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IRIN: Securitising Africa’s borders is bad for migrants, democracy, and development July 6, 2017

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Legitimised by a language of sovereignty, greater border controls are part of an emerging containment era in which Africans’ movements – not only towards Europe but even across the continent – are becoming pathologised and criminalised. There are continental variations. Some countries and sub-regions are less committed to control than others, but so-called containment development is undeniably on the rise. In this new developmental mode, success is measured primarily by the ability to keep people at home. 

Critics of this approach focus heavily and justifiably on the migrants condemned to camps and detention centres, and the growing numbers who die before reaching their destination. Others note the extraordinary growth in a range of unsavoury professions: smuggling, kidnapping, and trafficking. Although often tinged with an alarmism driven by moral outrage or professional interest, these stories of exploited people and extinguished lives need to be told.

Yet focusing exclusively on the migrant victims of new containment technologies and practices, risks overlooking their implications for the continent’s governance and all Africans’ human rights. At the very least, the kind of bilateral arrangements various African countries are signing with the EU will scupper African Union plans to promote easier and safer movement within the continent. They will similarly curtail free movement policy proposals circulating within sub-regional economic communities.

In place of multilateralism, we are likely to get stronger militaries and more authoritarian leaders. Indeed, directing aid and weapons to existing leadership in the region will almost certainly erode democracy and heighten insecurity and instability.

The EU’s new migration-linked development aid emphasises the need to create local opportunities so people need never move. The results are likely to be increased investment in rural areas. While not in itself a bad thing, such spending will be distorted by the desire to fix people in place. African leaders may care little about migration towards Europe, but under these new agreements they risk losing aid money if they fail to control populations within their borders. And ongoing urbanisation can also present a political challenge to their power. Maintaining people in situ – not only within their countries but within “primordial” rural communities – helps maintain systems of ethnic patronage and prevents unruly urbanites from protesting at the presidential gates.

Securitised border management of the kind South Africa is mooting is a gateway to the kind of containment strategies the EU is promoting.  Within this new paradigm, millions will be detained in facilities across Africa or condemned to die along land and water borders. Smuggling, trafficking, and corruption will blossom in place of trade that could increase prosperity. Overseeing this will be politicians empowered by military aid windfalls and a global community without the moral authority to condemn their human rights abuses.

The vast majority of Africans who have no European fantasies will live in decreasingly democratic countries. The African Union and regional campaigns promoting development through accountable institutions and freer movement will also likely lead nowhere. The results – heightened inequality within and between countries, along with increased poverty and likelihood of conflict – will create precisely the pressures to migrate that Europe hopes to contain. – IRIN News

Loren B. Landau

Professor at the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Caroline Kihato

Associate professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg


South Africa’s National Assembly recently passed a bill to set up a new border management agency. The Border Management Authority will fall under Home Affairs, a government department long distinguished by its lack of respect for immigrant and refugee rights. But there are other, deeper causes for concern.

Whereas previously, police and customs officers were under strict (if not always effective) civilian oversight, this new agency will be able to circumvent constitutional constraints. Broader changes to immigration and asylum policies are also in the works, such as a “risk-based” vetting system that could be used to justify barring most people from entering the country overland. Bolstering these efforts are plans to detain asylum seekers at processing centres dotted along the border.

South Africa’s new border management strategy has equivalents across the continent that likely do little to prevent smuggling and human trafficking or to stop terrorism – the justifications often used for such securitisation. Instead, they help reinforce authoritarian leadership and undermine regional governance initiatives. In the longer term, they are likely to impact development.

Free movement – within countries or to neighbouring areas – is central to people finding work and surviving in these precarious times. Constraints on such movement, whatever the source, are fundamentally anti-poor and anti-freedom. They treat migrants as suspected criminals, rather than as people legitimately seeking protection or employment. Many of these policies are being implemented with aid from the European Union and strong domestic support. Countries like Eritrea already maintain a repressive “exit visa” system while Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Niger, and Sudan are all planning enhanced border management strategies, including bio-metric tracking and militarisation.

Containment era

Militarising the margins has become an integral plank in the continent’s new approach to “migration management”. Following the Valletta Summit in late 2015, the EU created a trust fund that is funnelling billions of euros of development aid through bilateral arrangements with African states, including those with appalling human rights records, such as Sudan and Eritrea. Legitimised by a language of sovereignty, greater border controls are part of an emerging containment era in which Africans’ movements – not only towards Europe but even across the continent – are becoming pathologised and criminalised. There are continental variations. Some countries and sub-regions are less committed to control than others, but so-called containment development is undeniably on the rise. In this new developmental mode, success is measured primarily by the ability to keep people at home.

Critics of this approach focus heavily and justifiably on the migrants condemned to camps and detention centres, and the growing numbers who die before reaching their destination. Others note the extraordinary growth in a range of unsavoury professions: smuggling, kidnapping, and trafficking. Although often tinged with an alarmism driven by moral outrage or professional interest, these stories of exploited people and extinguished lives need to be told.

Yet focusing exclusively on the migrant victims of new containment technologies and practices, risks overlooking their implications for the continent’s governance and all Africans’ human rights. At the very least, the kind of bilateral arrangements various African countries are signing with the EU will scupper African Union plans to promote easier and safer movement within the continent. They will similarly curtail free movement policy proposals circulating within sub-regional economic communities.

While the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), already has a working protocol, it has been compromised by fears of terrorism and EU-funded programmes to deter migration through the region. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC), proposals modelled on the ECOWAS framework are now less likely to move forward. This domesticates politics in ways that weaken the regional governance mechanisms needed to address collective development concerns and negotiate more favourable global trade positions. In place of multilateralism, we are likely to get stronger militaries and more authoritarian leaders. Indeed, directing aid and weapons to existing leadership in the region will almost certainly erode democracy and heighten insecurity and instability.

Growth industry

What is perhaps most worrying is how emergent border management approaches are likely to extend and proliferate beyond borders. Efforts promoted by the EU, with complicity from many African leaders, effectively seek to limit movement and freedom across and within countries. Europe fears that any movement – typically towards cities – will beget further moves, some of which will be towards the European motherland.

The EU’s new migration-linked development aid emphasises the need to create local opportunities so people need never move. The results are likely to be increased investment in rural areas. While not in itself a bad thing, such spending will be distorted by the desire to fix people in place. African leaders may care little about migration towards Europe, but under these new agreements they risk losing aid money if they fail to control populations within their borders. And ongoing urbanisation can also present a political challenge to their power. Maintaining people in situ – not only within their countries but within “primordial” rural communities – helps maintain systems of ethnic patronage and prevents unruly urbanites from protesting at the presidential gates.

Securitised border management of the kind South Africa is mooting is a gateway to the kind of containment strategies the EU is promoting.  Within this new paradigm, millions will be detained in facilities across Africa or condemned to die along land and water borders. Smuggling, trafficking, and corruption will blossom in place of trade that could increase prosperity. Overseeing this will be politicians empowered by military aid windfalls and a global community without the moral authority to condemn their human rights abuses.

The vast majority of Africans who have no European fantasies will live in decreasingly democratic countries. The African Union and regional campaigns promoting development through accountable institutions and freer movement will also likely lead nowhere. The results – heightened inequality within and between countries, along with increased poverty and likelihood of conflict – will create precisely the pressures to migrate that Europe hopes to contain.

(TOP PHOTO: South African soldiers apprehend irregular migrants from Zimbabwe. Guy Oliver/IRIN)

ll-ck/ks/ag


 

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UNPO: European Parliament Resolution Condemns Crackdown on Civil Society in Ethiopia May 19, 2017

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European Parliament Resolution Condemns Crackdown on Civil Society in Ethiopia

UNPO, 18 May 2o17


 

Photo credit: Antoine Lemonnier via Foter.com CC BY-NC-SA

On 18 May 2017, the European Parliament passed a resolution on Ethiopia, drawing attention to the violent crackdown on civil society in the country and shedding light more particularly on the case of Oromo opposition politician Dr Merera Gudina, still behind bars. The resolution urges the Ethiopian government to end the state of emergency and the restrictions it entails, as well as to stop using anti-terrorism legislation to suppress peaceful opposition. The European Union (EU) High Representative is called to “put pressure on the Ethiopian government” for it to allowan independent investigation into the killings of protesters. The current humanitarian crisis affecting the Ogaden region and beyond is also tackled in the document.

The last eight months have been a synonym of political repression and humanitarian distress for Ethiopia’s most vulnerable peoples and particularly for the inhabitants of Oromia and Ogaden. On 8 October 2016, in response to ongoing protests after the Irrecha massacre of 2 October, during which 600 demonstrators were killed, the Ethiopian government declared a six-month state of emergency for Oromia. In the following week alone, the Ethiopian authorities had already arrested more than 1,600 people, mainly from the Oromia and Amhara regions. At the end of March 2017, the government announced an extension of the state of emergency by four months.

One emblematic case of the violent crackdown on human rights and civil liberties in the country is the arrest, on 1 December 2016, of Dr Merera Gudina, a high-level Oromo opposition politician, shortly after his return to Ethiopia. In his speech from 9 November in the European Parliament, Dr Gudina had roundly condemned the arrests that followed the institution of the state of emergency. On 23 February 2017, Dr Merera Gudina was charged with terrorism by Ethiopian prosecutors and since then he remains in jail, along with other political leaders, journalists and prominent elders.

Along with a dire human rights situation, the people from the region of Ogaden and beyond face a life-threatening crisis involving a devastating wave of deaths due to a cholera epidemic and famine. Due to this, since November 2016, it is estimated that 2,000 people have died in the remote rural areas of Ogaden.

During the debate that preceded the vote, MEPs raised their concerns over the recent events in Oromia and the overall human rights and humanitarian situation in the country. The text was supported by six parliamentary groups and authored by more than 90 MEPs.

A little bit more than a year after the last European Parliament resolution on Ethiopia, UNPO is glad to see that the MEPs are keeping up their efforts to bring up the plights of the Ethiopian peoples in the hemicycle. More than ever, our organization is committed to pursue its work with its Members, partners and decision-makers to urge Ethiopia to guarantee the protection of the human rights of its citizens, especially those who are the most vulnerable.

You can access the resolution by clicking here.

To watch the video of the plenary debate, please click here.

To read Human Rights Watch’s article on this topic, please click here.


 

HRW: European Parliament Demands Investigation Into Ethiopia Killings. #OromoProtes May 19, 2017

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European Parliament Demands Investigation Into Ethiopia Killings

Resolution Calls for Urgent UN Inquiry Into Protester Deaths and Detention

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

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ETHIOPIA: Merciless land grab violence hits women who want peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

The NY Times: OLYMPICS: Feyisa Lilesa, Marathoner in Exile, Finds Refuge in Arizona February 25, 2017

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Feyisa Lelisa  Rio Olympian and world icon of #OromoProtests

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The young boy was getting reacquainted with his father after an absence of six months and climbed on him as if he were a tree. The boy kissed his father and hugged him and clambered onto his shoulders. Then, when a protest video streamed on television, the boy grabbed a stick, and the lid of a pot to serve as a shield, and began to mimic a dance of dissent in the living room.

There is much joy and relief, but also continued political complication, in the modest apartment of Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian marathon runner who won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics and gained international attention when he crossed his arms above his head at the finish line in a defiant gesture against the East African nation’s repressive government.

Afraid to return home, fearing he would be jailed, killed or no longer allowed to travel, Lilesa, 27, remained in Brazil after the Summer Games, then came to the United States in early September. He has received a green card as a permanent resident in a category for individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business and sports.

On Valentine’s Day, his wife, Iftu Mulisa, 26; daughter, Soko, 5; and son, Sora, 3, were reunited with him, first in Miami and then in Flagstaff, where Lilesa is training at altitude for the London Marathon in April. Their immigrant visas are valid until July, but they also hope to receive green cards.

Continue reading the main story

“I’m relieved and very happy that my family is with me,” Lilesa said, speaking through an interpreter. “But I chose to be in exile. Since I left the situation has gotten much, much worse. My people are living in hell, dying every day. It gives me no rest.”

Lilesa’s Olympic protest was against Ethiopia’s treatment of his ethnic group, the Oromo people, who compose about a third of the country’s population of 102 million but are dominated politically by the Tigray ethnic group.

Last month, Human Rights Watch reported that, in 2016, Ethiopian security forces “killed hundreds and detained tens of thousands” in the Oromia and Amhara regions; progressively curtailed basic rights during a state of emergency; and continued a “bloody crackdown against largely peaceful protesters” in disputes that have flared since November 2015 over land displacement, constitutional rights and political reform.

Photo

Feyisa Lilesa’s gesture as he finished second in the Olympic marathon was made to protest Ethiopia’s treatment of his ethnic group, the Oromo people. CreditOlivier Morin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Ethiopian government has said that Lilesa could return home safely and would be considered a hero, but he does not believe this. He lists reasons for his suspicions, and they are personal: His brother-in-law, Tokkuma Mulisa, who is in his early 20s, has been imprisoned for about a year and reportedly tortured, and his health remains uncertain. His younger brother, Aduna, also a runner, was beaten and detained by the Ethiopian military in October.

Aduna Lilesa, 22, said he was training in Burayu, outside the capital, Addis Ababa, on Oct. 16 when soldiers approached him. They hit him in the head with the butt of a rifle, kicked him and threatened to shoot him, he said, while demanding information about Feyisa.

Fearing for his life, a gun pointed at him, Aduna said he lied and told the soldiers what he thought they wanted to hear about his brother: “He is a terrorist; he is no good.”

Since the Olympics, Aduna said, his wife has been suspended from her job with Ethiopian government radio. He is living with Feyisa in Flagstaff until mid-March, when he will return home to his wife and young son. “It is not safe, but my family is there,” Aduna Lilesa said. “If I live here, they will be confused.”

Unease extends, too, to the Ethiopian running community.

When Feyisa Lilesa runs the London Marathon, one of his primary challengers figures to be Kenenisa Bekele, a three-time Olympic champion on the track and a fellow Oromo who is considered by many the greatest distance runner of all time. The two runners were never close and tension between them increased last September in Berlin, where Bekele ran the second-fastest marathon time ever.

Before that race, Bekele said in an interview with Canadian Running Magazine, speaking in English, which is not his first language, that “anyone have right to protest anything” but “you need to maybe choose how to protest and solve things.”

Asked specifically about Lilesa’s Olympic protest, Bekele said it was better to get an answer from him. Asked about other Ethiopian runners who have made similar crossed-arm gestures, Bekele said that sport should be separate from politics, that everyone had a right to protest in Ethiopia and that the government was trying to “solve things in a democratic way.”

Bekele has received some criticism for not being more forceful in his remarks, and on social media in Ethiopia there is a split between supporters of the two runners. “Many people are being killed,” Lilesa said of Bekele. “How can you say that’s democratic? I’m very angry when he says that.”

Continue reading the main story

Photo

Lilesa playing with his son, Sora, at the family’s new apartment in Flagstaff, where Lilesa is training for the London Marathon in April. CreditMatthew Staver for The New York Times

His own social awareness, Lilesa said, began when he was a schoolboy, living on a farm in the Jaldu district, sometimes spelled Jeldu, west of Addis Ababa. Security forces used harsh tactics to break up student protests, he said, and sometimes his classmates simply disappeared. He belongs to a younger Oromo generation emboldened to resist what it considers to be marginalization by Ethiopia’s ruling party.

“Before, people would run away; they feared the government, the soldiers,” Lilesa said. “Today, fear has been defeated. People are standing their ground. They are fed up and feel they have nothing more to lose.”

When he was named to Ethiopia’s Olympic team last May, three months before the Summer Games, Lilesa felt it was urgent to make some kind of protest gesture in Rio de Janeiro. But he did not tell anyone of his plans. If he told his family, they might talk him out of it. If the government found out, he might be kicked off the Olympic team or worse.

He continued to visit Oromo people detained in jail and to give money to Oromo students who had been dismissed from school and left homeless. He was wealthy for an Ethiopian, independent, and he sensed that the government monitored some of his movements.

He worried that he could be injured or killed in a staged auto accident. Or that someone might ambush him when he was training in the forests around Addis Ababa. When the doorbell rang at his home, he went to the second floor and peered outside before answering.

“I was really fearful,” Lilesa said. “Being an Oromo makes one suspect.”

On the final day of the Olympics, his moment came. As he reached the finish of the marathon, in second place behind Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya and ahead of Galen Rupp of the United States, Lilesa crossed his arms. It was a familiar Oromo gesture of protest and one that carried great risk, both to his career representing Ethiopia and to his family.

“Giving up running for Ethiopia was the least I could do, because other people were giving up their lives,” Lilesa said.

Iftu Mulisa, his wife, was watching at home in Addis Ababa with 15 or 20 relatives and friends. There was loud cheering and celebrating, and then Lilesa crossed his arms. The cheering was replaced by silence and confusion and fear.

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After the Olympics, Lilesa was not certain he would see his family again. But on Valentine’s Day, they flew to Miami to join him. CreditWilfredo Lee/Associated Press

“Everyone was asking: ‘Does he come home? Does he stay? What happens next?’” Mulisa said. “It was so shocking. He hadn’t told anyone.”

For two or three days, Lilesa said, he did not answer the phone when his wife called.

“I had put them in this position and I just didn’t know what to say to her,” he said.

Still, he felt he had made the right decision.

“I needed to do this,” Lilesa said. “I thought of it this way: When a soldier enlists, you know the risks, but because you swore to defend the country or the law, you don’t think about the consequences.”

When he finally spoke to his wife, Lilesa said, he tried to calm her and tell her everything would be O.K. But the uncertainty was difficult.

“He had never been gone more than a week or two,” Mulisa said. “Having young kids made it more difficult. They missed him and asked questions I couldn’t answer. But I was hopeful we would be reunited one day.”

In a diplomatic whirlwind, Lilesa secured an immigrant visa to the United States and eventually moved to Flagstaff, a training hub at nearly 7,000 feet where athletes often go to enhance their oxygen-carrying capacity. He was invited there by a runner from Eritrea, which neighbors Ethiopia.

Even in the best of situations, distance running can be an isolating life of training twice a day and sleeping. Lilesa kept in touch with his family through video chats, but they were disrupted for a period when the Ethiopian government restricted internet access.

In Ethiopia it is the traditional role of the wife or maid to prepare the food, to do the domestic chores. Without his family, Lilesa said, he sometimes ate only once or twice a day, too tired to cook dinner, hardly recommended for marathoners who routinely train more than 100 miles per week.

Continue reading the main story

Photo

Lilesa with his wife, Iftu Mulisa, and their children, Sora, 3, and Soko, 5. “I’m relieved and very happy that my family is with me,” he said. CreditMatthew Staver for The New York Times

“I had to fend for myself in a way I’ve never done in my life,” he said.

Perhaps the most difficult moment, Lilesa said, came when he was still in Rio de Janeiro after the Games and learned of the death of a close friend, Kebede Fayissa. He had been arrested in August, Lilesa said, and was among more than 20 inmates to die in a fire in September under suspicious circumstances at Kilinto prison on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Opposition figures have said that the bodies of some prisoners had bullet wounds.

“I didn’t even know he had been arrested and there I was in Brazil, finding about his death on Facebook,” Lilesa said of Fayissa. “He had helped me so much at different times of my life.”

Eventually, Mulisa and their two children received immigrant visas to enter the United States and left Addis Ababa in mid-February for Frankfurt, Germany, then Miami, where Lilesa greeted them at the airport. The scariest time, Mulisa said, came when she walked down the Jetway to the plane, afraid the Ethiopian government would prevent her from leaving at the last minute.

Most likely, Lilesa said, his family was permitted to leave because to do otherwise would have generated negative publicity. In Miami, there was more emotion than words, Mulisa said, as the children hugged their father and she told him, “I didn’t think I would see you so soon.”

While he will surely not be chosen to compete for Ethiopia at the Olympics and world track and field championships while in exile, Lilesa can still make hundreds of thousands of dollars as an independent, elite marathon runner. Since the Olympics, he has run a marathon in Honolulu and a half marathon in Houston. A GoFundMe campaign for him and his family, started by supporters, raised more than $160,000. The London Marathon is two months away.

He now has a voice as strong as his legs. Lilesa has met with United States senators, addressed members of the European Parliament in Brussels, written an op-ed essay in The Washington Post and spoken with numerous reporters, trying to spread the story of the Oromo people.

If the political situation changes in Ethiopia, he said, he and his family will move home. He does not expect that to happen soon. In the meantime, he hopes that his wife and children will be permitted to make yearly trips there to visit relatives. For himself, he said he had no regrets.

“This has given me more confidence, more reasons to try harder, more reasons to compete so that I can use this platform to raise awareness,” Lilesa said. “I’m constantly thinking, what else can I do?”


WP: Ethiopia targets opposition who met with European lawmakers January 10, 2017

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January 9, 2017
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia said Monday it will not release a leading opposition figure detained under the country’s state of emergency after meeting with European lawmakers in Belgium.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters that Merara Gudina of the Oromo Federalist Congress party instead will face justice.

“Individuals in the European Parliament who are harboring anti-peace elements cannot save those who trespass the law of the country,” the prime minister said.

Merara is one of 22,000 people the prime minister said were detained under the state of emergency declared in October after widespread, sometimes deadly anti-government protests. The government has said several thousand have since been released.

Merara was arrested immediately after he returned from Belgium, where he met with the lawmakers about the state of emergency. He was accused of meeting with members of an armed Ethiopian opposition group in Brussels, an act banned under the emergency law.

Photos posted on social media show him sitting next to Birhanu Nega, leader of the armed opposition group called Ginbot 7 that mainly operates from Eritrea, and Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian marathon runner who crossed his wrists in a sign of protest while crossing the finish line at the Rio Olympic Games.

The Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia said the state of emergency’s wide-ranging restrictions have severely affected freedoms of expression and assembly. “Tens of thousands of individuals have been arrested arbitrarily” and dissent and independent reporting have been quashed, it said.

The state of emergency is set to end in May. The prime minister did not indicate it would be extended, but he told reporters that “as far as the date of lifting the state of emergency is concerned, it should be seen in the perspective that we have to consolidate the gains that we have made so far.”


 Fox News: Ethiopia targets opposition who met with European lawmakers

Ethiopia says it will not release a leading opposition figure detained under the country’s state of emergency after meeting with European lawmakers in Belgium.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters on Monday that Merara Gudina of the Oromo Federalist Congress party instead will face justice.

The prime minister says “individuals in the European Parliament who are harboring anti-peace elements cannot save those who trespass the law of the country.”

Merara is one of 22,000 people the prime minister says were detained under the state of emergency declared in October after widespread anti-government protests.

Merara was arrested immediately after he returned from Belgium. He was accused of meeting with members of an armed Ethiopian opposition group in Brussels, an act banned under the emergency law.


 

OROMIA: TYRANNIC FASCIST TPLF ETHIOPIA’S REGIME FREE PROF. MERERA GUDINA #OromoProtests #OromoRevolution December 29, 2016

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    FREE PROF. MERERA

    Merera Gudina is a professor and politician in Ethiopia. He is the leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and opposition coalition – Dr. Merera was arrested on October 30 upon his return from a trip to Brussels where he spoke to members of the European parliament about the situation in Ethiopia. Since his arrest, Merera has not been brought to court or officially charged. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the good professor.


Merera Gudina is a professor and politician in Ethiopia. He is the leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), and an opposition coalition Medrek.

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Personal life

Merera began his college education at Addis Ababa University (AAU), but was imprisoned for seven years due to participating in protests against the dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam. After his release, Merera went to Egypt to complete his education at the American University in Cairo.[1] Merera received his PhD in Political Science July 2002 from the Institute of Social Studies, at the Hague in the Netherlands

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Political career

Merera founded the Oromo National Congress (ONC) in 1996, which became the largest Oromo opposition group by parliament seats after the 2005 national elections. His OFC had allied with several other parties to form the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces. Due to a court decision in 2007 which awarded the name of the ONC to a splinter group, the original ONC assumed a new name, the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) .

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Arrest

Leading opposition leader Merera Gudina after he returned from a trip to Europe. Gurdina was arrested upon his arrival at the airport in the capital Addis Ababa, according to the English private magazine Addis Standard. Gudina had travelled to Brussels where he alleged, during a hearing at the European Parliament, that Ethiopian security forces had committed human rights violations during recent unrest in the country.

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Africa News: EU parliament writes to Ethiopian president over detained Oromo leader, Professor Merera Gudina December 16, 2016

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ETHIOPIA

The European Parliament (EP) has officially written to the Ethiopian government seeking clarification on the arrest of an opposition leader, Dr. Merera Gudina.

The EP President, Martin Schulz, in a letter to President Mulatu Teshome said they were disturbed about the arrest of the Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) leader. The EP also reiterated its call for the charges against Gudina to be made known.

‘‘It appears that Dr Gudina was arrested by Ethiopian authorities upon his return from a short stay in Brussels in early November, during which he also met with Members of the European Parliament,’‘ the letter read.

I would like to remind you, that the European Parliament is a House of democracy, where different voices can be heard, from foreign governments as well as representatives of opposition groups.

The letter stated that the Ethiopian ambassador in Brussels had said the Gudina’s detention was connected with contacts he had with individuals Addis Ababa deemed as ‘terrorists.’ It added that it was ‘rather unfortunate that his arrest is linked to meetings he had with the European parliament.

‘‘I would like to remind you, that the European Parliament is a House of democracy, where different voices can be heard, from foreign governments as well as representatives of opposition groups,’‘ the letter added.

Late last month, Ethiopian security forces arrested the academician who is the chairman of the OFC, shortly after his arrival in the capital Addis Ababa.

Prof. Merera was returning from Brussels where – together with other Ethiopian activists and the Olympian athlete Feyisa Lellisa – he had had a meeting with Members of the European Parliament on 9 November 2016.

SUGGESTED READING Ethiopia: A year after protests started – Timeline of events [1]

Arrested for flouting curfew rules

The state-affiliated FANA broadcasting corporate however quoted authorities as saying that Gudina was arrested because he had flouted the State Of Emergency currently being enforced nationwide.

According to FANA, the Secretariat of the Command Post said Gudina violated an article of the law which prohibited any communication with banned terrorist organizations and anti-peace groups. “He is under investigation for violating this article,” the Command Post said.

The European Parliament adopted an urgency resolution on the violent crackdown on protesters in January 2016, which requested that the Ethiopian authorities stop using anti-terrorism legislation to repress political opponents, dissidents, human rights defenders, other civil society actors and independent journalists.

Since January 2016 the human rights situation in Ethiopia has not improved at all. Human Rights Watch reports that security forces have killed more than 500 people during protests over the course of 2016.


 

Ana Gomes (MEP): Ethiopia: Arrest of Dr. Merera Gudina – Annual report on Human Rights and Democracy December 15, 2016

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OPRIDE: Ethiopia holding Oromo opposition leader, Merera Gudina, in solitary confinement


VOA Afaan Oromoo: Dr. Mararaa Guddinaa Har’a Abuaattoota Isaanii Waliin Wal Argan

EU: The Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) was shocked at arrest of leading Ethiopian opposition figure Prof. Merera Gudina December 6, 2016

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The Chair of the European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) was shocked at arrest of leading Ethiopian opposition figure Prof. Merera Gudina after his recent meeting with MEPs

Press release – Human rights05-12-2016 – 17:52


EU

(EP) DROI, Elena Valenciano (S&D, ES), made the following statement:

“On 30 November Ethiopian security forces detained the chairman of the Ethiopian opposition party ‘Oromo Federalist Congress’ (OFC), Professor Merera Gudina, shortly after his arrival in

Addis Ababa.

Prof. Merera was returning from Brussels where – together with other Ethiopian activists and the Olympian athlete Feyisa Lellisa – he had had a meeting with MEPs on 9 November 2016.

I urge the Ethiopian Government to make public any charges it has brought against Prof. Merera and I will continue to follow his case very closely.

The European Parliament adopted an urgency resolution on the violent crackdown on protesters in January 2016, which requested that the Ethiopian authorities stop using anti-terrorism legislation to repress political opponents, dissidents, human rights defenders, other civil society actors and independent journalists.

Since January 2016 the human rights situation in Ethiopia has not improved at all. Human Rights Watch reports that security forces have killed more than 500 people during protests over the course of 2016. Moreover the state of emergency has led to further significant restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly. I therefore reiterate Parliament’s demands as set out in its resolution.

The European Parliament is aware of the difficult situation in Ethiopia and stresses the need to continue to support the Ethiopian people.”

EurActive: EU: Commission to Ethiopia: ‘start addressing legitimate grievances of your people’ December 2, 2016

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 Commission to Ethiopia: ‘start addressing legitimate grievances of your people’

The European Commission issued a stinging rebuke to one of its lead partners on the African continent today (2 December), telling the Ethiopian government to “start addressing the legitimate grievances of the Ethiopian people”.

The warning came after the arrest of an Ethiopian opposition leader following his return from Europe where he had spoken out against a state of emergency imposed last month to quell anti-government protests which have seen hundreds killed.

As a major donor of EU development aid, and a key partner in the Commission’s new Trust Fund for Africa aimed at quelling so-called “irregular migration”, Brussels has been slow to publicly criticise the government in Addis Ababa.

However, the detention of Merera Gudina after his trip to Europe, appears to have changed the equation.

Speaking on Friday, a Commission spokeswoman told reporters: “We have raised our concerns over the arrest with the Ethiopian authorities.

“What Ethiopia needs now is political dialogue and interaction to start addressing the legitimate grievances of the Ethiopian people.

“We have repeatedly insisted with the Ethiopian authorities that the state of emergency should be implemented  in a way respectful of human rights and in a way that  serves the ultimate objective of needed  political reforms.

“The arrest of Mr. Gudina is therefore detrimental to process the process of reconciliation and dialogue that the EU was eager to support.

“We call on the Ethiopian authorities to clarify the situation.”

NO EMERGENCY TRUST FUND MONEY GOES TO ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT, COMMISSION STRESSES

No monies from the EU’s flagship Emergency Trust Fund (ETF) for Africa goes to the Ethiopian government or its agencies, the Commission stressed yesterday (6 September), as human rights groups say more than 400 people have been killed in clashes with the government.

EurActiv.com

Previously, when quizzed by EurActiv.com about the rising death toll in Ethiopia – estimated by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch several months ago as more than 500 in some 18 months – the Commisssion merely pointed out that Trust Fund money went to NGOs rather than the government of Hailemariam Desalegn.

Today’s comments are much more forceful.

Gudina, the 60-year-old chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) was arrested at his home in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday and is being held in an unknown location with three others, said Beyenne Petros, president of the Medrek opposition alliance of which the OFC is a member.

The government confirmed his arrest to the state-controlled Fana Broadcasting Corporate, saying that he was held for “violating (the) state of emergency”.

Officials told the broadcaster that Gudina is accused of meeting Berhanu Nega, the leader of a banned group, while he was in Belgium.

Earlier this month, Gudina addressed the European Parliament in Brussels, alongside Olympic silver medallist runner and fellow Oromo tribe member, Feyisa Lilesa. EurActiv.com interviewed Lilesa during that trip, where he claimed the real death toll may be over 1,000.

OLYMPICS DISSIDENT: ETHIOPIA COULD ‘BECOME ANOTHER LIBYA’

EXCLUSIVE/ Ethiopia – one of the EU’s largest recipients of development aid and a key partner in the new Emergency Trust Fund for Africa for halting the flow of migrants – garnered unwelcome headlines last summer, when Olympic athlete Feyisa Lilesa raised his arms in protest at the treatment of the Oromia and Amhara peoples.

EurActiv.com

Nega, an opposition activist sentenced to death in absentia, attended the same meeting.

At home in Ethiopia, Gudina has strongly criticised repression of the unprecedented protests that have posed the biggest challenge to the quarter-century rule of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

“This is the first time they are targeting the highest level of leadership. I don’t fully understand. Merera has always done things peacefully and played by the rules,” Petros said of Gudina, a veteran political leader.

In an interview with EurActiv, the Ethiopian ambassador to the EU blamed anti-peace elements for the protests, and disputed the death toll.

ETHIOPIAN AMBASSADOR: ‘ANTI-PEACE ELEMENTS’ TOOK ADVANTAGE OF OROMIA, AMHARA PROTESTS

Ethiopia is a secure, stable country in the Horn of Africa, says Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the EU, Teshome Toga. However, he admits “gaps” in governance have fuelled year-long protests that have left hundreds dead.

EurActiv.com

During the Rio games, Lilesa drew attention to an Oromo anti-government movement by crossing his wrists above his head — a gesture that has become a symbol of the protest movement. He has been in self-imposed exile since then.

Hundreds have been killed in a government crackdown since the unrest began about a year ago, according to human rights groups.

A state of emergency was announced in October, a week after more than 50 people died in a stampede in the Oromia region when security forces teargassed a religious festival where protesters were chanting anti-government slogans.

Since then, official figures show over 11,000 people have been arrested in the Oromia, Amhara and Addis Ababa regions where protests had been centred.

Among those arrested are leaders of small opposition parties, journalists and at least two bloggers.

Ethiopian authorities said last month that 2,000 of those detained had been released after undergoing a “re-education” and “counselling” programme.

A key complaint of the protesters is a political system which has meant that the ruling party holds all 546 seats in parliament.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in October promised electoral reforms, but Gudina said this was “too little, too late”.

BACKGROUND

‘STATE OF EMERGENCY’ DECLARED IN ETHIOPIA AS PROTEST DEATH TOLL RISES

The Ethiopian government on Sunday (10 October) declared a state of emergency, following a year-long spate of unrest which spiked in a week of deaths and attacks on buildings and foreign companies.

EurActiv.com

EU needs new approach on Ethiopia. #OromoProtests #IrreechaMassacre October 6, 2016

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EU needs new approach on Ethiopia

By FELIX HORNE,  6 October 2016


  • Addis Abeba. As a valuable friend, the EU needs to push Ethiopia to respect divergent views, and rein in forces who rapidly turn to bullets, beatings, and mass arrests. (Photo: Henrik Berger Jorgensen)

(EU Observer) — In January, the European Parliament passed a 19-point resolution condemning the Ethiopian government’s brutal crackdown on protests that had left more than a hundred dead. Many Ethiopians rejoiced at the resolution. I read it to some Ethiopian friends, who cried.

They had assumed Ethiopia was part of an international order in which no Western institution would dare criticise a trusted ally despite the government’s brutal repression.  They hoped the resolution would be a watershed in Europe’s relationship with Ethiopia.

But in the nine months since, the European Parliament’s outrage has not been matched by the European Union or its member countries. This despite the hundreds more Ethiopians killed throughout the country, the detention of tens of thousands, and widespread torture in detention, as we have documented.

Instead, on the sidelines of EU Development Days in June, High Representative Frederica Mogherini and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn worked on a joint declaration “Towards an EU-Ethiopia Strategic Engagement” that proclaimed business as usual. While demonstrators were being shot, journalists and opposition members locked up, and peaceful activists punished, the EU was silently signing the cheques.

EU officials are quick to point to rare but tepid statements expressing concern for Ethiopia’s human rights situation but it’s not enough. The October 12 European parliamentary hearing on Ethiopia could be the catalyst for much stronger action —built on a willingness to use the considerable leverage that comes with providing various forms of support to the Ethiopian government, including €745 million in European aid for 2014-2020.

Ethiopia’s protests began last November in the largest region, Oromia, over the government’s development plans. Protests soon spread to the Amhara region where grievances focused on complex questions of ethnic identity and the dominance in economic and political affairs of people with ties to the ruling party.

Perfect storm

Security forces have shown no intention of changing their heavy-handed tactics, and the government hasn’t been willing to discuss the issues. The cycle of demonstrations and brutal government responses is feeding Ethiopia’s biggest political and human rights crisis in decades.

How this plays out could jeopardise Europe’s long-term interests in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia’s current crisis came as a surprise to many European policymakers, but it follows years of systematic government attacks on fundamental rights and freedoms, cutting off dissent.

Despite widespread frustration with the government, the ruling party is able to hold every one of the seats in the federal and regional parliaments.  The courts have shown little independence on politically sensitive cases, misusing  an anti-terrorism law to punish peaceful dissent.

There is little scrutiny of abusive security forces in part because of restrictions on independent media and NGOs. All of this has contributed to the complete closure of political space, creating the perfect storm.

An international investigation is needed

The EU is among many donors that have historically been silent about Ethiopia’s human rights abuses, afraid to risk strategic partnerships on development, migration, peacekeeping, and security.

Foreign diplomats and development organisations working in Ethiopia understand that you limit public criticism in exchange for access. The EU claims that “quiet diplomacy” is the most effective way to push Ethiopia in the right direction.

But given the dramatic deterioration in Ethiopia’s human rights record it’s hard to argue that this approach works.

Offering government benefits in exchange for silence is something many Ethiopians, particularly in rural areas, have known for years.

Ethiopia’s government carefully controls access to the benefits of development– including seeds, fertilisers, food aid, and jobs, much of it funded by the EU and its members.

To their credit, some African institutions have broken rank and expressed concern over the killings, including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Union. And the United States, a key ally of Ethiopia, has been stronger than usual in condemning the use of lethal force, with forceful resolutions introduced in the US House and Senate.

Last month the UN’s top human rights official, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said an international investigation is needed. A recent EU statement at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva echoed his call for an investigation, an important step that needs follow-up.

Investigate the killings

The EU needs a new approach to Ethiopia. Strategic relationships will become obsolete if Ethiopia plunges further into crisis, and all the signs are there.  As a valuable friend, the EU needs to push Ethiopia to respect divergent views, and rein in forces who rapidly turn to bullets, beatings, and mass arrests.

Ethiopia’s current approach to dissent guarantees future unrest and makes it less likely that the government will be able to find a way back to gain the trust of its citizens, all of which jeopardises the EU’s long term interests in the Horn.

The EU and its member states should continue to push for an international investigation into the killings, press the government to grant the UN access to investigate, and urge the government to hold to account security force members responsible for abuses.

By taking these steps, the EU and its member states can improve the potential for Ethiopians to be stable long-term partners.

Felix Horne is the senior Ethiopia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

Bishoftu Massacre: Ana Gomez, MEP, Statement at European Union regarding the mass killings conducted by fascist Ethiopia’s regime (TPLF) at Irreecha Oromo National Cultural celebration event in Bishoftu, Oromia where over 4 million people congregate on 2nd October 2016 October 5, 2016

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EurActiv: European Commission: No Emergency Trust Fund money goes to Ethiopian government, Commission stresses September 8, 2016

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#OromoProtests in Oromia, December 2015


Although no single event seems to have triggered the 10 months of demonstrations in Ethiopia, the Oromo people complained of a plan to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into their lands, and that they are disenfranchised by a government largely led by the Tigray grouping, from northern Ethiopia.
The EU follows the human rights situation in Ethiopia very closely.

 

 


No Emergency Trust Fund money goes to Ethiopian government, Commission stresses


EurActive.com, 7 September 2016


No monies from the EU’s flagship Emergency Trust Fund (ETF) for Africa goes to the Ethiopian government or its agencies, the Commission stressed yesterday (6 September), as human rights groups say more than 400 people have been killed in clashes with the government.

The ETF was set up last year, at the Valleta migration summit, in an attempt to mitigate the ‘pull’ factors behind uncontrolled migration from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe, in the wake of the migration crisis.

Ethiopia, with a stable and West-friendly government in the Horn of Africa, is one of the major recipients of the trust fund, which aims to improve life chances and livelihoods in some of the world’s poorest countries.

However, the authoritarian government in Addis Ababa has long been the butt of accusations over its treatment of the Oromia people and their region – which surrounds the capital.

Since November 2015 – when Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker signed the ETF – some 400 people have been killed by Ethiopian government security forces during protests, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Thousands more have been detained.

Credit: Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International says over 100 people were killed at a demonstration in early August.

This week, the situation deteriorated further, with the deaths of at least 23 inmates in a fire at a prison believed to be holding detained protestors.

Pictures showed smoke billowing from the jail, but the BBC cited local media reporting the sound of gunfire from the Qilinto prison.

Pressed by EurActiv.com on whether the Commission had a view on the unrest in one of its key partners in sub-Saharan Africa, and whether the ETF contained a mechanism for either reviewing or even suspending payments through the Emergency Trust Fund, a spokesman was quick to point out that no monies were channelled directly through the government in Addis Ababa, or any government agencies.

In an emailed statement later, it added, “As far as the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa is concerned, it is important to know that no funding are decentralised to, or channelled through, the beneficiary countries’ government structures.

“This of course also applies to Ethiopia.”

EU: SUPPORTING THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE NOW, AND OVER THE LONG TERM

Ethiopia is being hit hard by one the most severe El Niño phenomenon on record. Numbers speak for themselves – in the past year, the number of food insecure people has increased from 2.9 million to over 10 million at present, write Neven Mimica and Christos Stylianides.

EurActiv.com

Ethiopia, which is a close ally of Washington, is surrounded by failed states in the Horn of Africa, such as South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea. This year it has had to deal with one of its worst droughts in 50 years, worse even than that of the famine of 1984-85, exacerbated by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

However, it has a difficult relationship with major aid agencies and NGOs, some of whom complain privately that operating in the country is dependent on not criticising the government in Addis Ababa.

The government in Addis Ababa, led by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, has angrily dismissed the numbers cited by HRW, although admitting people have died in the protests, and blamed “illegal demonstrations and criminal attacks on property” for the unrest.

Desssalegn gave a press briefing on 30th August in which he made it clear that the government had a “responsibility to deal carry out its mandate to maintain law and order.”

“The government would never abrogate its responsibility to maintain peace, law and order. It would not allow the illegal demonstrations, violent clashes or criminal attacks on property that have been disturbing the country to continue,” he added.

Dessalegn stressed that peaceful demonstrations were allowed under the Ethiopian constitution – but must be agreed in time and in advance over location, be peaceful and “avoid disrupting day-to-day public activities or civic engagement.”

The PM also criticised the New York Times and the Financial Times, at length, for recent articles which he claimed romanticised the opposition or downplayed the country’s economic strengths, respectively.

Although no single event seems to have triggered the 10 months of demonstrations in Ethiopia, the Oromo people complained of a plan to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into their lands, and that they are disenfranchised by a government largely led by the Tigray grouping, from northern Ethiopia.

MIMICA: EMERGENCY TRUST FUND FOR AFRICA ‘MIGHT NOT BE A GAME-CHANGER’

In a wide-ranging interview, Commissioner Neven Mimica tells EurActiv.com’s Matthew Tempest about the executive’s master plan for legal migration, as well as the limits of development aid to African states in the rough.

EurActiv.com

The cause of the Oromo people hit the headlines worldwide this summer, as Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa crossed the finishing line at the Rio Olympics with his arms crossed in protest, before seeking political asylum abroad.

A spokesman for the Commission said, “The EU follows the human rights situation in Ethiopia very closely.

“Through high-level political contacts, the EU consistently raises concerns with the Ethiopian government.

“The EU also provides specific assistance to support human rights in the country, notably through the EU Civil Society Fund. We firmly believe that the combination of constructive dialogue and targeted development assistance will lead to positive changes in the human rights situation in Ethiopia and in the region.

“Key areas of concern are human rights, peace and stability in the country, as well as irregular migration and displacement.

Recently, the Ethiopian government began a big drive to increase its attraction as a high-end international tourism destination.

DROUGHT-HIT ETHIOPIA REINVENTS ITSELF AS UPMARKET TOURIST DESTINATION

With the worst drought in 50 years, some 18 million people dependent on emergency food supplies, and aid agencies warning the money and the aid will run out in two months, it seems a strange time for Ethiopia to be marketing itself as an upmarket tourist destination.

Oromia (Ethiopia): EU Raises Concern Over Unrest. #OromoProtests March 26, 2016

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Odaa OromooEU#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia#OromoProtests, 5 January 2016, Nurses and Medical Doctors in Asallaa (Oromia) Say NO to master plan and mass killings.#OromoProtests iconic picture#OromoProtests in Buraayyuu, 15 March 2016, akkeekkachiisa#OromoLivesMatters!

(Oromia Press): EU Raises Concern Over Unrest

The European Union (EU) has once again voiced its concern over unrest that has been occurring in Ethiopia. In a media brief held at Desalegn Hotel on March 16, 2016, the EU expressed the need for dialogue to resolve the issues that escalated in Oromia Region and parts of Amhara Region.“We ask for more transparency – sharing information to know what is exactly happening there,” said Chantal Hebberecht (Amb.), Head of the EU delegation to Ethiopia.

The emerging conflict in Konsso, Southern Ethiopia was also raised. The delegation has already held discussion with the people from this specific area.

The press briefing also touched on the ongoing El Niño induced drought.


 

Oromia: Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) Honours the European Union Parliament that it stood up publicly against assaults on Oromo peaceful protesters. Ibsa ABO Murtii Paarlaamaa Awroppaa Ilalchisee January 23, 2016

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Odaa OromooEU

 

Oromo Liberation Front Press Release

ABOOn 21st of January all party Groups of European Parliament debated and passed a resolution on the current political situation in Oromia, Ethiopia. Since mid-November 2015 another round of enormous wave of mass protests that started over respect for the right of Oromo People in general and against the expansion of the capital Finfinnee (Addis Ababa) that triggered more to be demanded on the basic fundamental and democratic rights that have been supressed for the last century and half. Instead of looking for the solution the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF/EPRDF) led Ethiopian government declared war on the Oromo people and deployed its terrorizing special force (Agazi), the military and the federal police against peaceful Oromo demonstrators and the public at large. In doing so, it put Oromia under martial law tantamount to declaration of a state of emergency. The deployed forces have wantonly killed more than 180 people and wounded hundreds and detained thousands of Oromo farmers, students, teachers, merchants and government employees, including the medical staff trying to treat the overwhelming numbers of the brutalized mass.

 

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European Parliament adopts 19-point resolution on the human rights situation in Oromia/ Ethiopia January 22, 2016

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Odaa Oromoo

                European Parliament adopts

                19-point resolution

                on the situation  in Ethiopia


EU

 

Situation in Ethiopia

Parliament strongly condemns the recent use of violence by the security forces and the increased number of cases of human rights violations in Ethiopia. It calls for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the killings of at least 140 protesters and into other alleged human rights violations in connection with the protest movement after the May 2015 federal elections in the country. It also calls on the Ethiopian authorities to stop suppressing the free flow of information, to guarantee the rights of local civil society and media and to facilitate access throughout Ethiopia for independent journalists and human rights monitors. The EU, as the single largest donor, should ensure that EU development assistance is not contributing to human rights violations in Ethiopia,

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdfs/news/expert/infopress/20160115IPR10195/20160115IPR10195_en.pdf

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/pdfs/news/expert/infopress/20160115IPR10195/20160115IPR10195_en.pdf

http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I114947&sitelang=en&videolang=EN

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Ethiopia (2016/2520(RSP))

The European Parliament,

– having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Ethiopia and to the most recent plenary debate on the matter, of 20 May 2015,

– having regard to the statement of 23 December 2015 by the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson on recent clashes in Ethiopia,

– having regard to the joint statement of 20 October 2015 by Federica Mogherini, Vice‑President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), and Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,

– having regard to the press release on the meeting of 13 January 2016 between the VP/HR, Federica Mogherini, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Tedros Adhanom,

– having regard to the statement of 27 May 2015 by the EEAS spokesperson on the elections in Ethiopia,

– having regard to the declaration of 10 July 2015 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, on the release of Ethiopian journalists,

– having regard to the latest Universal Periodic Review on Ethiopia before the UN Human Rights Council,

– having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

– having regard to the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia adopted on 8 December 1994, and in particular the provisions of Chapter III on fundamental rights and freedoms, human rights and democratic rights,

– having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

– having regard to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by Ethiopia in 1994,

– having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

– having regard to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

– having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas the most recent general elections were held on 24 May 2015, in which the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) remained the ruling party and won all the seats in the national parliament, owing in part to the lack of space for critical or dissenting voices in the election process; whereas May’s federal elections took place in a general atmosphere of intimidation and concerns over the lack of independence of the National Electoral Board; whereas the EPRDF has been in power for 24 years, since the overthrow of the military government in 1991;

B. whereas over the past two months Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, home of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, has been hit by a wave of mass protests over the expansion of the municipal boundary of the capital, Addis Ababa, which has put farmers at risk of being evicted from their land;

C. whereas, according to international human rights organisations, security forces have responded to the generally peaceful protests by killing at least 140 protesters and injuring many more, in what may be the biggest crisis to hit Ethiopia since the 2005 election violence; whereas, on the contrary, the government has only admitted the deaths of dozens of people as well as 12 members of the security forces;

D. whereas on 14 January 2016 the government decided to cancel the disputed large-scale urban development plan; whereas, if implemented, the plan would expand the city’s boundary 20-fold; whereas the enlargement of Addis Ababa has already displaced millions of Oromo farmers and trapped them in poverty;

E. whereas Ethiopia is a highly diverse country in terms of religious beliefs and cultures; whereas some of the largest ethnic communities, particularly the Oromo and the Somali (Ogaden), have been marginalised in favour of the Amhara and the Tigray, with little participation in political representation;

F. whereas the Ethiopian authorities arbitrarily arrested a number of peaceful protesters, journalists and opposition party leaders in a brutal crackdown on protests in the Oromia Region; whereas those arrested are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment;

G. whereas the government has labelled largely peaceful protesters as ‘terrorists’, applying the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (Law No 652/2009) and deploying military forces against them;

H. whereas on 23 December 2015 the authorities arrested Bekele Gerba, Deputy Chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromia’s largest legally registered political party; whereas Mr Gerba was taken to prison and reportedly hospitalised shortly afterwards; whereas his whereabouts are now unknown;

I. whereas other senior OFC leaders have been arbitrarily arrested in recent weeks or are said to be under virtual house arrest;

J. whereas this is not the first time that Ethiopian security forces have been implicated in serious human rights violations in response to peaceful protests, and whereas it is known that the Ethiopian Government is systematically repressing freedom of expression and association and banning individuals from expressing dissent or opposition to government policies, thereby limiting the civil and political space, including by carrying out politically motivated prosecutions under the draconian anti-terrorism law, decimating independent media, dismantling substantial civil society activism and cracking down on opposition political parties;

K. whereas in December 2015 leading activists such as Getachew Shiferaw (Editor-in-Chief of Negere Ethiopia), Yonathan Teressa (an online activist) and Fikadu Mirkana (Oromia Radio and TV) were arbitrarily arrested, although they have yet to be charged by the Ethiopian authorities;

L. whereas the Ethiopian Government imposes pervasive restrictions on independent civil society and media; whereas, according to the 2014 prison census conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ethiopia was the fourth-worst jailer of journalists in the world, with at least 17 journalists behind bars, 57 media professionals having fled Ethiopia in the previous five years and a number of independent publications having shut down as a result of official pressure; whereas Ethiopia also ranked fourth on the CPJ’s 2015 list of the 10 most-censored countries;

M. whereas numerous prisoners of conscience imprisoned in previous years solely on the basis of the legitimate exercise of their freedom of expression and opinion, including journalists and opposition political party members, remain in detention; whereas some of them have been convicted in unfair trials, some face ongoing trials and some continue to be detained without charge, including Eskinder Nega, Temesghen Desalegn, Solomon Kebede, Yesuf Getachew, Woubshet Taye, Saleh Edris and Tesfalidet Kidane;

N. whereas Andargachew Tsege, a British-Ethiopian citizen and leader of an opposition party living in exile, was arrested in June 2014; whereas Mr Tsege had been condemned to death several years earlier in his absence, and has been on death row practically incommunicado since his arrest;

O. whereas Ethiopia’s Charities and Societies Proclamation law requires organisations engaged in advocacy to generate 90 % of the funding for their activities from local sources, which has led to a decrease in action by civil society organisation (CSOs) and to the disappearance of many CSOs; whereas Ethiopia rejected recommendations to amend the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, made by several countries during the examination of its rights record under the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of May 2014;

P. whereas the Ethiopian Government has de facto imposed a widespread blockade of the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, which is rich in oil and gas reserves; whereas attempts to work and report from the region by international media and humanitarian groups are seen as criminal acts punishable under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; whereas there are reports of war crimes and severe human rights violations perpetrated by the army and government paramilitary forces against the Ogaden population;

Q. whereas Ethiopia, the second-most-populated country in Africa, is reportedly one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa, with an average growth rate of 10 % in the past decade; whereas it nevertheless remains one of the poorest, with a per capita GNI of USD 632; whereas it ranked 173rd out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index for 2014;

R. whereas Ethiopia plays a key role in the region and enjoys political support from Western donors and most of its regional neighbours, mostly owing to its role as host of the African Union (AU) and its contribution to UN peacekeeping, security and aid partnerships with Western countries;

S. whereas, as economic growth continues apace (along with significant foreign investments, including in the agriculture, construction and manufacturing sectors, large-scale development projects, such as hydroelectric dam building and plantations, and widespread land-leasing, often to foreign companies), many people, including farmers as well as pastoralists, have been driven from their homes;

T. whereas Article 40(5) of Ethiopia’s constitution guarantees Ethiopian pastoralists the right to free land for grazing and cultivation and the right not to be displaced from their own lands;

U. whereas Ethiopia is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement, Article 96 of which stipulates that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential element of ACP‑EU cooperation;

V. whereas Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in decades, leading to increasing food insecurity, severe emaciation and unusual livestock deaths; whereas nearly 560 000 people are internally displaced owing to floods, violent clashes over scarce resources and drought; whereas the Ethiopian Government estimates that 10.1 million people, half of them children, are in need of emergency food aid owing to the drought;

W. whereas Ethiopia is faced with permanent influxes of migrants and is a host country for approximately 700 000 refugees, mainly from South Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia; whereas on 11 November 2015 a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM) was signed by the EU and Ethiopia to reinforce cooperation and dialogue between the two parties in the area of migration;

[=======]

1. Strongly condemns the recent use of excessive force by the security forces in Oromia and in all Ethiopian regions, and the increased number of cases of human rights violations; expresses its condolences to the families of the victims and urges the immediate release of all those jailed for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression;

2. Reminds the Ethiopian Government of its obligations to guarantee fundamental rights, including access to justice and the right to a fair trial, as provided for in the African Charter and other international and regional human rights instruments, including the Cotonou Agreement and specifically Articles 8 and 96 thereof;

3. Calls for a credible, transparent and independent investigation into the killings of protesters and into other alleged human rights violations in connection with the protest movement, and calls on the government to fairly prosecute those responsible before the competent jurisdictions;

4. Calls on the Government of Ethiopia to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter, including the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and association; urges the government to immediately invite the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and other UN human rights experts to visit Ethiopia to report on the situation;

5. Welcomes the government’s decision to completely halt the special zone master plan for Addis Ababa and Oromia; calls for an immediate, inclusive and transparent political dialogue which includes the government, opposition parties, civil society representatives and the local population, to prevent any further violence or radicalisation of the population;

6. Stresses that free and independent media are essential in order to guarantee an informed, active and engaged population, and calls on the Ethiopian authorities to stop suppressing the free flow of information, including by jamming media broadcasts and harassing media, to guarantee the rights of local civil society and media and to facilitate access throughout Ethiopia for independent journalists and human rights monitors; acknowledges the recent release of ‘Zone 9’ bloggers and of six journalists;

7. Requests that the Ethiopian authorities stop using anti-terrorism legislation (Anti‑Terrorism Proclamation No 652/2009) to repress political opponents, dissidents, human rights defenders, other civil society actors and independent journalists; calls also on the Ethiopian Government to review its anti-terrorism law in order to bring it into line with international human rights law and principles;

8. Condemns the excessive restrictions placed on human rights work by the Charities and Societies Proclamation, which denies human rights organisations access to essential funding, endows the Charities and Societies Agency with excessive powers of interference in human rights organisations and further endangers victims of human rights violations by contravening principles of confidentiality;

9. Calls on the Ethiopian authorities to prevent any ethnic or religious discrimination and to encourage and take action in favour of a peaceful and constructive dialogue between all communities;

10. Welcomes Ethiopia’s 2013 human rights action plan and calls for its swift and complete implementation;

11. Urges the authorities to implement, in particular, the recommendation of the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and to release British national and political activist Andargachew Tsege immediately;

12. States that respect for human rights and the rule of law are crucial to the EU’s policies to promote development in Ethiopia and throughout the Horn of Africa; calls the AU’s attention to the political, economic and social situation of its host country, Ethiopia;

13. Calls for the EU, as the single largest donor, to monitor programmes and policies effectively to ensure that EU development assistance is not contributing to human rights violations in Ethiopia, particularly through programmes linked to the displacement of farmers and pastoralists, and to develop strategies to minimise any negative impact of displacement within EU-funded development projects; stresses that the EU should measure its financial support according to the country’s human rights record and the degree to which the Ethiopian Government promotes reforms towards democratisation;

14. Calls on the government to include local communities in a dialogue on the implementation of any large-scale development projects; expresses its concerns about the government’s forced resettlement programme;

15. Expresses deep concern about the current devastating climatic conditions in Ethiopia, which have worsened the humanitarian situation in the country; calls for the EU, together with its international partners, to scale up its support to the Ethiopian Government and people; welcomes the contribution recently announced by the EU and calls on the Commission to ensure that this additional funding is provided as a matter of urgency;

16. Recalls that Ethiopia is an important country of destination, transit and origin for migrants and asylum seekers, and that it hosts the largest refugee population in Africa; takes note, therefore, of the adoption of a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility between the EU and Ethiopia which addresses the issues of refugees, border control and the fight against human trafficking; calls also on the Commission to monitor closely all projects recently initiated within the framework of the EU Trust Fund for Africa;

17. Is extremely concerned about the economic and social situation of the country’s population – in particular women and minorities, and refugees and displaced persons, whose numbers continue to increase – in view of the crisis and the instability of the region; reiterates its support for all humanitarian organisations operating on the ground and in neighbouring host countries; supports calls by the international community and humanitarian organisations to step up assistance to refugees and displaced persons;

18. Stresses that major public investment plans are required, particularly in the education and health fields, if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be attained; invites the Ethiopian authorities to make an effective commitment to attaining these goals;

19. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Government and Parliament of Ethiopia, the Commission, the Council, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the ACP-EU Council of Ministers, the institutions of the African Union, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the Pan-African Parliament.

 

 

 

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Ethiopia (2016/2520(RSP)). European Union strongly condemns the mass killings in Oromia. January 19, 2016

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Odaa OromooEU

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION: European Parliament resolution on the situation in Ethiopia

19.1.2016

With request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

on the situation in Ethiopia (2016/2520(RSP))

Victor Boştinaru, Knut Fleckenstein, Ana Gomes, Richard Howitt, Josef Weidenholzer, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Eric Andrieu, Nikos Androulakis, Zigmantas Balčytis, Hugues Bayet, Brando Benifei, José Blanco López, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Biljana Borzan, Nicola Caputo, Andrea Cozzolino, Andi Cristea, Miriam Dalli, Viorica Dăncilă, Isabella De Monte, Jonás Fernández, Monika Flašíková Beňová, Doru-Claudian Frunzulică, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Neena Gill, Michela Giuffrida, Maria Grapini, Roberto Gualtieri, Jytte Guteland, Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto, Anna Hedh, Cătălin Sorin Ivan, Liisa Jaakonsaari, Eva Kaili, Jude Kirton-Darling, Jeppe Kofod, Javi López, Olle Ludvigsson, Andrejs Mamikins, Costas Mavrides, Marlene Mizzi, Sorin Moisă, Csaba Molnár, Alessia Maria Mosca, Victor Negrescu, Momchil Nekov, Demetris Papadakis, Vincent Peillon, Tonino Picula, Miroslav Poche, Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero Fernández, Daciana Octavia Sârbu, Siôn Simon, Renato Soru, Tibor Szanyi, Claudia Tapardel, Marc Tarabella, Marita Ulvskog, Julie Ward, Flavio Zanonato, Damiano Zoffoli, Carlos Zorrinho on behalf of the S&D Group

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Ethiopia (2016/2520(RSP))

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Ethiopia (2016/2520(RSP))
B8‑0121/2016
The European Parliament,

–   having regard its previous resolutions on the situation in Ethiopia

 

–   having regard to the statement by the EEAS spokesperson on recent clashes in Ethiopia, 23 December 2015

 

–   having regard to the joint statement by Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, 20 October 2015

 

–   having regard to the press release on the meeting between the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Tedros Adhanom, 13 January 2016

 

–   having regard to the statement by the EEAS Spokesperson on elections in Ethiopia, 27 May 2015

–   having regard to the press release of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 10 July 2015

 

–   having regard to press briefing note of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 10 July 2015

 

–  having regard to the universal Declaration of Human Rights

 

–   having regard to the African Union Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights

 

–   having regard to the UN the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

 

–   having regard to Rule 123(2) its Rules of procedure

 

A.whereas over the past two months , Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, has been hit by a wave of mass protests over the expansion of the municipal boundary of the capital, Addis Ababa which has posed risks for farmers eviction from their land;

B.whereas security forces used excessive lethal force and killed at least 140 protesters and injured many more, in what may be the biggest crisis to hit Ethiopia since the 2005 election violence;

C.whereas on the 14 January 2016 the government decided to cancel the disputed large scale urban development plan ; whereas if implemented, the plan will expand the city’s boundary by 20 times its current size; whereas Addis Ababa’s enlargement has already displaced millions of Oromo farmers and trapped them in poverty;

D.whereas the ethnic Oromos continue to suffer particular discrimination and human rights violations in efforts to suppress potential dissent in the region;

E.whereas the Ethiopian authorities arbitrarily arrested a number of peaceful protesters, journalists and opposition party leaders in the context of a brutal crackdown on the protests in the Oromia Region; whereas those arrested are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment;

F.whereas the government’s labelled largely peaceful protesters as ‘terrorists’ deploying military forces against them ;

G.whereas on December 23, the authorities arrested Bekele Gerba, deputy chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC); Oromia’s largest legally registered political party; whereas Mr Gerba was being taken in a prison known for torture and other ill-treatment practices and shortly after he was reportedly hospitalized; whereas his whereabouts are now unknown, raising concerns of an enforced disappearance.

H.whereas other senior OFC leaders have been arbitrarily arrested in recent weeks or are said to be under virtual house arrest.

I.whereas last December leading activists such as Getachew Shiferaw (Editor-in-Chief: Negere Ethiopia), Yonathan Teressa (an online activist) and Fikadu Mirkana (Oromia Radio and TV) have been arrested arbitrarily though yet to be charged by the Ethiopian authorities.

J.whereas the current protests echo the bloody events of April and May 2014, when federal forces fired into groups of largely peaceful Oromo protesters, killing dozens; whereas at least hundreds more students were arrested, and many remain behind bars

K.whereas Ethiopia’s government has regularly been accusing people who express even mild criticism of government policy of association with terrorism; whereas dozens of journalists, bloggers, protesters, students and activists have been prosecuted under the country’s draconian 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.

L.whereas Ethiopia’s government imposes pervasive restrictions on independent civil society and media; whereas according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalist’s (CPJs) 2014 prison census found that Ethiopia was the fourth worst jailer of journalists in the world, with at least 17 journalists behind bars, whereas Ethiopia also ranked fourth on CPJ’s 2015 list of the 10 Most Censored Countries

M.whereas the Ethiopian authorities have routinely summoned to court the “Zone 9 bloggers” with terrorism charges for their writing over the past 2 years.

N.whereas numerous prisoners of conscience, imprisoned in previous years based solely on their peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression and opinion, including journalists and opposition political party members, remained in detention.; whereas these included some convicted in unfair trials, some whose trials continued, and some who continued to be detained without charge, among others Eskinder Nega, Temesghen Desalegn, Solomon Kebede, Yesuf Getachew, Woubshet Taye, Saleh Edris, and Tesfalidet Kidane

O.whereas severe restrictions on external funding continue to undermine the work and effectiveness of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under the 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation.

P.Whereas Ethiopia rejected recommendations to amend the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation that several countries made during the examination of its rights record under the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review in May 2014.

Q.Whereas Andargachew Tsige, a British-Ethiopian citizen and leader of an opposition party living in exile, was arrested in June 2014 while in transit through Yemen’s main airport and forcibly removed to Addis Ababa; whereas Tsige had been condemned to death several years earlier in his absence, and has been in death row practically incommunicado since then; whereas Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, has written to the Ethiopian and UK governments saying he is investigating the treatment of Tsige, following claims that Tsige is being deprived of sleep and held in isolation;

R.Whereas the Ethiopian government has de facto imposed a widespread blockade of the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, rich in oil and gas reserves; whereas attempts to work and report from the region by international media and humanitarian groups are seen as criminal acts, punishable under the anti-terrorist proclamation; whereas there are reports of war crimes and severe human rights violations perpetrated by the Army and government paramilitary forces against the Ogaden population;

S.whereas The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party coalition, won all 547 parliamentary seats in the May 2015 elections, due in part to the lack of space for critical or dissenting voices in the election process; whereas May’s federal elections took place in a general atmosphere of intimidation, and concerns over the lack of independence of the National Electoral Board;

T.Whereas Ethiopia enjoys political support from western donors and most of its regional neighbours, mostly due to its role as host of the African Union (AU) and its contribution to UN peacekeeping, security and aid partnerships with Western countries;

U.whereas Ethiopia receives more aid than any other African country – close to $3bn per year, or about half the national government budget

V.whereas for decades the government have been authorizing big development projects to foreign investors, which have been leading to severe land grabbing and millions vulnerable people often forcibly evicted and insensitively resettling; whereas often the government does not offer the local communities any alternative to permanent settlement and had not fully consulted groups before evicting them.

W.whereas some donors, including UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank, rechanneled funding from the problematic Protection of Basic Services (PBS) program in 2015 which was associated with the abusive “villagization program,” a government effort to relocate 1.5 million rural people into permanent villages, ostensibly to improve their access to basic services; whereas some of the relocations in the first year of the program in Gambella region in 2011 were accompanied by violence, including beatings and arbitrary arrests, and insufficient consultation and compensation

X.whereas Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in decades, deepening food insecurity and severe emaciation and unusual livestock deaths; whereas with 640 000 refugees, Ethiopia is the country in Africa with the highest number of refugees; whereas nearly 560 000 people are internally displaced due to floods , violent clashes over scarce resources and drought

Y.whereas the current political situation in Ethiopia and the brutal repression of dissent put a serious risk the security, development and stability in the country;

1.Strongly condemns the recent use of excessive force by the security forces in Oromia and in all Ethiopian regions, the increased cases of human rights violations and abuses, including violations of people’s physical integrity, arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions, the use of torture, and violations of the freedom of the press and of expression, as well as the prevalence of impunity;

2.Calls for an immediate end to violence, human rights violations and political intimidation and persecution;

3.Urges for the immediate release of all those jailed for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, including students, farmers, opposition politicians, academics, bloggers and journalists ;

4.Calls on the government to carry out a credible, transparent and impartial investigation into the killings of protesters and other alleged human rights violations in connection with the protest movement, and to fairly prosecute those responsible, regardless of rank or position;

5. Welcomes the government’s decision to completely halt the Addis Ababa and Oromia special zone master plan, that plans to expand the municipal boundary of Addis Ababa. Calls for an immediate inclusive and transparent political dialogue, including the government, opposition parties, civil society representatives and the local population preventing any further violence or radicalisation of the population; takes the view that such dialogue, conducing to the democratisation of the country, is not possible under the current political conditions;

6.Calls on the Government of Ethiopia to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Union Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and association;

7.Urges the government to immediately invite the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly and other UN human rights experts to visit Ethiopia to report on the situation;

8.Calls on the government to stop suppressing the free flow of information, including by jamming media broadcasts and harassing media, including through intrusive surveillance programs, and facilitate access throughout Ethiopia for independent journalists and human rights monitors;

9. Calls on the government to include local communities in a dialogue on the implementation of any large scale development project and ensure equal distribution of future benefits to the population ; to ensure that farmers and pastoralists are adequately compensated, preventing them from any arbitrary or forced displacement without consultation and adequate compensation.

10. Expresses its concerns on the government’s forced resettlement program, known as “villagization program”.

11.States that respect for human rights and the rule of law are crucial to the EU’s policies to promote development in Ethiopia and throughout the Horn of Africa;

12.Call on the EU to effectively monitor programs and policies to ensure that EU development assistance is not contributing to human rights violations in Ethiopia, particularly programs linked to displacement of farmers and pastoralists, and develop strategies to minimize any negative impact of displacement within EU funded development projects;

13. Further calls on the EU and Member States to react promptly to the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the human rights situation in the country by publicly and privately condemning the use of excessive force by security forces in Oromia and call on the government to exercise restraint in its response against protests and the exercise of basic freedoms by the Ethiopian people;

14. Stresses that financial support to Ethiopia from the EU should be measured attending to the country’s human rights record and the degree to which the Ethiopian government promotes reforms towards democratisation, as the only way to ensure stability and sustainable development;

15.Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Government and the Parliament of Ethiopia, the European Commission, the Council, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the institutions of the African Union and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

 

Last updated: 19 January 2016

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B8-2016-0121&format=XML&language=EN

 

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

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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopiaagazi-fascist-tplf-ethiopias-forces-attacking-unarmed-and-peaceful-oromoprotests-in-baabichaa-town-central-oromia-w-shawa-december-10-20151

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

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

Oromo Proteste in Äthiopien

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

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

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

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

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

Watch video01:40

Fatal clashes in Ethiopia 19.12.2015

Donor darling Ethiopia

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Cultural genocide’

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

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

EU should condemn Ethiopia’s crackdown on #Oromoprotests January 13, 2016

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EU should condemn Ethiopia’s crackdown on Oromo protests

IFEXT 12th January, 2016

This statement was originally published by hrw.org on 12 January 2016.European Union officials should convey serious concerns about Ethiopian security forces’ use of excessive lethal force against protesters when meeting with Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Human Rights Watch said today. The foreign minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, will meet with EU officials on January 12 and13, 2016, in Brussels.

Ethiopian security forces have engaged in a violent crackdown against protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, killing scores of protesters and arresting many others. The protests began in mid-November 2015, in response to plans to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia farmland, but have expanded in response to other longstanding concerns as well as the crackdown on protesters.

“The European Union should break its silence and condemn Ethiopia’s brutal use of force to quell the Oromo protests,” said Lotte Leicht, EU advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The EU, which is among Ethiopia’s biggest donors, should press the Ethiopian government to respond with talks rather than gunfire to the protesters’ grievances.”

The Ethiopian government has frequently used arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions to silence journalists, bloggers, protesters, and political opponents.

Ethiopia Attacks Freedom of Assembly

http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/240197955/eu-should-condemn-ethiopia-crackdown-on-oromo-protests

 

EU: Press Ethiopia on Protester Killings

(reliefweb) Meeting With Foreign Minister in Brus
(Brussels, January 12, 2016) – European Union officials should convey serious concerns about Ethiopian security forces’ use of excessive lethal force against protesters when meeting with Ethiopia’s foreign minister, Human Rights Watch said today. The foreign minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, will meet with EU officials on January 12 and13, 2016, in Brussels.
Ethiopian security forces have engaged in a violent crackdown against protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, killing scores of protesters and arresting many others. The protests began in mid-November 2015, in response to plans to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia farmland, but have expanded in response to other longstanding concerns as well as the crackdown on protesters.
“The European Union should break its silence and condemn Ethiopia’s brutal use of force to quell the Oromo protests,” said Lotte Leicht, EU advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “The EU, which is among Ethiopia’s biggest donors, should press the Ethiopian government to respond with talks rather than gunfire to the protesters’ grievances.”
The Ethiopian government has frequently used arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions to silence journalists, bloggers, protesters, and political opponents.
http://shegervoice.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/eu-press-ethiopia-on-protester-killings.html