the protests on social media, as well as efforts to communicate with “terrorist” groups, a category that includes exiled dissidents. Penalties included prison terms of three to five years.52 Emergency rule also undermined fundamental rights, banning unauthorized protests, and allowing the authorities to arbitrarily arrest and detain citizens without charge. More than 21,000 people were arrested before the state of emergency was lifted in August 2017, according to news reports.53

Fundamental freedoms are guaranteed for Ethiopian internet users on paper, but the guarantees are routinely flouted in practice. The 1995 Ethiopian constitution provides for freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information, while also prohibiting censorship.54 These constitutional guarantees are affirmed in the 2008 Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation, known as the press law, which governs the print media.55 Nevertheless, the press law also includes problematic provisions that contradict constitutional protections and restrict free expression, such as complex registration processes for media outlets and heavy fines for defamation.56The Criminal Code also penalizes defamation with a fine or up to one year in prison.57

Meanwhile, several laws are designed to restrict and penalize legitimate online activities and speech. Most alarmingly, the 2012 Telecom Fraud Offences Law extends the violations and penalties defined in the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and criminal code to electronic communications sent over mobile phone and internet services.58The antiterrorism legislation prescribes prison sentences of up to 20 years for the publication of statements that can be understood as a direct or indirect encouragement of terrorism, which is vaguely defined.59 The law also bans Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype60 and requires all individuals to register their telecommunications equipment—including smartphones—with the government, which security officials typically enforce at security checkpoints by confiscating ICT equipment if the owner cannot produce a registration permit, according to sources in the country.

In June 2016, the Ethiopian government passed a new Computer Crime Proclamation that criminalized an array of online activities.61 For example, content that “incites fear, violence, chaos or conflict among people” can be punished with up to three years in prison, which could be abused to suppress digital campaigns.62 Other problematic provisions ban the dissemination of defamatory content, which can be penalized with up to 10 years in prison,63 and the distribution of unsolicited messages to multiple emails (spam), which carries up to five years in prison.64 Civil society expressed concern that the law would be used to further crackdown on critical commentary, political opposition, and social unrest.65

Prosecutions and Detentions for Online Activities

The authorities intensified their crackdown against bloggers, online journalists, and activists during the state of emergency in the past year. The antigovernment protest movement led to thousands of arrests, some for digital activities such as posting or “liking” social media content about the protests. Examples include the following:

  • In October 2016, police arrested Seyoum Teshome, a well-known academic and blogger for the Ethiopian Think Tank Group, who had published an article about the Oromia protest movement in The New York Times.66 Teshome was held in prison for three months, during which he reported suffering severe torture (see Intimidation and Violence).67
  • In November 2016, political activists Anania Sorri and Daniel Shibeshi and journalist Elias Gebru were arrested for posting images of themselves on social media displaying a gesture indicating support for the protest movement. Protest gestures and symbols were banned under emergency rule.68
  • In December 2016, seven musicians behind a popular YouTube music video were arrested and held without charge until June 2017, when they were charged with terrorism. The video was held to incite protests.69

Two cases led to convictions and multi-year prison sentences during the coverage period:

  • In May 2017, the prominent opposition activist Yonatan Tesfaye, was found guilty of terrorism based on Facebook posts that criticized the government’s handling of the Oromia protests.70 He was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.71 Tesfaye’s Twitter handle has been active since his detention, leading to suspicions that the officials were using his account to monitor other dissidents or encourage them to break the law.72
  • Also in May, Getachew Shiferaw, the editor-in-chief of the opposition outlet Negere Ethiopia, was sentenced to one and a half years in prison on subversion charges for Facebook comments were considered to “endorse” an exiled journalist.73 He was released on time served.

Bloggers from the critical Zone 9 blogging collective were repeatedly persecuted during the coverage period, continuing several years of unabated legal troubles and harassment. The bloggers were first arrested in April 2014 and charged with terrorism under the harsh Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.74 They were accused of intent to overthrow the government, an offense under the criminal code, by encrypting their communications to disseminate seditious writings.75 Denied bail and brought to court dozens of times for sham trials,76 the bloggers were eventually acquitted in late 2015, but the prosecutor appealed to the Supreme Court, and they were repeatedly summoned to appear throughout 2016.77 In April 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that two of the Zone9 bloggers, Atnaf Berhane and Natnail Feleke, should be tried on charges of inciting violence through their writing. If convicted, they would face up to 10 years each in prison.78

Other citizens were serving long prison sentences during the coverage period, including blogger Zelalem Workagenehu, who was found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to over five years in prison in May 2016.79 He was first arrested in July 2014 on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government after he facilitated a course on digital security. Well-known dissident journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega is serving an 18-year prison sentence handed down in July 2012 under the draconian anti-terrorism law for criticizing the law itself in an online article.80

Surveillance, Privacy, and Anonymity

Government surveillance of online and mobile phone communications is pervasive in Ethiopia and was strengthened under the new Computer Crime Proclamation enacted in June 2016, which enables real-time monitoring or interception of communications authorized by the Minister of Justice and obliges service providers to store records of all communications and metadata for at least a year.81

There are strong indications that the government has deployed a centralized monitoring system developed by the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE to monitor mobile phone networks and the internet, according to a 2015 Human Rights Watch report.82 Known for its use by repressive regimes in Libya and Iran, the monitoring system enables deep packet inspection (DPI) of internet traffic across the EthioTelecom network and has the ability to intercept emails and web chats.

A customer management database called ZSmart, also developed by ZTE, has been installed by EthioTelecom. The database provides the government with full access to user information and the ability to intercept SMS text messages and record phone conversations.83 ZSmart also allows security officials to locate targeted individuals through real-time geolocation tracking of mobile phones.84 While the extent to which the government has made use of the full range of ZTE’s sophisticated surveillance systems is unclear, the authorities frequently present intercepted emails and phone calls as evidence during trials against journalists and bloggers or during interrogations as a scare tactic.85

Meanwhile, exiled dissidents have been targeted by surveillance malware. Citizen Lab research published in March 2015 said Remote Control System (RCS) spyware had been used against two employees of Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT) in November and December 2014. ESAT is a diaspora-run independent satellite television, radio, and online news media outlet, based in Alexandria, Virginia.86 Made by the Italian company Hacking Team, RCS spyware is advertised as “offensive technology” sold exclusively to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and has the ability to steal files and passwords and intercept Skype calls and chats. 87

While Hacking Team has said that the company does not deal with “repressive regimes,”88 the social engineering tactics used to bait the two ESAT employees made it clear that the attack was targeted. Moreover, analysis of the RCS attacks uncovered credible links to the Ethiopian government, with the spyware’s servers registered at an EthioTelecom address under the name “INSA-PC,” referring to the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), the body established in 2011 to preside over the security of the country’s critical communications infrastructure.89 INSA was already known to be using the commercial toolkit FinFisher to target dissidents and supposed national security threats. FinFisher can secretly monitor computers by turning on webcams, record everything a user types with a key logger, and intercept Skype calls.90

Political commentators use VPNs and anonymizing tools to hide their identities when publishing online and to circumvent filtering, though the tools are also subject to blocking (see Blocking and Filtering).

Anonymity is further compromised by strict SIM card registration requirements. Upon purchase of a SIM card through EthioTelecom or an authorized reseller, individuals must provide their full name, address, government-issued identification number, and a passport photograph. EthioTelecom’s database of SIM registrants enables the government to terminate SIM cards and bar individuals from registering for new ones. Internet subscribers are also required to register their personal details, including their home address, with the government. During the antigovernment protests in 2016, state-owned ICT provider EthioTelecom announced plans to require mobile phones to be purchased from Ethiopian companies and to create a tracking system for all mobile devices in Ethiopia. Though no updates on the plans were reported in 2017, observers believe the plan aims to allow the government to track and identify all communications from subscribers on its network.91

Intimidation and Violence

During escalating antigovernment protests throughout 2016, the authorities routinely harassed, detained, and abused people who used their mobile phones to record footage of demonstrations. Under emergency rule, the authorities reportedly arrested thousands of people, some for their online activities. Imprisoned bloggers reported being held in degrading conditions and tortured by prison guards seeking to extract false confessions.92 In one case, blogger Seyoum Teshome, who was arrested after the publication of his critical New York Times op-ed, reported suffering severe torture while in detention from October to December 2016.93

Government security agents frequently harass and intimidate bloggers, online journalists, and internet users. Independent bloggers are often summoned by the authorities to be warned against discussing certain topics online, while activists report that they are regularly threatened by state security agents.94 Ethiopian journalists in the diaspora have also been targeted for harassment.95

Technical Attacks

There were no reports of technical attacks against human rights defenders or dissidents during the coverage period, though incidents are likely underreported. Opposition critics have faced frequent technical attacks in the past, even abroad. Observers believe similar campaigns against activists persist undetected. Independent research has shown that Ethiopian authorities use sophisticated surveillance spyware to target exiled dissidents.96

Notes:

1 Human Rights Watch, “Legal Analysis of Ethiopia’s State of Emergency,” October 30, 2016, https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/10/30/legal-analysis-ethiopias-state-emergency

2 International Telecommunication Union, “Percentage of Individuals Using the Internet, 2000-2016,” http://bit.ly/1cblxxY

3 International Telecommunication Union, “Mobile-Cellular Telephone Subscriptions, 2000-2016,” http://bit.ly/1cblxxY

4 Endalk Chala, “When blogging is held hostage of Ethiopia’s telecom policy,” in “GV Advocacy Awards Essays on Internet Censorship from Iran, Venezuela, Ethiopia,” Global Voices (blog), February 3, 2015,http://bit.ly/1OpDvzz

5 Ethiopia – Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts, Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd.: June 2014, http://bit.ly/1ji15Rn

6 William Davison’s Facebook post, March 26, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/william.davison.33/posts/10153956834545792?pnref=story

8 Jacob Poushter, “Smartphone Ownership and Internet Usage Continues to Climb in Emerging Economies,” Pew Research Center, February 22, 2016, http://www.pewglobal.org/2016/02/22/smartphone-ownership-and-internet-usage-continues-to-climb-in-emerging-economies/

9 According to tests by Freedom House consultant in 2016.

11 Stephanie Busari, “Ethiopia declares state of emergency after months of protests,” CNN, October 11, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/09/africa/ethiopia-oromo-state-emergency/; Endalk Chala, “Ethiopian authorities shut down mobile internet and major social media sites,” Global Voices (blog), October 11, 2016, https://globalvoices.org/2016/10/11/ethiopian-authorities-shut-down-mobile-internet-and-major-social-media-sites/

12 “Ethiopia: Third Internet shutdown follows imprisonment of two human rights activists,” Article 19, June 7, 2017, https://www.ifex.org/ethiopia/2017/06/06/internet-shutdown/

13 Paul Schemm, “Ethiopia shuts down social media to keep from ‘distracting’ students,” Washington Post, July 13, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/07/13/ethiopia-shuts-down-social-media-to-keep-from-distracting-students/http://www.newsweek.com/ethiopia-internet-blocked-618806

14 Darrell M. West, “Internet shutdowns cost countries $2.4 billion last year,” Brookings Institute, Center for Technology Innovation, October 2016, https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/intenet-shutdowns-v-3.pdf

15 “Economic Impact of Internet Disruptions in Sub-Saharan Africa,” CIPESA, September 2017, https://cipesa.org/2017/09/economic-impact-of-internet-disruptions-in-sub-saharan-africa/

16 “Ethio Telecom to remain monopoly for now,” TeleGeography, June 28, 2013, http://bit.ly/1huyjf7

17 Al Shiferaw, “Connecting Telecentres: An Ethiopian Perspective,” Telecentre Magazine, September 2008, http://bit.ly/1ji348h.

18 Paul Chapman, “New report explores the Ethiopian – telecoms, mobile and broadband – market insights, statistics and forecasts,” WhatTech, May 1, 2015, http://bit.ly/1L46Awu.

19 “Out of reach,” The Economist, August 24, 2013, http://econ.st/1l1UvJO.

20 “Out of reach,” The Economist.

21 Matthew Dalton, “Telecom Deal by China’s ZTE, Huawei in Ethiopia Faces Criticism,” The Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2014, http://on.wsj.com/1LtSCkD.

22 Based on allegations that the Chinese authorities have provided the Ethiopian government with technology that can be used for political repression—such as surveillance cameras and satellite jamming equipment—in the past. See: Addis Neger, “Ethiopia: China Involved in ESAT Jamming,” ECADAF Ethiopian news & Opinion, June 23, 2010, http://bit.ly/1LtSYI9; Gary Sands, “Ethiopia’s Broadband Network – A Chinese Trojan Horse?” Foreign Policy Blogs, Foreign Policy Association, September 6, 2013, http://bit.ly/1FWG8X1.

23 ENA, “Ericsson to take part in telecom expansion in Ethiopia,” Dire Tube, December 18, 2014, http://bit.ly/1PkZfvA.

24 The Embassy of the United Stated, “Doing Business in Ethiopia,” http://1.usa.gov/1LtTExh.

25 World Intellectual Property Organization, “Ethiopia Custom Regulation: No 622/2009,” http://bit.ly/1NveoeB.

26 Mignote Kassa, “Why Ethiopia’s Software Industry Falters,” Addis Fortune 14, no. 700 (September 29, 2013), http://bit.ly/1VJiIWC.

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

28 Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency, “License Directive for Resale and Telecenter in Telecommunication Services No. 1/2002,” November 8, 2002, accessed October 20, 2014, http://bit.ly/1pUtpWh.

29 Dr. Lishan Adam, “Understanding what is happening in ICT in Ethiopia,” (policy paper, Research ICT Africa, 2012) http://bit.ly/1LDPyJ5.

30 Halefom Abraha, “THE STATE OF CYBERCRIME GOVERNANCE IN ETHIOPIA,” (paper) http://bit.ly/1huzP0S.

31 Rebecca Wanjiku, “Study: Ethiopia only sub-Saharan Africa nation to filter net,” IDG News Service, October 8, 2009, http://bit.ly/1Lbi3s9.

32 Test conducted by an anonymous researcher contracted by Freedom House, March 2016. During the test, some websites opened at the first attempt but were inaccessible when refreshed.

33 Maria Xynou et al., “Ethiopia: Evidence of social media blocking and internet censorship,” OONI, December 14, 2016, https://ooni.torproject.org/post/ethiopia-report/

34 Felix Horne, “Deafening silence from Ethiopia,” Foreign Policy in Focus, April 12, 2016, http://fpif.org/deafening-silence-ethiopia/; Endalk Chala, “Ethiopia locks down digital communications in wake of #OromoProtests,” Global Voices (blog), July 14, 2016, https://advox.globalvoices.org/2016/07/14/ethiopia-locks-down-digital-communications-in-wake-of-oromoprotests/https://phys.org/news/2017-06-internet-social-media-ethiopia-block.html

35 Nicole Orttung, “Why did Ethiopia block social media,” Christian Science Monitor, July 12, 2016, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/2016/0712/Why-did-Ethiopia-block-social-media?cmpid=gigya-tw

36 According to activists who were able to circumvent the blocks and observe the social media activities of progoverment users.

37 Ismail Akwei, “Ethiopia blocks social media to prevent university exam leakage,” Africa News, July 10, 2016, http://www.africanews.com/2016/07/10/ethiopia-blocks-social-media-to-prevent-university-exam-leakage/

38 Endalk Chala, “Defending against overreaching surveillance in Ethiopia: Surveillance Self-Defense now availabile in Amharic,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, October 1, 2015,https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/09/defending-against-overreaching-surveillance-ethiopia-surveillance-self-defense-n-0

39 A 2014 report from Human Rights Watch also noted that the term “aljazeera” was unsearchable on Google while the news site was blocked from August 2012 to mid-March 2013. According to HRW research, the keywords “OLF” and “ONLF” (acronyms of Ethiopian opposition groups) are not searchable on the unencrypted version of Google (http://) and other popular search engines. Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” March 25, 2014, 56, 58, http://bit.ly/1Nviu6r.

40 “Tor and Orbot not working in Ethiopia,” Tor Stack Exchange, message board, April 12, 2016,

http://tor.stackexchange.com/questions/10148/tor-and-orbot-not-working-in-ethiopia; “Ethiopia Introduces Deep Packet Inspection,” Tor (blog), May 31, 2012, http://bit.ly/1A0YRdc; Warwick Ashford, “Ethiopian government blocks Tor network online anonymity,” Computer Weekly, June 28, 2012, http://bit.ly/1LDQ5L2.

41 Daniel Berhane, “Ethiopia’s web filtering: advanced technology, hypocritical criticisms, bleeding constitution,” Horns Affairs, January 16, 2011, http://bit.ly/1jTyrH1

42 Kevin Mwanza, “Is Ethiopia restricting access to social media in Oromia region?” Afk Insider, April 13, 2016, http://afkinsider.com/123180/ethiopia-restricting-access-social-media-oromia-region/

43 Markos Lemma, “Disconnected Ethiopian Netizens,” Digital Development Debates (blog),November 2012,  http://bit.ly/1Ml9Nu3.

44 Exemptions are made for foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin. See, Abrham Yohannes, “Advertisement Proclamation No. 759/2012,” Ethiopian Legal Brief (blog), September 27, 2012, http://bit.ly/1LDQf5c.

45 “Proclamation No. 686/2010 Commercial Registration and Business Licensing,” Federal Negarit Gazeta, July 24, 2010, http://bit.ly/1P3PoLy; World Bank Group, Doing Business 2015: Going Beyond Efficiency, Economy Profile 2015, Ethiopia, 2014, http://bit.ly/1L49tO6.

46 Chala, “When blogging is held hostage of Ethiopia’s telecom policy.”

47 “Ethiopia Trains Bloggers to attack its opposition,” ECADF Ethiopian News & Opinions, June 7, 2014, http://bit.ly/1QemZjl.

48 The term “Koka” is a blend of two words: Kotatam and cadre. Kotatam is a contemptuous Amharic word used to imply that someone is a sellout who does not have a respect for himself or herself.

49 Endalk Chala, “Ethiopia protest videos show state brutality, despite tech barriers,” Global Voices (blog), January 6, 2016, https://advox.globalvoices.org/2016/01/06/ethiopia-protest-videos-show-state-brutality-despite-tech-barriers/

50 Jacey Fortin, “The ugly side of Ethiopia’s economic boom,” Foreign Policy, March 23, 2016, http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/03/23/no-one-feels-like-they-have-any-right-to-speak-at-all-ethiopia-oromo-protests/

51 “Seven things banned under Ethiopia’s state of emergency,” BBC News, October 17, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-37679165

52 “Social media blackout in Ethiopia,” Jacarandafm, October 17, 2016, https://www.jacarandafm.com/news-sport/news/social-media-blackout-in-ethiopia/

53 “Ethiopia lifts state of emergency imposed in October,” Associated Press, August 4, 2017, http://www.startribune.com/ethiopia-lifts-state-of-emergency-imposed-in-october/438488273/

54 Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1995), art. 26 and 29, accessed, August 24, 2010, http://www.ethiopar.net/constitution.

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

56 Article 19, The Legal Framework for Freedom of Expression in Ethiopia, accessed September 10, 2014, http://bit.ly/1Pl0f33.

57 Criminal Code, art. 613, http://bit.ly/1OpHE6F.

58 Article 19, “Ethiopia: Proclamation on Telecom Fraud Offences,”legal analysis, August 6, 2012, http://bit.ly/1Lbonjm.

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

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

61 “Ethiopia Computer Crime Proclamation Text Draft,” Addis Insight, May 9, 2016, http://www.addisinsight.com/2016/05/09/ethiopia-computer-crime-proclamation-text-draft/

63 Article 13, “Crimes against Liberty and Reputation of Persons,” Computer Crime Proclamation.

64 Article 15, “Dissemination of Spam,” Computer Crime Proclamation,

65 Kimberly Carlson, “Ethiopia’s new Cybercrime Law allows for more efficient and systematic prosecution of online speech,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, June 9, 2016,https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/06/ethiopias-new-cybercrime-law-allows-more-efficient-and-systematic-prosecution-online; Tinishu Soloman, “New Ethiopian law targets online crime,” The Africa Report, June 9, 2016, http://www.theafricareport.com/East-Horn-Africa/new-ethiopian-law-targets-online-crime.html

66 “Oromo protests: Ethiopia arrests blogger Seyoum Teshome,” Al Jazeera, October 5, 2016,

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/oromo-protests-ethiopia-arrests-blogger-seyoum-teshome-161005071925586.html

67 “Seyoum Teshome released,” Frontline Defenders, accessed October 30, 2017, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/seyoum-teshome-released

70 Salem Soloman, “Ethiopia’s Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?” VOA News, May 31, 2016, http://www.voanews.com/a/ethiopia-anti-terrorism-law-security-silencing-dissent/3356633.html

71 “Ethiopia jails opposition politician Yonatan Tesfaye,” Al Jazeera, May 26, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/ethiopian-court-jails-politician-6-years-170525141848655.html

72 @befeqadu Twitter post, April 12, 2016, https://twitter.com/befeqadu/status/719963259911188480/photo/1

73 “News: Ethiopia editor-in-chief sentenced for a year and half in prison, time he already served,” Addis Standard, May 26, 2017 “http://addisstandard.com/news-ethiopia-editor-in-chief-sentenced-for-a-year-and-half-in-prison-time-he-already-served/

74 “Six members of Zone Nine, group of bloggers and activists are arrested,” [in Amharic] Zone9 (blog), April 25, 2014, http://bit.ly/1VJn6ow; “Federal High Court Lideta Criminal Bench court, Addis Ababa,”http://1drv.ms/1OqAjlC.

75 Endalk Chala, “What You Need to Know About Ethiopia v. Zone9 Bloggers: Verdict Expected July 20,” Global Voices (blog), July 17, 2015, http://bit.ly/1jTDO9b.

76 Ellery Roberts Biddle, Endalk Chala, Guardian Africa network, “One year on, jailed Ethiopian bloggers are still awaiting trial,” The Guardian, April 24, 2015, http://gu.com/p/47ktv/stw; “Nine Journalists and Bloggers Still Held Arbitrarily,” Reporters Without Borders, “Nine Journalists and Bloggers Still Held Arbitrarily,” August 21, 2014, http://bit.ly/1P3TW4I.

77 “Netizen Report: Ethiopia’s Zone9 Bloggers Go Back to Court,” Global Voices (blog), March 30, 2016, https://advox.globalvoices.org/2016/03/30/netizen-report-ethiopias-zone9-bloggers-go-back-to-court/

78 “Ethiopia Supreme Court says two Zone 9 bloggers should face incitement charges,” CPJ, April 6, 2017, https://cpj.org/2017/04/ethiopia-supreme-court-says-two-zone-9-bloggers-sh.php

79 Tedla D. Tekle, “Ethiopian blogger and activist sentences to five years and four months,” Global Voices (blog), May 16, 2016, https://advox.globalvoices.org/2016/05/16/ethiopian-blogger-and-activist-sentenced-to-five-years-and-four-months/

80 Such trumped-up charges were based on an online column Nega had published criticizing the government’s use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to silence political dissent and calling for greater political freedom in Ethiopia. Nega is also the 2011 recipient of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.“That Bravest and Most Admirable of Writers: PEN Salutes Eskinder Nega,” PEN American Center (blog), April 13, 2012, http://bit.ly/1Lm89Y7; See also, Markos Lemma, “Ethiopia: Online Reactions to Prison Sentence for Dissident Blogger,” Global Voices, July 15, 2012, http://bit.ly/1OpKaKf; EndalkChala, “Ethiopia: Freedom of Expression in Jeopardy,” Global Voices Advocacy, February 3, 2012, http://bit.ly/1jfIEO3.

81 Article 23, “Retention of Computer Data” and Article 24, “Real-time Collection of Computer Data,” http://hornaffairs.com/en/2016/05/09/ethiopia-computer-crime-proclamation/

82 Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” 62.

83 Human Rights Watch, “They Know Everything We Do,” 67.

84 Ibid, 52.

85 Committee to Protect Journalists, “Ethiopian Blogger, Journalists Convicted of Terrorism,” January 19, 2012, http://cpj.org/x/47b9.

86 Bill Marczak et al., Hacking Team Reloaded? US-Based Ethiopian Journalists Again Targeted with Spyware, Citizen Lab, March 9, 2015, http://bit.ly/1Ryogmr.

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

88  Declan McCullagh, “Meet the ‘Corporate Enemies of the Internet’ for 2013,” CNET, March 11, 2013, accessed February 13, 2014, http://cnet.co/1fo6jJZ.

89 Marczak et al., Hacking Team Reloaded? US-Based Ethiopian Journalists Again Targeted with Spyware.

90 Fahmida Y. Rashid, “FinFisher ‘Lawful Interception’ Spyware Found in Ten Countries, Including the U.S.,” Security Week, August 8, 2012, http://bit.ly/1WRPuap.

91 Endalk Chala, “Ethiopia Locks Down Digital Communications in Wake of #OromoProtests.”

92 Tedla D. Tekle, “’I was forced to drink my own urine,’: ‘Freedom’ for netizen after 647 days locked up, but not for all.”

93 Seyoum Teshome, “A license to torture,“ Amnesty International, March 28, 2017, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2017/03/a-license-to-torture/

94 SIMEGNISH (LILY) MENGESHA, “CRAWLING TO DEATH OF EXPRESSION – RESTRICTED ONLINE MEDIA IN ETHIOPIA,” Center for International Media Assistance (blog), April 8, 2015, http://bit.ly/1IbxFie.

95 “ክንፉ አሰፋ በስለላ ከሆላንድ የተባረረው የጋዜጠኛውን አንገት እቆርጣለሁ አለ,” ECADAF Ethiopian News & Opinion, April 12, 2015, http://ecadforum.com/Amharic/archives/14790/.

96 Marczak et al., Hacking Team Reloaded? US-Based Ethiopian Journalists Again Targeted with Spyware, March 2015, https://citizenlab.ca/2015/03/hacking-team-reloaded-us-based-ethiopian-journalists-targeted-spyware/ .

EU Lists Ethiopia Over Money Laundering November 17, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromoooromianeconomistThree Woyane travelers claimed the lost money. It was wrapped up with Ethiopian Airlines official bag

The ​European Commission blacklisted Ethiopia for being very risky in money laundering and terrorism financing, urging banks situated in Europe to apply enhanced due diligence on financial flows from the country.
Aiming to ensure proper functioning of the European market, the Commission, in its latest regulation released on October 27, 2017, added the country to the list of high-risk third countries along with Iran, Syria, Yemen and seven other nations.

 

via EU Lists Ethiopia Over Money Laundering

Internet access and usage in African world November 16, 2017

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The special edition  of  The Journal of Pan African Studies   focuses on Internet access and usage in the African world. It discusses the future of the Internet, uproar over Internet shutdowns in Africa, WhatsApp political broadcast messages in the 2015 presidential election in Nigeria, new media appropriation via New Media and Oromo Protests in Ethiopia, Internet access to Caribbean government information on homeschooling in Barbados, African-centered internet literacy, information seeking behavior, a section on women in information technology innovation in Africa. 

CURRENT ISSUE


Volume 10 • Number 9 • November 2017


 

● Internet Access and Usage in the African World: Articulating a Progressive African Centered Digital Ecosystem
[ view PDF ]

 

● The 2016 Internet Society Report: Areas of Impact and Concern for the Future of the Internet
an editorial by Itibari M. Zulu
[ view PDF ]

 

● Uproar Over Internet Shutdowns: Governments Cite Incitements to Violence, Exam Cheating and Hate Speech
a guest editorial by Tonderayi Mukeredzi
[ view PDF ]

 

● Internet Diffusion and Government Intervention: The Parody of Sustainable Development in Africa
by Badmus Bidemi G
[ view PDF ]

 

● Appraisal Resources in Select WhatsApp Political Broadcast Messages in the 2015 Presidential Election Campaign in Nigeria
by Oluwabunmi O. Oyebode and Adeyemi Adegoju
[ view PDF ]

 

● The Powers and Limits of New Media Appropriation in Authoritarian Contexts: A Comparative Case Study of Oromo Protests in Ethiopia
by Habtamu Dugo
[ view PDF ]

 

● Internet Access to Caribbean Government Information on Homeschooling: A Preliminary Case Study of Barbados
by Mark-Shane Scale
[ view PDF ]

 

● African-Centered Internet Literacy: An Ubuntugogy Metadata Approach
by Abdul Karim Bangura
[ view PDF ]

 

● Social Media: Towards the Realisation of A Global Stance for the African Voice
by Bassey Nsa Ekpe
[ view PDF ]

 

● Teaching Afrocentricity Through E-Clustering
by Abdul Karim Bangura
[ view PDF ]

 

● Information Seeking Behavior Among Undergraduates Students Engaged in Twitter
by Musa D. Hassan
[ view PDF ]

 

● Internet Access in Nigeria: Mobile Phones, Issues, and Millennials 
by Mercy Kolawole
[ view PDF ]

 

● Women in Information Technology Innovation in Africa
[ view PDF ]

 

Relevant Books

[ view PDF ]

 

Announcement

● Fixed and Mobile Broadband in Africa: An Executive Summary
[ view PDF ]

 


 

Fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF)’s another genocide plan (state terrorism). Wal-gahiin Mana-maree nageenya biyyoolessaatiin taa’ame shoroorka’u TPLF mul’isa. November 13, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

TPLF Ethiopia regime federal security officers conduct mass torture in Kilinto and Maikelawi jails.png

AS EXCLUSIVE: DOCUMENT PRESENTED AT THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING REVEALS ETHIOPIA FACING ALARMING MULTI-FRONT CRISIS

Addis Standard, 12 November 2017

Major points discussed in the document include:

  • The country’s federal system is facing imminent threat
  • Security breakdown contributing to rising public anxiety
  • Immeasurable human and material cost caused by recent conflicts
  • Absence of rule of law prevalent
  • Security crisis negatively impacting the economy
  • Diminishing foreign aid due to human rights related concerns
  • Crippling effect on the tourism industry as well as hurting the country’s image
  • Security crisis curtailing the ability of the security establishment to discharge its constitutional 

Although It Mentions Egypt And Eritrea As Two Foreign Agitators, The Document Squarely Blames The Crisis On The “Internal Vulnerability” Of Current Leadership

It proposes the establishment of a joint command post/joint committee between the federal and regional security establishment 

 

Addis Abeba, November 12/2017 – A document assessing the current security and political situation in Ethiopia and was presented at the National Security Council meeting, held on Friday Oct. 10/2017, revealed in detail that Ethiopia was currently confronted with alarming level of multi-front crisis.

The meeting was held at the office of PM Hailemariam Desalegn and was attended by Siraj Fegessa, minister of defense & head of the National Security Council, General Samora Yenus, chief of staff of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and other high level federal intelligence and defense officials, presidents of regional states and their security officials, as well as federal and regional state senior members of the police and the militia.

The document, which was jointly prepared by the country’s intelligence and defense officials, and was viewed exclusively by Addis Standard, reveals that the current security crisis, which was exacerbated by the prevalent of “absence of rule law”, was the most serious of all threats the country was facing as of late. It blames that”lawlessness” and “dissent” were alarmingly taking national forms by expanding throughout the country, threatening the federal system. Such incidents, according to the document, were fueling public anxiety and loss of confidence in the government.

“Genocide” 

But the most disturbing detail in the document was the part in which it discussed the recent violence in several towns and villages within the Ethio-Somali and Oromia regional states, which resulted in the death of unknown numbers of civilians and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Oromos from the Ethio-Somali regional state as well as hundreds of Ethio-Somalis from towns in Oromia regional state.

The document described the situation as having “resulted in genocide and mass displacement of people; witnessed inhuman and atrocious killings of civilians; and created a moral and psychological scar among the victims.”  It further said that this incident revealed the presence and prevalence of an “unnamed terrorist organization which “has not taken responsibility” for the crimes committed. “The people have lost trust in their constitutional right to move freely and live peacefully.”

The document also mentioned the proliferation of arms within the country and its nature in changing hands among various ‘agent provocateurs’.  The combined effect of this was crippling the country’s security apparatus to discharge its constitutional duty because it was engaged in “putting conflicts sprouting in several places under control”.

Economy & tourism 

The economy is severely hurting, according the document, and the flow of foreign currency was drying. Foreign aid, too, was diminishing due to conditions attached to human rights abuses, and the country’s tourism was significantly affected and its image tainted. But most alarmingly, the document admitted that domestic investment was facing heavy challenges and unprecedented level of capital flight by those who have already invested in the country was seen recently. The economy was also affected by stockpiling of commodities as well as the proliferation of money laundering by increasing numbers of individuals; and it admitted that the country’s taxation system was unable to collect due taxes to help the economy, which was also hit by “illegal export of prohibited commodities” through organized illegal traders.

Blame on leadership

The document mentions Eritrea and Egypt as well as the presence of a coordinated cyber propaganda as fueling tensions within the country; but at the same time it puts the blame on the vulnerability of  the political leadership and its inability to address public grievances in the last two and half years. It also points fingers at the direct involvement of the leadership in recent conflicts. Instead of guiding the public and the youth to productive ways of live, it says, the leadership was involved in guiding them to dissent and destruction, immersing itself in a zero sum game. “The problem is political”, it says, and “it can only be solved politically.”

Joint command post/joint committee

But its recommendation is an establishment of a joint command post (sometimes referred in the document as mere “joint committee”) between the federal and regional security establishments.

The immediate aim of this joint command post/joint committee was highlighted in eight different points. This include the work that needed to be done to secure the free movement of people from places to places; securing major roads throughout the country on 24 hour bases of patrolling; bringing to justice those who were involved in recent conflicts; prohibiting of illegal rallies; rehabilitation of displaced Ethiopians back to their homes; strict control of anti-public armed forces; control of the movement of illegal arms, human trafficking as well as contraband trades; as well as strengthening of the security apparatus at every level.

This joint command post/joint committee, would be organizing a monthly joint meeting between federal and regional security establishment after/on the second week of every month; and it would be submitting its reports directly to the Prime Minister’s office.

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, which last for several hours, Siraj Fegessa said that a consensus  between federal and regional states was reached to coordinate the security establishment of both to tackle the growing security crisis. “We have evaluated the security risk in the country which has been recurring since last year and we have prepared a detailed plan to control the situation,” Siraj was quoted by a local newspaper as saying . “We met with the stakeholders since we have to work together.”

Addis Standard received further information that there would be additional similar meetings to hammer out more details on the document, which was distributed as a working paper to everyone who participated in the meeting held at the PM’s office on Friday.

AS


Click here to read related article from OE sources: Ethiopia: Government-Fuelled Conflict & the Need for Unity




Wal-gahiin Mana-maree nageenya biyyoolessaatiin taa’ame shoroorka’u TPLF mul’isa.

Awash Post, Sadaasa, 12, Bara 2017


Manni-Maree nageenyaa biyyoolessaa jeeqamuu, nagaa fi tasgabbii dhabuu biyyattii irratti marii taasisee jira. Keessattu haala naannoo Oromiyaa keesssa jiru irratti mariin kan xiyyeeffate. Mariin kunis kan gaggeeffame waajjira Minstera Muummee Haayilamaariyaam Dassaalanyitti ture. Walitti qabaan mana mari nageenyaa Muummichi Ministera HD fi Ministerri Ittisaa biyyaa fi hogganaa Mana-maree Nageenyaa obbo Siiraaj Fageessaatin gaggeeffameera. Humnoonni nageenyaa federaalaa fi naannoo, pireezdaantonni naannolee, koomishinaroonni poolisii fi ajajoonni Raayyaa Ittisaa biyyaa marii kana irraa qooda fudhataniiru.

Marii ol’aantummaa isaani kabjsiisuu fi qor-qalbii isaani tasgabbeessu raawwachuu irraa woyyaanonni takkaa duubatti hin jenne. Barbaachisummaan marii kanaas nagaa fi tasgabbiin Oromiyatti qixa barbaadamuun argamuu dhabuu fi karoora nageenyaa kallattii funduraa irratti kaayuudha. Ajandaan dhoksaa marichaas sochii fi gaaffi ummanni Oromoo dhimma abbaa biyyummaa fi dimokraasii irratti kaasaa jiru humnaan danquuf kan kiyyeeffameedha. Qaamolee nageenya federaalaa fi naannoo diriirsuun sagalee ummataa ukkaamsuudha. Qor-qalbii qeerroo fi dhageetti bulchiinsa haaraa OPDO’s cabsuu ni barbaadu.
Haa ta’uu malee ummanni Oromoo sodaa marii nageenyaati miti; labsiin hatattamaa fi ajajni garee komaandi postitiin baati 10f kennamaa ture gaafi fi fedhii ummataa dhaabuu akka hin dandeenye ifa. Hidhaa, tumaa fi dhiigni balbala Oromoo hundatti dhangala’aa ture qabsoo cimse malee tasuma hin gufachiifne. Marii fi konfiransii nageenyaa jechuun qabeenya ummataa fi mootummaa qisaasuu irra gaafi fi yaada ummataa dhaga’uun furmaata waaraa ture. Kana gochuuf woyyaaneen ijaa fi gurra hin arganne. Tuffiin cimaanis keessaa isaaniti belbela. BMNO fi hawaasa bal’aa wajjiin dhimma furmaata ta’uu malu: hidhamaa hiikuu, kan ajjeefamani, qe’ee fi qabeenya irraa buqqa’aniif beenyaa barbaachisu kaffaluu irratti ifaan mari’achuu male. Gochaan hammeenyummaa fi gar-jabeenyaa poolisii federaalaa, Agaazii fi woraanna ittisa biyyaatin ummata Oromoo irratti raawwataa turanif ummataa fi bulchiinsa naannootiin kabaja woyyaaneen barbaaddu mulqamuunis mata dhukkubbi cimaa itti ta’eera.

Qaamolee nageenya naannoo fi federaalaatiin rukutamuu, butamuu fi ajjeefamuun ummata Oromoo haaraa hin turre. Sirna bulchiinsa woyyaanee keessatti Oromoon kanuma keessumeessaa, argaa fi dhaga’aa as gahe. Mariin Manni-maree Nageenyaa biyyaalessaa kaleessa gaggeesse kan calqabaatis miti. Erga labsiin mana marii nageenya biyyoolessa hundeessuu lakk.257/2001 bahee amata 16 ta’eera. Labsichi duras kallattii fi al-kallattiin hojima irra ture. Yeroo rakkoo fi nagaatis dhimmuma itti bahaa turan. Kanaaf maqaa wal-gahii, marii fi konfaransitin shirri qabsoo Oromoo danquuf taasifamu hundi nageenyaa fi tasgabbi biyyaas hin fidu; falmii fi qabsoo ummata Oromootis tasuma gufachiisuu hin danda’u.

It is a mistake to ignore the emancipatory potential of the Oromo movement November 11, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Oromian Affairs, Oromian Voices, Oromians Protests, Uncategorized.
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A post written by someone named Wond Wossen about what’s currently transpiring in Ethiopia has been circulating on my social media sphere (find the link to his post at the bottom of this page). Upon seeing it I could not help but write another perspective because the points raised by Wond Wossen are not only problematic but also commonly expressed. I find many problems with his analysis.
Let me just mention a few:
Like most political analyses on Ethiopia, Wond Wossen makes the grave mistake of centering elites at the expense of ordinary people’s movement for justice. He frames what’s happening in Ethiopia today as a simple struggle between two factions of the same ruling elite. In doing so, he has completely erased the struggle that the Oromo people have been waging for decades. For the past 50 years, Oromos have been articulating and demanding for a transformation of Ethiopia’s political, social and economic and cultural space. More recently, the Oromo protests from 2014 onwards has brought to the fore the most pressing issues not only in Oromia but across Ethiopia—issues of land grab, unjust imprisonment, economic marginalization, denial of civil liberties, repression of all sorts, lack of political representation, nepotism and corruption and so on. For three consecutive years, Oromo people have been demonstrating against a violent regime and forcing it to contend with their demands. Remember, the cancellation of the Master plan?
Wond Wossen, like so many Ethiopian analysts, fails to recognize the emancipatory potential the Oromo movement has not only for the region but also for Ethiopia at large. Not only does he completely dismiss the just Oromo movement, he also reduces the Oromo public to mere cheerleaders for power. He seems to suggest that the only thing the wider Oromo public—whether in the diaspora or in Ethiopia — are interested in is to see some Oromo faces in what he considers to be “powerful positions” in the federal government. He could not be more wrong. Oromo people have not been dying en masse so that some Oromo person will hold an important position within the current system. They continue to risk their lives to transform the social, political and economic culture of Ethiopia. They have been risking their lives to end economic, political and social marginalization. He does not seem to know much about the historical relationship between OPDO and the Oromo public. In so far as Oromo people are rallying behind the new OPDO leadership, it is cautiously, as artist Jambo Jote told top ranking members of OPDO at a gathering last week. Unlike what Wond Wossen suggests, the Oromo public is not going to settle for mere cosmetic changes. They have not been dying on the streets to see some OPDO faces in power while they are ripped from their lands, their family, friends and comrades languishing in prison and their political life reduced to rubber stamping 100% wins for EPRDF. Whatever new rhetoric and project OPDO has developed it can be understood only in the context of the Oromo movement. OPDO leaders did not wake up one morning and thought, “today, we have to challenge the TPLF for federal power”.
Sadly, Wond Wossen is not alone in erasing the potential of Oromo movements to transform Ethiopia’s long-standing authoritarian political culture and establishment. This is actually part and parcel of the problem Oromo people have with the Ethiopian state infrastructure—which dismisses Oromo aspirations, contributions, values, institutions, and political traditions. What is even sadder is this erasure is happening at a time when the Oromo people’s movement, and others that for now go unnoticed, may well be in the process of transforming the country right before our eyes.
Many analysts on Ethiopia seem to think that these lofty principles such as democracy, equality and justice will come about when supposed political parties from Ethiopia and the diaspora get together and “negotiate” on how to put the country “on the path of democracy and stability.” Wond Wossen mistakenly assumes that democracy is a top down process, arrived at after a meeting or series of meetings in American or European capitals. Isn’t that exactly how we got into the mess we are in right now? Democracy is not something that is given from above; it is the product of a balance of social forces and comes about in a given society through particular processes. Democracy, contrary to what Wond Wossen suggests, doesn’t come about because TPLF or OPDO gathers a crowd and tells them they are now free. Or because TPLF sits down with OLF and G7 and whoever else and decides to share a piece of the pie.
Wond Wossen also completely misses the fact that competition between various elites has the potential to open up space for democratic processes to emerge. The best example is when the OPDO started standing up for itself; it opened up all sorts of spaces and possibilities. Make no mistake; this is not because the OPDO has overnight transformed itself into a beacon of democracy and justice. For example, the relationship between Oromia Police and the citizens have changed dramatically. Whereas the police used to unleash violence on protesters, now they take pictures with them and there is an expectation that they will protect protesters, not shoot at them. This is something unheard of in the entirety of the EPRDF rule. Wond Wossen suggests that the Oromia Regional government returned grabbed land to its rightful owners to score points against the TPLF. In reality, one of the major demands of the Oromo protests was the issue of land grab. If OPDO is returning stolen land back to the people, it is because that is what the people have been demanding. If he thinks this is all about scoring a point, he should ask himself why the regional government could not return land in 2006 or 2012. In the same vein, he also misconstrues the actions the regional government is taking against the vast network of contraband trades in the region as mere retaliation against TPLF. However, the heart of the matter is that the contraband trade is the manifestation of the economic marginalization the people are fighting in the region. For example, Oromo Khat farmers have been impoverished while there is a flourishing multimillion-dollar Khat trade in the region. Same thing can be said about Coffee and other commodities. So, targeting the contraband trade is ensuring that the region’s people benefit from their labor. Whether or not OPDO also manages to score a point against TPLF is secondary. The point here is that political elites don’t do things out of the kindness of their hearts; they take decisive actions when there is a demand from below requiring them to act. Political situations create conditions for particular kinds of policies or actions to be taken. In doing so, they determine what is politically advantageous for them in the changing context and what is not.
Another very good example of what I am talking about can be seen in the arena of freedom of expression. On OBN, the regional State controlled media; viewers are now consuming content that would have been considered taboo just a year ago. The Oromo Federalist Congress recently held a press conference on OBN; the network is creating space for Oromo intellectuals and activists to hold hours long discussions on the most sensitive political questions. In an unprecedented gathering with top OPDO officials, some of the most critical Oromo artists expressed their opinions freely on the draconian censorship of their art. In response, Lemma Megerssa declared that the era of censorship of Oromo art has come to an end. Within days, songs that were hitherto banned from the regional TV network were on air to the delight of millions. The point here is not that certain songs were played or that interviews were held and etc. I am also not here to glorify the regional government. I am merely trying to underscore the fact that certain political conditions create space for democracy and freedom of expression among other things. This is not a gift the ‘elite’ give to the people. To think so is a huge mistake. We must see these things in light of the protests and the demands that the Oromo people continue to place upon the system. We also have to appreciate the domino effect and emancipatory potential that this will have for the rest of Ethiopia.
Needless to say, to reduce the entirety of what is happening in Ethiopia today, as a struggle between TPLF and OPDO is not only to miss the point but also to be incredibly shortsighted and miss major developments that are happening right below the surface. Unfortunately, for people who are used to viewing political change only coming from Addis and radiating to the “periphery” it must be unfathomable that Oromos, and others in the margins are transforming Ethiopia from the ‘regions’.
Here’s Wond Wossen’s post https://www.facebook.com/wondwosenn…


Ethiopia: Government-Fuelled Conflict & the Need for Unity November 10, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Horn of Africa Affairs, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Despite the governments claims to the contrary, Ethiopia is essentially a one-party state in which power is monopolized by the EPRDF, which despite claiming to be a democratic coalition, is in fact a dictatorship ruled by men from Tigray under the TPLF banner. It is an illegitimate government supported by the West, – America, Britain and the European Union (EU) being the largest benefactors – politically and economically. With the exception of the EU, these powers not only remain silent in the face of State Terrorism, but also spread Ethiopian propaganda through the mainstream media and act in collusion with the EPRDF in relation for example, to the arrest of opposition party leaders. Instead of supporting the ruling party, donors should be applying pressure on it to respect human rights and adhere to the democratic principles laid out in the country’s constitution. Their silence and dishonesty makes them complicit in the crimes of the government, which are heinous and widespread.

Ethiopia: Government-Fuelled Conflict & the Need for Unity


In an attempt to distract attention from unprecedented protests and widespread discontent, the Ethiopian Government has engineered a series of violent ethnic conflicts in the country. The regime blames regional parliaments and historic territorial grievances for the unrest, but Ethiopians at home and abroad lay the responsibility firmly at the door of the ruling party who, it’s claimed, are manipulating events.

Ancient ethnic disputes and long-forgotten wounds are being inflamed: since August hundreds of innocent people have been killed, thousands are displaced, and are now homeless and afraid. The perpetrators of the violence as well as the victims are puppets in the Theatre of Division being orchestrated by the politicians in Addis Ababa and the military men.

The ruling party first tried to inflame relations between Christians and Muslims; now they have intensified their long-term plan to divide the country’s ethnic groups. In addition to turning attention away from activists’ and opposition parties demands, their aim appears to be drive a wedge of suspicion and anger between communities and present the demonstrations as local disputes rooted in ancient ethnic feuds.

Since late 2015 unprecedented numbers of people have taken to the streets in towns and cities across the two most populated regions – Oromia and Amhara. The government reacted with intolerance and violence to this democratic outrage; hundreds were killed by security forces, thousands arrested without charge.

Unable to stop the protests and unwilling to enter into discussions with opposition groups, in October 2016, the ruling party imposed a six-month State of Emergency. The directive, which contravened a range of International laws and human rights conventions was eventually lifted in August 2017. Protests resumed virtually immediately, and, not surprisingly have been met with the same unbridled violence as before. The paranoid politicians in Addis Ababa fail to realize that with every protestor they kill, beat and arrest, anger towards their brutal rule intensifies resolve hardens.

The democratic genie is well and truly out of the bottle of suppression in Ethiopia. The people sense that this is the time for change and they will no longer be silenced.

Regime Duplicity

Ethiopia is divided into 11 regions including the capital, Addis Ababa. The government, as well as senior members of the military and judiciary, is dominated by men from Tigray, a small area in the North-East of the country. In 1995, four years after taking power, the EPRDF initiated a policy of Ethnic Federalism. Compulsory ID cards were introduced in which family ethnicity is registered. By forcing individuals (many of whom have mixed heritage) to choose an ethnic group, the scheme strengthened ethnicity and with it social division; many believe this was the intention.

Although people from different ethnic groups commonly populate regions, Ethnic Federalist policy allows for minorities to rule their own regions, fuelling resentment amongst majority groups. Segregated schools based on ethnicity have developed, regional languages are encouraged, flags flown, separate court systems and police forces allowed to evolve.

It doesn’t’t take much to irritate historic ethnic wounds, and the ruling party is adept at it. They have employed the media to stir up trouble, reminding people of past ethnic conflicts, rubbing salt into old wounds. Members of the security forces have been utilized to carry out attacks masquerading as civilians, resulting in eruptions between various ethnic groups; principally ethnic Somalis living in the Ogaden region and people in Oromia, as well as between Oromos and Amharas.

The border between Oromia and the Ogaden region is the longest in the country. It has been the subject of tensions for years, tensions that have proved ripe for orchestrating conflict between the two groups. Soldiers from the Liyu Police, a quasi-paramilitary group that has carried out terrible atrocities (such as indiscriminate killings, gang rapes, arbitrary arrests and torture) within the Ogaden region for years, have been sent into neighboring Oromia towns (dressed as civilians) to murder Oromo people. Retaliation by armed Oromos on ethnic Somalis followed.

As well as dozens of deaths, The Guardian reports that, “Residents on the Oromo side [of the border with the Ogaden] also reported widespread rapes and said they had found ID cards belonging to members of the controversial Somali special police, known as the “Liyu”, among the remains of the dead.” The Liyu Police take their orders from the Ethiopian military in the Ogaden region, and the Regional president Abdi Mohamoud Omar controls the military. In another highly provocative act in August he announced that all Oromo people should leave the Ogaden; Liyu police rooted out Oromos and drove them from the area.

The violent incidents along the Oromia-Ogaden border as well as elsewhere in the country have resulted in thousands being displaced. In the area around Harar in Oromia the Economist relates that nearly 70,000 have sought shelter just “east of the city. Several thousand more are huddling in a makeshift camp in the West. Most are Oromos.”

The Prime-Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn has blamed the regional administrations for the conflicts, declaring The Guardian records, that, “The problems have no relation to ethnic conflicts. It is our lower political leadership that commands these actions,” and these bodies, he asks us to believe, are acting totally independently of their federal masters. This is something few local people accept; most, if not all believe that the EPRDF initiated the violence “to weaken Oromo resistance to the central government.” Resistance to the EPRDF is not limited to the Oromos: the majority of the population is desperate for change. People want the regime to step down, for ‘open and fair’ democratic elections to be held in which all parties can take part, for political prisoners to be freed, for human rights to be observed and for the constitution (a liberally worded dusty document the EPRDF drafted) to be adhered to.

The need for unity

Despite the governments claims to the contrary, Ethiopia is essentially a one-party state in which power is monopolized by the EPRDF, which despite claiming to be a democratic coalition, is in fact a dictatorship ruled by men from Tigray under the TPLF banner. It is an illegitimate government supported by the West, – America, Britain and the European Union (EU) being the largest benefactors – politically and economically. With the exception of the EU, these powers not only remain silent in the face of State Terrorism, but also spread Ethiopian propaganda through the mainstream media and act in collusion with the EPRDF in relation for example, to the arrest of opposition party leaders.

Instead of supporting the ruling party, donors should be applying pressure on it to respect human rights and adhere to the democratic principles laid out in the country’s constitution. Their silence and dishonesty makes them complicit in the crimes of the government, which are heinous and widespread.

The EPRDF regime is a life-sapping cancer at the heart of the Ethiopia; it has exercised a vicious grip on the country for the last 25 years, but now there are signs that their hold on power is weakening. In addition to huge demonstrations (that would have been unheard of just a few years ago), opposition parties based outside the country have been forming alliances and a number of high-level regime resignations have taken place.

While there are a few voices among opposition groups calling for an armed uprising, the majority recognizes that the most powerful weapon against the government is unity and collective action. When the people unite, there is nothing they cannot achieve; the ruling party knows and fears this, which is why they have enforced policies that cultivate division. In the face of recent ethnic conflicts the need for unity is greater than ever, and all efforts must be made to bring people together in the pursuit of freedom and democratic change.

REVISITING THE LIVES OF ETHIOPIAN FREED PRISONERS. ARE THEY REALLY FREE? November 9, 2017

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

A renowned brand such as Ethiopian Airlines decided against the norms of professionalism and morality their wrongly detained employee.

COMMENTARY: REVISITING THE LIVES OF ETHIOPIAN FREED PRISONERS. ARE THEY REALLY FREE?

 

Mahlet Fantahun (Translated by Zecharias Zelalem

Addis Abeba, Nov. 07/2017 – Looking at the lives of Ethiopians who were once incarcerated for no sufficient reasons then  “freed” from prisons often after arduous court battles, such as the case for Zone9 blogging collective in which I was one, or many others whose trumped up charges fail the smell test, or those who finish serving their sentences and are eventually released, I fall short of sufficiently expressing how overwhelming my emotions are. It often leaves me with a combined feeling of ruefulness, hopelessness, frustration and helplessness.

The truth is, despite the jubilant public outburst that follows news of being “released from prison,” for those who are “released” life never returns to what it was prior to their unjustified detentions. Socially, politically and financially ex-prisoners are destined to suffer. Physically, many of those who take a walk a mile will begin to agonize from both the physical and psychological wounds inflicted while in prison, leaving post-prison life full of memories and longing for what life used to be prior to being thrown behind bars.

Of course facing challenges can and does bring out the best in us due to the fact that it further hones our ability to endure and resist the worst of what life throws at us. All the same, once the jubilant outpourings are over and the news of regaining their “freedom” have faded away, very little is documented about the lives of Ethiopia’s ex-prisoners after returning to the society they came from.

With that in mind, below is a highlight of how life changed for some of the ex-prisoners after being discharged from various prisons and  returned to the other side of the fence.

University students…

April 2014: Megersa Worku was a 5th year law student at Haramaya University, in East Hararghe Zone of the Oromia regional state in eastern Ethiopia, when he was detained by security forces. Along with six other university students, he was subsequently charged with on terrorism, found guilty of the charges and was awaiting verdict at the infamous Ma’ekelawi prison,  a prison facility known as a notorious  torture gulag. While at Ma’ekelawi, Megersa Worku was severely beaten and forced to sign on a paper confessing to crimes he didn’t commit.

After enduring two and a half years of mind-numbing trial and pain, while the rest of defendants charged with him were sentenced to various terms in jail,  Megersa was declared innocent and was acquitted of all the terrorism charges against him. At this time, he was detained at not Ma’ekelawi but Qilnto, another prison facility located on the southern outskirt of the capital Addis Abeba. Upon leaving Qilinto after having been declared innocent, Megersa stood at the entrance gate expecting to walk away from the facility to his freedom. It was not to be. A group of people approached him in a vehicle, picked him up and dropping him off back at the entrance to Ma’ekelawi prison, where he spent another traumatizing week.

Megersa would  eventually leave the premises, but his life wouldn’t continue from where he had left it off before prison. He made multiple requests for re-admission at the university, all which were rejected and this is despite the fact that he had already been declared innocent of any crime. Freed from prison, he is unable to finish his education. He has been forbidden the opportunity to become a productive member of society and provide for himself or his family. When he was detained in April 2014, Megersa was merely months away before finishing his studies and being able to serve his country and community; instead he was tossed into prison on trumped up charges and robbed of the chance to live out a fruitful prodigious life.

 

commentary

A look at the other defendants charged with terrorism along Megeresa, we find Lenjisa Alemayehu, a third year water engineering student from Jimma University who was “freed” after more than twenty months behind bars; Teshale Bekele also a student at Jimma University and was sentenced to a year and a half but ended up spending two years instead. Adugna Kesso was a student at Adama University at the time of his arrest; Adugna would go on to spend four and a half years in jail.

Each of these students repeatedly testified of having being subjected to brutal tortures to force them to sign on confessions to crimes they never committed. Adugna, the Adama University student, recalls his stay at the federal prison we colloquially refer to as “hell” – Maekelawi and says it was nothing compared to the horrors he was subjected to while staying at the holding facility located in Adama, where he briefly stayed at, and dubbed his transfer to Ma’ekelawi as “being sent to heaven from hell.” If the gulag that is Ma’ekelawi is considered heaven, one may not able to fully imagine the horror that the facility in Adama is. Adugna talks of a tragic incident about a friend who had been arrested with him in Adama died en route Ma’ekelawi after succumbing to the wounds he suffered during his beatings. Adugna witnessed his friend’s body being dumped on the road by police afterwards.

All four of these young university students are no longer in prison today and have since been applying for a second chance to return to their their studies, but to no avail. With all the doors of opportunity firmly locked, they are now left in limbo and with nowhere to go, and forced to rely on their families and friends to get by.

…and others

It is not only university students who have been unable to continue with their interrupted lives upon being told they could walk free. Ethiopians who were formerly employed and were earning a steady income prior to being detained have encountered similar fates. Cases of institutions refusing to take back their freed former employees and not offering compensations are most common. Applying for new work becomes impossible once potential employers get wind of the applicant’s personal history. And others, due to the effect of the mental and physical scars, are unable to function properly and thus are unable to work.

Due to the severity of beatings he received at the Ma’ekelawi prison, Abel Wabella, a member of the Zone 9 blogging collective, had lost his hearing through one of his ears. After a year and a half of incarceration and sporadic court appearances, he too was declared innocent and free to walk in November of 2015. Prior to his detention, Abel was an employee at one of the most reputed institutions in the country, Ethiopian Airlines. Upon his release, he went back to his former workplace, with an official court document declaring his innocence of any wrongdoing and requested to continue working. There he discovered that its employer had basically declared him persona non grata. He was told that during his detention, he had been fired and was forbidden from ever working there again. A renowned brand such as Ethiopian Airlines decided against the norms of professionalism and morality their wrongly detained employee. In fact, as if to add insult to injury, Ethiopian Airlines decided to pursue a legal case against Abel claiming to have lost the money it invested to pay for training Abel as an employee. And today, many members of the zone9 blogging collective are forced to live in exile, scattered around the world.

In an interview with a local newspaper, journalist Temesgen Desalegn, who has recently been released from Ziway prison after serving three years sentence, spoke of his prison ordeal including enduing a severe ear pain sustained as a result of prison torture he was subjected to.

In 2006, Tesfaye Tekalign graduated from Addis Abeba University in Sociology and would later be employed by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture up until April of 2011. On April 20th 2011, he was forcibly detained by men he described as federal security forces and would spend the next twenty three months behind bars being tortured despite having never committed a crime of any sort. During his unjust imprisonment, he was never brought into a courtroom and was denied of the chance to hear exactly why he was arrested in the first place. Freed on April 4th  2013, he told the story of his incarceration in an interview with Finote Selam newspaper, an Amharic weekly.

“I’ve suffered unbearably. They would shock my back with electricity. The torture they inflicted upon my private parts and kidneys affects me to this day. I can no longer control my own urine. My kidneys are severely affected. They would also soak me in water and beat me. Today, I struggle to even speak, they’ve tortured me in an unimaginable ways.”

Tesfaye, who was released in 2013, was rearrested in 2016 as part of the government’s massive campaign of arrests following the year long anti-government protests. During his incarceration last year, Tesfaye was once again subjected to tortured before he was release. Once a free man though, his efforts to seek employment have yielded no result and his former employer, the Ethiopian Ministry of Tourism and Culture, refused to even give him a letter of recommendation or any document indicating employment history with the ministry. His kidneys have healed somewhat and he is considerably better today than in 2013. Nevertheless his health is far from normal and he frequently speaks of throat pain that still hinders his ability to eat normally.

★★★

These are but small cases showing what life is like after being free from prison. There is so much more beyond what can be written in a single article. It is safe to assume, however, that health problems (both mental and physical), inability to return to former employment, find new employment or continue pursuing studies, threats and intimidation from federal agents, being constantly under surveillance, harassment, the risk of being rearrested, losing friends who chose to distance themselves out of fear, several forms of isolation, the risk of becoming an outcast, of being evicted by landlords and much more are but few of the commonly shared experiences by by ex-prisoners .

Although the circumstances are much worse on ex-political prisoners, ordinary citizens known for their political dissent in Ethiopia do face a similar fate that are too numerous to quantify because in Ethiopia, being free is not free. AS

The Guardian: Oromia: Ambo: ‘We fear for our lives’: A brutal crackdown on protest and the return of soldiers to the streets of Oromia region has fuelled growing anger and frustration with central government November 7, 2017

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

“They walk around the city with their guns, intimidating people,”


‘We fear for our lives’: how rumours over sugar saw Ethiopian troops kill 10 people

A brutal crackdown on protest and the return of soldiers to the streets of Oromia region has fuelled growing anger and frustration with central government

The streets of Ambo have seen the return of military patrols since ethnic Oromos protested against a shipment of smuggled sugar on 25 October.
 The streets of Ambo have seen the return of military patrols since ethnic Oromos protested against a shipment of smuggled sugar on 25 October. Photograph: Tom Gardner

It began with a rumour. On 25 October, residents of Ambo, 120km west of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, heard word on social media that a shipment of smuggled sugar was due to pass through town.

“Sugar is so expensive now, the price has tripled,” explains 18-year-old Israel, a first-year undergraduate at Ambo University. “And they’re exporting it to other parts of the country but the people here don’t have any. It’s not fair.”

So Israel joined the large crowd of young men and women that erupted in protest as three trucks rolled down the high street later that day, seizing hold of the vehicles and setting up roadblocks. He threw stones in the ensuing confrontation with police and covered his face with a scarf to avoid the teargas launched in his direction. And he watched in fear as the national military entered the town that evening and, the next morning, began firing live bullets, killing 10 people and injuring more.

“They were shooting at us with silencers on,” he says. “One of the boys killed was only 15. They killed girls too – one was my friend. A lot of my friends have died.”

The sugar rumour and the tragic events it sparked exposed the bitter web of grievance felt by many in Ambo and the surrounding region of Oromia, home to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group: anger at what is perceived to be an unequal distribution of the country’s wealth, a pervasive sense of ethnic marginalisation, frustration with the endemic corruption that facilitates crime and contraband, and, above all, a deep mistrust of the authoritarian federal government in Addis Ababa.

Protests and strikes have resumed across Oromia since a nine-month state of emergency intended to quell them was lifted in August. In September hundreds of Oromos were killed and tens of thousands displaced amid an outbreak of sustained violence along Oromia’s border with the neighbouring Somali region. And reports of communal clashes in other parts of the country have emerged in recent weeks.

But for many the return of violence to Ambo’s streets was especially significant: it is the symbolic home of the Oromo struggle.

“Ambo is the heartbeat of the revolution,” says Bilisuma Deberie, a former Oromo activist and political prisoner now living in Addis Ababa. “It is where it all began.”

Ambo University
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 The gates of Ambo University. Classes were suspended for a week after the unrest. Photograph: Tom Gardner

Since the October protest, federal police have been stationed in Ambo and other towns along the road to Addis Ababa, some of which experienced similar confrontations between security forces and protesters in the days that followed. Ambo is once again occupied by military troops, whose street patrols bring back unpleasant memories of life under emergency rule.

“They walk around the city with their guns, intimidating people,” says Galana, a student in health science at the university. “People are afraid.”

Shops and businesses were shut for several days after the unrest. Classes at schools and universities were suspended for a week, as students protested against the extra police presence on campus.

“Students fear for their lives,” says Galana’s friend, Ganeti, also a student at the university. “Some don’t want to come to class.”

Though they avoided joining the protests for fear of violence, both sympathise with the cause. In particular, they echo many in Ambo and elsewhere in expressing anger at the mass displacement of Oromos from the Somali region, and outrage at the perceived failure of the central government to protect them from what survivors say were unprovoked attacks and human rights abuses by Somali regional security forces.

In the weeks running up to the protests many of the displaced had arrived in Ambo and the surrounding area seeking shelter.

The fact that the military were sent quickly into Ambo has fuelled suspicions about the motives of the central government. Gadisa Desalegn, head of the town’s communication bureau, says he doesn’t know where the order for the intervention came from. “The people are demanding an answer,” he says.

Since the uprising, the town has been gripped by speculation and conspiracy theory – fed in part by social media – and many now believe the protests were the work of outsiders sent by the central government to incite violence to justify reimposing emergency law.

“The sugar rumour was intentionally circulated to provoke unrest,” says Habtamu Wondemagne, a 28-year-old rickshaw driver. “Sugar always comes through this town – there’s nothing unusual about that.”

He points to two burnt-out trucks on Ambo’s main road and, like other young men in the town, says it was the military, not protesters, who set them alight during the unrest. “This was not a genuine protest,” he says.

The belief that outsiders are responsible for destabilising the region is common across Oromia, strengthened by the mass arrests of largely non-Oromos by the regional government in recent weeks, which has led to concerns that minorities in the area are being targeted unfairly.

Others blame the protests on members of the new Oromo regional administration, pointing to an upsurge in ethno-nationalist sentiment across Oromia in recent months. “A wing has emerged within the leadership that plays the ultra Oromo-nationalist card and could be behind this unrest,” argues René Lefort, a longtime observer of Ethiopian politics.

He is among those who argue that instability across Ethiopia stems in large part from the weakness of the central government and efforts of the various ethno-regional wings of the ruling coalition party, the Ethiopian People’s Ruling Democratic Front (EPRDF), to attain political pre-eminence.

But the most striking shift in Ambo and elsewhere in Oromia over the past year is the widespread popularity of the new regional leadership, with many singling out Lemma Megersa, the regional president, for approval.

“I love him,” says Israel, the young protester. “He is my life.”

Under Megersa, Oromia’s government has promised land redistribution, imposed higher taxes on foreign investors, and demanded that they provide more jobs for local young people.

Locals also note that demonstrations this year have been policed more peacefully by local security forces. The Oromo police, once seen as lackeys of the ruling party, are now widely considered allies in the struggle against the federal government.

For residents of Ambo, it is the assertiveness of this new government that best explains the brutality of the federal military in suppressing the October protest.

“Lemma and his administration are on the side of the people,” says Galana, the student. “The problem now is the central government.”



Related from Oromian  Economist sources:-

Fascist TPLF Ethiopia’s regime Agazi forces continue with mass killings in Oromia (Ethiopia): At least 10 killed and 20 wounded in Ambo. #OromoProtests

Corruption and money laundering among charges facing Saudi princes and businesses including Ethiopian born Al-Amoudi. #Ethiopia #Al-Amoudi November 7, 2017

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Ethiopian-born billionaire detained in Saudi anti-corruption crackdown

ETHIOPIA

An Ethiopian – born business mogul has been named in an anti-corruption crackdown by the Saudi Arabia government over the weekend.

Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi, 71, was detained along with 11 princes, four current ministers and a number of former ministers. Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said the probe is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Al Amoudi is an Ethiopian – born business man who holds both Saudi and Ethiopian nationality. According to Forbes, as at 2016, his net worth was approximately $10.9 billion.

His investments are linked to oil and global commodities. He is also listed as Ethiopia’s richest man and the second richest Saudi Arabian citizen in the world. He is one of two businessmen detained, the other is one Saleh Kamel.View image on Twitter

 


His two main businesses are Corral Petroleum Holdings and MIDROCMIDROCdescribes itself as “a global investment group, wholly owned by Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi.

“It has substantial interests in petroleum, agribusiness, property, industry and industrial services, engineering and construction, tourism and trade and investment, largely in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North Africa.”

Al Amoudi is said to have migrated from Ethiopia to Saudi Arabia when he was 19 and became a full citizen of the Kingdom in 1965. He built up a private fortune in construction and property before diversifying into the downstream energy sector with major refining and retail investments in both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

MIDROC has an international focus with three main operating companies: MIDROC Middle East (based in Saudi Arabia), MIDROC Europe (based in Sweden) and MIDROC Africa where the company’s focus is heavily on Ethiopia. It also has separately managed and significant petroleum interests.


Click here to read more: Sheik Mohamed Al Amoudi’s Arrest and its Implications to Ethiopia.

His influence is remarkable. His people are loyal and will not do anything to antagonize him or the regime. If one has close relation to his circles they are guaranteed success. There are many Ethiopians that oppose the regime but will not dare utter a word for fear of alienation.Therefore, the news of his arrest is a huge deal. It is significant event in the history of the region and Ethiopia. This is an event that will quicken the demise of the TPLF as he was a significant player and ardent supporter. Al Amoudi has openly bragged that he is Weyane. But, what is the impact of his arrest and its repercussions? It is the biggest disruption that the TPLF has ever seen.


Saudi Arabia freezes accounts of detained corruption suspects

Al Arabiya English Monday, 6 November 2017

Sums of money that appear to be linked to corruption cases will be reimbursed to the Saudi state’s General Treasury. (Shutterstock)

Saudi authorities have announced that they will be freezing the bank accounts of suspects detained in the kingdom on corruption charges.

Officials said that there is “no preferential treatment” in the handling of their cases.

The Saudi Center for International Communication, an initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Information, said that sums of money that appear to be linked to corruption cases will be reimbursed to the Saudi state’s General Treasury.

The Saudi anti-corruption committee, which was set up on Saturday by King Salman’s royal decree and chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had arrested a number of princes and ministers.


More ….

The former Saudi billionaire, Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi, is under strict security guard in a room on the top floor of one of the most luxurious hotels in the Saudi capital after the Saudi authorities issued a decision to arrest him for his involvement in corruption cases inside and outside Saudi Arabia. And a group of former Saudi businessmen and officials.

ሼክ አል አሙዲ በሳዑዲ ዓረቢያ በቁም እስር ላይ ናቸው

Saudi Prince, Asserting Power, Brings Clerics to Heel

 

Saudi Arabia princes detained, ministers dismissed

 

U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) urges his colleagues to vote on H.Res. 128 to address human rights abuses in Ethiopia on the House of Representatives floor November 3, 2017

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U.S. Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) urges his colleagues to vote on H.Res. 128 to address human rights abuses in Ethiopia on the House of Representatives floor on 1st November 2017.

 

https://twitter.com/addisstandard/status/926071114190721024


U.S. legislator: Ethiopia’s lobbying must not stop human rights measure

By AT editor – 2 November 2017
U.S. legislator: Ethiopia’s lobbying must not stop human rights measure


A United States legislator is again pressing for a vote on House Resolution 128, a measure calling for human rights protections and inclusive governance in Ethiopia that was supposed to be up for a vote last month. It was postponed by what supporters say is suppression by the Ethiopian government.

“It has been brought to my attention that the Ethiopian government has threatened to cut off security cooperation with the United States should we proceed with House Resolution 128,” said Representative Mike Coffman, R-CO, from the floor on Wednesday. “I am particularly dismayed that rather than solving their problems and moving towards becoming a more democratic country, the Ethiopian government has chosen instead to hire a D.C. lobbying firm at a cost of $150,000 a month.”

Coffman’s appeal follows a Human Rights Watch letter, signed by other human rights organizations, that was sent last month to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and key elected representatives.

“The Ethiopian government vigorously fought all previous attempts to hold it accountable for abuses of human rights and democratic norms, and it has opposed the current measure from its inception,” said Yoseph Badwaza, a senior program officer for Africa at Freedom House. “In January 2017, it hired a Washington-based lobbying firm in an effort to kill H. Res. 128 and its companion resolution in the Senate.”

Coffman said the resolution “calls on the Government of Ethiopia to take clear decisive steps towards becoming more inclusive, more democratic and more respectful of the basic human rights of its own people.”

Specifically, it condemns the excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces and the killing of peaceful protesters; the arrest and detention of journalists, students, activists and political leaders, and the Ethiopian government’s abuse of the anti-terrorism proclamation to stifle political and civil dissent. Coffman’s comments came as Ethiopia again denied the release of Oromo leader Bekele Gerba, despite a court ruling Monday that he was to be freed on bond.

The U.S. resolution also calls on Ethiopia to admit U.N. human rights observers and includes language to support targeted sanctions against Ethiopians responsible for gross human rights violations.

Coffman said that if the Ethiopian government wants to correct any negative perceptions about the country in the U.S., the solution isn’t a public affairs campaign but rather an end to the repression of the Ethiopian people.


HRW: joint letter from 9 organizations urging US Congress to vote HR 128 & show respect for human rights in #Ethiopia

 

 

News Item: Smith Resolution on Ethiopian Human Rights Advances From Committee, 27 July 2017

Oromia: The Spirit of Oromummaa in the Blessing Season: Irreecha Malkaa 2017 in Naqamtee colorfully and peacefully celebrated at Malka Adii Yaa’a with Massive tournout. And also at Malkaa Qicuu, in Cobii town, Jalduu, West Shawwaa. October 29, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Irreecha, Irreecha Birraa, Irreecha Oromo, Irreessa.
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A week after Irreecha 2017 at Malkaa Booyyee in Jimmaa, Oromians in the city of Naqamtee and East Wallaggaa (Western Oromia) and in Jalduu, Cobii town (West Shawwaa, Central Oromia) on 29 October 2017 celebrated their national and cultural season  peacefully and successfully.   The colorful festival was taken place  in Naqamtee at Malkaa Adii Yaa’a while in Jaldu it was celebrated at Malkaa Qicuu.

Onkoloolessa 29 bara 2017  (6411 ALO) ayyaanni Irreecha Malkaa maqaalaa Naqamtee Haroo Adii Yaa’atti haalaa bareedaa fi nageenya qabuun bakka namni miliyoona tokkoo ol argamanitti irreeffatamee oolera. Haaluuma wal fakkatuun Aanaa Jalduu magaalaa Cobii Malkaa Qicuuttisi irreeffatameera.  #Irreecha2017

 

Some of the pictures and videos  (credited to social media) at Malkaa Adii Yaa’a

 

 

Irreecha 2017 celebrated at Malkaa Hadiyyaa in city of Naqamtee, E. Wallaggaa, Oromia, 29 October 2017 with peaceful Oromia Police and TPLF mass killer Agazi was not at the event.png

Irreecha 2017 celebrated at Malkaa Hadiyyaa in city of Naqamtee, E. Wallaggaa, Oromia, 29 October 2017 with peaceful Oromia Police and there were no TPLF mass killers, no Agazi at the event.

 

“ABOn Naqameen Galee” Jedhu Qeerroon guyyaa har’aa Irreecha Wallagga Naqamteetti ta’e irratti.


Irreecha 2017 at Malkaa Qicuu, Cobii town, Jaldu, Oromia, 29 ) October 2017

Fascist TPLF Ethiopia’s regime Agazi forces continue with mass killings in Oromia (Ethiopia): At least 10 killed and 20 wounded in Ambo. #OromoProtests October 28, 2017

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Click here for In Pictures: Candlelight vigil held in Oromia for Ambo’s slain Oromos /October 27, 2017 by  Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com


 Students in Oromia held a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the Oromos slain in Ambo on October 26, 2017. The killings of at least 10 Oromos came after the Ethiopia’s Woyane military invaded Ambo over an incident involving the fair distribution of sugar in Ambo and the surrounding region. Here are some photos from the event; we’ll bring you more photos of similar events in the future.

 https://www.facebook.com/Amanshafo/posts/1571497892896466

What can Ambo learn from India’s 1919 Amritsar; reflection on Woyane’s weakness, its use of military

10 killed as Ethiopia forces clash with protesters in Oromia | Africanews

 https://www.facebook.com/tsegaye.ararssa/posts/842149935946015

Bedelle Oromos help rebuild Oromian Amhara’s houses burned by Woyane (TPLF) October 26, 2017

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Photo: Bedelle Oromos help rebuild Oromian Amhara’s houses burned by Woyane


Finfinne Tribune | Gadaa.com | Onkoloolessa/October 25, 2017 


 

Photo of the Day: Last week, Woyane burned down houses of members of the Amhara community residing around Bedelle in the Oromia National Regional State of Ethiopia. Through its media outlet, ENN, Woyane broadcast that these houses were being burned down by Oromos to incite Oromians of different ethnic backgrounds against each other. To back up this false information, ENN and Woyane used a photo from a gas explosion incident in New Zealand*. Contrary to Woyane’s evil wishes, Oromos of the region have come out in “debo” (“collective partnership”) to rebuild the houses of the Amhara community in Bedelle this week.

This news of “debo” of love in Bedelle, Oromia, comes on the heels of the press conference by Woyane’s chief of state media. The very upset Zerai Asgedom, or the Director of the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, militantly rebuked state media outlets (OBN, EBC, Addis-TV, Amhara-TV, Walta, and others) for not carrying reports similar to ENN. The video of this press conference is attached below.


Woyane’s state media chief Zerai Asgedom’s militant rebuke of other media outlets for not reporting like ENN:


* Link: ENN’s news photo about Bedelle came from a gas explosion incident in New Zealand

 

Related (Oromian Economist sources):-

 

OE: At least Eight Oromos, Three Amharas killed in western Oromia in communal violence instigated by Woyane (TPLF), the fascist Ethiopia’s regimeOctober 22, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open Democracy: “Ethnic clashes” in Ethiopia: setting the record straight October 24, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Horn of Africa Affairs, Human Rights, Uncategorized.
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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

 

“Ethnic clashes” in Ethiopia: setting the record straight

First there are the undisputed events. Then there are the media reactions, and these – apart from a few rare exceptions, among them some of Ethiopia’s private media – have been perplexing.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at a ress conference in Addis Ababa, October 2016. Michael Kappeler/Press Association. All rights reserved.

In their intensity, scale and duration, the big demonstrations of 2015 and 2016 in the country’s most populous states (or regions), Oromya and Amhara, showed the level of rejection of the ruling power. After a respite attributable to the declaration of the state of emergency, they have recently flared up again in Oromya. Furthermore, the so-called “ethnic clashes” in Oromya and in the Somali Regional State suggest that the same ruling power is now coming apart.

Let us briefly recapitulate from the beginning:

– The population of the border zone between the two federal states of Oromya and Somali has long been mixed, with recurrent conflicts over resources, in particular between pastoralists for access to grazing land and water. Sometimes violent, these disputes were generally settled by traditional mechanisms of mediation.

– In 2004, a referendum was held in 420 municipalities (kebele) of this border zone, to decide which region they should belong to. 80% voted to be part of Oromya. However, this preference was never enacted on the ground.

– In 2007, the ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front), a secessionist movement that is the embodiment of Somali irredentism in Ethiopia, attacked an oilfield and killed 74 people, seven of them Chinese.

– The government then decided, as it were, to subcontract the struggle against the ONLF by setting up, training and equipping the only regional armed force in the whole federal state of Ethiopia, the Liyu Police. According to sources, this force now consists of between 25,000 and 45,000 men, as compared with the federal army’s slightly over 200,000.

– Gradually, the Liyu Police extended its field of action to the fight against Al Shabaab in Somalia, supporting the regular Ethiopian army that had been operating there since late 2006.

– International organisations have regularly denounced the multiple and serious human rights violations committed by the Liyu Police in its counterinsurgency actions.

– A few years earlier, Abdi Mohamoud Omar, better known as Abdi Illey, a former electrician turned minor security service officer in the region, had begun a lightning rise through the political ranks: Member of Parliament, head of the regional security services and, in 2010, President of the Region, all with the decisive support of local top brass.

– Shortly before his death in 2012, the country’s all-powerful premier Meles Zenawi seems to have realised his mistake. He considered dismissing Abdi Illey and bringing the force that had become his praetorian guard, the Liyu Police, back into line. It is not known whether in the end he was unwilling or unable to achieve this.

– In October 2015, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn was planning the same move, but was forced to backpedal within just a few days. In explanation, he cited the force’s fundamental role in the fight against the ONLF. In reality, however, the pressure from Abdi Illey’s military backers in particular was too great, and he also made it clear that if he was dismissed, the Liyu Police would continue to obey him and him alone.

– In October 2016, the government justified its declaration of the state of emergency by the need to end protest in Oromya and Amhara state. The task of implementing the measure was assigned to a “Command Post” that was de facto under the control of the heads of the army and the security services. In reality, the country’s entire administration was “militarised”. In particular, authority over all the armed structures of each of the country’s nine states (regional police, security, militias, etc.), shifted from their governments to the Command Post and therefore – at least on paper – to the Liyu Police as well.

– Two months later, i.e. while the state of emergency was in full swing, the Liyu Police carried out its first significant raid in Oromya, and such raids proliferated in the months that followed. Hundreds were killed. According to the Oromo government spokesman, Adissu Arega, “overall, some 416,807 Oromo have been displaced this year alone in a series of attacks by the Somali region’s Special Police Force” (Associated Press, 17/09/2017) – it is not clear whether the year in question refers to the western or Ethiopian calendar (the period between 10 September 2016 and 2017). The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies stated (30/09/2017) that the  ethnic clashes have led to the displacement of more than 45,000 households (225,000 people)”, though without specifying the period concerned. In any case, it is the largest forced population displacement since the one that followed the end of the war with Eritrea (1998-2000).

– For a long time, the Oromo government spokesman remained vague about the perpetrators of these raids, describing them simply as “armed men”, which can mean anyone in an area where carrying a weapon is common. He claimed that their objective is twofold: plunder and at least symbolic annexation, since they raise the Somali flag in place of the Oromo flag (Addis Standard, 14/09/2017).

– The tension escalated after the arrest by the Liyu Police and subsequent murder of two Oromo officials (denied by the Somali government spokesman) followed, perhaps in direct response, by a massacre of 18 to 32 people (depending on the sources), the large majority of them Somali, in Awaday in Oromya. Ethnic cleansing was unleashed, essentially in Oromya since, according to the federal government spokesman, 70,000 Oromos and 392 Somalis have been “displaced”, once again with no clear identification of the period involved (The Reporter, 7/10/2017)

– Interviews with “displaced” Oromos confirm that their departure was mostly forced by Somali officials: Liyu Police, Somali militias, local authorities. Some even report that their Somali neighbours tried their best to protect them. On the other hand, there is no reliable information on what role, if any, their Oromo counterparts may have played in the expulsion of Somalis from Oromya.

– On either side, the Somali and Oromo spokesmen are engaged in a war of words, but the leaders of the two states remain silent. On the Somali side, there are claims of “mass killings and torching of villages” by members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF, a long-standing armed secessionist movement, described as “terrorist” by Addis-Abeba) “in coordination with officials of the Oromo regional state”, the latter having “direct links” with the former (Voice of America, 12/09/17). But no proof has been forthcoming. On the Oromo side, the finger was eventually pointed directly at the Liyu Police and the Somali militia, but the Somali authorities are never implicated (Associated Press, 14/09/2017).

“Border disputes”

In response to these indisputably documented events, the media reactions – apart from a few rare exceptions, among them some of Ethiopia’s private media – have been perplexing. First, a long absence of information. Then a one sentence summary: “the events triggering the recent violence between Oromo and Somali remain unclear” (Africa News, 7/10/2017). Overall, these events are presented as a resurgence of ordinary “clashes”, as “tribal border conflict”, “fighting between two ethnic groups”, “interethnic violence”, motivated by a long tradition of “territorial competition which often leads to disputes and conflicts over resources, including wells and grazing land” (BBC, 18/09/2017), in short just another revival of the old conflicts typical of border zones.

As if, one fine morning, for no particular reason, a few overexcited Oromos had decided to turn on their Somali neighbours, and vice versa, to act out an ancient and unresolved “ethnic conflict”.  This account of things has one essential outcome: these events are attributed to ancestral tribal urges, responsibility for them to unstable locals, and the regional or federal authorities are ultimately exonerated from all responsibility other than their failure to contain the violence. And though the role of the Liyu Police in the raids and expulsions is sometimes mentioned, nobody points out the obvious: they can only act on the orders of the Somali authorities, and therefore of Abdi Illey in person.

However, the Ethiopian authorities have adopted precisely the same position. First, months of deafening silence. Then, at the end of April, news of the signature of an agreement between Oromya President Lemma Megersa and Abdi Illey, “to bring an end to the hostilities stemmed from the recent border disputes” (Ethiopian Herald, 21/04/2017), hostilities to which no high-ranking official had previously referred. Lemma’s declaration on this occasion – “it is unacceptable to fuel unrest in the pretext of border dispute” – can be interpreted as a veiled criticism of the Somali authorities. Abdi Illey denied all direct responsibility, likewise turning it back on “those who instigate violence in these two states”. We know what became of this agreement.

It was not until 16 September, by which time the “displaced” could be counted in tens – and even hundreds – of thousands, and the dead in hundreds, that a leading political figure took a position on the events. Given the gravity of the situation, it was expected that the Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, would prove energetic and lay down the law. In fact, his words were vague, timorous and sounded like a confession of impotence. At “a meeting with community elders, tribal and religious leaders” of the two states concerned, in other words without their respective leaders, he began by refraining from a precise assessment of the crisis, despite the fact that he should undoubtedly be familiar with all its ins and outs. He couldn’t do differently: this deliberate omission was his only way to avoid recognising that the situation had moved beyond his control.

According to agency reports (Africa News and Fana, 17-18/09/2017), he stuck to the story that a “boundary dispute arose between the regional states”, resulting in “clashes” between “feuding parties”. At no point would any member of the government say anything more explicit. In his speech to Parliament on 9 October, President of the Republic Mulatu Teshome again spoke of “rabble-rousers who have triggered violence in both regions” (Walta, 9/10/17). Even Lemma Megersa would reduce the “conflict” to the “criminal activities of some individuals” (Walta, 18/09/2017).

“Organized groups”

Sole slim exception: government spokesman Negeri Lencho’s acknowledgement that those “displaced” from the Somali region had not been driven out by the Somali people, but by “some organized groups” (The Reporter, 7/10/2017). For his part, the Oromo government spokesman implicated only the Liyu Police, never the Somali authorities, let alone Abdi Illey.

True, Hailemariam announced that the government would send federal police to patrol the main roads, “the deployment of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission to investigate rights violation in the conflict” and humanitarian aid for “displaced persons”. He added that he would do everything to “disarm weapons in the area of the conflict” and that “security forces of both regional states will withdraw from the conflict areas”, thereby equating the Somali region’s seasoned military force with Oromya’s simple regional police force. However, the essence of the message sounded like a cry for help addressed to “civil society”: “the Premier called on all stakeholders to assist the government’s efforts to resolve the boundary dispute” (Fana, 18/09/2017). In short, the federal authority, at least in public, exonerated the main instigator and actor of this unprecedented crisis – the Somali authorities – and assigned responsibility equally to unspecified Oromo and Somali actors.

Except when the Somali spokesman went a step too far, just three days after Hailemariam, this time in the presence of the Presidents of both regions, had declared that “the ongoing efforts to fully stop the border conflict need to be further consolidated” (Walta, 5/10/2017). Speaking on behalf of the “regional state” and the “traditional leaders”, the spokesman wrote, under the headline “Oromo People’s War on Ethiopian Somalis”, that  “Oromo is going forcibly for land expansion and creating relationship to neighboring sea ports such as Somaliland and Somalia for importing heavy weapons for federal government destruction which Somali region become the only existing barrier confronted”. He continued: “Ethiopian Somalis opposed Oromo illegal upraising and re-establishing cruel Derg regime and also violating federal system and the supremacy of constitution. This illegal upraising was aimed to collapse current federal government”.[1] The government responded that “the statement violates the federal government’s direction” and threatens the  “sustainable peace and security of the nation” (Addis Standard, 8/10/2017). Ultimately, according to a recent story in The Reporter (07/10/2017), “Somali-Oromya conflict persists”.

Ethno-nationalism

To understand why, two factors need to be highlighted. The first, to put it succinctly, is that ethno-nationalism is intensifying to the point of detonation, triggering centrifugal forces in the federal system of power. Like it or not, the regional authorities are increasingly asserting their autonomy vis-à-vis the federal centre – Addis Ababa – where the Tigrayan elite has long played a disproportionate role and kept them too long under its control.

As a result, this federal centre is disintegrating. [2] Not only is emancipation supported by numerous Oromos and Amharas, as well as others, but many want to go much further. It is no accident that the slogan that dominated their protests in 2015-16, and again this year, is “Down Woyane!”, a Tigrinya word that has come to refer to Tigrayan power.

This ethno-nationalism is particularly strong in Oromya. The region was subjugated by force, then quasi colonised, in the last era of Ethiopian feudalism. The ethnic Oromo party, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), was for a long time swallowed up by the TPLF (Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front), to the point that it was not until 2015 that it was able to elect its own leaders without external pressure. Finally, the top-down, authoritarian mode of development has gone down particularly badly here. As Ethiopia’s richest region, Oromya has been heavily affected by the brutal eviction of small farmers, with derisory compensation, to make way for investors (“land grabbing”).

Within this general context, the Somali state has followed the same trajectory, but with its own characteristics and objectives. No other state has seen anything like the rise of Abdi Illey and the Liyu Police: none of them is led by such an all-powerful figure, supported by this kind of regional armed force. It was a development that faced opposition from the federal authority, but in vain since the latter was overmatched, as events have shown: the support of part of the military top brass, especially within the command responsible for Somalian operations and at the head of the military security service – at daggers drawn with its civilian counterpart – and probably also the support of part of the TPLF.

Three factors are at work. First, Abdi Illey and the Liyu Police have become irreplaceable in the overcoming of any armed dissidence  – the ONLF is now only a shadow of its former self – and in the war against Al Shabab in Somalia itself. It is equally indispensable in the iron grip it maintains over the Somali state: not a hint of protest is tolerated there. Irreplaceable, but also a threat: Abdi Illey makes no secret of the fact that the Liyu Police answers to him and him alone, and that its destiny is indissociably bound up with his own.

Next, the business links between the leading clans and this military group are as profitable as they are interwoven, entailing above all the smuggling of khat, technology products such as mobile phones or household electric appliances, arms, and even basic food products. And finally, they are now coupled with a shared political goal.

The Somali authority justifies itself by claiming to be “the only existing barrier” against those who, “violating federal system and the supremacy of constitution”,seek “to collapse current federal government”. The first target here is obviously the Oromo authority: overtaken by “narrow nationalism” and ultimately in sympathy with the OLF, it is claimed to seek nothing less than “federal government destruction”.

Flawed federal system

By posing as the keeper of the flame, Abdi Illey gains the support of anyone opposed to reform of the federal system. The flaws of the federal system have been at the heart of the protests that have been raging for three years, in particular among the Oromos and Amharas. To redress them is deemed inevitable and urgent by the reformist section of the leadership, even within the TPLF. Opposition to reform, Abdi Illey’s support, comes first from the military group mentioned above, essentially Tigrayan, unlike moderately or unequivocally reformist senior officers, including army chief Samora Yunus and head of the civilian security services Getachew Assefa, both pillars of Tigrayan power.  However, this support probably also encompasses a fringe of the Tigrayan ruling elite, which is ready to fight – by force if necessary – for the status quo, i.e. the reestablishment of a highly centralised authority de factounder Tigrayan dominance.

Numerous websites that say out loud what is being said in private in certain TPLF circles call for this approach. They claim that the protests are being surreptitiously stage-managed by foreign countries – headed by Egypt and Eritrea – who want “Ethiopia to break up into fiefdoms”. They argue, for example, that “the state of emergency should have been kept for a few more years”. “Unless the government in Ethiopia makes a major policy change towards domestic security, things will get worst and the integrity of Ethiopia will be in danger.”[3] The proliferation of gestures of friendship made by the Somali authorities to the Tigrayan population is obviously no coincidence.

This state of affairs explains why Abdi Illey retains a sufficiently free hand to advance his own pawns, including his pursuit of the ancestral goal of Somali expansionism. In so doing, he serves the aspirations of his supporters, who do not shy away from worst-case political scenarios. Weakening the new Oromo leadership, markedly more nationalist and therefore autonomous than its predecessors, by showing that it is unable to protect its population. Proving that the federal authority is incapable of containing protest and, beyond this, maintaining law and order. With the implication that law and order must be reinstated at any price, and the subtext that if the government does not do it, others will have to do it in their place.

However, the attempt to discredit the Oromo leadership seems to be coming back to bite its promoters. According to reports, chants of “Lemma Megersa is our president!” were heard at the most recent demonstrations in Oromya, though this has not been confirmed. In any case, the slogan “Down Woyane!” continues to dominate.

In the eyes of the demonstrators or Oromo’s “displaced persons”, there is no doubt that behind the Somali authorities and the Liyu Police, it is the TPLF that is pulling the strings (Le Monde, 13/10/17). In this view, the manoeuvre is yet another version of the so-called “triangulation” operations the Front uses to set the Oromo against the Somali, in order to defuse the tension between itself and the Oromo. Oromo opposition websites have always advanced this thesis: Abdi Illey and the Liyu Police are TPLF creations, toeing the TPLF line to the letter; the leadership of the Liyu Police includes numerous Tigrayan officers.

The reality is more complex. First “the” TPLF no longer exists as a homogeneous organisation: Tigrayan domination within the EPRDF has eroded, the military and security command has become more independent of political authority, and is moreover deeply divided. Abdi Illey has a hold over the federal authority and the military and security apparatus because his armed support is irreplaceable and answerable only to him. Reciprocally, those forces, including the group closest to him, have a hold over him, because the Liyu Police could not operate without the support, at least material, they provide. Neither is subordinate to the other. They are bound together by a convergence of political, military and material interests, and reciprocal support.

The most powerful wave of protests since its instatement (the demonstrations of 2015-16 in Oromya and the Amhara Region) threw the ruling power into disarray for months. However, it eventually found the necessary inner resources to respond, albeit after months of internal prevarications and rifts, and albeit by largely handing over control to the military and security forces.

But the state of emergency would seem to have brought no more than a respite: after a marked reduction in the intensity and scale of protest, it has just resumed on a large scale, as evidenced by the wave of demonstrations in Oromya since 10 October. More significant still: “Local officials and police officers either joined the protests or were submerged by it.”[4] And while a consultation process was undertaken with the opposition, its scope is unknown and its outcomes so far unseen.

In response to an “ethnic conflict” which, in reality, is nothing less than armed aggression by one federation state within another, triggering ethnic cleansing on an unprecedented scale, the federal authority initially remained silent. When it finally took a stance, it was so far from reality that it was little more than an admission of its powerlessness to play one of its fundamental roles: to impose a minimum of respect for the constitution on one of the federal states, at least by preventing its aggression.

Why? The federal government executes the decisions of the Executive Committee of the EPRDF, where the four major ethnic parties – Oromo, Amhara, South, Tigrayan – have equal representation. It is hard to believe that a majority of the Executive Committee wouldn’t be aware of the danger and wouldn’t like to bring Abdi Illey back into line. The most plausible explanation is that even if it has the will, it no longer has the means, because it has had to give way to at least a part of the military and security apparatus that opposes such a move.

Power shifts

It was known that the power balance between the politicians and the military/security apparatus had shifted in favour of the latter, in particular with the declaration of the state of emergency. There were questions about whether ethnic nationalism had also penetrated the ranks of the military/security forces and hence undermined their cohesion. There is now reason to wonder not only about their degree of autonomy and ethnic cohesion but also the scale of their divisions, and even their internal conflicts over how to respond to the many-sided crisis that Ethiopia faces. In these circumstances, can the regime still count on the use of force as the ultimate guarantor of its survival?

Behind an appearance of normality, based on the continuing day-to-day operation of the state apparatus, there lurks a question: are the political and executive federal institutions simply in a deep slumber, or already plunged in an irreversible coma?

The more the four major ethnic parties that form the dominant coalition play their own cards, the emptier the shared pot becomes, and the greater the fragmentation of the federal authority responsible for supranational interests.

The OPDO is looking at the possibility of the resignation of some of its senior officials after its strongman, Abadula Gemeda, stood down from his post of Speaker of the House of Representatives, on the grounds that “my peoples and party were disrespected” (AFP, 14/10/2017). If he doesn’t go back on his protest gesture, with almost no precedent in the recent Ethiopian history, this bluntly means: the leading coalition being incapable of fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of the Oromo, to the point that Oromya’s elementary right to be protected is flouted, why continue to support this impotent structure by remaining one of its key figures? But taking into account the very role of the Speaker, this gesture is more symbolic than consequential. From what is known, Abadula remains a member of OPDO’s Central Committee, so de facto its bigwig.

But if the OPDO were to formally distance itself by the resignation of some top officials from key posts, as internally discussed, what would remain of the coalition’s legitimacy if a nation that accounts for more than a third of the country’s total population were no longer represented?

In these circumstances, the Amhara party, the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), could be a key player. Amid the multiple faultlines that divide both the EPRDF and each of its components, three clusters can be identified: OPDO, ANDM, and an alliance of the “peripheries”, i.e. TPLF and the South, which are attempting to win over other peripheral nations. Historically, there has been a longstanding rivalry between Amhara and Tigrayans, but – as fellow Abyssinians sharing the same culture and Coptic religion – they would bury the hatchet when they perceived an Oromo threat. Will this alliance continue, or will ANDM join forces with OPDO? And if so, at what price?

Four scenarios

At least four scenarios merit consideration. The EPRDF is in the midst of preparations for its next Congress, set for March 2018. The first possibility is that it reaches an agreement on a way out of the crisis that is sufficiently substantive, credible, innovative and unifying to defuse at least the most radical opposition and to rally the various ethnic governing elites. Its primary focus will need to be a response to the eternal “national question”, or rather the “nationalities question”.

To this end, the only road to success is for the ANDM and OPDO to join forces, acquire allies among Tigrayans and Southerners in the upper levels of the EPRDF, perhaps also take advantage of their majority in the Parliament, and begin to establish a remodelled federal system consistent with the spirit and the letter of the constitution.

To do so, they could capitalize on two strengths. First, the unprecedented size and scale of the popular protest. Second, even the most activist of the younger generation have at least until now largely proved their non-violence and that they are not lured with a call to arms like the revolutionaries of the 70’s and 80’s, while they could have plenty of reasons and opportunities to do so.

If this were to fail, even leading lights of the EPRDF have been predicting for years where the country might be headed: towards a Yugoslavian scenario. That’s the second scenario.

However, a third scenario is possible, arising from a relative balance of forces: none of the elements in place – the civil opposition or the regime as a whole, the federal centre or the centrifugal ethnic forces, the “reformists” or the “hardliners” – would be strong or determined enough to get the upper hand. The power system would continue to stumble along, the country would more or less hold together, and thus the key problems would remain if not deepen.

Unless – fourth scenario – the military decided that it could and should take responsibility for countering the remodelling of the federal system, the risk of a Yugoslavian outcome, or the decay of the regime. Which raises another question: the military as a whole, or one of its factions?


[1] https://www.facebook.com/idi.s.osman/posts/1587956397936631

[2] See for example R. Lefort, Ethiopia’s crisis. Things fall apart: will the centre hold? 19 November 2016, https://www.opendemocracy.net/ren-lefort/ethiopia-s-crisis

[3] http://www.tigraionline.com/articles/oromo-demo-ethiopia-1017.html

[4]https://www.facebook.com/danielberhane.ethiopia/posts/10155967606239880

 

Oromia: The Blessing Season: #Irreecha2017: Oromians continued with the celebrations of their national & the common ancient culture in Malkaa Booyyee (Jimma), Qar Sadee (Abuunaa, Gindabarat) and Basaqaa (Fantaallee). The events were colorful, peaceful and successful with massive turnouts October 23, 2017

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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

 

Three weeks after Horaa Harsadi, two weeks after Malkaa Ateetee and a week after Malkaa Ogiyyoo,  Malkaa Raachaa, Jalduu and more, Oromians celebrated the Irreecha Birraa 2017 season (6411, According Oromoo Gadaa Calendar) in Malkaa Booyyee (Jimma Abba Jifar), Malkaa Qar Sadee (Abuunaa Gindabarat) and Malkaa Basaqaa (Fantaallee). As of  the last 3 weeks major events, the Sunday, October 22nd, 2017 events were  with massive people of all walks of life in attendance.  They were very bright and colorful events with Oromo social styles, cultural costumes, Abbaa Gadaa’s, Siiqqee, the Qeerroo, cultural songs and #OromoProtests. The people and the Oromia State Police made the events peaceful and successful.  Irreecha is part of the Oromo Gadaa System UNESCO World Heritage. 

Irreechi bara kanaa (6411)  kan Malkaa Booyyee, Malkaa Qar Sadee fi kan Malkaa Basaqaa akkuma kan iddoowan biroo darbanii, Dilbata (Sanbata) Onkoloolessa 22 Bara 2017 (6411 ALOtti) haala ho’aa fi bareedan kabajaamee oole. Irreefannaa kana irratti namoonni heddummaan kan irratti argaman yoo ta’u, sabnii fi Polisiin Oromiyaa wal ta’uun diina irraa wal irraa ittisuun nagaan, gammachuu fi sirbaan ayyaanefatame oole.

#Irreecha2017      #Irreecha2017

 

Here are some of the videos and pictures  from the events:-

Irreecha Birraa (Malkaa) 2017 at Malkaa Booyyee, Jimmaa Abba Jifar, State of Oromia. 22nd October 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

The eve of Irreecha Oromoo 2017 at Malkaa Deeddee, the eve (jala bultii) of Malkaa Booyyee, 21 October 2017

Irreecha Birraa 2017 at Malkaa Booyyee, Jimmaa Abba Jifar, Oromia on 22nd October 2017 (6411 ALO)

Irreecha Birraa 2017 at Malkaa Booyyee, Jimmaa Abba Jifar, Oromia on 22nd October 2017

 

Irreecha Birraa 2017 at Malkaa Booyyee, Jimmaa Abba Jifar, Oromia on 22nd October 2017 (6411 ALO).

Irreecha  Birraa  2017,   Malkaa Booyyee, Jimmaa  Abba Jifar, Oromia on 22nd October 2017 (6411 ALO).png

Irreecha Birraa 2017 at Malkaa Booyyee, Jimmaa Abba Jifar, Oromia, 22 October 2017 (6411 ALO)

Irreecha Birraa 2017 at Malkaa Booyyee, Jimmaa, Oromia on 22nd October 2017 (6411 ALO)

 

Irreecha Birraa 2017 at Malkaa Booyyee, Jimmaa Abba Jifar, Oromia, 22nd October 2017 (6411 ALO)

Malkaa Basaqaa, Fantallee, Oromia

Irreecha Birraa bara 6411 (ALO), Irreecha Birraa Oromoo 2017, on 8th October 2017 colorfully celebrated in Fantalle, Malkaa Basaqaa, in the state of Oromia

Irreecha Birraa bara 6411 (ALO), Irreecha Birraa Oromoo 2017, on 8th October 2017 colorfully celebrated in Fantalle, Malkaa Basaqaa, Oromia

Irreecha Birraa Oromo 2017, Malkaa Basaqaa, Fantallee, Oromia, 8 October 2017.png

 

Irreecha 2017 Malkaa Qar Sadee, Abunaa, Gindabarat, Oromia

Irreecha  2017, Malkaa Qar Sadee  Abuunaa,  Gindabarat,  Oromia 22 October 2017 (6411 ALO).png

Irreecha  2017  at Malkaa Qar Sadee  Abuunaa,  Gindabarat,  Oromia 22 October 2017 (6411 ALO).png

Irreecha 2017 at Malkaa Qar Sadee Abuunaa, Gindabarat, Oromia 22nd October 2017 (6411 ALO)

BBC Afaan Oromoo: OFC: Mootummaan Itoophiyaas ta’ee paartiin biyyattii bulchaa jiru gaaffilee uummataaf deebii kennaa akka hin jirre paartiin Koongirasii Federaalistii Oromoo ibsan October 22, 2017

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OFC Press Release

Biyya qabna jechuun nu yaaddesseera – KFO

20 Onkololeessa/ October  2017


Obbo Mulaatuu Gammachuu miidiyaaleef ibsa yoo kennan

Goodayyaa suuraaBiyya qabna jechuun nu yaaddesseera, Kongirasii Federaalistii Oromoo

Mootummaan Itoophiyaas ta’ee paartiin biyyattii bulchaa jiru gaaffilee uummataaf deebii kennaa akka hin jirre paartiin Koongirasii Federaalistii Oromoo ibsa har’a miidiyaaleef kenneen beeksiseera.

Hirriirawwan tibbana adeemsifaman irratti lubbuun namaa darbuunsaa fi qabeenyi manca’uunsaa na yaaddeeseera kan jedhe paartichi mootummaan gaaffilee uummataaf xiyyeeffannaa kennuu qaba jedheera.

Akkaatuma hiriira irratti gaafatamaa tureenis, mootummaan hidhamtoota siyaasaa mara akka hiiku, buqqa’iinsi uummataa akka dhaabbatu fi kanneen dararaan irra gahee qe’ee isaanii irraa buqqaafamanis hattatamaan iddoo irraa buqqa’anitti deebi’anii akka dhaabbatan paartichi gaafateera.

Aangawoota mootummaa dabalatee shakkamtoonni ajjeechaa raawwatan seeratti dhiyaachu qabus jedha ibsi paarticha.

Hiriirawwan tibbanaa irratti namootni aasxaa yookan alaabaa paartii koongirasii Oromoo qabatanii bahuusaanii fi taatichi fedhii KFO akka hin taane dura taa’aa itti aanaan paartichaa Obbo Mulaatuu Gammachuu himaniiru.

Paartichi namootni asxaa/alaabaa Koongirasii Federaalistii Oromoo qabatanii hiriirawwan kunneen keessatti hirmaataa turanis malaammaltoota viidiyoo waraabuun fiilmii dokimantarii hojjechuu karoorfatan ta’uusaanii ragaalee argadheeras jedheera.

Rakkoon naannoolee daangaa Oromiyaa fi Somaalee gidduutti uummames “mala mootummaan gafilee uummata ukkamsuuf itti fayyadamedha” kan jedhe partichi “dhimmichi walitti bu’iinsa uummataa osoo hin taanee haleellaa humni mootummaa hidhate uummatarraan gahe dha,” jedheera.

Humnoota hidhataniin uummata irraan miidhaa geessisan kanneen gama dhaabsisuutinis mootummaan gahee isa irraa eegamu akkan hin baane fi mirga uummataa kabachiisuu dadhabuusaa himan dura taa’aan itti aanaa paartichaa Obbo Mulaatuun.

Taateewwan uummatni mootummaarraa abdii akka hin qabaanne taasisan uumamaa jiran biyya qabna jechuuf nu yaaddesseeras jedhaniiru.

Dhumarattis uummatni sabaaf sab-lammiilee biroo naannoo Oromiyaa keessa jiraniif eegumsa akka godhan paartichi waamicha dhiyeeseera.

 

 


The Oromo Federalist Congress Press Release
Oct 20, 2017
Finfinnee (Addis Ababa), Oromia, Ethiopia