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Fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF) paramilitary forces (Liyu Police) continues with its ethnic cleansing and genocide against Oromo people August 19, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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TPLF Ethiopia’s Somali Liyu Police and  the federal defence forces jointly invaded  Oromia and currently conducting their  ethnic cleansing in five Oromia Zones and 14 Districts. The following are some of the Oromia’s districts currently under attack:

i. Qumbi, Cinaksan, Midhaga Tola, Gursum, Mayu Muluqe and Babile in East Hararghe Zone;

ii. Bordode in West Hararghe Zone;

iii. Dawe Sarar, Sawena, Mada Walabu and Rayitu in Bale Zone;

iv. Gumi Eldelo and Liban in Guji Zone; and

v. Moyale in Borana


Profile of the Invading Somali Liyu Police that Invaded Five Oromia Zones and 14 Oromia Districts

1. Established in April 2007 as counter insurgency military group, the Somali Liyu police are estimated to have more than 40,000 well-armed and well-funded troops.
2. Who is providing the funding and training: Initially, it was funded and trained by the government of the United Kingdom. Now, the group is believed to have a wider network in the Middle East, in addition to the support it regularly receives from the TPLF/EPRDF government of Ethiopia….. Click here to read more …..
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) says the regime in Addis Ababa is worsening clashes between the Somali and Oromo communities that share common borders.
The ONLF also accused the Liyou (special) police of the Somali regional government of committing rape, abduction and killings against the Oromo and even against their own Somali communities with backing of the brutal regime.
Hassan Abdulahi in an interview with ESAT said the main culprits were the TPLF generals who are behind the Somali special police that just takes orders from the generals.
Abdulahi says the Somali special police have since 2007 committed inconceivable crimes against Somali, Oromo and other communities.
He said there are over a million people who are internally displaced due to the brutal actions of the Liyou police under the auspices of regime generals.
Border clashes between the two communities resulted in the death of hundreds of people, abduction and cattle raiding, according to the ONLF and other Oromo political parties.

#LIYUU POOLISII AJAJNI ISII WAYYAANEDHA…

Ummata keenya kan Daangarratti argamu kan Somaalee itti diree kan ajjeesisaa fi saamsisaa jiru, TPLF tahuun beekkamaadha.
Humni nama keenyaa naannawa daangaa hundaatin akka darratu ( meeshaa lolaa, Waan akka Mancaa fi kkf akka irraa guuramu) kan godhe ergamtoota OPDOti. Wayyaaneen ummanni oromoo yoo qawwee qabaachuu baatellee Meeshaa qonnaaf itti gargaaramaniin Somaalee ofirraa dhoorkuu akka danda’an waan beekaniif, OPDO Keessan akka ummanni oromoo mi’a tokkollee hin horre irratti dalagamaa ture. Wanni kana go dhaniif, mormii biyya keessaa muddee isaan qabe kana gufachiisuf gurri oromoo akka gara wayyaanee dhiisee gara Liyuu poolisii deebi’u gochuufi. Hangasan isaan hafuura akka fudhataniifi. Haalli kun waan amma qofa godhame osoo hin tahin, yeruma ummanni keenya biyya keessaa qabsoo finiinsee wayyaanee hudhe hunda waan godhamaa ture.
Gochi Torbaan kana NAANNOO #Cinaaksan, Gursum walumaa galatti Ona Jaarsoo fi Baabbilee kanatti tahaa jirus kan duraan godhamaa turerraa addaa miti. Wanni torbee kana Liyuu poolisii ummatatti bobbaasaniifis, MORMII UMMANNI KEENYA MARSAA 3FFAA godhuuf qophaawaa jiru sodaatteeti wayyaaneen humna teenya bittinneessuun kana eegalte.
OPDO n Ergamtuu wayyaanee waan taatef, Afaan isaanii dhugaa seetanii hin sobaminaa,
Dheengadduma Bulchaan OPDO #Lammaa Magarsaa baantan #Gursundhaqee amma booda Somaalen isin hin tuyxu je’ee Waadaa ummataaf galee, Gaala badhaasanii biraa gale.
Guyyaan itti aanu kanuma #Ganda Ulaan’ulaatti nama keenya qe’ee isaanii irratti hidhanii tumaa, Saamaa jiran namuu argaa jirra.
Silaa opdon tun jiraatuu baattee hunda diinatti beekeeti sabni keenya ulelleen tahu diina ofirraa dhoorka. Amma kan ummata keenya meeshaa akkan horre godhaa turee fi jirus Opdo dha. Yoo duraan hubachullee baate, ummanne keenya Bulchiinsi OPDO Haada diina duratti isaan Gaadi’u tahuu hubatanii, akka haalli isaanii aanjawetti, Mancaa, Qawwee, Eeboo, Shimala, dhagaas dabalatee ofirraa qolachuu qaba.
Duulli Liyuu poolisin gootu kun kan Daangaa Oromiyaa kan Naannoo Shaniitin Waldaangessu Tahuu ummanni keenya ni beeka. (Baabbile, Gursum, Erer, Mi’eesso, Bordodde, Baale, Booranaa fi kkf, …)
Jeeqaa turuun isaanii ni yaadatama, ammas ummanni keenya kan naannoo kanaa bifa Qophii fi Bayyanootaa taheen ofirraa eeguu qaba. Namoonni biyya alaa jirus Kan gara Leeccallootin Ummata gargaarsa rabbii malee homaa hin qabne kana bifa danda’ameen akka hidhatan hatattamaan itti yaadamuufii qaba.

Galatoomaa! Injifannoon kan Abbaa Haqa qabuuti.
S/A”

 


Guyyaa kaleessaa woraanii somalee Aanaa cinaaqseenitti gandootaa Araddaa ulaan ulee hedduu tooyatee jira. Mana barnootaa kaampii woraanaa godhatee jira. Dubartoon hedduu fudhatamaniiru. Ummatni halkani edaa gaaratti galeera.
Aanaa Gursumitti Araddootaa seenaa qabeessaa akka Hujubaa funyaan biraa keessaatti kan argamani gandootiin babadhaan 8 qabamaniiru. gandootii kana keessaa somaaleen tokkoollee hin jiru. somaaleenillee gaafii irratti hin dhiyeessinee.
Aanaa Aanaa baabbileetti guyyootaa sadani darbani keessaa qofa somaalooni kuma 100 oli ta’ani maqaa godaantuun qubataniiru.
Amma magaalaa Baabbilee keessaatti hojjatoonii mootummaa jibuuti kan sooramaa bahani maneen viillaa 1320 magaalaa Baabbileetti ijaarataniiru isaani kan eeguu humna woraanaa somaaleeti
woraanaa somaaleetiifi baajetaa, uffataa , meeshaa woraanaa kan kennu mootummaa Jibuutiit.

 


****DAANGAA OROMIYAA FI LIYYUU POOLISII SOMAALEE****

Uummatni kenya kan naannoo Harargee yeroo ammaatti jiruu hadhaawaa keessa jira. Ajjeechaan keessaa fi allan itti hammateera. Keessaan bittaa wayyaanee, alaan ajjeechaa Liyu Police Somalee kan meeshaa ammayyaa hidhateen ajjeefamaa jira. Kun maali?

1. Liyu Polisii Somalee kan jedhan kun, ergamoota wayyaaneeti (paramilitary) kan jedhan. Fakkeenyaaf, lola Sudan fi South Sudan gidduutti gaggeeffamaa kan ture wayita jabaatee turetti, President Omar Al-Bashi qaama milishaa Janjaweed jedhamu leenjisee uummata South Sudan kumaatamootan lakkaa’am ficciisiise. Kun maalif? Itti gaafatamummaa gara boodaa dhufuu malu jalaa baqachuuf jecha akka waan qaamni waraanaa kun kan mootummaa hinta’inii fakkeessuudha. Mootummootni abba irree Afiriikaa hedduun qaamollee milishaa kan akka mercenery fi paramilitay jedhaman dhoksaatti leenjisani uummata karaa nagaa biyya keessaa isaaniin mormu itti ficcisiisu.

Mormii uummatni Oromoo waggoota dhihoo as keessatti wayyaanee irratti gaggeessaa jiru wayyaanee kuffisuu akka danda’u jarri haalaan hubattee jirti. Kanumaaf jecha, xiyyeeffannoon uummataa mormii biyya keessaa (internal protest) irraa gara daangaatti (border conflict) jijjiiruudhaan diinni uummata Oromo Wayyaanee osoo hinta’in Liyyuu Poolisii qofa akka ta’e fakkeessuf jecha qindaa’ee kan gaggeeffamaa jiru fakkaata.

Torban ykn ji’a muraasa booda, uummatni keenya hedduun dhumee kaan erga dadhabeen booda, wayyaneen as baate, jaarsummaa taa’uudhaan Mootummaa naannoo Somaale (Abdi Ilee) fi Oromiyaa (Lammaa Magarsaa) walitti araarsuuf teessi. Ofii isheetii wayyaaneen qaama qulqulluu fakkaachuun araara sobaa buufti jechuudha. Akkas natti fakkaata.

2. Haata’u malee, uummatni keenya kan hubachuu qabu, Liyyuu poolisii kan baajata itti baasee leenjisaa jiruu fi hidhachiisaa kan jiru Wayyaaneedha. Liyuu Poolisii jechuun wayyaanee jechuudha. Lola uummatni keenya gaggeessa jiru Wayyaanee waliin jechuudha.

3. Qondaltotni OPDO haarawaan kan akka Lammaa, Addisuu, Abiy etc yoo ilaallee isaan illee lola daangaa irratti Liyyuu Poolisiin gaggeessa jirtu haalaan waan isaan gammachiisu natti fakkaata. Maaliif yoo jettan? Lammaa fi kaabineen isaa ji’a 6 darbee keessa abdii sobaa erga uummatatti guutaniin booda, deebii uummataa deebisuu akka hindandeenye hubataniiru. Nyaatamuu akka danda’an illee hubataniiru. Kanaaf, tarsiimoo isaan ittiin mootummaa irra turuu danda’an tokko yoo jiraate ajjeechaa fi darara daangaa Oromo kana uruursaa ittiin uummata Oromoo gowomsaa yoo turan qofa. Gaaffii uummatni keenya siyaasa biyya keessaa mormaa jiru irraa xiyyeeffannoo (attention) kaasuudhaan gara siyaasa daangaatti waan geessuuf, mormii biyya keessaa irraa boqonnaa arganna jedhanii waan yaadan natti fakkaata.

4. Furmaatni maali? Wayyaaneen yoo hinjirre, Liyyuu Poolisiin hinjirtu. Wayyaaneen yoo hinjirre, OPDOn hinjirtu. UUmmatni Oromo miliyoona 50 ta’u mormii biyya keessaa fi lola daangaa irratti itti baname ofirraa faccisuuf dandeettii qabaachuu qaba. Mirga uumamaa qaba. Of gurmeessee, walgurmeessee of hidhachiisuu, walhidhachiisuu qaba. The right to defend oneself from enemy is a God given right. Haallii Oromoiyaa yeroo ammaa kan duraanii irra adda.

Eastern oromoia oromo fan page's photo.
Eastern oromoia oromo fan page's photo.
Eastern oromoia oromo fan page's photo.
 This is Hayat Aliyi Ahmad age 17. This horrific attack said to have been committed against her by official of the Somali regional government in Jigjiga. She is currently at Hiwot Fana Hospital. She is originally from Malka Ball, East Hararge, Oromia. Click here for the image and detail of the attack.
https://twitter.com/Jawar_Mohammed/status/898979246508474368
https://www.facebook.com/Jawarmd/posts/10103331515817393
https://www.facebook.com/Jawarmd/posts/10103331771699603

“Beware of TPLF’s minority card

Recently you might have noticed that TPLF is propagating ‘Somalis’ protesting against OLF, G7 etc. Its important to know that these are members of the TPLF’s puppet party in Somali region ( its like OPDO and ANDM members rallying in support of the regime). In fact many of the thugs are not from Somali regional state but from Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland and even Kenya. Back home the psychopathic president of the region has forced residents of Jigjiga to stage a rally. Why all this? First it shows the regime have given up on its puppet parties in Oromia and Amhara regions. Pro-regime rallies planned in Oromia and Amhara were either cancelled due to fear of turning into protest or no one showed up.

But there is more sinister motive than just this. It is part of the minority card TPLF leaders are trying to play as they fight for survival. Two weeks ago Seyoum Mesfin and Abay Tsehaye gave interview where they repeatedly pulled the minority card. They have two objectives in doing so. First they want to mislead and gain sympathy of the liberal international community that their minority ethnic group (Tigreans) are facing genocide from alliance of the two largest ethnic groups Oromo and Amhara. They have been telling diplomats that it’s not just Tigreans facing existential threat but also other minorities. Second, they want to implement their long held plan of ‘minority coalition’ to withstand pressure from Amhara and Oromo forces. Since the days of their armed struggle, TPLF leaders believed that the best way to cope with being outnumbered is to forge alliance (under their domination) with other minorities. The controversial map that connects Tigray with Benishangul-Gumuz and all the way down to Gambela on the West, and Afar and Somali through the East is not some simple error or latest development. It has been on the works since 1980s. Although it failed due to economic competition with Tigrean businessmen, they have also tried to bring urban minorities to their side as well.

But is TPLF an ally of minorities in Ethiopia? Its records say NO!
– Its military carried out ethnic cleansing against Ethiopian Somalis as meticulously recorded by human rights organizations. Abdi Illey was their henchmen who was facilitating the massacre.
– It massacred the Agnuwak in Gambella region in 2003 and still continue to kill in the region.
– The Sidama were massacred at Loqe in 2002.
– Entire villages in Konso are being burned down as we speak.
– The Mursi are killed en mass and those captured alive are chained like animals as might have seen on pictures
– Silte and Gurage businessmen have been pushed out of the market and replaced by Tigreans.
– Afar land is all but taken over by Tigrean land grabbers.
– On and on and on……

Yet as it faces increasing resistance in Oromo and Amhara, TPLF will be aggressively using this ‘minority card’ in the up coming weeks and months. This will be done with action that will create rift between minority ethnic groups and Oromo/Amhara. We should henceforth expect the following:

– More rallies in diaspora and targeted regions in Ethiopia with participants holding slogans that offend Oromo/Amhara.
– Intensified campaign on media using languages that provoke debate and counter attack.
– Physical attack on Oromo/Amhara activists and institutions with the aim of provoking counter attack on Somalis.
– They will intensify instigating conflict on regional boarders. We are already hearing provocation on Benishangul-Amhara boarders, Somali -Oromia boarders.

If left unchallenged, these tactics could cause serious short and long term problem between various nations of the country. Therefore, the following steps should be taken to counter that:

– Oromos and Amharas shouldn’t fall for the provocative trap. Avoid debates and arguments against Somalis and others.
– Let activists, political leaders and organizations respond to debunk them.
– Beware that the regime’s agents will engage in nasty exchanges pretending to be Oromo, Amhara, Somali etc.
– Prominent activists, political leaders should be careful against attacks by hired thugs. Community and religious institutions should be protected. In case attacks occur, the situation must be wisely contained. No doubt the regime agents in Amhara and Oromo communities will try to instigate counter attack on Somali and others. Hence no matter the severity, the possible attack on Amhara/Oromo personalities, the response should never be communal; the individual who committed the crime should be singled out and brought to justice.

Such old and tired tactic of divide and rule cannot extend TPLF’s dictatorship.”

JM: September 27-2016

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Walaloo BAQQALAA GARBAA mana hidhaa Qilinxoo irraa erge August 16, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Baqqalaa Garbaa.
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Walaloo BAQQALAA GARBAA mana hidhaa Qilinxoo irraa erge


Daandiin keenya qoreen guutee
Duugdi keenya ulee quuftee
Abdiin osoo hin dhalatin
Ifa hin argin
Nurkaa duute.
Haata’uyyuu malee ni deemnaa hin dhaabbannu
Miilli nu bututes nuti abdii hin kutannu
Biyya hawwa keenyaa
Hin hankaaknu hin geenya
Karaa dheeraa sana
Bu’aa ba’ii sana
Dheebotaa beela’aa
Kukkufnee kaka’aa
Imimmaan lolaasaa
Dhiiga dhangalaasaa
Dukkana kaleessaa qabsoodhaan ibsinee
Ifa boruu arguuf har’arra dhaabbannee
Kunoo ilaalaa jirra biiftuu ba’uuf jirtu
Urjiin bilisummaa yommuu calaqqiftu.


Ethiopia’s life under emergency August 13, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Ethiopia’s life under emergency
By Nizar Manek, The Hindu,  AUGUST 12, 2017


Military helicopters circled above a crowd of thousands during a festival in Ethiopia’s Oromia region in October last. “Down, down TPLF!” one of those who assembled at Bishoftu town in Oromia shouted into a microphone, referring to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, the dominant wing of Ethiopia’s ruling party. Oromia has seen violent protests, which began two years ago after complaints about evictions of farmers to make way for development projects and a lack of autonomy in an authoritarian system. Security forces fired tear gas at the crowd, triggering a stampede in which scores were crushed. Some drowned in a lake. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared emergency rule less than a week later. The same day, defence forces shot a 28-year-old Oromo farmer. Witnesses cited in a report by Ethiopia’s only rights NGO, Human Rights Council, said the farmer was shot because he protested. An Opposition party leader was arrested after he addressed the European Parliament.

Ten-months later, the ruling party has unexpectedly lifted the emergency. Most of the over 20,000 people arrested were released after “renewal training”, while over 7,000 are on trial, Defence Minister Siraj Fegessa told Parliament earlier this month. But Oromia is far from being calm. The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa has recommended avoiding an area where Oromia and Ethiopia’s Somali regions meet, where intense fighting is going on. Weeks earlier, Information Minister Negeri Lencho, an Oromo, told this reporter that almost 70,000 retailers lodged complaints over a new regional income tax law. “Most of the shops are closed where I live to protest” overvalued tax payments, said a resident of an Oromo town, 20 km from the capital.

‘Torture and murder’

 

The Human Rights Council published its 49-page report online, in Amharic, on May 29. A day later, the state telecom monopoly turned off internet access for almost a week. It documents 22,525 arrests, testimony from 28 former prisoners, six cases of “torture, beatings, and injuries” and 19 murders. Ex-inmates of a prison in the Amhara region, to where the protests spread, testified that prisoners were dunked in a cesspit full of urine; 250 youths were held without charge or trial; up to 100 prisoners were forced to sleep in a room of 10X4 meters; water was given only weekly; and contaminated water exposed them to contagious diseases.

In November, a 12-year-old girl from Ethiopia’s south was beaten and then taken from her house by government forces to a makeshift prison, her father testified. A heavy presence of government forces prevented the Council’s staff from moving freely, people were afraid to testify, and state organs, including police stations and federal prisons, remained deaf to the Council’s efforts at official corroboration, the report says.

The Council says what it documented violates the right to life contained in Ethiopia’s Constitution, as well as the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Convention against Torture, to which Ethiopia has acceded. The report assumes the scope and types of violations are “more than presented. It asks the ruling party to give the UN permission to investigate without restriction. Addis Ababa, however, rejects this, citing “an issue of sovereignty”. Zadig Abraha, deputy government spokesperson, said the report is “politically-motivated”. He pointed to a government-sanctioned inquiry which found that security forces took “proportionate measures in most areas”, saying 669 people were killed last year alone. The government can investigate itself, he added.

Nizar Manek is a reporter based in Addis Ababa, covering African affairs


 

TIME WITH SPECIAL PEOPLE ABOUT OROMO: STOP THE GENOCIDE AGAINST THE OROMO PEOPLE August 13, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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TIME WITH SPECIAL PEOPLE ABOUT OROMO: STOP THE GENOCIDE AGAINST THE OROMO PEOPLE.

Video by Chala Alemu

Ethiopia: Aid in the wrong hands: Ethiopia’s mass killing security forces misuse vehicles donated by the Global Fund in Ambo city, Oromia August 9, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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OPEN LETTER:

To: The Global Fund Board of Directors

Cc: -The Global Fund Secretariat
– Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General
Geneva, Switzerland


Greetings!
Global Fund, as the 21st century partnership-based financing organization designed to accelerate the end of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics, is indeed contributing its fair share for the global health and wellbeing of millions of people.

As Ethiopia is one of the top recipients of support from the Global Fund, there is no doubt that many poor patients have benefited irrespective of the level of corruption and misappropriation of funds on the part of the ruling regime.
The country has received over $2 billion from 2002 to 2016, as per the report of the Global Fund itself. But the regime in power misused and misappropriated much of this money by manipulating and taking advantage of Global Fund’s good-intentioned principle called ‘Country ownership’ — at the heart of which is the golden idea that people determine their own solutions in fighting the diseases affecting their health, and take full responsibility for them.

However, the regime in Ethiopia has effectively manipulated this principle to use global fund resources for its own political end goals. The 2015 audit report of the office of the general inspector of the Global Fund itself briefly touched up on these problems.
For the malaria grant for example, the report rightly identified the following problems:
• Inadequate Monitoring and Evaluation and Poor Data Quality;
• Theft or Diversion of Non-Financial Resources;
• Poor Financial Reporting;
• Treatment Disruption;
• Substandard Quality of Health Products;
• Inadequate Principal Recipient Reporting and Compliance.

To illustrate the report’s important point on diversion of resources for wrong purposes, there is no better example than drawing your kind attention to a recent case in the city of Ambo, where the regime deployed its brutal security forces using the vehicles obtained by the Ministry of Health using foreign funding such to crack down on anti-government protesters who were on the streets protesting a newly introduced tax hike.

As a result, the protesters have torched one of the vehicles in mid-June but the regime continued using these vehicles to transport its security agents. Several evidences show that these vehicles which the tyrant regime in Ethiopia is using to transport its security forces to kill protesters, were procured by the Global Fund grants.

The Global Fund secretariat should therefore reconsider and submit to rigorous scrutiny its partnership with the corrupt and repressive regime of Ethiopia.
Financial supports from the Global Fund should not be used to enable the repressive security structures of the regime that kills its own citizens but to help the needy people of the country. To this end, the Global Fund has not only the moral responsibility but also the legal duty to make sure that all its financial supports to the regime are used solely for their intended purposes.
We are therefore kindly requesting the Board Directors of the Global Fund to undertake the necessary investigations on the misuse, misappropriation and diversion of resources that the regime in Ethiopia receives as grants from the Global Fund.

Sincerely,
Jawar Mohammed

Jawar Mohammed's photo.
Jawar Mohammed's photo.
Jawar Mohammed's photo.

UNPO: 22nd Annual Conference of Ogaden Diaspora Held in Frankfurt August 7, 2017

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22nd Annual Conference of Ogaden Diaspora Held in Frankfurt

From 4 to 6 August 2017, the 22nd annual conference of the Ogaden communities from around the world took place in Frankfurt Germany. The conference, organised by the Ogaden diaspora of Germany invited delegations from Somalia, Oromo, Amhara and Eritrea. Representatives from UNPO Members Ogaden National Liberation Front, Oromo Liberation Front and the People’s Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD) took part in the three-day conference. The conference saw traditional performances and fruitful discussions on the Ogadeni diaspora’s role in the future of their region and peoples and what concrete steps must be taken to advocate for the most fundamental rights of the people of Ogaden to be respected.

The annual 22nd conference of Ogaden Somali communities Worldwide was held from 4 to 6 August 2017 in Frankfurt, Germany.

The three-day conference was organized by the Ogaden community in Germany was attended by delegates representing Ogaden Communities from all five continents and invited guests from Somalia, Oromo, Amhara, and Eritrean communities. In Addition, dignitaries Ogaden National Liberation Front, Oromo Liberation Front, the Peoples’ Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD) and Patriotic Ginbot 7 also attended the conference.

Throughout the three day event, the renowned Hilac Band constantly raised the tempo of the meeting by performing Epic Traditional Somali folklore dances moving patriotic songs that moved the participants. Moreover, Nina Simone’s moving song “I AINT GOT NO LIFE” was played to highlight the suffering of the Somali people in Ogaden.

Due to the Ethiopian government’s total disregard for the democratic rights of life, peace, choice, assembly, freedom of speech and other basic human rights in Ogaden and Ethiopia, the Ogaden Diaspora plays a crucial role in highlighting by providing evidence of the alarming humanitarian rights situation in Ogaden and the systematic human rights violations the Ethiopian regime is perpetrating in Ogaden which include extrajudicial killings, sexual violence as a weapon of war, mass arbitrary detentions and the use of torture.

 

During the conference, the attendees extensively discussed the dire situation in Ogaden, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa and how to remedy the calamity in Ogaden and Ethiopia. After deliberating on all relevant issues that affect the Ogaden people in Ogaden, the Horn of African and the Diaspora and considering worsening situation in Ethiopia and the hysterical knee jerk reactions the regime to increasing resistance of the masses against its autocratic and genocidal policies and the possibility of sudden implosion of the regime from within, the participants resolved to :

Continue to

1. Strengthen the education of Ogaden Youth in the diaspora and refugee camps;
2. promote the Somali culture and language to the younger general in the diaspora;
3. streamline the activities of the Ogaden Communities Abroad and enhance advocacy and interaction with Human Rights and humanitarian rights institutions
4. increase the material and moral support to Ogaden Refugees, orphans, and victims of Ethiopian government atrocities
5. strengthen the relationships and interaction with host countries, communities and institutions and combat any acts that can create disharmony between Ogaden Somalis and host communities.
6. Maintain and develop relationships with all oppressed communities from Ethiopia, the Horn of African and the world
Support

1. The just struggle of the Somali people in Ogaden to exercise their right to self-determination and life
2. The peaceful resistance of all peoples in Ethiopia against the current undemocratic regime of Ethiopia led by EPRDF_TPLF
3. All democratic forces and institutions that believe in the rights of all peoples to self-determination, democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia and the rest of the world
4. The noble effort of the Somali people in Somalia to re-establish their sovereignty, governance and rule of law
Condemns

1. The Ethiopian regime for its deliberate and systemic policies and practices of annihilation of the Somali people in Ogaden, by committing rampant human rights violations, blockading trade, and aid, while hampering the ability of the people to engage in economic activities that could sustain them, specially during draughts and other natural disasters
2. The Ethiopian regime for killing innocent civilians in Ogaden Oromia, Amhara, Gambella, Sidama, Afar, Omo, Konso and other parts of Ethiopia
3. The regime’s use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators in Oromia and Amhara states and the general abuse of human rights of all peoples in Ethiopia
4. Those who support the Ethiopian regime, politically, diplomatically and economically while being fully aware of it crimes against humanity and war crimes in Ogaden, Oromia, Amhara, Sidama and Gambella and other parts of Ethiopia
5. Multinational corporations and banks that bankroll the mega-projects in Ogaden, OMO, Gambella, Benishangul and other parts of Ethiopia that forcefully displace the rural communities and destroy the livelihood of millions in Ethiopia
6. Condemns the use of local militias by the Ethiopian regime in order to suppress popular resistance and create civil wars among the neighborly communities, specially between the Somali and Oromo peoples.
7. Condemns certain regional administrations in Somalia in collaborating with Ethiopian regime security to forcefully rendition asylum seeker from Ogaden to the Ethiopian regime.
Calls Upon

1. The UN to seek security council resolution forcing the Ethiopian regime to allow independent UN commission to investigate human rights violations in Ethiopia, in particular in Somali, Oromia, and Amhara regional states and take appropriate measures to stop ongoing violations.
2. The USA and the EU as providers of the greatest aid to the regime to stop blindly supporting the current regime and instead support the rights of the peoples in instead of a decadent, undemocratic and callous regime that violates its own constitution and rule of law
3. The AU to stop acting as dump, paper tiger organization that always supports dictators in Africa and instead start acting on its charters and stand for the rights of African peoples. To date, the AU is silent about the atrocities perpetrated by the Ethiopian regimes against the Somali people in Ogaden and other parts of Ethiopia while thousands are massacred just across the AU headquarters!
Finally, the Conference calls upon the Somali people in Ogaden and all peoples in Ethiopia to unite and support each other against the vile and callous regime in Ethiopia.

Smith Resolution on Ethiopian Human Rights Advances From Committee July 27, 2017

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News Item: Smith Resolution on Ethiopian Human Rights Advances From Committee

27 July 2017

Today, the full House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to advance a resolution, authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), highlighting the human rights violations of the Ethiopian government, and offering a blueprint to create a government better designed to serve the interests of the Ethiopian people.

The resolution, which passed without objection, also calls on the U.S. government to implement Magnitsky Act sanctions, targeting the individuals within the Ethiopian government who are the cause of the horrific abuses.

The State Department’s current human rights report on Ethiopia notes, “[t]he most significant human rights problems were security forces’ use of excessive force and arbitrary arrest in response to the protests, politically motivated prosecutions, and continued restrictions on activities of civil society and NGOs.”

H. Res. 128, is like a mirror held up to the Government of Ethiopia on how others see them, and it is intended to encourage them to move on the reforms they agree they need to enact,” said Smith, Chair of the House panel on Africa. “For the past 12 years, my staff and I have visited Ethiopia, spoken with Ethiopian officials, talked to a wide variety of members of the Ethiopia Diaspora and discussed the situation in Ethiopia with advocates and victims of government human rights violations.  Our efforts are not a response merely to government critics, but rather a realistic assessment of the urgent need to end very damaging and in some cases inexcusable actions by the government or those who act as their agents.”

H. Res. 128, entitled “Supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia,” condemns the human rights abuses of Ethiopia and calls on the Ethiopian government to:

  • lift the state of emergency;
  • end the use of excessive force by security forces;
  • investigate the killings and excessive use of force that took place as a result of protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions;
  • release dissidents, activists, and journalists who have been imprisoned for exercising constitutional rights;
  • respect the right to peaceful assembly and guarantee freedom of the press;
  • engage in open consultations with citizens regarding its development strategy;
  • allow a United Nations rapporteur to conduct an independent examination of the state of human rights in Ethiopia;
  • address the grievances brought forward by representatives of registered opposition parties;
  • hold accountable those responsible for killing, torturing and detaining innocent civilians who exercised their constitutional rights; and
  • investigate and report on the circumstances surrounding the September 3, 2016, shootings and fire at Qilinto Prison, the deaths of persons in attendance at the annual Irreecha festivities at Lake Hora near Bishoftu on October 2, 2016, and the ongoing killings of civilians over several years in the Somali Regional State by police.

It is important to note that this resolution does not call for sanctions on the Government of Ethiopia, but it does call for the use of existing mechanisms to sanction individuals who torture or otherwise deny their countrymen their human and civil rights,” said Smith.

Smith has chaired three hearings on Ethiopia, the most recent of which looked into the deterioration of the human rights situation in Ethiopia and was titled “Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights.”

 


Itoophiyaa keessatti akkaataa qabiinsa mirga dhala namaa fooyyeesuudhaa wixineen seeraa miseensonni mana maree Yunaaytid Isteets dhiheessan manichaaf akka dhihaatu fi sagaleen irratti kennamu koreen dhimmoota biyyoota alaa waligalteera gahe.

VOA: East African Refugees Make Indefinite Home for Themselves in Indonesia July 27, 2017

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Pasar Minggu Baru is a quiet, leafy neighborhood for refugees and asylum seekers, whose paths to there have been long and fraught, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)

Pasar Minggu Baru is a quiet, leafy neighborhood for refugees and asylum seekers, whose paths to there have been long and fraught, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)


Ranna, 24, an Oromo Ethiopian woman, is not only a third-generation refugee, but also a two-time refugee. Indonesia, which is home now, is the second place to which she has been displaced in her young life.

She was born in Saudi Arabia because her mother, the daughter of a prominent dissident, fled Ethiopia before her birth. But that country did not recognize asylum-seekers and she was officially stateless. After a brief interlude in Ethiopia, where she was deported to at age 16 and where she earned a bachelor’s degree, she was again forced to flee during a government crackdown on Oromo activists in 2015.

After a harrowing interlude in Djibouti, where she says Oromo asylum-seekers were being rounded up and deported because of an agreement with the Ethiopian government, Ranna’s smuggler booked her, her mother and her brother on a flight to Indonesia. It was a country where they knew no one and did not speak the language.

Pasar Minggu Baru abuts a commuter rail line, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)

Pasar Minggu Baru abuts a commuter rail line, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)

They were granted refugee status within a year and able to make a home in Pasar Minggu Baru, a South Jakarta neighborhood that abuts a commuter train line and station. Over the last three years, the neighborhood has come to house an enclave of East African refugees and asylum-seekers, some of whom arrived, like Ranna, through unscrupulous smugglers. Others got stuck in transit when Australia blocked maritime refugee arrivals in 2014.

East African asylum seekers face years-long wait times to even be granted refugee status in Indonesia, according to Trish Cameron, an independent refugee lawyer based in Jakarta. And if that happens, they face even longer wait times for resettlement out of Indonesia — if they are resettled at all, which is not a given, especially as developed countries have closed their doors in recent years.

“There’s not really anywhere to go right now,” said Ranna.

Pasar Minggu Baru community

There are about 200 Oromo refugees in Jakarta, according to Cameron, and “hundreds” of East African refugees in Pasar Minggu Baru. Ranna said she finds it quite safe.

An alleyway in Pasar Minggu Baur, which is home to many East African refugees, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)

An alleyway in Pasar Minggu Baur, which is home to many East African refugees, South Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2017. (K. Varagur)

“They don’t make you feel like a stranger, maybe because refugees have been hosted here for a long time,” said Ranna. There also is a small Arab market nearby, a happy coincidence because her family speaks Arabic from their time in Saudi Arabia.

Although Ranna has been a Muslim her whole life, she began wearing a headscarf only when she moved to Jakarta, out of respect, she said, for her neighbors.

About 16 percent of the 14,093 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR Indonesia are from East Africa, said Mitra Salima Suryono, a spokesperson for the agency. Most are from Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, plus a handful from Eritrea, Uganda and Mozambique.

Today, Ranna volunteers intensively as a translator — she is fluent in Oromo, Arabic, Amharic and English, and is now conversational in Bahasa Indonesia — to help asylum-seekers in her community prepare for their interviews.

Oromo unrest

The Oromo people are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, split about evenly between Muslims and Christians [Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant], and account for about one-third of the country’s population.

The protests that began in 2015 grew out of a grass-roots movement led by students in the Oromia region. There also is a history of armed struggle for self-determination, however, led by the Oromo Liberation Front, an opposition group formed in 1973 after a military coup. The government has outlawed the OLF as a terrorist organization and blames anti-government protests on OLF and other groups that it labels “anti-peace elements.”

Ranna’s grandfather was a member of OLF and was the earliest family member to flee Ethiopia as a refugee. Although Ranna came to her homeland only as a young adult, she quickly picked up the nationalist energy that ran through her family. She became a prominent student activist and public health official, and was in her first year of medical school when she had to leave for Indonesia.

“There is grief inside me whenever I think about our people,” said Ranna. “Even in my short time there I could see how wrong it was.”

She spent a night in jail (“it felt like a year”) for her activism, but her middle brother suffered a worse fate before he could flee: He simply disappeared.

Human Rights Watch says more than 800 protesters have been killed since the unrest began in November 2015 and thousands more people have been arrested.

In December 2016, the Ethiopian government announced it would release nearly 10,000 people detained for “rehabilitation.”

Ranna’s youngest brother had just finished 10th grade when they fled, and in him, she sees signs of the aimless boredom that is now typical of the refugee experience in Indonesia, where refugees cannot legally work or attend school. Her mother has diabetes, and is in and out of hospitals.

She still manages to make spongy injera bread in their makeshift house. Ranna herself has acute anxiety and trouble sleeping at night, bearing, as she does, the weight of her family and community, and extant fears about the Ethiopian state.

Ranna doesn’t regret her activism, even as she and her family prepare for an indefinite stay in Indonesia. “I couldn’t see people dying in front of me and do nothing,” she said. “I could not.”

UNPO: 38 MEPs Sign Letter Raising Concerns on Ethiopia to EU High Representative. #OromoProtests July 10, 2017

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38 MEPs Sign Letter Raising Concerns on Ethiopia to EU High Representative

UNPO, 10 July 2017


 

On 7 July 2017, a letter expressing concerns for the human rights situation in Ethiopia, signed by 38 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), was addressed to European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini. Highlighting the violent suppression of Oromo protests by the Ethiopian State, the letter, in line with the European Parliament resolution passed in May, calls for an independent investigation into the killings of protesters.

During the protests that occurred in the Ethiopian regions of Oromia, Amhara and the SNNPR in 2016, government security forces used aggressive repression against the peaceful protesters, causing the protests to descend into chaos. Besides this violence against demonstrators, the security forces also used systematic sexual violence against ethnic minority and indigenous women across the country and continued to jail political activists without any legitimate ground. One of them, British citizen Andy Tsege, is currently held on death row.

In an effort led by the office of MEP Julie Ward, a letter was drafted and sent around the European Parliament expressing serious concerns over the treatment of Ethiopian protesters by armed security forces during the mobilisations and asking High Representative Federica Mogherini – head of the European External Action Service (EEAS) – to react accordingly.

In the letter, the MEPs call for the EEAS to issue a statement expressing their concern and condemning the violence with which protests have been met in Ethiopia and for an independent investigation into the conduct of the police forces during the protests to be conducted. The letter – signed by thirty-eight MEPs, spanning six different political groups – can be read in its entirety here.

UNPO expresses its gratitude to the MEPs who threw their support behind this letter, taking it as a sign of a growing European concern regarding the difficulties faced by, among others, the Oromo, the Ogadeni and the Amhara protesters and the violations of human rights against minorities and indigenous peoples in Ethiopia in general. Our organisation is committed to pursue its close collaboration with decision-makers to move toward a greater respect and a guarantee of the safeguard of human rights for all of Ethiopia’s peoples and especially the most vulnerable. UNPO hopes that the MEPs’ call will lead to a strong EU response and, in the long run, to significant improvements on this matter.


EU response to the human rights situation in Ethiopia click here to read in PDF

Mirga Uummataa fi Babal’achuu Dimokraasiif Qabsaa’uu Koofin Himatame: Dr. Mararaa Guddinaa. Professor Merera Gudina’s speech after the court of Ethiopia denied him hearing. July 8, 2017

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Dr. Mararaa Guddinaa

Dr. Mararaa Guddinaa


Manni murtii Federaalaa himannaa Dr. Mararaa Guddinaa, Dr. Biraahnuu Naggaa fi obbo Jawaar Mohamed ISAT FI OMN irratti himannaa abbaan alangaa dhiyeesse dhaggeeffatee jira. Dr. Mraraanis himannaan isaan irratti dhiyaate kanneen bakka hin jiraannetti himatamaniittii adda ba’ee akka, ilaalamuuf gaafataniiru. Dr. Mararaan yakkamaa utuu hin taane hidhamaa siyaasaa ti jechuun ille mana murtichatti dubbataniiru.

Ragaalee isaan irratti dhiyaates akka ibsamu gaafatanii manni murtichaas yaada isaanii dhaggeeffatee ragaaleen dhiyaatan gama seeraan hiika akka argataniif mana maree Federeeshiniitti dabarsuu isaa beeksisuu dhaan Adoolessa 25tti beellama kennaa jira.


https://twitter.com/addisstandard/status/883251452394844160

Oromo music under tyranny: Free Artist (Journalist) Seenaa Solomon and all Oromo political prisoners in Fascist Ethiopia’s (Africa’s North Korea) torture chambers July 6, 2017

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Seena

 

Seenaa Solomon is a talented musician, actor and journalist. She is  one of the most adored  in Oromo (indigenous) cultural music with her inspirational and beautiful songs and lyrics. Because she is  an Oromo woman, promotes Oromo  culture and music, and advocates for the rights of people under tyrannical regime, she has been kidnapped by TPLF Ethiopia’s fascist forces and thrown into Ma’ekelawi  torture camp.

New: Olyaad Bekele Debre et.al

UNPO: PAFD Press Release: TPLF/EPRDF’s Regime Must Unconditionally Stop Its Plot to Indirectly Implement Addis-Masterplan in Oromo land July 4, 2017

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PAFD Press Release: TPLF/EPRDF’s Regime Must Unconditionally Stop Its Plot to Indirectly Implement Addis-Masterplan in Oromo land

 

On 30 June 2017, the People’s Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD) issued a press statement denouncing the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)’s violation of the rights of the Oromo in the framework of the expansion of Addis Ababa. The “masterplan” aiming at expanding the capital into surrounding Oromia, thus threatening of eviction a number of Oromo farmers, had sparked the protests that led the ruling party to impose a state of emergency in the country back in October 2016. While the power in place has officially made a U-turn, cancelling the plan after months of peaceful demonstrations in Oromia and beyond, the PAFD today fears that the masterplan will be indirectly implemented, thus overlooking the rights of the region’s inhabitants.

Below is a press statement published by the PAFD:

Article 49 (5) of the current Ethiopian constitution recognizes the Oromia’s special interest in Finfinnee (Addis Ababa). According to these rights, Oromia should have had the said interests honored, decades ago. However, in the past 26 years, TPLF’s regime has repeatedly denied these and the other fundamental rights; instead displacing tens of thousands of Oromo peasants from the environs of Finfinnee and the other neighboring villages and districts, as the capital rapaciously expands. Tens of thousands of Oromo civilians have been murdered by the security and armed forces of the incumbent for demanding these rights to be honored. Tens of thousands become destitute beggars in their own ancestral lands; whereas TPLF and its affiliates exponentially increase their wealth in Oromo land, including in Finfinnee.

Furthermore, between 70 and 80, 000 unlawfully incarcerated Oromo’s noncombatant civilians including prominent politicians, academics, peasants, students of all categories, are to date languishing in various substandard prison cells and discreet torturing chambers. To this date, TPLF works hard to continue with its confiscation of the Oromo land, the current fake, the ‘Oromo interest in Finfinnee’ mantra is, a continuation of its plots to further displace millions.

As we speak, TPLF pretends to be caring for the Oromo nation’s interests in their own soil, despite it has continually brutalized the nation for the last 26 years for demanding these. TPLF’s pretense on legalizing the special interest for Oromo nation in Finfinnee is nothing other than; firstly, a plot to deceive the Oromo nation, and secondly separate them from their fellow non-Oromo country men and women with whom they have peacefully coexisted for centuries, with the said systematically masterminded plots. Thirdly and ultimately, the regime aims at indirectly implementing its Addis-Master plan under whose name, the regime has mass murdered Oromo civilians; for abhorring crimes, no one held into account to date.

Therefore, TPLF demonstrates its inaptness when, it erroneously asserts that, the Oromo nation doesn’t know its malicious plots against the Oromo’s national interest. The fact is that, the level of Oromo national consciousness is beyond TPLF’s comprehension; the reason why it recklessly plans for further bloodshed. From this time onwards, the Oromo nation never allow TPLF’s barbaric regime to continually milk its wealth peacefully. The Oromo is not stagnating with the level of the 18th century mentality of subservience. If TPLF begs the subservience of the Oromo nation and the rest peoples of Ethiopia after this period, it plays fatal game. The time of innocence and subservience is over. We would like to reiterate that, TPLF’s brutal regime must know that, the sons and daughter of the Oromo nation have already shaken its foundation since October 2015 Oromo revolution. This is clear to both friends and foes, including the incumbent. It was the Oromo revolution coupled with lately joined Amhara, that has obliged TPLF’s regime to impose ‘State of Emergency’ since October 2016. It must be crystal clear to TPLF and its Oromo quislings that, the Oromo nation never surrenders its rights. The nation with likeminded nations and peoples of the country fights, to the last drop of blood. This must be unambiguously clear.

We strongly believe that, the owner of the land in Finfinnee and its environs is the Oromo nation, but no one else. TPLF can’t give Oromo’s land to Oromo people. Instead, TPLF must lease the Oromo land from the Oromo people. It can’t be other way around. Therefore, the current maliciously masterminded, fake Oromo ‘special interests’ lies and deceits brings no benefit to the Oromo people. The Oromo nation unequivocally knows this unshakable fact, as do its allies and the entire peoples of Ethiopia. TPLF’s reckless plots, rather will be extremely dangerous, as it is unfolding whilst the regime is ruling the country under State of Emergency.

Finally, disregarding the outcries and bloods of thousands of Oromo people, who have been gunned down in broad day lights by the army and security forces of this very regime, whilst demanding their fundamental rights, the ongoing TPLF’s attempts only exacerbates, already volatile situation. It further angers the Oromo nation and their allies, thus prepare them for further bitter struggle. It must be clear to TPLF’s from Oromia, and the other regions’ looted wealth intoxicated generals and politicians that, the Oromo nation never allow its land to be further graveyards for its sons and daughters whilst enriching TPLF and its affiliates. We strongly believe and reiterate that, the said special interest are better rationed to those who have settled in Oromo land including in Finfinnee, for all including TPLF and its bandit-generals, by the legitimate owners of the land, the Oromo nation. TPLF’s minority regime has no legitimate rights to overtake the land of the Oromo whose population constitute over 40% out of 104 million. The actions and policies of TPLF’s minority regime is indefensible, thus, we wholly condemn it with all possible words, and urge it to uncondti0nally stop it.

PAFD, Executives, June 30, 2017


Click here to read the  PAFD Statement in PDF 

OSA: Statement on the Draft Law on Oromia’s Special Interest in Addis Ababa July 1, 2017

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Statement on the Draft Law on Oromia’s Special Interest in Addis Ababa

 

For Immediate Release  June 30, 2017


The Oromo Studies Association (OSA) believes the draft law’s utter neglect of the Oromo people’s demands risks reigniting conflict on the unresolved issue of Oromia’s right over Addis Ababa.

On June 27, 2017, the Council of Ministers of the Government of Ethiopia announced that it has adopted a draft legislation to determine by law the “special interest” provision of the 1995 Ethiopian Constitution and sent it to the House of People’s Representatives. The legislation was an abridged version of the draft law the government had leaked a few weeks earlier and quickly disavowed after a backlash from a deeply skeptical public about the intent and contents of the legislation. On June 29, the draft legislation was taken up by House of People’s Representative with a view to promulgating it as law.

The Ethiopian Constitution posits, in Article 49 (5), that the special interest of the State of Oromia in Addis Ababa concerns three important areas: the provision of social services, the utilization of natural resources and joint administration of the city in lieu of the fact that Addis Ababa location within the State of Oromia. The law that was designed to determine these issues would be expected to explain in detail the meaning and process of implementation of the constitutional provisions.

Assessed by any measure, the draft legislation is not worthy of its name. Nowhere does it attempt to define the “special interest” provision of the constitution or recognize the struggle of the Oromo people and their demands regarding Finfinnee/Addis Ababa. The draft legislation doesn’t designate the Oromia regional government as the beneficiary of the constitutional “special interest.” The boundary of Finfinnee is not delimited, even though that is a sin qua non for implementation of the proclamation. Instead there are indications of intent to expand the city limits into the Oromia state territory. With regard to social services, the proclamation only reiterates conventions and practices already in use and in place.

Rather than defining the constitutional provision, the “proclamation” rehashes policy issues that any city government must undertake to serve its citizens. Providing inter-state transport services shouldn’t be a matter defined by law as a “special interest;” market forces are already at work in this respect. Providing youth employment is a responsibility of an incumbent in any city government. It cannot be designated as a special interest of a state. Overall, if there is anything resembling a definition of the constitutional provision, it is allusions to the rights of Finfinne residents who happen to be Oromo rather than those of the Oromia regional state as stipulated in the constitution. The proclamation also re-grants constitutional rights to Oromo residents as if their rights within Finfinnee aren’t already protected by the Ethiopian Constitution.

In this sense, OSA considers the draft proclamation a mockery of the process of legislation that should be solemn and dignified. Even worse, the proclamation is an insult to the legitimate demand of the Oromo people for which, in the last two years, thousands have given their lives, limbs and livelihoods. To reduce the Oromo people’s demands to issues of youth unemployment, compensation for confiscated properties and provision of services is a dangerous political ploy that entails severe consequences.

As a scholarly organization that has documented the struggle of the Oromo people for freedom, justice, dignity and human rights, OSA condemns the Ethiopian regime’s blatant disregard for the Oromo people’s demands over Finfinnee. OSA scholars have documented the history of violent conquests and the consequent dispossession of Oromo lands, dislocation of homesteads and displacement Oromo people from the area today known as Addis Ababa.

It is unconscionable that the Ethiopian regime, when it is given the chance to correct historical injustices, has chosen to pursue the short term goal of perpetuating in power a group that has been there for more than a quarter century by force. OSA feels that the complete failure of the Ethiopian government to heed the cry of the Oromo people can only pave the way for more violence and bloodshed.

Cognizant of the long history and the intensity of the current demands of the Oromo people, OSA calls upon the following to take immediate action to obviate conflict and its horrendous consequences.

To the Ethiopian Government

The Oromo interest on Finfinnee is not “special.” It is historical and inherent. If this draft legislation were to have a chance of being accepted as adequate, it should respond to the Oromo people’s articulation of their interest during their protests last year. At a minimum, the draft legislation must include the following provisions.

  • Delimit the boundary of Finfinnee the city boundary as it existed in 1991. Continued expansion is a recipe for renewed conflict.
  • Recognize the Oromia regional government’s right to joint governance of the city. –      Establish the Oromo language as a working language.
  • Respect the political, economic and civil rights of all the residents.
  • Recognize the city resident full democratic right of municipal self-governance instead of treating them as subjects of federal authority.
  • – Restore and legally establish the city’s indigenous name, Finfinnee, as the official name of the city.
  • Established by legislation the Oromo people’s right to socio-cultural, economic, environmental, and political benefits in the city and take measures to facilitate the enjoyment of these rights.

To Oromo people all over Oromia and Ethiopia:

  • OSA is believes that your protest last year has brought you to the verge of victory. Your gallantry and fearless engagement of security forces has caused the Ethiopian government at all levels to heed your demands. OSA salutes you on your achievements and your discerning wisdom concerning timing and appropriateness of direct action.
  • OSA believes the government is aware of the power of your commitment to peaceful protest. We reckon that it will quickly abandon its misguided draft legislation. At the same time, we fully support your commitment to peaceful protest.
  • OSA affirms its commitment to continue to provide the institutional support and intellectual materials needed to press on the Oromo people’s struggle for ensuring Oromia’s interest on Finfinnee.

To Foreign Governments and Donors supporting the Ethiopian government:

  • The issue of land and the Oromo interest over Finfinnee were the main causes of the protests that lasted for nearly a year in Oromia in 2016. This draft legislation on Oromia’s “special interest” is now being described as a backdoor attempt to implement the dreaded Addis Ababa Master Plan that triggered the protests. Governments and representatives of the international community have an obligation to use their good offices and leverage to persuade the Ethiopian government to refrain from forging ahead with this draft proclamation.
  • OSA urges all parties to understand that Oromos are a force for peace and stability in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Respect for human rights and commitment to peace and justice have been the traditional governing principles of Oromos. It is in the interest of those states that have security and other interests in Ethiopia to support these enduring Oromo values and denounce the rule of violence and rule by administrative fiat. OSA is aware that all foreign parties in Ethiopia pursue their own interests. However, an interest that is singularly self-serving cannot guarantee long term stability.

To Non-governmental organizations and rights groups

  • In line with OSA statement on the Master Plan and the Oromo protests, issued on December 9, 2016, we reiterate our commendation of the courageous work of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and International Crisis Group in
  • investigating crises affecting the Oromo over the years. The irresponsible act of the Ethiopian regime in drafting the Oromia “special” interest legislation undermines the demands of the Oromo people over Finfinnee. As such, it is bound to provoke public anger. We urge you to continue to document the injustices that are being perpetrated under the state of emergency that has been in effect since October 9, 2016.

To International and Foreign Media Outlets:

  • OSA calls upon all forms of print, broadcast and online media to document and publicize the events underway in Ethiopia. The issue of Finfinnee is a potent political issue. We urge you to watch the events surrounding this draft proclamation as it is pregnant with all the elements that ignited a historic protests movement that resulted in the death of thousands of people in 2016.

The scheme to dispossess the Oromo of their land and homeland, to dislocate them from their livelihood, and destroy their language and cultural identity, whether expressed blatantly as a Master Plan or shrouded with a cloak of a “special interest” draft law, is a threat to the economic wellbeing and survival as a nation. OSA affirms its commitment to offer all possible intellectual and scholarly assistance to strengthen the efforts to prevent its implementation.

Signed

Ezekiel Gebissa, PhD
President, Oromo Studies Association

Mekuria Bulcha, PhD
Chair, OSA Board of Directors


Related Article:

Manii Marii Ministeroota Itoophiyaa faaydaa addaa Oromiyaan Finfinnee irraa argattu jedhee irratti wixinee baasee labse. Master Plan (Master Killer) 2.0

A Fire under Ashes: The Ongoing Struggle for Human Rights in Ethiopia July 1, 2017

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A Fire under Ashes: The Ongoing Struggle for Human Rights in Ethiopia


As massive protests swept across Ethiopia last year, the dire human rights situation in the country made headlines around the world. The Financial Times described it as Ethiopia’s “Tiananmen Square moment,” and then-US Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Tom Malinowski called the government’s crackdowns on dissent “self-defeating tactics.”

A poster of Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa at a protest in Oakland, California. Making the crossed arm gesture is now a criminal offense under Ethiopia’s state of emergency. Credit: Elizabeth Fraser
A poster of Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa at a protest in Oakland, California. Making the crossed arm gesture is now a criminal offense under Ethiopia’s state of emergency. Credit: Elizabeth Fraser.

The protests that brought this unprecedented attention to the country were rooted in land grabs. Starting in November 2015, Ethiopians took to the streets to oppose a “Master Plan” to expand the borders of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, which would have displaced Oromian farmers from their homes and land. The plan was eventually canceled, but the protests struck a nerve and became more widespread, calling for human rights and democracy in the country.

After failed attempts to quell the increasing dissent with force, the Ethiopian government imposed a country-wide state of emergency in October 2016. Since then, the news out of Ethiopia has waned, but problems remain.

The State of Emergency: A Veil to Hide Political Turmoil

In late July 2016, as protests spread from Oromia to the Amhara region, the country’s two largest ethnic groups – who together make up over 60 percent of the population – joined together. Despite being faced with violence from the security forces, citizens refused to back down and took to innovative means, like shaving their heads in solidarity with political prisoner Bekele Gerba and launching city-wide stay-at-home protests. In August, when Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa crossed his hands above his head in solidarity with the protests as he crossed the finish line at the Rio Olympics, the plight of his people was brought to the TV screens of millions around the world. And in October, the political situation in Ethiopia further unravelled as dozens if not hundreds were killed at an annual Irreechaa celebration in Oromia, when the police response to protests triggered a stampede.

To curb this mounting dissent, a state of emergency was imposed in October 2016, including a long list of draconian measures curtailing freedoms across the country. Security forces were given greater powers, social media and diaspora news outlets were banned, curfews and travel restrictions were imposed, and more. Over 26,000 people were arrested, most of whom were sent to “rehabilitation camps,” where detainees reportedly endured physical violence, degrading conditions, and were forced to take part in a training program to ensure allegiance to the ruling party.

In March 2017, while some of the restrictions were lifted, the state of emergency was extended for another four months.

The Need for an Independent Investigation

Hundreds, if not more, lost their lives to Ethiopia’s security forces during last year’s protests, causing international human rights experts and civil society organizations to call for an international investigation. The government has rejected these calls, claiming that the investigation should be led by national institutions.

An oral report from one internal investigation, provided by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in April 2017, concluded that nearly 670 people lost their lives in last year’s violence, over 600 of whom were civilians. The commission, however, went on to blame much of the violence on opposition groups, as well as diaspora-based media outlets such as the Oromo Media Network and the television station ESAT. Worse still, the commission deemed that the use of force by security officials in many instances was “proportionate.”

Several observers have challenged these findings and question the EHRC’s independence. The Commission is both funded and overseen by the parliament and is led by Dr. Addisu Gebregziabher, who took the appointment after finishing his term as deputy chairman of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia – the agency under which the current government won 100 percent of the seats in parliament in the last election.

A few weeks after the EHRC’s oral report was heard, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein traveled to Ethiopia where he met with numerous government officials, as well as political prisoners at the notorious Kilinto jail.

In a press conference, High Commissioner Zeid brought attention to several issues plaguing Ethiopia, including the need for more “substantive, stable and open democratic space.” Zeid also noted that laws such as the Anti-Terrorism and Charities of Societies Proclamations are not aligned with international legal norms. High Commissioner Zeid did not, however, corroborate the EHRC’s findings, as his delegation was not granted permission to travel to areas affected by recent protests. Calls for an international investigation thus remain.

“I am also concerned that an excessively broad definition of terrorism may be misused against journalists, bloggers, and members of opposition parties … if the fight against terrorism is misused as a pretext to attack perceived dissent, this only feeds grievance and will weaken the State.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, May 2017

Simmering Discontent

While the state of emergency may have taken Ethiopia out of the international spotlight, it has failed to address the issues that fueled protests.

Political dissent continues to be a criminal offense. For instance, in a “further blow to press freedom in the country,” the editor of the newspaper Negere Ethiopia, Getachew Shifteraw, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for “inciting subversion.” Yonatan Tesfaye – the former spokesperson for the opposition “Blue Party” – was found guilty of encouraging “terrorism” because of his Facebook posts and sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison. And indigenous land rights defender, Mr. Okello Akway Ochalla, is serving a nine-year sentence for speaking out about human rights abuses in his home region of Gambella.

Opposition party members likewise continue to be detained. Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) has been in jail since December 2015. The evidence used against Gerba includes a video in which he advocates for non-violent struggle. Merera Gudina, the chairman of the OFC, was arrested after returning from a trip to Brussels in November 2016, where he spoke to the European parliament about the current state of emergency.

The government’s second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II) continues to advocate for foreign investment in large-scale commercial farming operations, which raises concerns about further land grabbing, forced displacement, and loss of livelihoods.

Unsurprisingly, given these circumstances, many expect that protests will resume once the emergency measures are lifted, with one Oromo-based judge calling the situation a “fire under ashes.”

International Complacency

At the same time, the international community has been complacent about ongoing crisis in Ethiopia. Sure, after the state of emergency was enacted, visits by some foreign dignitaries took place, including calls for democracy and fundamental freedoms. And yes, the EU recently passed a resolution on the situation in the country. But Ethiopia continues to be celebrated for its economic growth and enjoys extensive financial backing from Western and non-Western donors alike. This includes billions of dollars in multilateral and bilateral funding, as well as significant foreign investments from countries like India and China.

While millions of Ethiopians continue to be denied basic human rights, this international support sends the message that the Ethiopian government can continue its crack down on democracy and people without consequences. International complacency towards the regime may well stem from concerns around maintaining stability in an unstable region. But this short-sighted approach ignores the fact that continued repression could lead to more loss of lives and a region spiralling out of control.

Human Rights League: Ethiopia: The Charade of Democracy, Rule of Law, and Justice in the Oromo Nation in Ethiopia June 27, 2017

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Ethiopia: The Charade of Democracy, Rule of Law, and Justice in the Oromo Nation In Ethiopia
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The OPDO is primarily accountable for the human misery against the Oromo Nation
When the current Ethiopian government seized power in 1991, the suffering of nations and nationalities that had happened for over a century in Ethiopia hoped for its end, and freedom, justice, and equality under genuine democracy- as promised and put on paper by the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE)- would prevail.
The TGE’s “Transitional Period Chapter of Ethiopia, 1991” was a period of hopefulness, the beginning of a democratic and accountable system in which the people would be empowered and able to hold their leaders to account. The Transitional Period Chapter allowed all nations and nationalities have equal rights and be allowed to send their political organizations to take part in the transitional government’s parliament.
However, following the broad and multi dimensional promises declared in the Transitional Period Chapter, hopes of progressing along a reformist democratic path appear to be slipping back and promises have receded.
Members and supporters of political organizations assumed in the TGE including members and supporters of Oromo political organizations have been taken to prisons, killed, abducted and human rights violations have become rampant all over Oromia under the so called “Peaceful and Democratic Transitional Government of Ethiopia”
a new democratic system of Ethiopia.
At the beginning of 1992, genuine Oromo political organizations which had been part of the formation of the so-called Peaceful and Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) have been forced to leave the TGE without preconditions. As the genuine Oromo political organizations left the TGE, their members and supporters have been targeted and many have been killed, abducted, and forcefully disappeared and other thousands have been arrested by TPLF militias using the surrogate organization OPDO as a finger pointing to their fellow Oromos.
The Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) formed the surrogate Oromo Organization in 1991 when they realized that the military government was failing to use them to penetrate into Oromia (south) from their homeland Tigray (North). The OPDO was created and programmed to serve its master (TPLF) by a remote operation. Over time, the TPLF leaders have strengthened their hold on power, entrenched themselves and built up enough confidence in walk freely into the invaded nations and nationalities’ territories. In doing this, the TPLF showed to the world community that peace and justice had been secured in all corners of the country. Western states, including the UK & US governments who were the leading supporters of the TPLF, backed it to silence citizens who demanded peace and equality in the country.
The TPLF led TGE have been able to play on Western funding governments and organizations’ security concerns in the Horn of Africa, especially as the civil war in the neighboring country Somalia became a threat to the security of the Horn of Africa Region.
After The US Embassies bombing on August 7, 1998 in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania,
( make it “ US Embassy’s” in the link) and the September 11, 2001, Terrorist attack on the New York World Trade Center Towers, the “War on Terror” and fear of instability became greater drivers of Western policy than encouraging the rule of law and democratic freedoms around the Horn. The EPRDF government claimed that it is the strongest military force in the region and continued, as a result, to garner substantial budgetary and military support especially from the US government.
The financial aid the EPRDF collected from the Western states, including big financial support from the US government, enabled it to entrench power at home to dehumanize its citizens who tried to exercise their constitutional rights of assembly, free speech, and peaceful protests. The Oromo, the largest nation in Ethiopia who could not detach itself from subjugation by its northern neighbor rulers for over 1.5 centuries, again became victims under the EPRDF regime.
As history repeated itself, the TPLF came to Oromia under the cover of the surrogate Oromo organization, the OPDO. This surrogate group, most of whose members were non-Oromos, opened the door to the TPLF militias who have killed thousands, abducted many, forcefully kidnapped and arrested millions of Oromos in the past twenty plus years.
The OPDO helped the TPLF not only to incarcerate Oromo nationalists, but also collaborated with the invaders in killing, abducting, and forcefully disappearing thousand of thousands of Oromos who demanded democracy and self-determination in the past twenty-six years, demands that turned into the Oromo social movement of 2015-2016. The Oromo nation’s social movement was the continuation of the Oromo youth revolt against subjugation (Qabsoo Didda Gabrummaa) was created in 2005.
The Oromo student movement against the regime was officially started in 2005 in Ambo town, West Shewa, in November 09, 2005 by students of the Ambo High School who staged a peaceful demonstration against inequality and injustice in Oromia. At least five students were reported killed, including students Jagama Badhane and Kabbada Badhassa, and a younger female student, and the police killed at least two more) at a protest rally in response to Jagama’s death.
The struggle of Oromo youth spread to all high schools, colleges and universities in Oromia and Oromo students expressed their grievances in different schools in different days with peaceful demonstrations, demanding non-discrimination at school, and the rights of free speech and assembly.
Since the Oromo youth revolt against subjugation was officially started, until the great Oromo social movement broke out in 2015, several high school, college and university Oromo students have been killed, incarcerated, and forcefully disappeared.
The inspiring news from Ginch town, the small town in the south-west Showa zone, and its courageous action and struggle for real democracy and respect for the rule of law and human rights attracted the attention of million Oromos to continue with their demands despite the fact that several students were killed during the students’ peaceful protest in 2014 all over Oromia Regional State schools and universities.
The Oromo nation’s peaceful demonstration started in 2015 and spread all over Oromia and received the attention of the world community and was reported widely. During the continued demonstration in Oromia between November 2015-Octber 2016, over 2000 Oromos have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been incarcerated and other thousands have been forcefully disappeared in different places at different times,.
The protests continued vigorously until the October 2, 2016 tragedy in which over 700 innocent Oromos in one day were massacred by the TPLF killing squads at the Oromo Irrecha festival /Oromo Thanksgiving day celebration. The Federal government of Ethiopia had demonstrated its cruelty against the Oromo nation by shooting into the crowds. The inhuman and terrorist acts of the government escalated the tension between the government and the protesting Oromos, government and government-linked properties were destroyed, and around 600 more Oromos were killed and others were taken to prisons including to military camps.
The government of Ethiopia was forced to declare a state of emergency to silence the Oromos’ anger; on October 8, 2016, a state of emergency was declared for six months.The six month state of emergency was used for more killings, imprisonments, raping and forceful abductions of Oromos from their homes or villages.
Irrecha Festival /Oromo Thanksgiving Day Massacre (October 2, 2016), The Unforgoten Day in Oromo History
For example, on November 6, 2016 at 5:00 am, three brothers- Marabu Jamalo, Abdissa Jamalo and Tola Jamalo- were killed in cold blood by the TPLF killing squad Agazi force in their home in Eastern Arsi Zone in Shirka district. Their father Mr. Jamalo Hussein said “my children have been killed by the fascist government killing squad, Agazi, not because they stole or did anything wrong, but only because they are Oromos”.
Hailu Ephrem , a sixteen- year old boy and Ibsa Runde, a seventeen year old boy were killed while playing in their area.They have been killed for no apparent reason- except perhaps that the psychopathic killing machines called Agazi have to kill Oromos to satisfy their masters’ orders. The mother of Hailu Ephrem, Mrs Tadelu Tamama, a mother from Dembidolo, Welega (Oromia region of Ethiopia) told VOA Afaan Oromo service radio “After the soldiers shot and killed my son in front of me “They told me to sit down on my dead son’s body”.
To continue with its crimes against humanity, the Ethiopian government extended the state of emergency for more four months until August 2017.
Due to this multi-phase reality of institutionalized violence and impunity in Ethiopia, the numbers of Oromos fleeing their homeland, (at least 100,000 per year) and trying to cross from neighboring countries into Europe are increasing from year to year. This has resulted in many drowning deaths in the Mediterranean and Gulf of Aden repeatedly.
Perpetuating Injustice Against the Oromo nation Under the Guise of Democracy
The Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO) is primarily accountable for the human miseries in Oromia in the past quarter century.
As history repeats itself behind the multi-generational reality of institutionalized acts of repression, killings, discrimination, and evictions from livelihoods committed against the Oromo nation, Oromo individuals and groups were/are the major role players collaborating with the invaders.
These Oromo groups who were created by non-Oromo political organization to collaborate with them are powerless and used simply as an instrument to harass supporters and members of independent political organizations, and nationals in Oromo community. The OPDO members repeatedly claim they are representing their people in one or another.
OPDO, the surrogate of the TPLF, claimed that it represented the Oromo nation from its first day of creation as a part of a multinational political organization, the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). However, in the past twenty-six years of federalism, the Oromo people have witnessed when the OPDO served the TPLF, acts of repression, torture and crime against the Oromo nationalists followed. In Oromia, the OPDO collaborated with TPLF securities to spy on the people.
The Federalist system in Ethiopia is a nominal designed system to influence the world community that Ethiopia is moving towards democracy and rule of law.
Both the Ethiopian Constitution of 1995 article 8 (1) and the Constitution of the Regional State of Oromia 1995 article 8 (a) declared simultaneously;
“ All sovereign power resides in the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia”,.
and “sovereign power in the Regional State of Oromia resides in the people of
Oromo Nation”
As the nations and nationalities in Ethiopia know, the nations and nationalities’ constitutional rights which have been enshirined in Federal and Regional States Constitutions were only meant for the political consumption for the Tigrian People Liberation Front (TPLF). In the past twenty- six years, all regional government and different department offices, including the regional administration head offices, have been controlled by the TPLF direct assigned members.
The OPDO, who are loudly voicing the sovereignty of their government under the guise of democracy, could not save the lives of thousands of Oromo from killings, abductions and forceful disappearances over the past twenty- six years.The domination of the TPLF in Oromia Regional state and their committing crimes against humanity in the Oromo nation in the past twenty six years could not make OPDO free from the atrocities committed in Oromia. The OPDO authorities have been collaborating with the TPLF security agents to assassinate Oromo nationalists, to dismantle Oromo independent political organizations, to disable Oromo independent institutions,and etc. OPDO officials from top to bottom in the past and present, Oromia members of parliament in the past and present are all primarily accountable for those who have been killed, disappeared, tortured, whose lands have been taken and whose families have been scattered – for all the miseries impacts the Oromo people have faced and are still facing.

Why EPRDF opted for a policy of Mutual self-annihilation on Addis Ababa? June 22, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #ABCDeebisaa, #OromoProtests.
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Why EPRDF opted for a policy of Mutual self-annihilation on Addis Ababa ?
        By Dr Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni, Morning Star, 20  June 2017

In a tragedy akin to the Treaty of Wichale of May 2, 1889, the Ethiopian federal government is repudiating the self-governance rights of the Oromo people of themselves and their territory by trying to separate Addis Ababa from Oromia.
This is very problematic and evil by design which will undermine social harmony and peaceful coexistence among Ethiopians, and maybe even might lead to Ethiopia’s disintegration as a nation.
The issue is very simple for every living human being to understand. If Oromo lands where other Ethiopian ethnic groups settle in large number and live are snatched and taken away from the Oromo people under the pretext of Oromos have become minority in their own city or land or Oromos cannot govern other Ethiopian ethnic groups (which comes only out of the heart of a group who has extreme hatred and disrespect for the Oromo people), then, why on Earth will the Oromos allow for other ethnic groups to come and live among them in the first place?
This malicious and evil policy driven by shortsighted land grab agenda by few will force the Oromo people to adopt xenophobic attitude or not to allow anymore for other Ethiopian ethnic groups to live anywhere among the Oromo people. That is natural human instinct particularly when it is clear that the policy is not to live together with the Oromo people but to slowly take Oromo people’s land by eliminating the Oromo.
This is not nuclear science. All Ethiopians who really care about Ethiopia and harmony among Ethiopians should just close their eyes for a minute and think about it. It is a nightmarish situation. I don’t understand why EPRDF is doing this against the Oromo people and the Ethiopian people unless the intention is something evil and sinister.
I strongly advise EPRDF and the Ethiopian government to immediately restore the status of Addis Ababa as one of the Oromia cities under Oromia jurisdiction, and decide upon the special interest of the federal government in Addis Ababa.
Imagine what will happen if the same situation is contemplated on Gonder, Bahir Dar, Mekele or Awassa? Will the Amhara or Tigray people sit idle?
How long could the EPRDF continue disrespecting the Oromo people and for what end?! If the EPRDF as a group thinks the Oromo people will not assert their rights in their own country and on their own land? Then, the EPRDF has little understanding of the Oromo people and the Ethiopian history! I don’t know why this policy of mutual self-destruction become a top priority for the EPRDF when there are many other policy options available to it?

Addis Ababa’s homeless of the night June 19, 2017

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In Ethiopia’s capital (and elsewhere in Ethiopia), homeless people are plentiful. Nobody really knows just how many Ethiopians spend most of their time on the streets, though the number of street children alone is well over 100,000. Wherever you go in Addis Ababa or in other towns in Ethiopia, you will never have any trouble at all finding an abundance of beggars, street children, even whole families, many spending their days and nights trying survive on the streets, and some begging or selling pitiful amounts of items by day and sleeping in what you can barely called homes at night.I lived in Ethiopia for four years, from 2012 to 2017. The brutal and oppressive regime shot thousands of peaceful protesters, and escalated control of it citizens by killing more protesters, torturing, jailing them, creating a state-of-emergency designed to stifle human rights more strictly, and sending tens of thousands of them to “education camps.”I left Ethiopia, reluctantly because I loved my job as a professor there, after I saw federal soldiers brutally beating unarmed peaceful students, and was almost shot myself by an out-of-control soldier who screamed at me as he was shaking and pointing his kalashnikov at me. When I criticized the brutality of the regime to my colleagues at Addis Ababa University, I was harassed and forced to resign. But that’s another story.Prior to that, every Sunday for many months in 2015 and 2016, I would get up early morning and deliver bread and candy to street-bound people in various areas of Addis Ababa. I got to know some of these homeless people almost as friends. Each one has a terribly tragic story to tell, often of neglect of their human rights. I will share some of these stories in future posts.

Source: Addis Ababa’s homeless of the night

Africa: Sidama Nation: TPLF fascist Ethiopia’s regime is destroying Sidama to erase its national identity for the first time in its history June 17, 2017

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Sidama: -TPLF is destroying Sidama to erase its national identity for the first time in its history

By Denboba Natie, June 2017


The unprecedented level of pain TPLF’s regime is inflicting on the Sidama nation is transcending sane imagination. TPLF’s actions against the Sidama nation defy belief simply because the nation – whose economy is potentially capable of enriching the entire South – is made beggar on its own soil. The degree of injustices to which the Sidama nation is subjected under this brutal regime is deeper, complex and multifaceted; only those who can see today’s Sidama situation beyond TPLF’s lies, deceits and rhetoric can understand. Unaddressed in time, the Sidama is at the verge of destruction. The society is left without representation at all levels: from the Sidama Zone to the pseudo-parliamentarians in Finfinne (also known as Addis Ababa). Sidama is the only nation, even in the Ethiopian standard, whose TPLF-picked cadres utter no word – from bottom to top – whilst working against their own people. For the last 4 or 5 years in particular, the Sidama intelligentsia, students, business community, peasants and the wider society at large have effectively been silenced by the unprecedented level of military presence in the Sidama land, and the 1-to-5 North Korean-style spying apparatuses and surveillance operating in Sidama. TPLF’s anti-Sidama mission is implemented through the nation’s worst enemy – Shiferaw Shigute (TPLF’s second-best advocate in the South of Ethiopia – following the current puppet Prime Minister Hailemairam Desalegn).

Therefore, as in Oromia, Ogadenia, Amhara, Konso, Gambella, Benshangul and the rest of Ethiopia (if not worst), an unprecedented level of anger and frustration is fermenting in the Sidama land although it is unclear when it is likely to explode to full scale. The fire of change is smoldering although it needs brave Sidama national leadership (within) – which can set it on, so that it won’t be extinguished by barbaric TPLF without totally burning it, for the seeds of freedom, liberty and democracy to be able to germinate and yield fruits.

Since its inception, TPLF’s criminally-stitched regime has been causing serious harm to the Sidama nation although this hasn’t been an exclusive practice. For example, TPLF has been causing such deliberately masterminded harms to the Oromo, Ogadenia, Gambella, Konso, Amhara and the rest of the peoples in the country. These nations and peoples of Ethiopia – including Sidama, have been continually brainwashed with lies and deceits, thus allowed themselves to be silently enslaved for the last 26 years, whilst bickering with one another on minor issues. Besides, the move of various nations since October 2015’s Oromo resistance is encouraging, although such resistances need commonality of purpose, unity, more focus, holistic and inclusive approach by accommodating differences, without agreeing until TPLF is removed from power.

In Sidama, in addition to the burden the entire nations and peoples of the country are sharing, the magnitude of harm TPLF has caused and is causing is multifaceted and different for various reasons. Despite Sidama being the fourth or at least fifth largest nation of the country with the population size of about 6 million, TPLF has denied Sidama of its constitutional rights to regional self-determination (although nominal) – a right which had been granted to 20,000 populated Harari. Tigray is not larger than Sidama in the size of its population and is much far less with economic contribution in 1991. Hundreds of Sidama civilians have been massacred, and tens of thousands have been unlawfully incarcerated for demanding the said rights. Equivalent to tens of billions of worth dollars budget have been withheld and denied to the Sidama nation as the nation is denied the said rights for the last 26 years. TPLF pockets all sums of money during these periods. Doing so makes the nation the most victimized nation in Ethiopia, given the size of its population and economic contribution. To the contrary, TPLF’s companies expropriating its resources in Sidama have become millionaires.

The continued denial of constitutionally guaranteed quest of the Sidama nation for regional self-determination has got significant ramifications. The nation can’t exist as a national entity without being in a position of formulating its own policies. Having regional autonomy – although nominal, enables Sidama to manage its own resources by setting its own priorities, economic, education, agricultural, more essentially cultural and local development policies, although these are all controlled by TPLF. For example, the Oromo nation has been equally brutalized by TPLF, besides, it has managed to develop its cultural aspects in the past 26 years which is a precursor of social consciousness. I’m proud of the Oromo nation in this aspect. This is the opposite in Sidama. The Sidama’s cultural heritages are rapidly eroding at an alarming rate. The symbol, even nominal, of regional autonomy, for the nation would mean huge as doing so helps the nation to continue as a national entity, albeit subjugation. Today, the Sidama nation is at the brink of losing itself in the utopian sea of TPLF masterminded confusion. If someone goes to Hawassa, the Sidama capital, people hardly see the signature of the nation. If one goes to Mekele, Gonder, Bahirdar or elsewhere in the contrary, it’s easy to see the signature of the host nation. In Sidama, however, only its displaced beggars symbolize its national demise.

The Sidama nation is denied these fundamental rights by successive rulers, although TPLF is the worst in facilitating the demise of the nation, faster than any person can imagine. Needless mentioning, to ascertain this argument, it’s worth looking at the fake Sidama history book facilitated by TPLF and written under the supervision of Sidama’s worst quisling, Shiferaw Shigute – and his likes. This is the sign of national disgrace.

I argue that TPLF’s denial of Sidama’s constitutionally guaranteed rights has got serious ramifications to the nation’s survival as a national entity; if it’s left unaddressed. I further argue that, I can justify that, since TPLF assumed power in 1991, it has threatened the survival of Sidama as a national entity for the first time since the creation of the Ethiopian state in today’s form in the late 1880s. This must be crystal clear to both friends and foes. Moreover, those who’re busying themselves to implement TPLF’s anti-Sidama policies in the Sidama land must unambiguously know the level of damage they are causing to the survival of the nation. This is a historical error; inexcusable and unforgettable mistake inevitably costs the culprits dearly when the right time comes, sooner or later.

TPLF uses various methods to dehumanize the nation whilst expropriating its resources. By this regime – more than all its predecessors, the Sidama is belittled, denigrated, massacred, continually silenced, displaced and made destitute. The nation is told and retold that it is incapable of managing its own affairs unless being dictated by the invading TPLF and its handpicked messengers, such as the aforementioned quisling. Sidama’s sons and daughters are kept at bay whilst their resources taken away in front of their eyes for the last 26 years. All Sidama environs surrounding Hawassa have been taken by TPLF’s business empire by leaving tens of thousands of Sidama peasants penniless and destitute. As indicated above, if the generation is silenced, subjugated, impoverished and kept at bay, the survival of Sidama – as a national entity – will not only be compromised, but also seriously at the risk of destruction. This is a wake-up call for the Sidama nation.

Moreover, TPLF’s denial of the Sidama nation of their constitutional rights to the nominal regional self-governance adversely affected not only Sidama, but also the wider 56 various southern nations and peoples of Ethiopia – which are amalgamated into a pressure-cooker known as the Southern Ethiopia Nations and Peoples Regional State (SNNPR) to be collectively enslaved. These diverse nations and peoples were previously five regions in which the Sidama was one of. This pressure-cooker has been created by the late TPLF’s PM Meles Zenawi in 1994/5, after totally merging the previously five distinct regions. Ever since, Sidama has been crippled in several ways without a single person from Sidama Zone at the federal level uttering a single word on behalf of the nation.

To make the situation worst, the injustice imposed on the Sidama nation has become severe since the May 24, 2002 Sidama massacre in Looqqe village (outskirt of the Sidama capital, Hawassa), where the regime’s army and security forces have summarily executed over 69 confirmed Sidama peaceful and unarmed civilian demonstrators – who were demanding TPLF to respect the Sidama nation’s rights to regional self-determination.

In its heyday after assuming power in 1991 by toppling its authoritarian predecessor, Derg’s regime, TPLF appeared to be serious about defending the rights of historically subjugated nations of the political South, including the Oromo. Besides, its subterfuge became clear when it systematically denied nations’ constitutionally guaranteed rights, few years after its grip on power. Unarmed civilians, in all parts of the country, have become the subjects of ongoing brutalities of unprecedented scales – including massacres, mass incarcerations, tortures and disappearances. Millions have been obliged to flee their country due to TPLF’s brutality and deliberately caused poverty.

In the actions only comparable with Europe’s Scramble for Africa, TPLF remains busying itself with the expropriation of the resources of the entire country with varying degrees. It has also gone beyond the expropriation of resources. For example, it has removed previously existing equipment from various hospitals, such as Tikur Anbassa Hospital, during its first year in power. From Tikur Anbassa – for instance, it has removed the Swiss-donated giant auto-sterilizer – which was used for an operation theater – and had taken it to a hospital in Mekele, Tigray. Various army facilities, construction and public transport sites – from where it has ransacked buses, lorries and automobiles and tens of thousands of military vehicles to take all to Tigray, in addition to exclusively monopolizing the entire economy, military and politics of the country ever since it came to power in 1991.

Not only brutalizing the dissents and expropriating the resources of the country, but also, time and again, it has shown its unpreparedness for a pluralist political system in a multi-ethnic and multi-national Ethiopia. TPLF has continually ignored this workable politico-economic system, totally disregarding its own paper-tiger ethnic-based federalism advocating constitution. TPLF dictates its lifeless constitution which theoretically grants universally recognized rights to the stakeholders without recognizing it.

Cognizant of its ramification as the older colonial rulers of the world, as indicated above, whilst expropriating their wealth, TPLF is working hard and is tirelessly working to erode the national identity of the Sidama nation. It mercilessly murders those Sidama civilians who dare demanding their rights as it has been the case during the Sidama Looqqe massacre of May 24, 2002. This is also the case in Oromia, Ogadenia, Konso, Amhara, Gambella, Benshangul … and elsewhere in the country.

Ironically, the Sidama traitors are blinded of the truth. They hardly see the world outside the lenses TPLF has given them. They worship TPLF as their personal god and believe that TPLF is omnipotent. They hardly breath a single word even under their own roof, with erroneous belief that, TPLF knows everything they do 24/7. Therefore, puppet PM Hailemariam Desalegn had once publicly venerated the late evil TPLF’s PM Meles Zenawi by praising him like God. They agree to the genocide the regime continually commits on the nations and peoples of Ethiopia with varying degrees. They agree to the displacements of the Sidama nation from their ancestral lands to vacate it for TPLF’s companies. The Sidama cadres are molded to believe that it is absolutely right for TPLF’s security and army forces to do whatever barbarism, incarceration and tortures of unarmed civilians to steal Sidama’s land in the name of ‘development’; they think nothing otherwise.

Furthermore, in the Sidama Zone, even the cadres are handled differently because the Sidama is an epicenter of the battle for TPLF’s survival in the South of Ethiopia, simply because TPLF has got no mass base in the entire country apart from the South through two historical failures, namely Hailemariam Desalegn and Shiferaw Shigute – in addition to Kassu Ilala and handful other South Ethiopia’s quislings. TPLF uses and throws when the surrogates fail to do their job – it replaces them with other quislings under their tacit belief that ‘this is not good enough to brainwash Sidama.’ The nation is heading towards its demise.

Finally, the Sidama nation – as the rest of the peoples of Ethiopia, including its cousin (Oromo) – has been subjected to ongoing tragedy. Traditionally gallant, the nation has been denied of its dignity and self-pride by TPLF. The nation is humiliated time and again, and is being groomed to lose its direction to become visionless. The nation is coerced by TPLF’s Sidama surrogates to think and believe that TPLF has got godly power, thus the nation must shut up and follow their orders without questioning it. Sidama quislings are stage-managing TPLF’s anti-Sidama policy in the Sidama land with all possible means, including intimidating, massacring, silencing and impoverishing their own people.

Sidama’s new generation is misguided, has become hopeless – thus it has been obliged to scavenge over the leftovers of TPLF – instead of fighting for its legitimate rights whilst its wealth enriches TPLF’s bandits. The families of Sidama youth – who have sent their children to universities by selling their precious assets – are obliged to helplessly see their returnee graduate children sitting idle without aspirations, hopes and dreams. Sidama’s development activities, which were supported by foreign aid – have been dismantled by the order of TPLF’s late PM and the remaining few serve political purposes of the regime and its cadres. The Sidama land has become a battleground which the TPLF rulers scramble over while its over 6-million legitimate owners are silently driven into nonexistence with deprivation. The Sidama land has become hell for its owners whilst TPLF entirely controls its abundant economy, political and related affairs.

For how long will the Sidama remain silent? For how long will the nation tolerate slavery? For how long will the nation put up with its worst quislings who are stage-managing its suffering? For how long will the nation remain belittled and deceived? For how long will, the historically gallant Sidama nation, remain subservient to the brutal TPLF’s rule? For how long will its wealth enrich TPLF whilst its sons and daughters are surviving on a single meal a day? For how long will the nation allow its lands to be freely confiscated by TPLF’s apparatuses leaving Sidama peasants beggars on their own soil? Uncustomary fear or silence Sidama nation?

Dying defending own rights and land is privilege and much more dignified than dying under slavery in silence whilst nation’s survival is at stake!

The Sidama Nation, Wake up!

* Denboba Natie can be reached at denbobanatie@yahoo.co.uk

 


 

 

Defend the Oppressed Peoples in Ethiopia June 15, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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Why this is important

CLICK HERE PLEASE SIGN ON TO STOP THE ATROCITIES AND GENOCIDE COMMITTED BY THE ETHIOPIAN STATE

LAND GRABBING IN ETHIOPIA & ABYSSINIA MUST STOP

WATCH !

The International Criminal Court (ICCt) announced on 15 September 2016 it will now hold corporate executives and governments legally responsible for environmental crimes. The court’s new focus on land grabbing and environmental destruction could help put a dent in corporate and governmentalimpunity. Politicians and corporate bosses who are chasing communities off their land and trashing the environment will find themselves standing trial in the Hague alongside war criminals and dictators. However, far‐sighted covers by USAmerican corporate investors through corporate fronts from e.g. India restrict the ICCt, since neither the USA nor India ‐ as other rogue states like Sudan or Israel ‐ are parties to the Rome Statute of the ICCt.
https://www.icc‐cpi.int/itemsDocuments/20160915_OTP‐Policy_Case‐Selection_Eng.pdf

Latest Updates:

01. Dec. 2016: 
Ethiopian forces from the command post of Ethiopia’s sweeping State Of Emergency command post detained leading Oromo ethnic group and government opposition figure Prof. Dr. Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), upon his arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport after returning from Brussels, where he testified at the EU parliament on the current situation in Ethiopia alongside with Prof. Berhanu Nega of Patriotic Ginbot 7 (G7), an armed freedom fighter group, and Rio Olympics marathon silver medallist ‐ athlete Feyisa Lellisa. Also four relatives of Prof. Merera were detained.

23. Nov. 2016:
Oromo asylum seeker and UNHCR registered refugee Yaazoo Kabbabaa ‐ the prominent leader of ‘Qeerro‘ (The Oromo youth group who is leading the protests in Ethiopia) ‐ was attacked in Cairo during the evening while he was returning home from visiting friends, by people described as Ethiopian state agents following him. During the incident Mr. Kabbabaa was injected in the neck with a toxic substance. Luckily he was rescued and brought to a hospital, where he regained consciousness in the meantime. It is, however, not yet clear if he will remain paralyzed. His medical bills are being covered by a campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/yaazoo‐kabbabaas‐medical‐fund . Please chip in! Ethiopian dissidents who fled the country live in constant fear from agents sent by the Addis regime after them.

* 14. Nov. 2016:
Oromo Leadership Convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, November 11 ‐ 13
Oromo United and Steadfast to Continue Revolution Against TPLF Regime
http://www.oromorevolution.com/s/Press‐Release‐English.pdf

* 20. Oct. 2016:
As we predicted: The brutal regime felt empowered by Merkel’s visit and the promised millions of Euro for “police training” and “to try to quell the unrest”. In just the one week after her ill‐conceived visit almost 3,000 Oromo women and men were rounded up in different locations and thrown in jail. Reportedly Ethiopian agents were sent to neighbouring countries to hunt down dissidents. Ethiopian authorities admitted to Reuters on Thursday they had detained 1,645 people.

* 15. Oct. 2016: The Dictatorial Regime proclaims STATE OF EMERGENCY http://hornaffairs.com/en/2016/10/19/ethiopia‐directive‐execution‐state‐emergencyfull‐text/

* 11. Oct. 2016: German Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababawhere she was welcomed by the PM of the corrupt regime with military honours. Amid protests in Germany against the insensitive visit, Merkel offered millions of Euro in bilateral agreements, to train the police and mediation to try and quell the rising unrest in Ethiopia. Just two days prior to Merkel’s visit, the Ethiopian regime declared a six‐month state of emergency in order to undertake even more brutal measures to suppress popular protests.

* 02. Oct. 2016: 
At least 52 people directly killed by police action against protesters during Oromia religious festival of Irreechaa, the Oromo Thanksgiving, in Bishooftuu. Others died in the ensuing stampede. 175 dead bodies have been loaded and taken to Addis Ababa according to a police source. That’s in addition to over 120 at Bishoftu hospital. ECOTERRA Intl., Human Rights Watch and the UN called for an independent investigation.

* 01. Oct. 2016: ECOTERRA Intl. demands the immediate and unconditional release of illegally arrested Ethiopian scientist and blogger Seyoum Teshome. Police arrested the prominent writer and commentator Teshome today, who writes for http://www.Ethiothinkthank.com and lectures at Ambo University.

* 16. June 2016: Ethiopian security forces killed at least 500 people in the recent wave of anti‐government demonstrations, US‐based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says in its most comprehensive report into the Oromo protests.
https://tinyurl.com/j7nanmr
Even government officials admitted that over 170 Oromo protesters were killed.

Meanwhile the atrocities against the Mursi and other aboriginal nations of Ethiopia continue unabated.

Foreign investments through the present Ethiopian governance are unethical and taxpayers all over the world must ensure that their governments, who are state‐sponsors or donors to the Ethiopian governance, stop immediately any support until these crimes against humanity end.

Land Grabbing is the purchase and lease of vast tracts of land from poor, developing countries by wealthier nations and international private investors. It has led to unprecedented misery especially in Africa, South‐America and India.African Food Security is in jeopardy and lands half the size of Europe have already been grabbed.

The Ethiopian government has forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of indigenous people from their ancestral lands. It has rendered formerly sustainably living small‐scale farmers and pastoral communities dependent on food aid, which is paid for by the taxpayers and well‐wishers from donor countries, while the profits of these industrial agriculture‐, oil‐ and gas‐ventures go into the pockets of private investors and corrupt officials.

THIS MUST STOP

The recently enacted Kampala Convention ‐ an Africa‐wide treaty and the world’s first that protects people displaced within their own countries by violence, natural disasters or large‐scale development projects ‐ is violated blatantly and with impunity by Ethiopia.

PLEASE SIGN ON
URGE THE AFRICAN UNION AND THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNANCE TO STOP THE ETHIOPIAN ATROCITIES AND GENOCIDE

The African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa must be enforced!

Read more:
Indian investors are forcing Ethiopians off their land
By John Vidal (TheGuardian)

Thousands of Ethiopians are being relocated or have already fled as their land is sold off to foreign investors without their consent

Ethiopia’s leasing of 600,000 hectares (1.5m acres) of prime farmland to Indian companies has led to intimidation, repression, detentions, rapes, beatings, environmental destruction, and the imprisonment of journalists and political objectors, according to a new report.

Research by the US‐based Oakland Institute suggests many thousands of Ethiopians are in the process of being relocated or have fled to neighbouring countries after their traditional land has been handed to foreign investors without their consent. The situation is likely to deteriorate further as companies start to gear up their operations and the government pursues plans to lease as much as 15% of the land in some regions, says Oakland.

In a flurry of new reports about global “land grabbing” this week, Oxfam said on Thursday that investors were deliberately targeting the weakest‐governed countries to buy cheap land. The 23 least‐developed countries of the world account for more than half the thousands of recorded deals completed between 2000 and 2011, it said. Deals involving approximately 200m ha of land are believed to have been negotiated, mostly to the advantage of speculators and often to the detriment of communities, in the past few years.

In what is thought to be one of the first “south‐south” demonstrations of concern over land deals, this week Ethiopian activists came to Delhi to urge Indian investors and corporations to stop buying land and to actively prevent human rights abuses being committed by the Ethiopian authorities.

“The Indian government and corporations cannot hide behind the Ethiopian government, which is clearly in violation of human rights laws,” said Anuradha Mittal, director of the Oakland Institute. “Foreign investors must conduct impact assessments to avoid the adverse impacts of their activities.”

Ethiopian activists based in UK and Canada warned Indian investors that their money was at risk. “Foreign investors cannot close their eyes. When people are pushed to the edge they will fight back. No group knows this better than the Indians”, said Obang Metho, head of grassroots social justice movement Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), which claims 130,000 supporters in Ethiopia and elsewhere.

Speaking in Delhi, Metho said: “Working with African dictators who are stealing from the people is risky, unsustainable and wrong. We welcome Indian investment but not [this] daylight robbery. These companies should be accountable under Indian law.”

Nyikaw Ochalla, director of the London‐based Anywaa Survival Organisation, said: “People are being turned into day labourers doing backbreaking work while living in extreme poverty. The government’s plans … depend on tactics of displacement, increased food insecurity, destitution and destruction of the environment.”

Ochall, who said he was in daily direct contact with communities affected by “land grabbing” across Ethiopia, said the relocations would only add to hunger and conflict.

“Communities that have survived by fishing and moving to higher ground to grow maize are being relocated and say they are now becoming dependent on government for food aid. They are saying they will never leave and that the government will have to kill them. I call on the Indian authorities and the public to stop this pillage.”

Karuturi Global, the Indian farm conglomerate and one of the world’s largest rose growers, which has leased 350,000 ha in Gambella province to grow palm oil, cereals maize and biofuel crops for under $1.10 per hectare per year, declined to comment. A spokesman said: “This has nothing to do with us.”

Ethiopia has leased an area the size of France to foreign investors since 2008. Of this, 600,000 ha has been handed on 99‐year leases to 10 large Indian companies. Many smaller companies are believed to have also taken long leases. Indian companies are said to be investing about $5bn in Ethiopian farmland, but little is expected to benefit Ethiopia directly. According to Oakland, the companies have been handed generous tax breaks and incentives as well as some of the cheapest land in the world.

The Ethiopian government defended its policies. “Ethiopia needs to develop to fight poverty, increase food supplies and improve livelihoods and is doing so in a sustainable way,” said a spokeswoman for the government in London. She pointed out that 45% of Ethiopia’s 1.14m sq km of land is arable and only 15% is in use.

The phenomenon of Indian companies “grabbing” land in Africa is an extension of what has happened in the last 30 years in India itself, said Ashish Kothari, author of a new book on the growing reach of Indian businesses.

“In recent years the country has seen a massive transfer of land and natural resources from the rural poor to the wealthy. Around 60 million people have been displaced in India by large scale industrial developments. Around 40% of the people affected have been indigenous peoples,” he said.

These include dams, mines, tourist developments, ports, steel plants and massive irrigation schemes.

According to Oakland, the Ethiopian “land rush” is part of a global phenomenon that has seen around 200m ha of land leased or sold to foreign investors in the past three years.

The sales in Africa, Latin America and Asia have been led by farm conglomerates, but are backed by western hedge and pension funds, speculators and universities. Many Middle East governments have backed them with loans and guarantees.

Barbara Stocking, the chief executive of Oxfam, which is holding a day of action against land grabs on Thursday, called on the World Bank to temporarily freeze all land investments in large scale agriculture to ensure its policies did not encourage land grabs.

“Poor governance allows investors to secure land quickly and cheaply for profit. Investors seem to be cherry‐picking countries with weak rules and regulations because they are easy targets. This can spell disaster for communities if these deals result in their homes and livelihoods being grabbed.”
While DFID, GIZ etc. failed and fail to act on Human Rights violations ‐ see also: http://www.anywaasurvival.org

‐ and please note that many believe the Indian companies act simply as straw‐men for USAmerican land‐grabbing interests Incl. AGRA and Monsanto), who are competing now with similar Chinese interests in Africa.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

In the harsh Ogaden region of Eastern Ethiopia, impoverished ethnic people are being murdered and tortured, raped, persecuted and displaced by government paramilitary forces. Illegal actions carried out with the knowledge and tacit support of donor countries, seemingly content to turn a blind eye to war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by their brutal, repressive ally in the region; and a deaf ear to the pain and suffering of the Ogaden Somali people.

read: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/08/ethiopian‐annihilation‐of‐the‐ogaden‐people/

Meanwhile the Ethiopian GIBE III dam project is devastating the lives of remote southern Ethiopian ethnicities. Pastoralists living in the Omo valley are being forcibly relocated, imprisoned and killed due to the ongoing building of a massive dam that shall turn the region into a major centre for commercial farming ‐ mostly by foreign ventures. War is in the making.

see also: http://www.genocidewatch.org/ethiopia.html

Since mid‐November 2015, large‐scale protests have again swept through Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region, and the response from security forces has again been brutal. They have killed countless students and farmers, and arrested opposition politicians and countless others.

Since then Ethiopia has been shaken by a global wave of anti‐government protests over the controversial “Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master Plan” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oromia_Special_Zone_Surrounding_Finfinne , which is just another form of grabbing land from the Oromo people. The regime had insisted on escalating its violations of human rights through the implementation of this very dangerous policy of land grabbing in Oromia. While the Oromo people were peacefully protesting against the unfair land use policy at least over 180 innocent Oromo civilians were killed in the three months from mid November 2015 to mid January 2016.
After two months of global protests, the Ethiopian government finally announced the cancellation of this development plan https://www.oromiamedia.org/tag/finfinne‐master‐plan/ for Addis Ababa (Finfinne) http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/IPeoples/WG/IGFM1‐oromo‐4b.doc and its expansion into neighbouring Oromia state. But the problem hasn’t gone away.

In violation of the EU resolution and despite international pressure, reports are confirming now that the regime’s loyal armed forces continue to attack the civilian population in many parts of Oromia. Though these violations of civil rights during the process of land grabbing have reached a new climax, the capacity of human rights organizations to access data of extra‐judicial killings and disappearances in the region is at an unprecedented low.

There is a war of ethnic cleansing officially declared against the Oromo people and implemented across Oromia. Though it has been difficult even to keep up with reports of the death toll some confirmed records are now showing that more than 400 civilians have been killed as of 19. February 2016. 

This rein of state terror must end!

‐ see also the previous HRW report https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/01/22/ethiopias‐invisible‐crisis

On January 12, 2016 the Ethiopian government announced it was cancelling the master plan, but that hasn’t stopped the protests and the resultant crackdown. Although the protest was initially about the potential for displacement, it has become about so much more. Despite being the biggest ethnic group in Ethiopia, the Oromos have often felt marginalized by successive governments and feel unable to voice their concerns over injust government policy. Oromos who express dissent are often arrested and tortured or otherwise mistreated in detention, accused of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a group that has long been mostly inactive and that the government designated a terrorist organization. The government is doing all it can to make sure that the news of these protests doesn’t circulate within the country or reach the rest of the world. Of recent the Ethiopian Government has even resorted to use their Cyber‐crime Act to treat bloggers as terrorists. Ethiopia’s allies, including governments in the region and the African Union, have largely stood by as Ethiopia has steadily strangled the ability of ordinary Ethiopians to access information and peacefully express their views, whether in print or in public demonstrations. But they should be worried about what is happening in Oromia right now, as Ethiopia — Africa’s second most‐populous country and a key security ally of the US — grapples with this escalating crisis.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

Sons and Daughters
By Maya Angelou

If my luck is bad 
And his aim is straight 
I will leave my life 
On the killing field 
You can see me die 
On the nightly news 
As you settle down 
To your evening meal.

But you’ll turn your back 
As you often do 
Yet I am your sons 
And your daughters too. 

In the city streets 
Where the neon lights 
Turn my skin from black 
To electric blue 
My hope soaks red 
On the pavement’s 
gray 
And my dreams die hard 
For my life is through. 

But you’ll turn your back 
As you often do 
Yet I am your sons 
And your daughters too. 

In the little towns 
Of this mighty land 
Where you close your eyes 
To my crying need 
I strike out wild 
And my brother falls 
Turn on your news 
You can watch us bleed.

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

ECOTERRA Intl.
SURVIVAL & FREEDOM for PEOPLE & NATURE
join the phalanx directly: africanode[at]ecoterra.net
fPcN ‐ interCultural (friends of Peoples close to Nature) e‐mail: collective[at]fpcn‐global.org


Indexing Ethiopia June 14, 2017

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Indexing Ethiopia

Last week, Vision of Humanity issued its 2017 Global Peace Index (GPI).  Its report on Ethiopia is certainly the most distressing though unequivocal, straightforward and clear-cut. The state of peace worsened in Ethiopia more than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa, and arguably the rest of the world.

For someone who is completing his second decade of unrelenting and unwavering struggle for human rights and peaceful change in Ethiopia, the GPI report is heartbreaking and mournful.

Reading between the lines is my profession. When I read the words “the state of peace has worsened in Ethiopia more than any other country”, I know what exactly what that means. I know what the opposite of the absence of civil peace is. When the state of civil peace in Ethiopia is in such dire and grave peril, the unthinkable becomes more real by the day.

I want to think only about civil peace in Ethiopia. Nothing else. I dream of peace and brotherhood and sisterhood among the diverse people of Ethiopia. Peace with equality and justice for all. Peace and understanding without force. Peace offerings among all people of Ethiopia. Peaceful resistance.

I dream of a peaceful Ethiopia where everyone greets each other with “Salam” and “Shalom. I believe all humanity “must turn from evil and do good [and] seek peace and pursue it”, for the “Blessed are the peacemakers.”

I don’t like George Orwell’s 1984 declaration, “War is peace.”

I much prefer Jimi Hendrix’s formulation from the days of my youth, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

I believe when the power of love overcomes the love of power, Ethiopia will know peace.

In this commentary, I review the latest findings of the various indices on Ethiopia. Peace is a many-splendoured thing.

What do the “Indices” have to say about Ethiopia?

Is there hope for peaceful change in Ethiopia?

Global Peace Index 2017

Last week, Vision of Humanity issued its 2017 Global Peace Index  (GPI). Ethiopia was #1 on the list of “Top Five Fallers”, followed by Burundi, Saudi Arabia, Mali and Lesotho.

GPI provides “a comprehensive analysis of the state of peace in the world”.

GPI reports the “world slightly improved in peace last year” but the “score for sub-Saharan Africa was influenced by deteriorations in various countries—notably Ethiopia, which worsened more than any other country, reflecting a state of emergency imposed in October 2016 following violent demonstrations.” (Emphasis added.)

Simply stated, the state of peace is in its most precarious and risky state in Ethiopia.

I have been warning for some time that the black apartheid system set up by the Thugtatorship of the Tigrean People’s Party (T-TPLF) has set Ethiopia on a trajectory to civil war. (That is the 600-pound gorilla in the room few dare to talk about openly.) That is why the GPI report is so worrisome and painful to me. It gnaws at my own deep concerns and anxieties about the current state of peace in Ethiopia.

In my December 2016 commentary, I bluntly asked, “Is Ethiopia going in the direction of a civil war?”

In my April 9 commentary, I warned that unlike the masters of apartheid in South Africa who made peace in the nick of time, time to make peace in Ethiopia is running out fast for the T-TPLF.

In my commentary in The Hill last month, I urged passage of the pending human rights bill in the U.S. Congress because “Ethiopia is at a tipping point” now. It is clear what the tipping point is. It is that point of no return.

Failed (Fragile) States Index 2017

Ethiopia is ranked 15th failed state out of  178 on the Failed States Index (FSI) and is rated as “High Alert”. It is #1 on the list of “Most Worsened Country in 2017” in terms of “susceptibility to instability”  and “fractionalization and group grievance”.

The FSI is “an assessment of 178 countries based on twelve social, economic, and political indicators that quantify pressures experienced by countries, and thus their susceptibility to instability.”

The FSI devotes a full chapter focusing on Ethiopia (at p. 13) and concludes, “Ethiopia’s overall Fragile States Index (FSI) score has been incrementally worsening over the past decade, moving from 95.3 in 2007, to a score of 101.1 in this year’s 2017 index, with Ethiopia — along with Mexico — being the most worsened country over the past year.”

The FSI points out that, “Tigray elites are perceived to still hold significant political power within the essentially one -party state. Military leadership has also been dominated by Tigrayans, which makes perceptions of Tigray influence within the state apparatus all the more unpalatable to populations that feel increasingly excluded.”

Corruption Perception Index 2016 and Global Financial Integrity

Ethiopia is ranked 108 out of 176 countries on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

The CPI ranks countries “by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.”  The CPI generally defines corruption as “the misuse of public power for private benefit.”

According to CPI, Ethiopia “is among the top ten African countries by cumulative illicit financial flows related to trade mispricing. This amount may be much higher if funds from corruption and other criminal activities are considered.”

According to Global Financial Integrity (GFI)  “illicit financial flows out of Ethiopia nearly doubled to US$3.26 Billion in 2009 over the previous year, with corruption, kickbacks and bribery accounting for the vast majority of that increase.” GFI reported, “Ethiopia  lost US$11.7 billion to illicit financial outflows between 2000 and 2009.”

U.N. Human Development Index 2017

Ethiopia ranks 174 out of 188 countries on the U.N. Human Development Index (HDI).

The adult literacy rate in Ethiopia is 49.1 percent.  Government expenditure on education (as % of GDP) is 4.5. Expected years of schooling (years) is 8.4. The population with at least some secondary education (% aged 25 and older) is 15.8. The pupil-teacher ratio, primary school (number of pupils per teacher) is 64. The primary school dropout rate (% of primary school cohort) is a mind-boggling 63.4.

The HDI is a “measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living.”

Economist Democracy Index 2017

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index  (DI) scores 167 countries on a scale of 0 to 10 based on 60 indicators. The indicators are grouped into five different categories measuring pluralism, civil liberties, and political culture.

Ethiopia scores 3.73 on the D.I. and is classified as “authoritarian”.

According to DI, the authoritarian “nations are often absolute dictatorships” with “some conventional institutions of democracy”. Ethiopia scores at the bottom because  “infringements and abuses of civil liberties are commonplace, elections- if they take place- are not fair and free, the media is often state-owned or controlled by groups associated with the ruling regime, the judiciary is not independent, and there is omnipresent censorship and suppression of governmental criticism.”

The T-TPLF is an absolute dictatorship which clings to power by an emergency decree.

Economic Freedom of the World Index (EFI) 2016

Ethiopia is classified as “Least Free” on the EFI with a score of 5.60 out of 10. Ethiopia ranked 145 out of 159 countries.

Economic freedom is defined as “(1) personal choice, (2) voluntary exchange coordinated by markets, (3) freedom to enter and compete in markets, and (4) protection of persons and their property from aggression by others.”

To earn high ratings on the EFI, among other things,  “a country must provide secure protection of privately owned property, a legal system that treats all equally, even-handed enforcement of contracts, and a stable monetary environment.”

Ethiopia was classified as Least Free on the DI because Ethiopians have little economic freedom when they acquire property. They are often subjected to the use of force, fraud, or theft in property acquisitions and there is little protection from physical invasions by others.

Countries that enjoy high levels of economic freedom manifest “higher average income per person, higher income of the poorest 10%, higher life expectancy, higher literacy, lower infant mortality, higher access to water sources and less corruption.” Because Ethiopia has low levels of economic freedom, it scores very low on measures of literacy, life expectancy and infant mortality. 

Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index 2016 (BSI)

Ethiopia is in the rump of the Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index (BTI).

On “Political Transformation”,  Ethiopia scored 3.23 (113 out of 129 countries). On “Economic Transformation” Ethiopia scored 3.86 (109 out of 129 countries) followed by 3.48 on the “management index” (108 out of 129).

The BTI analyzes and evaluates the quality of democracy, viability of market economy and political management in 129 developing and transition countries. It “measures successes and setbacks on the path toward a democracy based on the rule of law and a socially responsible market economy.”

The BTI’s detailed and extraordinarily revealing report calls Ethiopia a “façade democracy” and makes certain keen observations:

Ethiopia ‘remains one of Africa’s poorest countries, with a third of the population still living below the poverty line, and its regime is one of the continent’s most authoritarian in character. Between five and seven million people require emergency (donor) food aid throughout the year.’

Ethiopia ‘continues to be categorized as an authoritarian state, a category it shares with neighboring states including Eritrea and Sudan.’

Official results show that the governing-party coalition under the leadership of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) secured a 99% majority in the 2010 polls.

The increased incidence of government land-grabbing activities – the lease of land previously used by smallholders and pastoralists to foreign investment and agrobusiness companies – has prompted heavy unrest in Gambela, in Oromo and other regions. In the western Gambela region, as many as 70,000 people have been forced to move as a result. Women’s rights are protected by legislation, but are routinely violated in practice.

The national parliament (in which the opposition parties held just a single seat during the period under review) is regarded as a rubber-stamp institution, without any influence on decision-making processes within the EPRDF, the sole ruling party for 24 years.

The government maintains a network of paid informants, and opposition politicians have accused the government of tapping their telephones. It is therefore unrealistic to expect that elected parliamentarians can freely and fairly participate in law-making.

Ethiopia does not have an independent judiciary with the ability and autonomy to interpret, monitor and review existing laws, legislation and policies. Access to fair and timely justice for citizens, at least as conventionally defined by legal experts, cannot be said to exist. In general, there are no judges able to render decisions free from the influence of the main political-party leaders, despite these jurists’ professionalism and sincerity. The independence of the judiciary, formally guaranteed by the constitution, is significantly impaired by political authorities and the high levels of corruption. High-level judges are usually appointed or approved by the government.  The judiciary functions in ways that usually support the political stances and policies of the government. Pro-government bias is evident in political and media-freedom cases, as well as in business disputes.

Officeholders who break the law and engage in corruption are generally not adequately prosecuted, especially when they belong to the ruling party (EPRDF). In some cases, “disloyal” civil servants are subject to legal action. Corruption remains a significant problem in Ethiopia due to the lack of checks and balances in the governing system. EPRDF officials reportedly receive preferential access to credit, land leases and jobs.

Although the political system consists formally of an elected parliament based on (unfair) competition between several parties, Ethiopia must be regarded as a “facade democracy.” The legally elected institutions are in fact part of an authoritarian system that does not offer citizens a free choice between competing political parties. Since 2005, the government has harassed and imprisoned political opponents, journalists and members of the Muslim population.

Freedom in the World Index 2017 (FWI)

In the Freedom in the World Index,  Ethiopia received an aggregate score of 12/100 (0=least free; 100=most free).

On “Freedom”, Ethiopia was rated 6.5/7; and on “Civil “Liberties” 6/7 (1=most free; 7=least free)

Freedom in the World is an annual survey “that measures the degree of civil liberties and political rights in every nation and significant related and disputed territories around the world.”

Multidimensional Poverty Index 2016 (MPI)

Ethiopia ranks 174 out of 185 countries on the MPI.

MPI defines poverty not only by income but a variety of other  “factors that constitute poor people’s experience of deprivation – such as poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standard, lack of income (as one of several factors considered), disempowerment, poor quality of work and threat from violence.”

According to MPI, life expectancy in Ethiopia is 64.6 years. The expected years of schooling is reported at 8.4 years.

Ethiopia has a Geni coefficient of 33.2.

The Gini coefficient is a measure of inequality in society. (A Gini coefficient of zero expresses perfect equality, e.g. where everyone has the same income; and a Gini coefficient of 1 (or 100%) expresses maximal inequality among values).

On the gender development index, Ethiopia scores 0.842 and ranks  174/185.

The Ethiopian population living below the poverty line ($1.90 per day) was reported at 35.3% for 2005-2014.

The Ethiopian “population in severe multidimensional poverty” is a staggering 67%.

Freedom on the Net Index 2016 (FNI)

On the Freedom on the Net Index, Ethiopia’s overall score is 83/100 (0=most free; 100= least free).

Ethiopia is one of the least connected countries in the world with an internet penetration rate of only 12 percent, according to 2015 data from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

FNI reported, “A handful of signal stations service the entire country, resulting in network congestion and frequent disconnection.  In a typical small town, individuals often hike to the top of the nearest hill to find a mobile phone signal.”

On obstacles to internet access, Ethiopia received a score of 23/25; limits on content 28/35 and violations of users rights 32/40.

Freedom House which publishes the FNI “assesses each country’s degree of political freedoms and civil liberties, monitor censorship, intimidation and violence against journalists, and public access to information.”

FNI noted, “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.”

FNI reported that “authorities frequently shutdown local and national internet and mobile phone networks and social media to prevent citizens from communicating about the protests.  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.”

Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2017 (RWBI)

Ethiopia ranked 150/180 with a score 50.34 on the RWBI.

The RWBI is based on a survey conducted by Reporters Without Borders covering issues of  “freedom, pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, infrastructure,  penalties for press offences, existence of a state monopoly and other related factors.”

The RWBI reports that the regime in Ethiopia uses “terrorism charges to systematically silence the media.” Journalists are sentenced to long prison terms and the “anti-terrorism law” has been used to “hold journalists without trial for extended periods.” According to the RWBI, “there has been little improvement since the purges that led to the closure of six newspapers in 2014 and drove around 30 journalists into exile. Indeed, the state of emergency proclaimed in 2016 goes so far as to ban Ethiopians from looking at certain media outlets. Additionally, the Internet and social networks were often disconnected in 2016. Physical and verbal threats, arbitrary trials, and convictions are all used to silence the media.”

Freedom House Freedom of the Press 2017 (PHFP)

Ethiopia received a total score of  86/100 (0=Most Free, 100=Least Free) on the PHFP.

On the “legal environment” of the press, the score was 29/30. On “political environment”, the score was 38/40.

PHFP reported,

Ethiopia was the second-worst jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia’s media environment is one of the most restrictive in sub-Saharan Africa. The government of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn continues to use the country’s harsh antiterrorism law and other legal measures to silence critical journalists and bloggers. As of December 2016, Ethiopia was detaining 16 journalists, making it the fifth-worst jailer of journalists in the world and the second-worst in sub-Saharan Africa, after Eritrea. In addition to the use of harsh laws, the government employs a variety of other strategies to maintain a stranglehold on the flow of information, including outright censorship of newspapers and the internet, arbitrary detention and intimidation of journalists and online writers, and heavy taxation on the publishing process.

What is the price of peace in Ethiopia?

Will Ethiopia go the way of peace thorugh atonement and reconciliation or take the path of civil war and bloodshed?

President John F. Kennedy warned that, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Nelson Mandela taught that the choice of violent revolution is exclusively in the hands of the oppressor and the oppressed merely imitate the oppressor in the choice of the means of struggle.  Mandela explained (forward clip to 13:39 min.) in 2000:

The methods of political action which are used by the oppressed people are determined by the oppressor himself. If the oppressor uses dialogue, persuasion, talking to the other, the oppressed people will do precisely the same. But if the oppressor decides to tighten oppression and to resort to violence, what he is saying to the oppressed is if you want to change your method, your condition, do exactly what I am doing. So in many cases those people who are being condemned for violence are doing nothing else. They are replying, responding to what the oppressor is doing…. Generally speaking, it doesn’t mean that a person because a person believes that freedom comes through the barrel of a gun, that person is wrong. He is merely responding to the situation in which he and his community finds himself or herself.  (Emphasis added.)

So, whether the future of Ethiopia will be decided by dialogue, persuasion and talking to each other or in a civil war is entirely in the hands of the T-TPLF.

My dream for Ethiopia is merely a reflection of Mandela’s dream for Africa: “I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself. I dream of the realization of unity of Africa whereby its leaders, some of whom are highly competent and experienced, can unite in their efforts to improve and to solve the problems of Africa.”

Ethiopians united can never be defeated!!!

The time for peace, dialogue, persuasion and talking to each other in Ethiopia is NOW.

Or never!


 

 

 

GPI 2017: Peacefulness in Africa deteriorates to worst level in almost a decade. Ethiopia suffered the biggest deterioration (both within SSA and globally) June 14, 2017

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More than half of all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) saw their level of peacefulness deteriorate in 2017. Out of the five countries with the largest deteriorations worldwide, four were in SSA.

SSA’s level of peacefulness, as measured by the 2017 Global Peace Index (GPI) regional score, deteriorated to its worst level since 2008. Although the region recorded notable annual improvements between 2011 and 2013, SSA’s GPI score has been consecutively worsening for the past four years, albeit by different magnitudes.

 Despite the fact that the trend for the safety & security and ongoing conflict GPI domains has been improving since 2008, the deterioration in the overall score since this reference year has been driven by a worsening trend in the militarisation domain. The reason behind this becomes clear when we disaggregate these domains by their respective GPI indicators; with access to small arms, military expenditure and UN peacekeeping funding being the ones that deteriorated the most since 2008. Political Terror is another indicator that deteriorated significantly during this time. Notable improvements were however recorded in the indicators for political instability and the deaths from conflict, although the indicator for intensity of conflict has been worsening since 2013.
Ethiopia suffered the biggest deterioration (both within SSA and globally). This was reflected in a sharp worsening of the indicators measuring internal peace levels, leading Ethiopia to suffer a 16 rank deterioration: falling from 118th to 134th.  Read more at: Vision of Humanity: Peacefulness in Africa deteriorates to worst level in almost a decade

Human Right Council Ethiopia Releases Report On Rights Abuses Committed Under Current State Of Emergency June 13, 2017

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Human Rights Council (HRCO) Ethiopia, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, has released 49 pages of report detailing widespread human right abuses committed by the security under the current State of Emergency, first declared on Oct. 08, 2016, and extended by four more months in March 2017.

In the report, which was originally published on May 29th, but was largely unseen due to the week-long nationwide internet blackout, HRCO documented details of abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and imprisonment committed in 18 Zones and 42 Woredas of three regional states: Oromia, Amhara and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR) states as well as abuses committed in ten different Kifle Ketemas(administrative unites) in the capital Addis Abeba.

The detailed accounts of the report covered the months between October 2016 and May 2017 – of which HRCO said it held field assessments between October 2016 and February 2017.  Accordingly, HRCO published names, background information as well the circumstances of extrajudicial killings of 19 people in various places. Fifteen of those were from the Oromia regional state, the epicenter of the year-long antigovernment protests, while three were from SNNPR and one was from the Amhara regional state. The account of the 19 killed included the Oct. 10, 2016 gruesome killing by security officials of Abdisa Jemal and two of his brothers,  Merhabu Jemal and Tolla Jemal, in east Arsi Zone, Shirka Woreda, Gobesa 01 Kebele, some 270km south east of the capital Addis Abeba.

HRCO also documented the detention of 8,778 individuals from Oromia regional state followed by 5, 769 people from SNNPR, 640 from Amhara, 411 from the capital Addis Abeba and one from the Afar regional state. A total of 6, 926 individuals were also detained from unspecified locations, bringing the total number of people detained in the wake of the state of emergency to 22, 525. It also criticized the inhuman conditions faced by detainees in many of the detention camps.

Out of the 22, 525 people, 13, 260 were detained in several facilities including military camps, colleges and city administration halls located in Oromia regional state, while 5, 764 of them were detained in Amhara regional state; 2, 355 were detained in Afar and 430 were detained in the capital Addis Abeba. This list includes list of names such as journalist Elias Gebru and opposition politician Daniel Shibeshi, who have recently been charged after months of detention. HRCO also said 110 people were held at unknown locations.

HRCO’s report came a little over one month after the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, (EHRC), a government body tasked to investigate recent anti-government protests that rocked Ethiopia, admitted in April that a total of 669 Ethiopians were killed during the 2016 widespread anti-government protests. EHRC’s report, however, has not been released to the wider public, yet.

According to the government’s own account more than 26 thousand Ethiopians were detained in various places including military camps. This number is including those who were detained prior to the state of emergency. More than 20 thousand have since been released but about 5,000 are currently facing trials in various places.

Owing to Ethiopia’s outright refusal to accept outside independent investigation, including from the UN Human Rights Commission, ERCO’s report stands as the only independent investigation into widespread state violence in Ethiopia. AS

New World Health Organization Director Accused Of “Genocide” In Ethiopia. #OromoProtests June 3, 2017

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New World Health Organization Director Accused Of “Genocide” In Ethiopia.



Find out why some Ethiopians are not pleased with the new Director-General of World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


AP News: UN HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF: ETHIOPIA BLOCKED ACCESS TO PROTEST AREAS May 4, 2017

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Zeid expressed alarm at the “extremely large number” of arrests and said some charges against those detained “may be misplaced.”He asked that U.N. staffers be allowed to visit the areas of unrest. “We may then perhaps provide a list to the government and ask for specific releases” of people detained, Zeid said. “This requires more attention.”


AP Photo
AP Photo/STR

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian officials have blocked United Nations access to areas that experienced deadly protests during one of the country’s most violent periods in recent memory, the U.N. human rights chief said Thursday.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein spoke during a three-day visit to the East African nation at the government’s invitation. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has rejected United Nations and other outside requests to investigate the months of anti-government protests demanding more political freedoms.

The government has said at least 669 people were killed and largely blames the political opposition for the unrest. Opposition figures and human rights groups say security forces killed protesters, while the government has called security forces’ response “proportionate.”

More than 26,000 people were detained amid the protests, and Ethiopia in October declared a state of emergency that recently was extended.

Zeid expressed alarm at the “extremely large number” of arrests and said some charges against those detained “may be misplaced.”

He asked that U.N. staffers be allowed to visit the areas of unrest. “We may then perhaps provide a list to the government and ask for specific releases” of people detained, Zeid said. “This requires more attention.”

The human rights chief also expressed concern about anti-terrorism laws in Ethiopia, saying that “an excessively broad definition of terrorism may be misused against journalists, bloggers and members of opposition parties.”

Earlier Thursday, Zeid addressed the crisis in neighboring South Sudan, saying up to 50,000 civilians in the country’s Upper Nile region are at imminent risk of human rights violations as government troops close in.

Many civilians in Aburoc town, some of whom recently fled a military attack on nearby Kodok town, are ethnic Shilluk and have faced a sharp rise in government attacks as South Sudan’s civil war continues.

Zeid said military commanders on both sides show little regard for protecting civilians.

Separately, the U.N. humanitarian affairs agency said roughly 100,000 civilians have been displaced after a South Sudan government offensive in the Jonglei region.

Army spokesman Santo Domic Chol did not comment on fighting in either location but said government attacks on civilians “didn’t make sense” because civilians are not armed.


Associated Press writer Justin Lynch in Nairobi, Kenya contributed.




Daily Mail: UN rights chief urges Ethiopia to free prisoners after protests


At a press conference, Zeid said he was concerned about the mass arrests last year during protests driven by discontent among the country’s two largest ethnic groups, which left hundreds dead.

“The extremely large number of arrests, over 26,000, suggests it is unlikely rule of law guarantees have been observed in every case,” Zeid said.

“I am requesting the government to consider, if possible, the release of a number of individuals whose arrest or conviction appears to have been motivated by fear of criticism rather than evidence of intent to spark violent overthrow,” he said.  – More at Daily Mail.


 

NewsweeK: U.N. Renews Calls to Investigate Deadly Anti-Government Protests in Ethiopia

The U.N. has renewed calls to the Ethiopian government to let human rights officials conduct independent investigations into allegations of abuses by security forces against protesters in the country in 2015 and 2016.


Scholars at Risk Network: Release and drop charges against Dr. Merera Gudina May 1, 2017

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Release and drop charges against Dr. Merera Gudina

May 1, 2017 — Scholars at Risk (SAR) is gravely concerned that Dr. Merera Gudina was arrested and is currently facing multiple charges in apparent retaliation for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and association. Dr. Gudina is scheduled to attend his next hearing on May 4, 2017.

SAR understands that on December 1, 2016, Dr. Gudina, a former political science professor at Addis Ababa University, returned to Ethiopia following a trip to Belgium, where he addressed members of the European Union Parliament about alleged human rights violations and the current political crisis in Ethiopia. That day, Ethiopian security officers reportedly arrested Dr. Gudina at his home for “trespassing the state of emergency rules of the country,” – specifically for violating a prohibition on communication with “banned terrorist organisations and anti-peace groups.” He was then brought to Maekelawi Prison, where he was reportedly placed in solitary confinement.

On February 23, 2017, Dr. Gudina was formally charged with violating Articles 27/1, 32/1/A & B, and 238/1 & 2 of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s Criminal Code (ECC), which are in connection to accusations that he organized widespread protests in Ethiopia since October 2016 and that he attempted to overthrow Ethiopia’s constitutional order. Dr. Gudina has additionally been charged with violating ECC Article 486/B for “giving a false and damaging statement about the government to the media,” and Article 12/1 of the State of Emergency Proclamation for the Maintenance of Public Peace and Security No.1/2016, which criminalizes contact with individuals designated by the government as terrorists. SAR understands that Dr. Gudina, who has refuted these charges in court, is scheduled to attend his next hearing on May 4, 2017.

SAR calls for emails, letters, and faxes respectfully urging the authorities to release and drop all charges against Dr. Gudina ahead of his next hearing; or, pending this, to ensure his well-being while in custody, including access to legal counsel and family, and his removal from solitary confinement, and to ensure that his case proceeds in a manner consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and free expression.

Click here for more: Release and drop charges against Dr. Merera Gudina

Human Rights violations in Ethiopia must be investigated by independent body, rights group April 27, 2017

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ETHIOPIA: How Long the International Community Should Entreat the Rejection of an Independent Investigation into Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia

HRLHA Press Release

April 23, 2017

The international community finally realized that the Ethiopian government was using democracy as a facade to dehumanize its citizens. Since the current government of Ethiopia came to power in 1991, six international treaties have been signed and ratified by the government, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – at which the Ethiopian government’s security is mostly accused more than any dictator country in the world. This means, from a total of thirteen international treaties, Ethiopia had ratified eight, out of which two were signed during the Military Derg era.

It has not been easy for the international community to accept that a country, such as Ethiopia – which signed and ratified a number of international human rights treaties – has the moral to breach the norms of each treaty and commits massacres against its citizens. The ingenuity of the Ethiopian government has become to be known to the international community very lately, beginning from the land-grab-related human rights violations of the 2010’s in Gambela, Oromia, Benishangul – as reported by human rights organizations, such as HRW, AI and HRLHA and the Oakland Institute … thanks to the outcry of national, regional and international human rights organizations to expose the hidden agenda of the Ethiopian government. Though, reports on Ethiopia’s human rights violations spread all over, Ethiopia was elected as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011 for a three-year term. After the completion of the first three-year term, it was also reelected on October 28, 2015 for another three-year term. To be legible for the election, the candidate State’s contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights are considered.

The current Ethiopian government began destabilizing the nations and nationalities in the country as it seized power in 1991. The two biggest nations, the Oromo and the Amhara – were the most targeted. Over the course of the first twenty-three years (1991-2014), hundreds of thousands of prominent citizens, political party leaders, members and supporters, journalists, union leaders and members have been killed, forced to disappear, imprisoned and forced to exile. The undisclosed tragedy in the country for so long has started to attract the international attention only in March 2014 when Oromo university students protested against the “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” – which had continually taken place for over four months at which Oromos of all walks of life participated. During the crackdowns on the protests, over 81 Oromos of age 7-81 had been brutally murdered by Ethiopian government’s murderers. The so-called “Addis Ababa Master Plan” was designed to annex 36 Oromo towns evicting an estimated of over three-million Oromo farmers without consultation and compensation. The “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” dispute reignited in November 2015 throughout Oromia and lasted for almost a year until the October 2, 2016 massacre – the incident which changed the peaceful protests to violent. During the protests – which had taken place for almost a year (November 2015 – October 2016) in Oromia Regional State, over 2000 Oromos had been killed by the Ethiopian government’s killing squad known as the Agazi force.

October 2, 2016 was the Oromo Irreecha/Thanksgiving day in which over four-million Oromos had come to gather from all corners of the Oromia Regional State to celebrate at Bishoftu where the government’s Agazi killing squad massacred peaceful people – at which over 700 people were killed through stampede and gunshots from the ground – and supported by air attack. October 2, 2016 was the game changer in the history of the Oromo struggle for self-determination, democracy and justice. The peaceful protest was changed into violent all over the Oromia Regional State. Several government-owned and government-linked properties were destroyed.

The Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Dessalegn gave a permission to its killers – deployed all over the Oromia Regional State – to take all necessary actions against the uprising, and several thousand Oromos were killed, imprisoned and forcefully disappeared. To calm down the violent actions in the region, the government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency on October 8, 2016. After the State of Emergency was declared, many expected the situation could improve. However, the government’s killing squads deployed deep into Oromia villages used the opportunity to kill more Oromos at their homes, at their neighborhoods during day and night times, raped women and girls in front of their families, and looted valuable properties.

For example,

(1) Hailu Ephrem , the sixteen-year-old boy and Ibsa Runde, seventeen-year-old boy, had been killed, simply in their daily routine like any other playing in their area. They had been killed for no apparent reason except the psychopathic killing machines called Agazi had to kill Oromos to satisfy their masters’ order. The mother of Hailu Ephrem, Mrs Tadelu Tamama, a mother from Dembidolo, Welega (Oromia region of Ethiopia) told VOA Afaan Oromo service radio, “After the soldiers shot and killed my son in front of me ‘They told me to sit down on my dead son’s body’.”

(2) On November 6, 2016 at 5:00am, three brothers – Marabu Jamalo, Abdissa Jamalo and Tola Jamalo – were shot dead by the TPLF killing squad (Agazi force) in their home in Easter Arsi Zone in Shirka district. Their father Mr. Jamalo Hussein said “my children have been killed by the fascist government killing squad, Agazi, not because they stole or did anything wrong, but only because they are Oromos ” – told to HRLHA reporter in the area.

Such crimes are widespread all over Oromia and Amhara regional states, especially at night, and are being perpetrated on an ever-increasing scale and as part of the State of Emergency policy. There is also evidence of the government targeting special groups, such as youth, educated citizens and journalists in those regions. With such criminal records for over two decades, Ethiopia was elected to the other UN subsidiary organization , UN Security Council, on June 28, 2016. This was a period when the Ethiopian government had massacred several Oromos simply because they expressed their grievances in peaceful protest. Regarding this unfair election, the HRLHA expressed its concerns to the President of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft in its press release “THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE REWARDED FOR MASSACRING ITS PEOPLE.”

Ethiopia, a country with high human rights violations – has been allowed to be elected to both the United Nations Human Rights Council and United Nations Security Council positions, the positions which require respect/protect and promote human rights at the global level, and maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights.

In the past two years, non-governmental organizations, government agencies and some government offices requested the Ethiopian government to allow access to independent investigations to assess the human rights violations in the country. Requests for independent investigations of the human rights violations in Ethiopia came from the following agencies:

# Agencies Date
Europe an Parliament resolution on Ethiopia (2016/2520(RSP)) 19.1.2016
UN experts call for international commission to help investigate systematic violence … GENEVA (10 October2016)
UN rights office urges Ethiopia to ensure independent probe of reported violations in Oromia region 19 August 2016
Press Statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Human Rights Situation in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Date: 02 September 2016

However, the Ethiopian government has rejected the call of the international community for independent investigations into Ethiopia human rights crises in the past two years. The Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Elena Valenciano (S&D, ES), who visited Ethiopia recently also released a statement calling for an independent investigation into 2 October 2016 killings that claimed the lives of at least 52 people, according to the government media, or over 700 people, according to HRLHA and other reports.

However, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn again rejected the call for external investigations by saying “Ethiopia’s sovereignty should be respected,” according the BBC report on April 18, 2016. PM Hailemariam pointed out that the Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission is an independent institution in the country with whom his government must relay and could be strengthened. He clearly underlined his government’s position for peace, democracy and fundamental rights of the Ethiopians. In his interview with BBC, the PM of Ethiopia said “Ethiopia does not need independent investigator as far as Ethiopia is an independent country.” The government of Ethiopia is committed to continue suppressing all kinds of freedom and democracy in the country. It is unfortunate that Ethiopians could not detach themselves from dictatorial regimes for over a century, “History repeats itself,” again and again.

Therefore, the HRLHA would like to call upon donor governments and international government agencies to take all necessary and decisive measures against the Ethiopian government to respect international human rights and humanitarian laws, and all human rights treats it signed and ratified.

HRLHA Press Release

April 23, 2017

The international community finally realized that the Ethiopian government was using democracy as a facade to dehumanize its citizens. Since the current government of Ethiopia came to power in 1991, six international treaties have been signed and ratified by the government, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – at which the Ethiopian government’s security is mostly accused more than any dictator country in the world. This means, from a total of thirteen international treaties, Ethiopia had ratified eight, out of which two were signed during the Military Derg era.

It has not been easy for the international community to accept that a country, such as Ethiopia – which signed and ratified a number of international human rights treaties – has the moral to breach the norms of each treaty and commits massacres against its citizens. The ingenuity of the Ethiopian government has become to be known to the international community very lately, beginning from the land-grab-related human rights violations of the 2010’s in Gambela, Oromia, Benishangul – as reported by human rights organizations, such as HRW, AI and HRLHA and the Oakland Institute … thanks to the outcry of national, regional and international human rights organizations to expose the hidden agenda of the Ethiopian government. Though, reports on Ethiopia’s human rights violations spread all over, Ethiopia was elected as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011 for a three-year term. After the completion of the first three-year term, it was also reelected on October 28, 2015 for another three-year term. To be legible for the election, the candidate State’s contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights are considered.

The current Ethiopian government began destabilizing the nations and nationalities in the country as it seized power in 1991. The two biggest nations, the Oromo and the Amhara – were the most targeted. Over the course of the first twenty-three years (1991-2014), hundreds of thousands of prominent citizens, political party leaders, members and supporters, journalists, union leaders and members have been killed, forced to disappear, imprisoned and forced to exile. The undisclosed tragedy in the country for so long has started to attract the international attention only in March 2014 when Oromo university students protested against the “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” – which had continually taken place for over four months at which Oromos of all walks of life participated. During the crackdowns on the protests, over 81 Oromos of age 7-81 had been brutally murdered by Ethiopian government’s murderers. The so-called “Addis Ababa Master Plan” was designed to annex 36 Oromo towns evicting an estimated of over three-million Oromo farmers without consultation and compensation. The “Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan” dispute reignited in November 2015 throughout Oromia and lasted for almost a year until the October 2, 2016 massacre – the incident which changed the peaceful protests to violent. During the protests – which had taken place for almost a year (November 2015 – October 2016) in Oromia Regional State, over 2000 Oromos had been killed by the Ethiopian government’s killing squad known as the Agazi force.

October 2, 2016 was the Oromo Irreecha/Thanksgiving day in which over four-million Oromos had come to gather from all corners of the Oromia Regional State to celebrate at Bishoftu where the government’s Agazi killing squad massacred peaceful people – at which over 700 people were killed through stampede and gunshots from the ground – and supported by air attack. October 2, 2016 was the game changer in the history of the Oromo struggle for self-determination, democracy and justice. The peaceful protest was changed into violent all over the Oromia Regional State. Several government-owned and government-linked properties were destroyed.

The Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Dessalegn gave a permission to its killers – deployed all over the Oromia Regional State – to take all necessary actions against the uprising, and several thousand Oromos were killed, imprisoned and forcefully disappeared. To calm down the violent actions in the region, the government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency on October 8, 2016. After the State of Emergency was declared, many expected the situation could improve. However, the government’s killing squads deployed deep into Oromia villages used the opportunity to kill more Oromos at their homes, at their neighborhoods during day and night times, raped women and girls in front of their families, and looted valuable properties.

For example,

(1) Hailu Ephrem , the sixteen-year-old boy and Ibsa Runde, seventeen-year-old boy, had been killed, simply in their daily routine like any other playing in their area. They had been killed for no apparent reason except the psychopathic killing machines called Agazi had to kill Oromos to satisfy their masters’ order. The mother of Hailu Ephrem, Mrs Tadelu Tamama, a mother from Dembidolo, Welega (Oromia region of Ethiopia) told VOA Afaan Oromo service radio, “After the soldiers shot and killed my son in front of me ‘They told me to sit down on my dead son’s body’.”

(2) On November 6, 2016 at 5:00am, three brothers – Marabu Jamalo, Abdissa Jamalo and Tola Jamalo – were shot dead by the TPLF killing squad (Agazi force) in their home in Easter Arsi Zone in Shirka district. Their father Mr. Jamalo Hussein said “my children have been killed by the fascist government killing squad, Agazi, not because they stole or did anything wrong, but only because they are Oromos ” – told to HRLHA reporter in the area.

Such crimes are widespread all over Oromia and Amhara regional states, especially at night, and are being perpetrated on an ever-increasing scale and as part of the State of Emergency policy. There is also evidence of the government targeting special groups, such as youth, educated citizens and journalists in those regions. With such criminal records for over two decades, Ethiopia was elected to the other UN subsidiary organization , UN Security Council, on June 28, 2016. This was a period when the Ethiopian government had massacred several Oromos simply because they expressed their grievances in peaceful protest. Regarding this unfair election, the HRLHA expressed its concerns to the President of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Mogens Lykketoft in its press release “THE ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE REWARDED FOR MASSACRING ITS PEOPLE.”

Ethiopia, a country with high human rights violations – has been allowed to be elected to both the United Nations Human Rights Council and United Nations Security Council positions, the positions which require respect/protect and promote human rights at the global level, and maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights.

In the past two years, non-governmental organizations, government agencies and some government offices requested the Ethiopian government to allow access to independent investigations to assess the human rights violations in the country. Requests for independent investigations of the human rights violations in Ethiopia came from the following agencies:

# Agencies Date
Europe an Parliament resolution on Ethiopia (2016/2520(RSP)) 19.1.2016
UN experts call for international commission to help investigate systematic violence … GENEVA (10 October2016)
UN rights office urges Ethiopia to ensure independent probe of reported violations in Oromia region 19 August 2016
Press Statement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Human Rights Situation in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Date: 02 September 2016

However, the Ethiopian government has rejected the call of the international community for independent investigations into Ethiopia human rights crises in the past two years. The Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Elena Valenciano (S&D, ES), who visited Ethiopia recently also released a statement calling for an independent investigation into 2 October 2016 killings that claimed the lives of at least 52 people, according to the government media, or over 700 people, according to HRLHA and other reports.

However, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn again rejected the call for external investigations by saying “Ethiopia’s sovereignty should be respected,” according the BBC report on April 18, 2016. PM Hailemariam pointed out that the Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission is an independent institution in the country with whom his government must relay and could be strengthened. He clearly underlined his government’s position for peace, democracy and fundamental rights of the Ethiopians. In his interview with BBC, the PM of Ethiopia said “Ethiopia does not need independent investigator as far as Ethiopia is an independent country.” The government of Ethiopia is committed to continue suppressing all kinds of freedom and democracy in the country. It is unfortunate that Ethiopians could not detach themselves from dictatorial regimes for over a century, “History repeats itself,” again and again.

Therefore, the HRLHA would like to call upon donor governments and international government agencies to take all necessary and decisive measures against the Ethiopian government to respect international human rights and humanitarian laws, and all human rights treats it signed and ratified.

The Economist: Africa’s house of cards: Ethiopia enters its seventh month of emergency rule April 24, 2017

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House of cards

 


Its response to the crisis has, therefore, been primarily an economic one. Its top priority is to reduce youth unemployment, of at least 30% in urban areas. It hopes to do so through promoting industrial parks such as the one in the southern town of Awassa, which opened in 2016. It is Africa’s largest and is expected to provide 60,000 jobs. But even the largest industrial parks are still a drop in an ocean of unemployment. And since most of the jobs they provide are low-skilled, they will do little to help the hundreds of thousands of university graduates entering the job market each year. “I’m a graduate in accounting but I work as a hotel cashier,” laments one exasperated Ambo resident.
Alexis de Tocqueville, a 19th-century French historian, argued that the most dangerous time for a bad government is when it begins to reform itself. The EPRDF is not the ancien regime of pre-revolutionary France. But it has taken de Tocqueville’s lesson to heart. It views Ethiopia as a house of cards that might easily topple. So the old model persists: development now, democracy later. 

Africa’s house of cards: Ethiopia enters its seventh month of emergency rule

Development now, democracy later

The Economist

THE three-hour bus-ride to Ambo from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, offers a glimpse into the country’s future. The road is well paved; irrigation ditches and polytunnels criss-cross commercial farmland; electricity lines leap over forested hills. The signal granting access to mobile internet is clear and constant. As the bus pulls into Ambo, a trading centre in Oromia, the largest and most populous of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based regions, the street is bustling.

But there are signs, too, that not all is well. An army truck rolls down the main road. Federal police surround the entrance to the local university. Unemployed young men playing snooker in bar point at a building across the road: it used to be a bank, but it was burnt down. Three years ago 17 local boys were shot dead by security guards as they protested on the doorstep, the young men say.

Ambo has a reputation for dissent. It was on these streets that protests against authoritarian rule started in 2014 before sweeping across the country. They culminated in the declaration of a six-month state of emergency on October 9th last year.

Students from Ambo University led the charge in opposing a since-shelved plan to expand the capital city into surrounding farmland. Oromo identity is especially powerful here: locals speak angrily about being pushed aside by ethnic Tigrayans, who they say dominate the government despite making up less than 6% of the population.

The country’s leading opposition politician, Merera Gudina—who was charged with inciting terrorism in February and was scheduled to appear in the dock on April 24th—comes from this area. When the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) extended the emergency law for another four months (albeit after watering down its most draconian provisions) on March 30th, it was because of places like Ambo. Hundreds of its citizens have been arrested and subjected to months of “re-education” in military camps. Although stability has more or less returned to Ethiopia there are still young men across Oromia and Amhara, the second-largest region, who talk of protesting once more when the state of emergency is eventually lifted.

Not everyone feels this way. There may have been plenty of raised eyebrows when the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, told Parliament on March 15th that 82% of Ethiopians wanted the state of emergency extended. But few want a return to disorder, and many admit that further emergency rule might not be so bad. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners in particular recall that businesses—as well as schools—were closed for months during the unrest. “Peace and security is more valuable than anything,” says a weary pharmacist.

Yet the challenge of addressing both the frustrations of angry youngsters and the concerns of anxious property owners is one the EPRDF is struggling to solve. Ethiopia’s economy is still growing at a healthy 7% a year, one of the fastest rates in Africa, even though drought has again hit large parts of the country. Foreign investment, which the government is promoting energetically, has held up surprisingly well. But with political freedom now a thing of the past, the government’s legitimacy rests on it delivering the prosperity it has long promised to all its citizens.

Its response to the crisis has, therefore, been primarily an economic one. Its top priority is to reduce youth unemployment, of at least 30% in urban areas. It hopes to do so through promoting industrial parks such as the one in the southern town of Awassa, which opened in 2016. It is Africa’s largest and is expected to provide 60,000 jobs. But even the largest industrial parks are still a drop in an ocean of unemployment. And since most of the jobs they provide are low-skilled, they will do little to help the hundreds of thousands of university graduates entering the job market each year. “I’m a graduate in accounting but I work as a hotel cashier,” laments one exasperated Ambo resident.

Political reform has been much less of a priority. Only one regional president has lost his job, though many ought to shoulder quite a bit of the blame for the unrest because of poor governance. A cabinet reshuffle in November included some high-profile changes: an Oromo controls the foreign ministry for the first time, for instance. But dialogue with opposition parties has made little progress. They must still ask permission to give a press conference or hold a public meeting. And an expansive anti-terrorism law, which has crimped their activities since 2009, will still be in place even when the last of the emergency provisions are lifted. The government has long promised to tackle corruption, which is the cause of much unhappiness. But there have been no high level prosecutions since October, even though tens of thousands of low-level officials have been sacked.

Alexis de Tocqueville, a 19th-century French historian, argued that the most dangerous time for a bad government is when it begins to reform itself. The EPRDF is not the ancien regime of pre-revolutionary France. But it has taken de Tocqueville’s lesson to heart. It views Ethiopia as a house of cards that might easily topple. So the old model persists: development now, democracy later.


 

Fear of Investigation: What Does Ethiopia’s Government Have to Hide? April 21, 2017

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Fear of Investigation: What Does Ethiopia’s Government Have to Hide?

 

In February 2016, an 18-year-old student who I will call Tolessa and two friends took part in their first protest, in Oromia’s East Hararghe zone. As the crowd moved forward, they were met by a line of regional police, federal police and the army. Shortly thereafter and without warning, security forces fired live ammunition into the crowd hitting Tolessa four times. Miraculously he survived. But his two friends were not so lucky.

I first interviewed him in April 2016 for the Human Rights Watch June 2016 report on abuses during the first six months of the Oromo protests. Several days ago, Tolessa got in touch with me again to update me on his condition.

I spoke to him around the time that Ethiopia’s national Human Rights Commission submitted an oral report to parliament on the protests. This was the Commission’s second report to parliament, covering the protests between June and September in parts of Oromia, Amhara, and SNNPR regions. The Commission found that 669 people were killed, including 63 members of the security forces, and concluded – once again – that security forces had taken “proportionate measures in most areas.”

While many will focus on the death toll, the commission’s conclusion that the use of force was mostly proportionate and appropriate is in stark contrast to the descriptions of victims like Tolessa, and at odds with the findings of other independent investigators. At this stage, the grounds for the commission’s conclusion are unclear, since no written report has yet been published.

In its first oral report to parliament, in June, the commission similarly concluded that the level of force used by federal security forces in Oromia was proportionate. The written version of this report was only made public this week, 10 months later. In the 92 page English version [134 pages in Amharic] there is no mention of security forces firing on protesters, mass arrests, torture in detention, or any one of a slew of other abuses that have been widely reported.

Instead, the commission largely describes violence committed by protesters as described to the commission members by local government officials, security forces, and elders. It parrots the government’s narrative, making many references to Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) involvement, but never provides any evidence for this allegation. It references interviews with detainees, but otherwise fails to describe the commission’s methodology, including how many protesters, victims, and witnesses its members interviewed.

It’s quite possible that many protesters and victims of security force abuses would not speak to the commission because of the widespread perception that it has no independence from the government. Independence is crucial for any successful national human rights commission, and the Ethiopian institution has failed to meet this bar for many years. I know first-hand that it is not difficult to find protesters willing to share their experiences.

Armed security officials watch as protesters stage a protest against government during the Irreechaa cultural festival in Bishoftu, Ethiopia on October 02, 2016.

Armed security officials watch as protesters stage a protest against government during the Irreechaa cultural festival in Bishoftu, Ethiopia on October 02, 2016.

Aside from the commission’s activities, there is no domestic scrutiny of security force abuses. The members of parliament are all from the ruling party and affiliates. The judiciary lacks independence on politically motivated cases. Various courts have consistently refused to investigate mounting allegations of torture from detainees. Harassment, prosecutions, and swathes of restrictions have stifled independent media and nongovernmental organizations. In this situation, the commission and other “independent” institutions like the ombudsmen could play a vital role in scrutinizing abuse by Ethiopia’s security forces, but they too are apparently hamstrung by government influence.

The government consistently tries to frame the protests as the result of lack of “good governance” and youth unemployment. Yet one of the most common slogans heard on the streets of Oromia and Amhara, particularly in the later months of the protests, was a call to respect human rights, stop shooting protesters, and stop imprisoning students. The patterns of abuse documented by several human rights groups in Oromia  during various periods, including the 2005 pre-election period and between 2011-2014 are strikingly similar.  In each case, the government ignored calls for independent investigations, denied the allegations, and claimed they were politically motivated. These longstanding patterns of abuse against those who challenge the government, committed with complete impunity, are key to understanding the levels of anger fueling protests in the streets of Oromia over the last 18 months. And Oromia isn’t the only place in Ethiopia that has experienced serious rights violations by security forces – sometimes repeatedly – without meaningful investigations.

In Gambella, Human Rights Watch documented possible crimes against humanity by the Ethiopian army in 2003 and 2004, including extrajudicial executions, rape, and torture. In the Somali Regional State (SRS), the Ethiopian military committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity between mid-2007 and 2008 during their counterinsurgency campaign against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The government-allied Liyu police have subsequently committed numerous extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and other attacks on civilians in SRS. Instead of permitting independent investigators to come in, the Ethiopian government consistently shuts the door and insists that Ethiopian institutions, such as the Human Rights Commission, can do the job.

I asked Tolessa his view of the commission. He said it’s “just another arm of the government,” and noted that the its head, Dr Addisu Gebregziabher, was previously chair of the National Electoral Board, another body with questionable independence. While the commission’s lack of independence is hardly newsworthy, it does underscore the need for independent, international scrutiny of Ethiopia’s rights record, especially given the government’s dubious claims that the commission’s investigations are credible. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn reiterated this claim during an April 18 interview with the BBC, rejecting calls for a UN investigation into the protests by stating that Ethiopia is “an independent country that can investigate its own cases.” Yet these repeated refusals beg the question: if the security forces acted appropriately, then what is the government trying to hide?

Ethiopia is currently a member of both the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations Human Rights Council, which requires it to uphold the “highest standards of human rights.” Yet the government repeatedly rejects efforts to hold it to account, refusing entry to all UN special rapporteurs since 2007, except the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea. There are many outstanding requests from these UN monitors – on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly, among others. Recent calls by the United Nations top human rights official, the African Commission, the European parliament, and some members of United States Congress, for international investigations have all been dismissed. The government also avoids judicial scrutiny at the highest level as it is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ethiopia is certainly not alone in disliking international scrutiny of its rights record, yet many countries recognize that there are benefits to cooperation, particularly if there is genuine commitment to transparency, accountability, and improving human rights. Ethiopia’s continuous refusals call into question all of these commitments, instead making clear that it is not willing to stop using excessive force against protesters or torturing dissenters into silence.

Human Rights Watch research in many countries has demonstrated that a decision to ignore atrocities and reinforce a culture of impunity carries a high price, and merely encourages future abuses, which  should concern investors, diplomats, and others concerned about the long-term stability of Ethiopia following almost 18 months of bloody turmoil. An international investigation would be a first important step in ending Ethiopia’s culture of impunity and would send a powerful and overdue message to the Ethiopian government that its security forces cannot shoot and kill peaceful protesters with impunity. And it would send an important message to victims like Tolessa that their pleas for justice are being heard.


 

KP: Ethiopia’s Liyyu Police – Devils on Armored Vehicles: Is the crime in Darfur being replicated in Oromia regional state of Ethiopia? April 10, 2017

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Is the crime in Darfur being replicated in Oromia regional state of Ethiopia?
It is saddening to witness repetitions of similar tragic events in history. Recurrences of such dreadful events can even sound farcical when they happen in a very short span of both time and space. This is exactly what is currently happening in the Horn of Africa.  It is barely over a decade since the height of the Darfur genocide.  One would hope that the international community has been well informed to avoid repetition of Darfur like tragedy anywhere in the world.  However, it is depressing to observe that the Darfur crisis is in the process of being replicated in Ethiopia.
In this piece, I will explain how the scale of the crisis unfolding in Ethiopia’s Eastern and Southern regions (and those brewing up in other regions) can have a potential to dwarf the Darfur crisis.  The Janjaweed militia (in the case of Sudan) and the so-called Liyyu police (in the case of Ethiopia) are the catalysts for the crisis in their respective regions. For this reason, I will focus my analysis on explaining missions and functions of these two proxy militias.
Sudan’s Janjaweed – Devils on Horseback
In order to draw a parallel between the Darfur and Eastern Oromia, it would prove useful to recap the Janjaweed story.  Janjaweed literally means devils on horseback presumably because the Janjaweed often arrived riding horses while raiding and wreaking havoc in villages belonging to non-Arab ethnic groups. The origin of Janjaweed is rooted in a long established traditional conflict primarily over natural resources such as grazing rights and water control among the nomadic Arabized and the sedentary non-Arabized ethnic groups in Chad and Sudan. The Janjaweed militia were initially created as a pan-Arab Legion by the late Mohammed Gadafi in 1972 to tilt power balance in favor of the Arabized people of the region.  The key point to note here is that the origin of the Janjaweed as well as the conflict between Arabized and non-Arabized people in the region long predates the Darfur crisis which started in 2003.
The beginning of the Darfur crisis signified a confluence of the traditional conflict between ethnic groups with another strand of conflict in the region – the wider conflict between Sudanese national army and regional liberation movements, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army. The latter was still fighting to liberate what has now become South Sudan. In 2003, the government of Sudan encountered setbacks in its military operations against JEM and SPLA. In its desperate attempt to overcome failures in military front and also cover up for its planned ethnic cleansing in Darfur, the Al-Bashir government applied divide and rule tactic, thereby merging the two strands of the conflicts into one.  This was accomplished by organizing, training, arming and providing all necessary logistical support to the Janjaweed militia of the Arabized ethnic group in Darfur.  This was how Al-Bashir’s government has engineered ethnic cleansing and undertaken genocide in Darfur with a brutal efficiency, using the Janjaweed as a proxy militia group.  The number of people killed in Darfur was estimated to range between 178,000 to 462,000. Human rights groups have documented staggering number of rapes and mass evictions and destructions of livelihoods of millions of people in the region.
Ethiopia’s Liyyu Police – Devils on Armored Vehicles
“Liyyu” is an Amharic expression to mean “special”, so Liyyu police denotes a “special police”.  If the Janjaweed are devils on horseback, then Liyyu police can be described as demons maneuvering armored vehicles.  It is instructive to examine why, where, and when the regime in Addis Abeba has created Liyyu police.
The Liyyu police was created in 2008 in the Somali People’s Regional State of the ethnically constituted federal government of Ethiopia.  It is important to note that like any other regional state, the Somali Regional State (SRS henceforth) has a regular police force of its own.  But why was a special police required only for SRS?
The key point is to recognize that Liyyu police is nothing but only a variant of the usual proxy politics that has riddled Ethiopia’s political affair during the ruling EPRDF era.  This special force has no separate existence and no life of its own as such but it is just a proxy militia purposely created to cover up for human right abuses that was being perpetrated by Ethiopia’s National Defense Force (ENDF) but also planned to be intensified in its battles against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).
The armed wing of ONLF, the Ogaden National Liberation Army (ONLA), has been engaged in armed conflict with ENDF for many years. This conflict reached a turning point in April 2007, when the ONLA raided an oil field and killed 74 ENDF soldiers and nine Chinese engineers.  This was followed by frequent clashes between ONLA and ENDF. The conflicts have led to gross human rights violations in the region at a scale unheard before. In its report of early 2008, the Human Rights Watch accused the ENDF for committing summary executions, torture, and rape in Ogaden and has called for donors to take necessary measures to stop crimes against humanity.
In an article entitled “Talking Peace in the Ogaden: The search for an end to conflict in the Somali Regional State (SRS) in Ethiopia”, author Tobias Hagmann observes that the creation of Liyyu police is essentially “indigenization of confrontation”.  In other words, the government in Ethiopia established Liyyu police to create a façade that human rights violations in Ogaden and its neighboring regional state are “local conflicts”. This was done pretty much in similar fashion with Sudanese government that resorted to countering freedom fighters in Darfur through the Janjaweed militia.  However, unlike the Janjaweed which were already in place, the government in Ethiopia had to assemble the Liyyu police from scratch, applying doggy recruitment methods, including giving prisoners the choice between joining Liyyu police or remaining in jail. The founder and leader of Liyyu Police was none other than the current President of SRS, Abdi Mohammed Omar, known as “Abdi Illey”, who was security chief at the time.
The size of Liyyu militia is estimated to have grown considerably over the years, currently standing at approximately around 42,000. However, any debate over the size of Liyyu police is essentially a superfluous argument, given that there is a very blurred line between ENDF and Liyyu police.  After all, it requires an expert eye to distinguish between the military fatigues of the two groups. It has been proven time and again that ENDF soldiers often get engaged in military actions disguised as Liyyu police by simply changing their military uniform to that of Liyyu police. In fact, it is a misnomer to consider Liyyu police as a unit separately operating with different military command structure within the Ogaden region.  For all intent and purposes, if we ignore niceties, the Liyyu police is a battalion of Ethiopia’s army operating in the region.
Fomenting Inter-Ethnic Conflict
Liyyu police is a special force with a dual purpose.  The first purpose has already highlighted Liyyu as a camouflage for atrocities being committed by ENDF in the SRS, to relegate such atrocities to a “local affair”, as if it is internal conflict between Somalis themselves.
Liyyu’s second purpose is to aggravate the already existing traditional conflicts between Somalis and Oromos over pasture and water resources.  ONLA in Ogaden and Oromo Liberation Army, OLA (the military wing of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front – OLF) have frustrated the Ethiopian army for decades.  While OLA has had support all over Oromia, it has traditionally been most active in Eastern and Southern Oromia – Oromia’s districts bordering with the SRS.
Therefore, the EPRDF government realized that it could ride on existing traditional conflicts through a proxy militia to fight two liberation fronts. This was carbon copy of how things were done in Darfur, indicating how dictators learn from each other. Except that the EPRDF had to create Liyyu police from scratch, it acted in similar fashion with the way the Bashir government used the Janjaweed militia in Darfur.
Oromo and Somali herdsmen have traditionally clashed over grazing and water resources but such conflicts have always short-lived due to effective conflict resolution mechanisms practiced by local elders on both sides. These conflict resolution systems have evolved over centuries of peaceful coexistence between the two communities. The EPRDF government’s divide and rule strategy has long targeted to change this equilibrium, and exploit the existing conflict to its advantage.
Conflicts have traditionally arisen when herds arrived at water holes, leading to confrontations as to whose cattle get served first, essentially a conflict over “resource use”, rather than “resource ownership”. Conflicts flare up often among the youth but they were immediately put under control by the elders. Besides, each side are equally equipped with simple tools such as traditional sticks or simple ammunitions, so there has always been power equilibrium.  But the regime sought an effective means of aggravating these conflicts by transforming them in to a permanent one.
Such manipulation of the situation was done essentially in two ways.  First, supplying deadly modern military equipment, training and military logistics to Liyyu police, thereby destabilizing the existing power balance. Second, and critically, by changing the nature of the conflict from “use rights” to “ownership” of the resource itself.  The conflicts were engineered to be elevated from clashes between individual members of communities to that between Somali and Oromo people at a higher scale.
The seeds for conflicts were sown in the process of redrawing borders along adjacent districts of the Somali and Oromia regional states. In this process, the number of contested Kebeles, the lowest administrative units in Ethiopia, were made to suddenly proliferate.  Over a decade ago, the number of such contested kebeles already escalated to well over 400. In order to resolve disputes between the two regional states, a referendum was held in October 2004 in 420 kebeles along 12 districts or five zones of the Somali Region. The outcome of the referendum was that Oromia won 80% of the disputed kebeles and SRS won the remaining kebeles.  Critically, regardless of the outcome, severe damage was already done to durable good-will in community relationships due to purposeful manipulation of the process by the regime in Addis Abeba before, during and after the referendum.
Once the referendum results were known, all the dark forces bent on divide and rule needed to do was to nudge the Somalis to claim that the vote were rigged during the referendum and hence they should aim to get their territory back by other means, that is to say by force and the Liyyu police was created to do the job.
Since it came into existence, Liyyu’s operations have often overlapped but with varying degrees of intensities across its dual-purposes.  During its first phase, Liyyu police focused on operations within Somali region. These operations had much less to do with fighting ONLA but raiding villages and drying up popular support base of the ONLF, in the process committing gross human rights violations at a massive scale. Human rights organizations have widely documented arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial executions, rapes, tortures and ill-treatment of detainees in the region.
Over the years, however, Liyyu’s operations have increasingly focused on the second pillar of the proxy militia’s mission – cross border raids into Oromia.  However, Liyyu’s frequent raids into Oromia have not received enough attention from human rights organizations and hence atrocities committed by this proxy militia on Oromo communities over a decade or so has not been well documented.  The authorities in Addis Abeba, who have purposefully sown seeds of conflict to aggravate traditional clashes, have often deliberately misreported Liyyu Police raids as “the usual fights” between Oromo and Somali herdsmen but nothing could be further from the truth.
In a desperate attempt to gain popular support from the Somali people, the Liyyu police military adventures have been conducted in the name of regaining territory the SRS lost to Oromia during the referendum of 2004.  The evidence one could adduce for this is that every time Liyyu Police encroached into Oromia and occupied a village, they would immediately hoist the Somali flag as a sign of declaring that territorial gains.  The proxy militia has done so after attacking and killing large number of civilians and displacing thousands of households in numerous districts in Eastern Oromia: Qumbi, Mayu Mulluqe, Goohaa, Seelaa Jaajoo, Miinoo. Liyyu Police overrun the town of Moyale in Southern Oromia resulting in the death of dozens of people and forcing tens of thousands to flee to Kenya. It was reported that during an attack on Moyale town in Southern Oromia “the 4th army division [of ENDF] stationed just two miles outside the town center watched silently as the militia overrun the police station and ransacked the town. Then the militia was allowed safe passage to retreat after looting and burning the town while administrators of the Borana province who protested against the army complacency were thrown to jail.”
Alliances and Counter-Alliances
The Oromo Peaceful protests erupted on 12th November 2015 and then engulfed the nation, spreading to all corners of Oromia like a forest fire.  Oromo Protests ignited Amhara resistance, and then ended up with Oromo-Amhara alliance.  It became commonplace to see solidarity slogans on placards carried by protestors both in Amhara and Oromia. It should be noted that Oromo and Amhara population constitute well over two-third of Ethiopia’s population. It was historical acrimony and rivalry between these two dominant ethnic groups which provided a fertile ground for the divide and rule strategy so intensely practiced by the current regime which is dominated by the TPLF, the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front. The Tigre ethnic group account for less than 6% of Ethiopia’s population.
The Oromo-Amhara solidarity sent shock waves among the Tigrean ruling elites.  The Oromo Protest, Amhara Resistance and other popular protests elsewhere in Ethiopia exposed the fake nature of the coalition in the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRDF). It has always been an open secret that EPRDF essentially means TPLF (the Tigrean People Liberation Front). The remaining parties, especially the OPDO (Oromo People’s Democratic Party) was cobbled up in haste from prisoners of war when TPLF was approaching Addis Abeba to control power by ousting the military junta back in 1991. However, even the so-called OPDO – lately joined by the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) – felt empowered by the popular protests in their respective regions sending a clear sign that TPLF was about to be left naked with its garbs removed.
Now that the Tigreans realized that they cannot reply on dividing Oromo and Amhara any more, they resorted to another variant of divide and rule – fostering alliance between minorities to withstand the impending solidarity between the two majority ethnic groups. This strategic shift was elucidated by two most senior TPLF veterans, Abay Tsehaye and Seyoum Mesfin, in their two-part interview conducted (in Amharic) with the government affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation. The TPLF-dominated-EPRD’s new strategy was to present the Oromo-Amhara coalition as a threat to the minority ethnic groups, such as Tigre and Somali.  The regime has already experimented pitting minority against majority at different scales: Tigreans against the rest of Ethiopians at national scale, Somali against Oromo at regional scale, and many more similar fabricated divisions at regional and local levels in many communities across Ethiopia.  What is new is the fact that these two relatively separate strands are explicitly brought together and extensively implemented at national scale.
In addition to the interview cited above, one can adduce more evidences to illustrate the new machination by the Tigre and Somali political and security alliance.  For instance, there was an incidence in which Amhara popular uprising caused some ethnic Tigreans to get relocated from the Amhara regional state. What happened next raised eyebrows of many observers: Abdi Mohamoud Omar, SRS President who rules his people with iron fist, declared his cabinet’s endorsement to “donate 10 million birr for displaced innocent Ethiopian people [Tigreans] from Gondar & Bahir Dar cities of the Amhara regional state”.
Further evidence regarding the maneuvering of minority alliance with deadly intent comes from Aigaforum, a TPLF mouthpiece. In an article entitled “Liyyu Police: The Savior”, the website came up with the following jumbled up assertion: “they [Liyyu Police] are from the people and for the people of Somali region; to protect the honor and dignity of their own people and overall Security of the region, and Ethiopia at large. This special force has a mandate primarily to protect the people of [the] region, to secure and stabilize the aged conflict in Somali region of Ethiopia.  This Special force is not like a tribal militia from any specific clan or sub-clan in the region, rather they are holistic and governmental arms —who are well screened, registered and recruited from kebeles and woredas and trained [as per the] standards [of] Ethiopian military training package and armed with modern military equipment. Besides being regional state special forces; they are part and parcel of Ethiopian arm[y].”
In an overzealous effort to glorify the devilish proxy militia, aigaforum inadvertently exposes TPLF by admitting that actually Liyyu Police is part and parcel of the national army, a fact the TPLF politicians have never admitted in public.
Towards full-scale atrocity?
The alliance between Tigre elites and Abdi Mohammed Omar’s cabinet got manifested in the transformation of Liyyu police’s mission from sporadic military excursions to full scale invasion of Oromia. This started by deploying Liyyu police in Oromia to attack and disburse peaceful protestors. For instance, based on eye witness accounts Land-info reported that starting from January 2016 Liyu Police was being used against Oromo demonstrators in many locations, including in Dire Dawa and Bededo.
By the third quarter of 2016, popular protests did not only intensify but literally covered most parts of the country.  However, protests that were inherently peaceful were transformed into confrontations between the protestors and the security forces because the latter have already mowed down the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians during the previous months.  In a desperate attempt to hang onto power, the TPLF dominated regime enacted a State of Emergency (SoE) on October 8, 2016.
An essential component of the SoE is securitization of many regions and transport corridors in Ethiopia.   Particularly, Oromia, the birth place of the latest popular protest, was literally converted into a “high security prison” and Oromos were effectively “put under house arrest”.  Oromia’s regional government was made redundant, being replaced at all levels by Military Command Posts, a form of local and regional government by a committee of armed officers. This was exactly the way it has been for the most part of the previous two decades except that the SoE signaled a temporary move to direct control by the military, abandoning the all too familiar indirect controls through puppet civilian parties such as OPDO.
Soon after the SoE was enacted, Abdi Illey declared an all-out war and the Liyyu Police was unleashed on all fronts along the Oromia and SRS boundary, stretching over a total of close to 1200 km. According to information from the Oromia Regional State, the 14 districts affected in the latest wave of Liyyu Police invasion are: Qumbi, Cinaksan, Midhaga Tola, Gursum, Mayu Muluqe and Babile in East Hararghe; Bordode in West Hararghe; Dawe Sarar, Sawena, Mada Walabu and Rayitu in Bale; Gumi Eldelo and Liban in Guji; and Moyale in Borana.  It is highly significant to note that there is at least 500 km “as the-crow-flies” distance between Qumbi (extreme North East) and Moyale (extreme South West).  Therefore, the sheer number of districts affected, the physical distances between them, and the simultaneous attacks at all fronts indicate that Liyyu’s latest invasion of Oromia is a highly sophisticated and coordinated military adventure which can only be understood as planned by the TPLF-dominated regime’s military central command.
The SoE was enacted with explicit intention of laying information blackout all over Ethiopia, particularly in the highly securitized Oromia Regional State.   For this reason, it is difficult to obtain reliable estimates on victims of Liyyu’s invasion of Oromia.  Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been receiving reports that dozens of casualties have been, including many civilians in Oromia but “[R]estrictions on access have made it difficult to corroborate details.” Locals indicate that Liyyu police have so far killed large numbers of civilians.  Oromo civilians have given up with the hope of getting any meaningful protection from ENDF, given that by now it has become an open secret that the latter is complicit in the invasion.  Consequently, in a desperate act of survival, Oromos have organized a civilian defense force.  Based on incidents of confrontation between Liyyu Police and Oromo civilian defense force around 23rd February 2017 in Southern Oromia, the Human Rights League for Horn of Africa (HRLHA) reported about 500 people were killed, over 200 injured.  If so much destruction has happened in a few days and few districts, then it is possible to imagine that wanton destructions must have been happening during several months of Liyyu police’s occupation in all districts across the long stretch along the Oromia-Somali region boundaries.  Opride, an online media, reported: “Mothers and young girls have been gang raped, according to one Mayu resident, who spoke to OPride by phone. He said the attacking Liyu Police were fully armed and they moved about in armored vehicles brandishing machine guns and other heavy weapons. They stole cattle, goats, camels and other properties.”
Publicity and Accountability
When it comes to publicity and awareness, Darfur and Eastern Oromia can only be contrasted.  Although it did not lead to avoiding large-scale atrocities, the international community got involved in the case of Darfur at much early stage of the crisis.  On the contrary, it is well over a decade now since Abdi Illey’s Liyyu police began rampaging in Ogaden as well as Oromia but the international community has chosen to turn a blind eye to the regional crisis, which has gained momentum and now nearly getting out of control.
Perhaps the reason gross human rights violations by Liyyu Police has been ignored or tolerated by the international community lies in the fact that some donors have been directly implicated in financing and supporting the paramilitary group. For instance, the British Press has repeatedly accused DFID for wasting UK tax payer money on providing training to the Somali Liyyu Police.  Similarly, there are evidences to suggest that the notorious proxy militia has also been funded by the US government.  It is no wonder then that the UK, US, and the rest of the international community have ignored for so long the unruly Liyyu Police’s military adventures in Ogaden and Oromia.
Last week, the HRW released a report entitled Ethiopia: No Justice in Somali Region Killings. This report is timely in raising awareness of the general public as well as drawing the attention of authorities in the UK and the US, who are most directly implicated with financing the militia group.  However, I would hasten to add that what has been lacking is the political will to act and curb the activities of Liyuu police.  Starting from 2008 the HRW has released numerous similar reports but this did not stop the atrocities the paramilitary group is committing from escalating over the years.
The HRW’s report asserting that “Paramilitary Force Killed 21, Detained Dozens, in June 2016”, indicates that the report is anchored on an incident that happened in SRS about ten months ago.  Although the focus of the report was on the particular incident in SRS, it has also highlighted Liyyu Police’s latest atrocities in Oromia.  As indicated in the report, the SoE related movement restrictions means the HRW had to release the report on the incidence in SRS with ten months delay.  Clearly, HRW and other human rights organizations could not undertake any meaningful independent assessment on the damages caused by the latest invasion into Oromia.  The point here is that while HRW has been grabbling with conducting inquiries into a case in which dozens of people were killed or detained in SRS in mid-2016, Liyyu police has killed and abducted hundreds in Oromia since the start of 2017.
The TPLF dominated EPRDF regime in Addis Abeba has long started sowing the seeds of divide and rule strategy coupled with deliberate acts of fomenting conflicts between different communities.  The motivation is pretty clear –it is an act of survival, a minority rule can sustain itself only if it turned other ethnic groups against each other.  The case of Liyyu Police and its latest invasion of Oromia fits into that scheme.
If not addressed timely and decisively, Liyyu Police’s invasion of Oromia has a potential to turn into a full-blown atrocities that is likely to dwarf what happened in Darfur. Clearly, the tell-tale signs are already in place. Genocide Watch, the international alliance to end genocide, states that “Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur.) Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants) or decentralized (terrorist groups.) Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for genocidal killings.”
In Ethiopia, this situation on the ground is rapidly changing and it requires an urgent response from the international community.
By J. Bonsa (PhD)

Realeted:-

press-statement-on-oromo-massacre-by-ogaden-liyu-militia-final-feb-02-2017-issued-by-sidama-national-liberation-front-snlf-executive-committee

Why Is Western media ignoring ongoing atrocity in Ethiopia? April 7, 2017

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

She spoke to me with tears in her eyes describing the calculated execution of her own people. Even though Atsede Kazachew feels relatively safe as an Ethnic Amharic Ethiopian woman living inside the United States, she is grieving for all her fellow ethnic Ethiopians both Amharic and Omoro who have been mercilessly killed inside her own country.

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

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

Tragically on Sunday October 2, 2016 the event ended in what Ethiopia’s government said was 55 deaths but what locals described as up to 700 deaths and casualties.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numerous ethnic women living inside Ethiopia today in 2017 are attempting to work toward peace in the northern and southern regions of Ethiopia as they continue to witness the destructive crackdown of the government against rural farming communities.

Under conditions of internal national and border conflict, ethnic Ethiopian women can often face increased stress under forced relocation, personal contact with unwanted violence including domestic abuse and rape, and discriminatory conditions for their family and children that can also affect conditions causing food insecurity and loss.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ethiopia’s increasing outmigration highlights wider economic and security problems March 31, 2017

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89% of Ethiopians who migrated to Yemen in January 2017 identified themselves as Oromo


The current domestic tensions and political repression plaguing the country are other key factors driving Ethiopian migration. They stem from the ongoing tensions between the majority Oromo ethnic population and the ruling Tigrayans, which boiled over into major protests in November 2015 over the Oromo’s perceived political and economic marginalisation. The government responded by cracking down on protesters and anyone believed to be involved. Since the initial clampdown, Human Rights Watch has recorded the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces and the arbitrary detention of tens of thousands more. The state of emergency imposed by the government in October 2016 has also led to further restrictions on the media and political opposition parties.
The government is unwilling to engage in serious dialogue with opposition groups, so these tensions will likely continue to propel migration from the country. The ethnicity of these migrants tellingly reflects Ethiopia’s domestic politics: for example, 89% of Ethiopians who migrated to Yemen in January 2017 identified themselves as Oromo. This speaks to the influence of internal tensions on outward migration flows and reflects an ongoing trend, as Oromo comprise a growing proportion of the Ethiopians migrating.

 

Ethiopia’s domestic issues must be addressed in order to stem the increasing flow of people out of the country.


The IISS Voices blog features timely comment and analysis on international affairs and security

Ethiopian migrants

By Anastasia Voronkova, Editor, Armed Conflict Survey; Research Fellow for Armed Conflict and Armed Conflict Database, and Caitlin Vito, Coordinator, Office of the Director of Studies


Ethiopia is a major source country of migrants. A lack of economic opportunities, demographic challenges, food insecurity and rising domestic tensions are all contributing to significant numbers of Ethiopians being on the move.

Although the country has been one of Africa’s top-performing economies for the past ten years and a regular recipient of foreign aid and investment, the general population still faces widespread unemployment and a lack of economic opportunities. Around 20 million Ethiopians live below the poverty line, so economic opportunity abroad continues to be a major driving force for migration. Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population of just over 100 million – of which more than 60% are under the age of 24 – exacerbates the difficulty of securing sustainable livelihoods, leading many to seek opportunity elsewhere. Compounding these economic and demographic challenges are the current drought and famine devastating parts of the Horn of Africa. The resulting severe food insecurity is forcing many Ethiopians to uproot themselves to find subsistence.

The current domestic tensions and political repression plaguing the country are other key factors driving Ethiopian migration. They stem from the ongoing tensions between the majority Oromo ethnic population and the ruling Tigrayans, which boiled over into major protests in November 2015 over the Oromo’s perceived political and economic marginalisation. The government responded by cracking down on protesters and anyone believed to be involved. Since the initial clampdown, Human Rights Watch has recorded the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces and the arbitrary detention of tens of thousands more. The state of emergency imposed by the government in October 2016 has also led to further restrictions on the media and political opposition parties.

Although major protests seem to have subsided for now, grievances over disputed land and a lack of political freedom persist. The government is unwilling to engage in serious dialogue with opposition groups, so these tensions will likely continue to propel migration from the country. The ethnicity of these migrants tellingly reflects Ethiopia’s domestic politics: for example, 89% of Ethiopians who migrated to Yemen in January 2017 identified themselves as Oromo. This speaks to the influence of internal tensions on outward migration flows and reflects an ongoing trend, as Oromo comprise a growing proportion of the Ethiopians migrating.

Many Ethiopians, especially younger generations, transit primarily through Yemen but also Djibouti, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya in search of economic opportunities in the Middle East. A recent report published by the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat highlights that around 15,000 people a year, mostly Ethiopians, use the so-called ‘southern’ migration route from the Horn of Africa to South Africa, which is regarded as relatively economically prosperous. The research also notes that migrant smuggling along the southern route is consistently high. Most Ethiopian migrants, particularly those travelling via Kenya and Tanzania, use a smuggler or broker to facilitate parts of their journey. Such smuggling activities are reported to be frequently accompanied by violence, kidnappings and exploitation.

Children and women workers in Ethiopia

Although Ethiopia is a key participant in the EU’s Migration Partnership Framework – aimed at addressing the challenges of managing migration along the Central Mediterranean Route (via Libya to Europe), as well as supporting returns and better border management – major obstacles remain in terms of improving security, and solving the political and economic crises in the region that are contributing to unprecedented flows of irregular migrants. As the experience of regional neighbours, Mali and Libya in particular, demonstrates, ‘breaking the business model of smugglers’ – one of the goals of the Migration Partnership Framework – can be especially difficult when state weakness, a near absence of central government and the resulting spaces with limited governance – foment insecurity, making it easier for smuggling, criminal and armed networks to operate with greater power and determination, on a larger scale and to their advantage. More economic opportunities must be created for the growing youth populations in Ethiopia and beyond. Enabling them to engage more directly in economic life and developing employment opportunities, while also helping to address underlying political tensions, would reduce the incentive to leave and the risk of being lured into illegal networks.

This will be a hugely difficult task, the implementation of which is likely to proceed at a very slow pace. While the government is making efforts to increase employment, through programmes such as its Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II 2015–16 to 2019–20), which injects funding into major infrastructure projects, it must ensure that the fruits of these projects trickle down and are not held by government elites. Donor aid to increase employment must also be used more effectively. This will require better governance at the national level and the empowerment of local authorities to ensure that robust mechanisms are in place to hold officials accountable.


This post originally appeared in the Armed Conflict Database (ACD), which provides monitoring, data and analysis on armed conflicts worldwide, ranging from rebellions and insurgencies to civil wars and inter-state conflicts.

Fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF) extends its state of emergency by four months March 30, 2017

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Al Jazeera : Ethiopia extends state of emergency by four months

Opposition parties complain that the emergency is being used to clamp down on their members and activities.


The country’s ruling coalition is controlled primarily by the Tigray ethnic group, who accounts for only 6 percent of the population [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]
The country’s ruling coalition is controlled primarily by the Tigray ethnic group, who accounts for only 6 percent of the population [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

The Ethiopian parliament has extended by four months a state of emergency it declared six months ago after almost a year of often violent anti-government demonstrations.

The widely expected extension comes amid reports of continued violence and anti-government activities in some rural areas.

At least 500 people were killed by security forces during the year of protests, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch group – a figure the government later echoed.

“We still have some anti-peace elements that are active and want to capitalise on disputes that arise among regional states in the country,” Ethiopia’s defence minister, Siraj Fegessa, told MPs when he called on them to approve the extension on Thursday.

“In addition, some leaders of the violent acts that we witnessed before are still at large and are disseminating wrong information to incite violence.”

Opposition parties complain that the emergency powers are being used to clamp down on their members and activities, especially in rural regions far from the capital, Addis Ababa.

The state of emergency, declared on October 9, was a reaction to protests that were especially persistent in the Oromia region. Many members of the Oromo ethnic group say they are marginalised and that they do not have access to political power, something the government denies.

OPINION: The Oromo protests have changed Ethiopia

A wave of anger was triggered by a development scheme for Addis Ababa, which would have seen its boundaries extended into Oromia. Demonstrators saw it as a land grab that would force farmers off their land.

The protests soon spread to the Amhara region in the north, where locals argued that decades-old federal boundaries had cut off many ethnic Amharas from the region.

Crushed to death

Map of Oromia region in Ethiopia [Al Jazeera]

The Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups together make up about 60 percent of Ethiopia’s population.

The country’s ruling coalition, which has been in power for a quarter of a century, is controlled primarily by the Tigray ethnic group, who make up six percent of the population.

Tensions reached an all-time high after a stampede in which at least 52 people were crushed to death fleeing security forces at a protest that grew out of a religious festival in the town of Bishoftu on October 2nd.

In the following days, rioters torched several mostly foreign-owned factories and other buildings that they claimed were built on seized land.

The government, though, blamed rebel groups and foreign-based dissidents for stoking the violence.

The state of emergency initially included curfews, social media blocks, restrictions on opposition party activity and a ban on diplomats traveling more than 40 kilometres outside the capital without approval.

Authorities arrested over 11,000 people during its first month.

Some provisions of the state of emergency were relaxed on March 15th, two weeks prior to Thursday’s announced extension. Arrests and searches without court orders were stopped, and restrictions on radio, television and theatre were dropped.

Protesters run from tear gas being fired by police during Irreecha, the religious festival in Bishoftu where at least 52 people died [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

AI: ETHIOPIA TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT: License to torture March 29, 2017

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A license to torture

Seyoum Teshome is a professor at a university in Ethiopia and writes to fight the spread of fear that has engulfed his country as a result of an increasingly repressive administration. In September 2016, Seyoum was arrested and charged with incitement to violence against the state. In this blog, he describes the treatment of prisoners in one of Ethiopia’s rehabilitation centres, where he was detained further to his arrest. Thousands of Ethiopians like Seyoum have been arrested and tortured in rehabilitation centres since the state of emergency was imposed in October 2016.

It was around 6:30 am on 30 September 2016 when I was rudely awakened by loud knocks on my door and someone shouting out my name. Peeping through the keyhole, I saw around 10 local police officers. Some of them were staring at the door while others were guarding the corridor.

I said to myself, “Yap! At last…here you go, they have come for you!”

One of them asked if I was Mr Seyoum Teshome to which I replied in the affirmative. They said they wanted to talk to me for a moment, so I opened the door. They showed me a court warrant which gave them permission to search my house. The warrant indicated that I had illegal weapons and pamphlets to incite violence against the government.

Accused without evidence

After searching my entire house and despite finding no signs of the said items, they arrested and took me to a local police station. They also carried off my laptop, smartphone, notebooks and some papers. Confident that they hadn’t found the items mentioned in the court warrant, I was certain of my release. However, three hours later, I found myself being interrogated by a local public prosecutor and two police investigators. The interrogation eventually led to the commencement of a legal charge.

I was scheduled to sit a PhD entry exam on 2 October 2017 at Addis Ababa University, something I had been working towards for a very long time. Throughout the interrogation, my pleas for the case to be hastened so that I wouldn’t miss the rare opportunity to pursue a PhD course fell on deaf ears. My colleagues had provided a car and allowance fee for a police officer to go with me to the university so that I could sit the exam. This is a standard procedure. Yet on that day, they were not willing to lend me a hand. I was stuck in pre-trial detention due to Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and missed my chance.

Little did I know that, in just 12 hours, I would be the state’s guest for merely expressing my opinion.
Seyoum Teshome

The day before my arrest, I had given an interview to Deutche Welle-Amharic radio station about the nation-wide teachers meeting where I commented that, in Ethiopia, expressing one’s own opinion could lead to arrest, exile or possibly death. Little did I know that, in just 12 hours, I would be the state’s guest for merely expressing my opinion.

On 3 October 2016, I was presented in court. I was accused of writing articles and posts on social media sites aiming to incite violence against the government. In addition to the two notebooks and papers they had taken from my house, the investigator had also printed 61 pages of the 58 articles I posted on the Horn Affairs website that year. In total, they brought more than 200 pages of written and printed writings as evidence to support their allegations. I denied all the charges.

Another court session was scheduled in 10 days to allow the police to conclude their investigations. The 10 days lapsed and the police requested an additional seven days to complete their investigations on me while denying me bail.

On 20 October 2016, a jury found there was no evidence to support the police department’s claims. I thought the matter was over but I was immediately accused of contravening the State of Emergency that had been declared on 9 October 2017. A piece of paper with some writing on it was presented as evidence to support the charge.

Barely survived

The Police initially took me to Tolay Military Camp and later transferred me, together with others arrested, to Woliso Woreda Police Station in central Ethiopia, outside Addis Ababa.  We were shoved into a 3×5 metres squared detention room where we joined more than 45 other people already there. It was very hard to find a place to sit. I survived suffocation by breathing through a hole beneath the door. After that terrible night, I was taken back to Tolay where I stayed until 21 December, 2016 – 56 days after my arrest.

Access to food in the first 20 days was limited. We were made to walk while crouching with our hands behind our heads. We also walked barefoot to and from the toilet and dining areas. Due to this treatment, three of my fellow detainees suffered cardiac arrest. I don’t know whether or not they survived. I also heard that a woman’s pregnancy was terminated.

Every day, a police officer came to our room and called out the names of detainees to be taken for the so-called “investigation.”  When they returned, the detainees had downtrodden faces and horrible wounds on their backs and legs.  Waiting for one’s name to be called was agony.

The healing wound on the back of Seyoum’s leg after being beaten with wood and plastic sticks while in detention.

It took eight days before my name was finally called. I sat in front of five investigators flanked on either side by two others. While I was being interrogated, detainees in another room were being beaten. I could hear them crying and begging their torturers to stop.

Moved by what I had witnessed, I decided to secretly gather the detainees’ information. It didn’t take long before I was discovered by the authorities. On a hot afternoon, they came to my room and called my name. A group of investigators ruthlessly began beating me, to the point where I fainted three times. The beatings were unbearable so I finally confessed to collecting information in the camp. The chief investigator was then called in so that I could also confess to him.

Undeterred

By then, I had gained enough strength to renounce my earlier confessions which angered   the Chief Investigator very much. He drew a pistol and threatened to kill me for making a fool out of them. I stretched turned around and spread my arms wide.  Then, I said, “Fear of death doesn’t make me confess against myself! Go ahead, shoot!”

Amazingly, the commander ordered me to go to my room and take a shower. I didn’t believe it. I still don’t. I quickly ran off. I was released a little over two weeks later.

Though I finally left Tolay, those memories and emotions are still with me. Though I am still afraid of another arbitrary arrest and being sent back to prison, what I fear more is the totalitarian state that complete denies freedom. . While there, I told myself that, if I made it out, I would raise international awareness on the government’s outrageous treatment of prisoners.

I will continue to do so as long as Tolay exists.

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NEWS ANALYSIS: TOURISM IN PROTEST-RIDDEN ETHIOPIA IS HURTING; REVIVING IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN UNVEILING A LOGO March 28, 2017

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NEWS ANALYSIS: TOURISM IN PROTEST-RIDDEN ETHIOPIA IS HURTING; REVIVING IT WILL TAKE MORE THAN UNVEILING A LOGO

Fitsum Abera, Addis Standard, 27 March 2017


Last week on March 22, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who also chairs the Ethiopian Tourism Transformation Council, officially introduced the Amharic version of Ethiopia’s new tourism logo ‘Ethiopia, Land of Origins’. It is now called Midre Kedemt in Amharic.

The Prime Minister unveiled the Amharic version of the new logo while attending the fourth regular meeting of the Council, which was established three years ago in March 2014 along with the Ethiopian Tourism Organization. Reason? To transform the country’s ailing tourism industry.

A sign of urgency to reboot the country’s tourism industry plagued by, among others, poor tourism infrastructure and absence of meaningful coordination, both the Council and the Organization were established following a regulation issued by the Council of Ministers (CoM) in August 2013.

The ups and downs

Tourism in Ethiopia has been witnessing an increasing- if modest- growth since the country officially opened its doors to foreign tourists in 1963.  According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MOCT), the most significant dip in the number of foreigners visiting Ethiopia happened during the 17 years in power of the military Derg regime from 1974 to 1991.  Since then, following the coming into power of the incumbent in 1991, the numbers have shown a steady growth from 64,000 to 750,000 during the 2014/15 fiscal year.

That was until November 2015, when anti-government protests that would grip the country throughout 2016 first started, an unexpected turn of an event both the Council and the Organization seemed not prepared to handle.

“That [the time the protests began] was when we started to notice the difference,” says a tour operator who requested anonymity.  “More and more clients began asking questions about security as the [protests] got international press coverage. Pretty soon the low season was upon us and the number of tourists plummeted as we [feared]. But we didn’t expect that more than 95% of our bookings for the high season would end up being canceled.”

The high season in Ethiopia typically starts in September, when the main rainy season is over; and it ends around February when it becomes too hot to take tourists to famous destinations such as the Danakil depression.

Encouraged by the steady inflow of tourists before the start of the protests, our source invested in two 4WD cars. “We bought two cars towards the end of the last fiscal year,” he explained. “We borrowed money from a bank and invested some from our own accounts. But there are no tourists now and we can’t even rent the cars to business tourists coming to Addis Abeba. We don’t know what to do. We are just paying rent, maintaining a small staff and hoping for the best at the moment.”

Although order seemed to have returned following the declaration of the current state of emergency in October last year, and “we are getting more requests now than before, it is not enough to maintain our business,” our source worries. “If things continue at this rate, we will be forced to close down. We picked a bad time to expand our business.” He also said most of their clients come from abroad after communicating with them via the internet, which suffered its own share misfortune as the country shut down internet following protests. Walk in and domestic clients account only for less than 2% of their total bookings, he said.

His frustrations are shared by many tour and travel companies that joined the market recently. Not only tour operators but those working in the transport sector were affected as well, according to Getnet Asefa, a freelance driver/guide. Getnet, who used to make an average 500birr (around $21) per day as a freelance guide, says he is now considering a change in career. “Last year at this time, I worked at least 4 days a week,” he says, “Now getting tourism work has become very difficult. Some of my friends have started working as taxi drivers. At this point, we don’t know what is going to happen next and that is scary.”

Embassy travel warnings aren’t helping the matter, either. The United States traveling warning, issued in Dec. 2016, and the United Kingdom foreign travel advice, updated most recently in Jan. 2017, are still in effect. In fact, the only country that has lifted its travel ban is Germany. But even that excludes traveling to North Gondar, an area located in a region where most tourist detestations are found.

The effect is also felt among tour and travel agencies that on the surface seemed to be doing well. “We are concerned that the company won’t survive this year,” says Yenealem Getachew, managing director of Horizon Ethiopia Tour and Travel plc. “We don’t expect to be reimbursed for our losses. But we do have many commitments. For example, we have to pay profit tax at the end of the year. Some of us have bank loans. When you have a debt to service, that is the first thing you want to take care of. If you can’t do that, you start to lay off employees.”

Yenealem said his company has asked the government for help but they “still haven’t got a response. I think they are more concerned about companies with physical damage. They don’t seem to grasp that without clients we tour operators get nothing.”

In late Oct. 2016, Ethiopia Ministry of Culture and Tourism, MOCT, has established a command post to assess the damage the industry sustained as well as to ensure the “safety of tourists”. “We went to see the damage caused by the protesters,” Tewedros Derbew, Tourist Services Competence and grading directorate director at the ministry and head of the committee, told Addis Standard. “We called the owners for a meeting to discuss how to help them as well as to offer moral support. We have now sent a report to the investment commission detailing their losses. We have also distributed questionnaires to tour operators but we haven’t received their responses yet.”

Tewedros admits “the industry has been severely affected. There is no question about that.” But contrary to the actors in the industry say, he insists “no tour and travel company was forced or threatened to close down or let go of its employees because of it.”

The opposite of…

In late 2015, around the same time the protests began, MOCT announced that it wanted to “triple the number of foreign visitors, to more than 2.5 million, by 2020”, and make Ethiopia become one of Africa’s top five tourist destinations.

In a stark difference to what the actors in the industry and several reports say in post-protest Ethiopia, in a January 2017 report to the house of people’s representatives, Hirut Woldemariam, the new minister at the ministry of culture and tourism, reported that despite the current state of emergency 300,000 tourists have visited the country during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, generating $872 revenue to the country.

But as in every sector, data for this sector is prepared by the government itself. If one goes by Hirut’s numbers above for example, more tourists have visited Ethiopia during its turbulent year than in its years of peace. In Oct. 2015, one month before the start of the protests, the same ministry said that during the 2014/15 fiscal year, 750,000 tourists have visited Ethiopia, fetching in $2.9 billion income to the county. That figure is close to the $3b the government expected to earn from the industry by the end of its first Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) in 2015.

Other hurdles

In Oct. 2016, Lonely Planet has rated Ethiopia 10th out of the “Top Ten Countries to visit in 2017.” But, that announcement seemed to contribute little when it comes to shaking off Ethiopia’s image in the aftermath of the widely reported yearlong protests.

“Image is everything for a country’s tourism sector,” one expert says. “We had just managed to overcome decades of bad publicity caused by famines and violent regime changes. [As of late] Ethiopia had been named one of the emerging tourist destinations. The country’s overall infrastructure was getting better. Then this [the protest] happens. It will take a long time to recover from the effects of the unrest. It is difficult to predict just how long.”

Other issues many tour operators cite in relation to the decline in tourism are the substandard services and accommodations, inadequate maintenance given to tourism infrastructure and destinations, and the lack of communication between tour operators and government agencies.

“Take Lalibela for example. It looks exactly the way it did 10 years ago but the entrance fee has increased,” says Yenealem. “Our hotel bookings are dropped with little to no notice when there are big events like Epiphany in Gondar. The local guides monopolize any work to be done on the sites [including] increasing entrance and guide fees at will and they chase away anyone who refuses to have a guide.”

Lots of plans

In addition to the five-year plan by the MOCT, in September 2016, The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has handed over Ethiopia’s Sustainable Tourism Master Plan (STMP) 2015-2025 to the then minister of tourism and culture, Ayisha Mohammed Mussa. It targets to lift the number of international visitors to five million in the year 2025. The projected income from the industry to increase from ETB14.197 billion in 2012 to ETB180 billion in 2015. The corresponding number of jobs in the tourism sector will increase from 985, 500 to 4.8 million, according to the document.

As part of its several initiatives to revive the industry, as of last week, the Ethiopian Tourism Organization is organizing a series of workshops in several cities in North America including New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

ETO has also recently signed, for an undisclosed amount of money, an agreement with New York-based CornerSun, a tourism marketing and public relations firm to “represent and promote Ethiopia” to travel trade and media throughout the United States and Canada. Since it was formed in 2014, the organization, led by an industry veteran Solomon Tadesse, has spent more time and resource to promote Ethiopia by participating in various fairs and exhibitions outside the country.

With all that said and all the inconsistencies considered, however, tour operators worry that the number of tourists visiting Ethiopia will continue falling short than both the five year plan by the ministry and ECA’s STMP have anticipated.

Last week and this week, while Solomon Tadesse, along with a group of hotels as well as tour and travel company owners, is doing a three-city roadshow in the Americas, some tourists who want to take chances to visit Ethiopia signed onto Lonely Planet’s online forums to complain about complicated visa requirements at Ethiopian embassies abroad and a steep rise in domestic flight fare by the state monopoly, Ethiopian Airlines, an indication that beyond the protest-tainted image the industry is facing as of late tourists are also dealing with other problems that are equally urgent; but problems that are less the focus of the endless plans to revive the sector, including a new logo. AS 

IFEX: The police brutalities resulted in several deaths: A death toll of 150 was recorded in Ethiopia, 32 in DRC and one in Mali. March 24, 2017

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In this photo taken on 2 October 2016, Ethiopian soldiers try to stop protesters in Bishoftu, Ethiopia
In this photo taken on 2 October 2016, Ethiopian soldiers try to stop protesters in Bishoftu, Ethiopia

AP Photo


This statement was originally published on africafex.org on 21 March 2017.


A total of 183 deaths were recorded from July to December 2016 following clashes between protestors and security agents in three countries – Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mali.

In each of the three countries, security agents used excessive force to disperse protestors who were demonstrating against specific issues in their respective countries. The police brutalities resulted in several deaths. A death toll of 150 was recorded in Ethiopia, 32 in DRC and one in Mali.

To date, not one security agent has been prosecuted for any of the killings in the three countries.

Unfortunately, this is just one of the many violations perpetrated against protestors, journalists and media organisations in Africa as reported in the maiden edition of the Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa report by the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) compiled for the period July to December 2016.

The periodic Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa Report is an intervention by AFEX that seeks to monitor and report on FOE violations (including violations against freedom of assembly and association) and other developments in Africa for the timely intervention by appropriate stakeholders.

Over the six-month period, 63 incidents of violation were recorded in 19 countries across the African continent. State security apparatus were the main perpetrators of the violations. Together, they were responsible for 57 percent (36) of the 63 violations.

State security agents were not only responsible for the killing of the 183 protestors in the three countries; they were also the perpetrators of all 19 incidents of arrests and detentions in 10 of the 19 countries covered in the report. in addition, five out of six media organisations were shut down by state security agents.

State officials were also found to be perpetrators of media and FOE rights violations both online and offline. Of the 63 violations, 10 were carried out by/on the orders of state officials. Thus, state actors were generally the main perpetrators of the various violations reported in the Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa report.

Sadly, only seven out of 63 recorded violations received some form of redress actions.

For the full report on the types of violations cited, other perpetrators, the 19 countries monitored and the targets of the violations, click here.


 

Forbes: Ethiopia’s Cruel Con Game March 3, 2017

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

The amount of American financial aid received by Ethiopia’s government since it took power: $30 billion. The amount stolen by Ethiopia’s leaders since it took power: $30 billion.


Ethiopia’s Cruel Con Game

Forbes Opinoin, GUEST POST WRITTEN BY David Steinman, 3 March 2017


Mr. Steinman advises foreign democracy movements. He authored the novel “Money, Blood and Conscience” about Ethiopia’s secret genocide.


In what could be an important test of the Trump Administration’s attitude toward foreign aid, the new United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, and UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien have called on the international community to give the Ethiopian government another $948 million to assist a reported 5.6 million people facing starvation.

Speaking in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, during the recent 28th Summit of the African Union, Guterres described Ethiopia as a “pillar of stability” in the tumultuous Horn of Africa, praised its government for an effective response to last year’s climate change-induced drought that left nearly 20 million people needing food assistance, and asked the world to show “total solidarity” with the regime.

Women and children wait for care at an outpatient treatment center in Lerra village, Wolayta, Ethiopia, on June 10, 2008. (Jose Cendon/Bloomberg News)

Ethiopia is aflame with rebellions against its unpopular dictatorship, which tried to cover up the extent of last year’s famine. But even if the secretary general’s encouraging narrative were true, it still begs the question: Why, despite ever-increasing amounts of foreign support, can’t this nation of 100 million clever, enterprising people feed itself? Other resource-poor countries facing difficult environmental challenges manage to do so.


Two numbers tell the story in a nutshell:

1. The amount of American financial aid received by Ethiopia’s government since it took power: $30 billion.

2. The amount stolen by Ethiopia’s leaders since it took power: $30 billion.


The latter figure is based on the UN’s own 2015 report on Illicit Financial Outflows by a panel chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki and another from Global Financial Integrity, an American think tank. These document $2-3 billion—an amount roughly equaling Ethiopia’s annual foreign aid and investment—being drained from the country every year, mostly through over- and under-invoicing of imports and exports.

Ethiopia’s far-left economy is centrally controlled by a small ruling clique that has grown fantastically wealthy. Only they could be responsible for this enormous crime. In other words, the same Ethiopian leadership that’s begging the world for yet another billion for its hungry people is stealing several times that amount every year.

America and the rest of the international community have turned a blind eye to this theft of taxpayer money and the millions of lives destroyed in its wake, because they rely on Ethiopia’s government to provide local counterterror cooperation, especially with the fight against Al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia. But even there we’re being taken. Our chief aim in Somalia is to eliminate Al-Shabab. Our Ethiopian ally’s aim is twofold: Keep Somalia weak and divided so it can’t unite with disenfranchised fellow Somalis in Ethiopia’s adjoining, gas-rich Ogaden region; and skim as much foreign assistance as possible. No wonder we’re losing.

The Trump Administration has not evinced particular interest in democracy promotion, but much of Ethiopia’s and the region’s problems stem from Ethiopia’s lack of the accountability that only democracy confers. A more accountable Ethiopian government would be forced to implement policies designed to do more than protect its control of the corruption. It would have to free Ethiopia’s people to develop their own solutions to their challenges and end their foreign dependency. It would be compelled to make the fight on terror more effective by decreasing fraud, basing military promotions on merit instead of cronyism and ending the diversion of state resources to domestic repression. An accountable Ethiopian government would have to allow more relief to reach those who truly need it and reduce the waste of U.S. taxpayers’ generous funding. Representative, accountable government would diminish the Ogaden’s secessionist tendencies that drive Ethiopia’s counterproductive Somalia strategy.

Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn attends the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017. (ZACHARIAS ABUBEKER/AFP/Getty Images)

But Ethiopia’s government believes it has America over a barrel and doesn’t have to be accountable to us or to its own people. Like Mr. Guterres, past U.S. presidents have been afraid to confront the regime, which even forced President Barack Obama into a humiliating public defense of its last stolen election. The result has been a vicious cycle of enablement, corruption, famine and terror.

Whether the Trump Administration will be willing to play the same game remains to be seen. The answer will serve as a signal to other foreign leaders who believe America is too craven to defend its money and moral values.