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Politics of Death: The map maker who finds the bodies in Ethiopia’s land battle June 22, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #ABCDeebisaa, #OromoProtests, #SidamaProtests.
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Politics of Death: The map maker who finds the bodies in Ethiopia’s land battle

 

By Sally Hayden, This Is Place,  20 June 2017

 

A man at a funeral holds up the portrait of Tesfu Tadese Biru, 32, a construction engineer who died during a stampede after police fired warning shots at an anti-government protest in Bishoftu during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Denkaka Kebele, Ethiopia, October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo


Academic Endalk Chala has been mapping the deaths of men and women killed in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, since violence erupted in November 2015By Sally Hayden


LONDON, June 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – It was late 2015 when Endalk Chala began documenting deaths in his home country of Ethiopia, scouring Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to piece together who had died and where.

Chala comes from Ginchi, a town 72 km (45 miles) from Addis Ababa where protests began in November 2015, initially over a government plan to allocate large swathes of farmland to the capital city for urban development.

The plan would have displaced thousands of Oromo farmers, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.

“There were reports that people were killed in the protests and no one was reporting about it. No one cared who these people are,” Chala told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

“The information was all over the internet, not well organised. I just wanted to give perspective.”

While the land re-allocation project was officially scrapped by authorities, protests and conflict reignited over the continued arrest and jailing of opposition demonstrators with full-scale protests over everything from Facebook to economics.

Several hundred protesters were killed in the 11 months to October 2016 when the government declared a state of emergency and shut down communications, including the internet.

More than 50 people died at a single demonstration that month, after a stampede was triggered by police use of teargas to disperse anti-government protesters at a religious festival.

Watch: the map-maker’s mission

Witnesses also reported security forces firing live rounds into crowds of protesters at multiple locations.

A government report presented to parliament in April acknowledged a death toll 669 people – 33 of them security personnel – although activists believe it could be much higher.

For the government shutting off the internet for periods all but ended online contact across Ethiopia, leaving it to the Ethiopian diasporas to pull together the facts.

DIASPORA’S DATABASE

Enter Chala, a PhD student in Oregon, the United States, who decided to log every death he could on an interactive map, inspired by a similar Palestinian project.

“I started to collect the information from the internet: Facebook, Twitter and blogs. And I started to contact the people who had put that information out,” he said.

Once word spread that Chala was collating the deaths, Ethiopian friends and activists began to send details, including photographs of those injured and killed. They contacted Chala via social media and instant messaging applications like Viber.

Chala learned that Ethiopians in rural areas were driving miles to put evidence of the killings online, but he still feared there were information black holes.

Click here to see map WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC IMAGES OF VIOLENCE AND DEATH 

In its report of 669 deaths presented to parliament, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission – which works for the government – blamed protesters for damaging land and property.

In the report, seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the Commission said the disturbances had damaged public services, private property and government institutions. It also cited harm to investment and development infrastructure.

However the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, criticised the government for a lack of accountability and called for access to protest sites.

Neither the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission nor the Ethiopian government responded to requests for comment.

FACEBOOK LEADS TO JAIL

In a country where fear of reprisals is common place, it is easier for those living outside Ethiopia to speak out, said Felix Horne, Ethiopia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Any time victims of human rights abuses share information with outside groups, with journalists – either domestic or international – there’s often repercussions, quite often from local security officials,” he said.

Protesters run from tear gas being fired by police during Irreecha, the thanks giving festival of the Oromo people in Bishoftu town of Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri – RTSQE9N

Horne said Facebook was a key source of information in the early stages of the protests but this was quickly seized on by the government and security officials checked students’ phones.

Last month, an opposition politician was sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison because of comments he wrote on Facebook.

Horne, whose organisation also attempted to document the deaths, agreed that numbers are important for accountability, but said a focus on the death toll alone can be de-humanising.

“We’ve talked to so many people who were shot by security forces. Many of them children. Many of them students. The numbers sort of dehumanises these individuals.”

COST OF FREE THINKING

Benta, a 29-year-old veterinarian and former government employee who took part in the protests, saw nine people shot.

Speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Kenya, his new home, he recalled how a soldier fired directly on a car in Aje town, West Arsi on Feb. 15 last year. Five people were shot, two died and three were wounded, he said.

Olympic silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa makes a gesture while crossing the finish line at the Rio Olympics to protest Ethiopia’s treatment of his ethnic group, the Oromo people on August 21, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Six months later, on Aug. 6, Benta was participating in another protest in Shashamane in the Oromia region, when he saw four people shot. He says he was detained and tortured for nearly two months and has now made a new life in Nairobi.

“If you’re expressing your freedom, you’ll be shot, and if you’re asking for your rights, you’ll be detained,” he said.

Chala said bullet wounds were the most common injuries visible on the photos that flooded in to him from Ethiopia and the brutality he witnessed has stayed with him.

“It really hit me very hard,” he said.

“People will forget. They’ll bottleneck their emotions and grievances and the government will just extend and buy some time, and there will be another bubble sometime in the future. That’s a vicious circle.”


This is part of our series The Politics of Death”, reporting a global wave of violence against communities fighting for their lands. To find out why, read the full story here.


 

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

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

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

HRW: UN Rights Council should address DR Congo, Turkey, and Ethiopia June 17, 2017

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In Ethiopia, a state of emergency has been in place since October, following a year of protests where around 1000 were killed by security forces, tens of thousands detained, and key opposition figures charged under the antiterrorism law. Restrictions have resulted in a cessation of protests for now, providing a window of opportunity for the government, but there is little sign that they are moving to implement human rights reforms. Ethiopia has ignored repeated calls for international investigations, saying it can investigate itself, but recent investigations by the Human Rights Commission have not met even the most basic standards of impartiality, underlining the need for an international investigation.

 


UN Rights Council should address DR Congo, Turkey, and Ethiopia; Greece should not block EU attention to human rights in China

HRW, 16 June 2017

Item 4 General Debate


Defend the Oppressed Peoples in Ethiopia June 15, 2017

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Why this is important

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

LAND GRABBING IN ETHIOPIA & ABYSSINIA MUST STOP

WATCH !

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

Latest Updates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THIS MUST STOP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This rein of state terror must end!

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

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

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

Sons and Daughters
By Maya Angelou

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

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

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

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

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

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐‐

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Foreign Desk: Horn of Africa: a country in a state of emergency: Ethiopia. Protests have put the government under pressure and hundreds have been killed. So what’s next? June 3, 2017

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

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



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


The Hill: Ethiopia at tipping point as Congress mulls human rights bill May 30, 2017

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Ethiopia at tipping point as Congress mulls human rights bill

Ethiopia at tipping point as Congress mulls human rights bill

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Ethiopia has been under a state of emergency decree since October 2016. That decree imposes “draconian restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly that go far beyond what is permissible under international law.” There has been a significant deterioration in human rights violations in Ethiopia over the past decade.

For over a decade, Representatives Christopher Smith (R-N.J.) and the late Donald Payne (D-N.J.) toiled tirelessly to pass a bill promoting democracy and human rights accountability in Ethiopia. In 2007, HR 2003, co-sponsored by 85 members, passed the House.

That bill sought to promote human rights, democracy, judicial independence, press freedom and counterterrorism cooperation; and it strongly urged release of all political prisoners. The bill died in the Senate, supposedly due to a hold placed by Sen. James Inhofe(R-Okla.).

In February, Representative Smith introduced H.Res. 128  to “support respect for human rights and encourage inclusive governance” in Ethiopia. Last Week, Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced S.Res. 168, co-sponsored by 14 senators, which mirrors the House version.

In a statement, Cardin cautioned “partnering with the Ethiopian government on counterterrorism does not mean that we will stay silent when it abuses its own people.” Rubio underscored the “critical” need for the U.S. to remain “vocal in condemning Ethiopia’s human rights abuses against its own people.”

During the March 9 hearing on the H.Res. 128, Smith stated  that there are “at least 10,000 political prisoners” in the country. He condemned the arbitrary imprisonment of opposition party leaders, criminalization of journalism under an “antiterrorism law” and the absence of the rule of law and “lack of due process in Ethiopian courts”.

Ranking member Karen Bass (D-Calif.) also underscored the “steady assault on the human and civil rights of citizens” and the deprivation of the “right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression” in Ethiopia.

In its 2017 report on Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented the large-scale “crack-down” by “Ethiopian security forces” against “largely peaceful demonstrations, killing more than 500 people.”  HRW also documented that, “Security forces arrested tens of thousands of students, teachers, opposition politicians, health workers, and those who sheltered or assisted fleeing protesters.” HRW’s findings are corroborated by the U.S. State Department and Freedom House.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ethiopia ranked fourth on is 2015 list of the 10 Most Censored Countries and is the fifth-worst jailer of journalists worldwide. In May 2010, the ruling regime in Ethiopia claimed to have won 99.6 percent of the parliamentary seats. In 2015, it claimed 100 percent of the seats.

The ruling regime in Ethiopia has refused all requests for an independent human rights inquiry by U.N. special rapporteurs. Similar calls by the European parliament, the African Commission and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights have fallen on deaf ears.

Despite a history of massive human rights violations, the Obama administration has provided unwavering political and financial support to the ruling regime in Ethiopia. When Obama visited Ethiopia in July 2015, he anointed that regime, which claimed to have won all parliamentary seats, “democratically elected.” Between 2010-16, the U.S. has provided well over $5 billion to Ethiopia, making it the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid in Africa.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a speech to State Department employees announced  that, “Guiding all of our foreign policy actions are our fundamental values: our values around freedom, human dignity, the way people are treated.”

In a speech of 6,511 words, Tillerson devoted a stunning 1,057 words to talk about American values and their role in guiding the future of American foreign policy. Tillerson declared the way “we represent our values” is “by conditioning our policy engagements on people adopting certain actions as to how they treat people”.

Human rights represent the rock-solid foundation of the American Republic as eloquently proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and implemented in the Bill of Rights. Without Eleanor Roosevelt, there would have been no Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

President Jimmy Carter rightly affirmed  in his farewell address that, “America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way round. Human rights invented America.” In a 2012 N.Y. Times op-ed, Carter wondered if the U.S. had abdicated its moral leadership in the arena of international human rights.

The pending human rights bill is judiciously crafted to help advance human rights protections, promote democratic shared governance and institutionalize accountability and transparency in Ethiopia by improving oversight and monitoring of U.S. assistance. Congress should pass it.

There a quiet riot, if not a creeping civil war, taking place in Ethiopia today. The massive uprisings and resistance in the Oromiya and Amhara regions of the country over the past year and the militarized response backed by an emergency decree is merely one indication of the downward spiral into a vortex of civil strife compounded by muted ethnic hatred and hankering for revenge.

There are deep grievances against the ruling regime than cannot be papered over by an emergency decree. With claims of 100 percent election victory, the regime suffers from a serious legitimacy deficit, which creates conditions for violent and nonviolent resistance. Ethiopia today is at a tipping point.

Passage of a human rights and inclusive governance bill will go a long way in staving off widespread internecine conflict in Ethiopia. By insisting on structural reforms, the bill creates the necessary conditions for peaceful political dialogue among contending groups and helps open political spaces for peaceful change.

For instance, the provisions in the bill demanding repeal of the draconian “anti-terrorism” and “civil society” laws could help open the political space for dialogue and negotiations. The alternative to passage of the human rights bill is for the U.S. to watch idly as the slow burning fuse inches closer to the Ethiopian powder keg.


Alemayehu (Al) Mariam is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, with research interests in African law and human rights. He is a constitutional lawyer and senior editor of theInternational Journal of Ethiopian Studies.

 


Ethiopia’s Liyyu Police – Devils on Armored Vehicles May 28, 2017

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HISTORY REPEATING ITSELF IN THE HORN OF AFRICA: IS THE CRIME IN DARFUR BEING REPLICATED IN EASTERN AND SOUTHERN OROMIA REGIONAL STATE OF ETHIOPIA?


It is saddening to witness repetitions of similar tragic events in history. Recurrences of such dreadful events can even sound farcical when they happen in a very short span of both time and space. This is exactly what is currently happening in the Horn of Africa.  It is barely over a decade since the height of the Darfur genocide.  One would hope that the international community has been well informed to avoid repetition of Darfur like tragedy anywhere in the world.  However, it is depressing to observe that the Darfur crisis is in the process of being replicated in Ethiopia.

In this piece, I will explain how the scale of the crisis unfolding in Ethiopia’s Eastern and Southern regions (and those brewing up in other regions) can have a potential to dwarf the Darfur crisis.  The Janjaweed militia (in the case of Sudan) and the so-called Liyyu police (in the case of Ethiopia) are the catalysts for the crisis in their respective regions. For this reason, I will focus my analysis on explaining missions and functions of these two proxy militias.

Sudan’s Janjaweed – Devils on Horseback

In order to draw a parallel between the Darfur and Eastern Oromia, it would prove useful to recap the Janjaweed story.  Janjaweed literally means devils on horseback presumably because the Janjaweed often arrived riding horses while raiding and wreaking havoc in villages belonging to non-Arab ethnic groups. The origin of Janjaweed is rooted in a long established traditional conflict primarily over natural resources such as grazing rights and water control among the nomadic Arabized and the sedentary non-Arabized ethnic groups in Chad and Sudan. The Janjaweed militia were initially created as a pan-Arab Legion by the late Mohammed Gadafi in 1972 to tilt power balance in favor of the Arabized people of the region.  The key point to note here is that the origin of the Janjaweed as well as the conflict between Arabized and non-Arabized people in the region long predates the Darfur crisis which started in 2003.

The beginning of the Darfur crisis signified a confluence of the traditional conflict between ethnic groups with another strand of conflict in the region – the wider conflict between Sudanese national army and regional liberation movements, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army. The latter was still fighting to liberate what has now become South Sudan. In 2003, the government of Sudan encountered setbacks in its military operations against JEM and SPLA. In its desperate attempt to overcome failures in military front and also cover up for its planned ethnic cleansing in Darfur, the Al-Bashir government applied divide and rule tactic, thereby merging the two strands of the conflicts into one.  This was accomplished by organizing, training, arming and providing all necessary logistical support to the Janjaweed militia of the Arabized ethnic group in Darfur.  This was how Al-Bashir’s government has engineered ethnic cleansing and undertaken genocide in Darfur with a brutal efficiency, using the Janjaweed as a proxy militia group.  The number of people killed in Darfur was estimated to range between 178,000 to 462,000. Human rights groups have documented staggering number of rapes and mass evictions and destructions of livelihoods of millions of people in the region.

Ethiopia’s Liyyu Police – Devils on Armored Vehicles

“Liyyu” is an Amharic expression to mean “special”, so Liyyu police denotes a “special police”.  If the Janjaweed are devils on horseback, then Liyyu police can be described as demons maneuvering armored vehicles.  It is instructive to examine why, where, and when the regime in Addis Abeba has created Liyyu police.

The Liyyu police was created in 2008 in the Somali People’s Regional State of the ethnically constituted federal government of Ethiopia.  It is important to note that like any other regional state, the Somali Regional State (SRS henceforth) has a regular police force of its own.  But why was a special police required only for SRS?

The key point is to recognize that Liyyu police is nothing but only a variant of the usual proxy politics that has riddled Ethiopia’s political affair during the ruling EPRDF era.  This special force has no separate existence and no life of its own as such but it is just a proxy militia purposely created to cover up for human right abuses that was being perpetrated by Ethiopia’s National Defense Force (ENDF) but also planned to be intensified in its battles against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

The armed wing of ONLF, the Ogaden National Liberation Army (ONLA), has been engaged in armed conflict with ENDF for many years. This conflict reached a turning point in April 2007, when the ONLA raided an oil field and killed 74 ENDF soldiers and nine Chinese engineers.  This was followed by frequent clashes between ONLA and ENDF. The conflicts have led to gross human rights violations in the region at a scale unheard before. In its report of early 2008, the Human Rights Watch accused the ENDF for committing summary executions, torture, and rape in Ogaden and has called for donors to take necessary measures to stop crimes against humanity.

In an article entitled “Talking Peace in the Ogaden: The search for an end to conflict in the Somali Regional State (SRS) in Ethiopia”, author Tobias Hagmann observes that the creation of Liyyu police is essentially “indigenization of confrontation”.  In other words, the government in Ethiopia established Liyyu police to create a façade that human rights violations in Ogaden and its neighboring regional state are “local conflicts”. This was done pretty much in similar fashion with Sudanese government that resorted to countering freedom fighters in Darfur through the Janjaweed militia.  However, unlike the Janjaweed which were already in place, the government in Ethiopia had to assemble the Liyyu police from scratch, applying doggy recruitment methods, including giving prisoners the choice between joining Liyyu police or remaining in jail. The founder and leader of Liyyu Police was none other than the current President of SRS, Abdi Mohammed Omar, known as “Abdi Illey”, who was security chief at the time.

The size of Liyyu militia is estimated to have grown considerably over the years, currently standing at approximately around 42,000. However, any debate over the size of Liyyu police is essentially a superfluous argument, given that there is a very blurred line between ENDF and Liyyu police.  After all, it requires an expert eye to distinguish between the military fatigues of the two groups. It has been proven time and again that ENDF soldiers often get engaged in military actions disguised as Liyyu police by simply changing their military uniform to that of Liyyu police. In fact, it is a misnomer to consider Liyyu police as a unit separately operating with different military command structure within the Ogaden region.  For all intent and purposes, if we ignore niceties, the Liyyu police is a battalion of Ethiopia’s army operating in the region.

Fomenting Inter-Ethnic Conflict

Liyyu police is a special force with a dual purpose.  The first purpose has already highlighted Liyyu as a camouflage for atrocities being committed by ENDF in the SRS, to relegate such atrocities to a “local affair”, as if it is internal conflict between Somalis themselves.

Liyyu’s second purpose is to aggravate the already existing traditional conflicts between Somalis and Oromos over pasture and water resources.  ONLA in Ogaden and Oromo Liberation Army, OLA (the military wing of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front – OLF) have frustrated the Ethiopian army for decades.  While OLA has had support all over Oromia, it has traditionally been most active in Eastern and Southern Oromia – Oromia’s districts bordering with the SRS.

Therefore, the EPRDF government realized that it could ride on existing traditional conflicts through a proxy militia to fight two liberation fronts. This was carbon copy of how things were done in Darfur, indicating how dictators learn from each other. Except that the EPRDF had to create Liyyu police from scratch, it acted in similar fashion with the way the Bashir government used the Janjaweed militia in Darfur.

Oromo and Somali herdsmen have traditionally clashed over grazing and water resources but such conflicts have always short-lived due to effective conflict resolution mechanisms practiced by local elders on both sides. These conflict resolution systems have evolved over centuries of peaceful coexistence between the two communities. The EPRDF government’s divide and rule strategy has long targeted to change this equilibrium, and exploit the existing conflict to its advantage.

Conflicts have traditionally arisen when herds arrived at water holes, leading to confrontations as to whose cattle get served first, essentially a conflict over “resource use”, rather than “resource ownership”. Conflicts flare up often among the youth but they were immediately put under control by the elders. Besides, each side are equally equipped with simple tools such as traditional sticks or simple ammunitions, so there has always been power equilibrium.  But the regime sought an effective means of aggravating these conflicts by transforming them in to a permanent one.

Such manipulation of the situation was done essentially in two ways.  First, supplying deadly modern military equipment, training and military logistics to Liyyu police, thereby destabilizing the existing power balance. Second, and critically, by changing the nature of the conflict from “use rights” to “ownership” of the resource itself.  The conflicts were engineered to be elevated from clashes between individual members of communities to that between Somali and Oromo people at a higher scale.

The seeds for conflicts were sown in the process of redrawing borders along adjacent districts of the Somali and Oromia regional states. In this process, the number of contested Kebeles, the lowest administrative units in Ethiopia, were made to suddenly proliferate.  Over a decade ago, the number of such contested kebeles already escalated to well over 400. In order to resolve disputes between the two regional states, a referendum was held in October 2004 in 420 kebeles along 12 districts or five zones of the Somali Region. The outcome of the referendum was that Oromia won 80% of the disputed kebeles and SRS won the remaining kebeles.  Critically, regardless of the outcome, severe damage was already done to durable good-will in community relationships due to purposeful manipulation of the process by the regime in Addis Abeba before, during and after the referendum.

Once the referendum results were known, all the dark forces bent on divide and rule needed to do was to nudge the Somalis to claim that the vote were rigged during the referendum and hence they should aim to get their territory back by other means, that is to say by force and the Liyyu police was created to do the job.

Since it came into existence, Liyyu’s operations have often overlapped but with varying degrees of intensities across its dual-purposes.  During its first phase, Liyyu police focused on operations within Somali region. These operations had much less to do with fighting ONLA but raiding villages and drying up popular support base of the ONLF, in the process committing gross human rights violations at a massive scale. Human rights organizations have widely documented arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial executions, rapes, tortures and ill-treatment of detainees in the region.

Over the years, however, Liyyu’s operations have increasingly focused on the second pillar of the proxy militia’s mission – cross border raids into Oromia.  However, Liyyu’s frequent raids into Oromia have not received enough attention from human rights organizations and hence atrocities committed by this proxy militia on Oromo communities over a decade or so has not been well documented.  The authorities in Addis Abeba, who have purposefully sown seeds of conflict to aggravate traditional clashes, have often deliberately misreported Liyyu Police raids as “the usual fights” between Oromo and Somali herdsmen but nothing could be further from the truth.

In a desperate attempt to gain popular support from the Somali people, the Liyyu police military adventures have been conducted in the name of regaining territory the SRS lost to Oromia during the referendum of 2004.  The evidence one could adduce for this is that every time Liyyu Police encroached into Oromia and occupied a village, they would immediately hoist the Somali flag as a sign of declaring that territorial gains.  The proxy militia has done so after attacking and killing large number of civilians and displacing thousands of households in numerous districts in Eastern Oromia: Qumbi, Mayu Mulluqe, Goohaa, Seelaa Jaajoo, Miinoo. Liyyu Police overrun the town of Moyale in Southern Oromia resulting in the death of dozens of people and forcing tens of thousands to flee to Kenya. It was reported that during an attack on Moyale town in Southern Oromia “the 4th army division [of ENDF] stationed just two miles outside the town center watched silently as the militia overrun the police station and ransacked the town. Then the militia was allowed safe passage to retreat after looting and burning the town while administrators of the Borana province who protested against the army complacency were thrown to jail.”

Alliances and Counter-Alliances

The Oromo Peaceful protests erupted on 12th November 2015 and then engulfed the nation, spreading to all corners of Oromia like a forest fire.  Oromo Protests ignited Amhara resistance, and then ended up with Oromo-Amhara alliance.  It became commonplace to see solidarity slogans on placards carried by protestors both in Amhara and Oromia. It should be noted that Oromo and Amhara population constitute well over two-third of Ethiopia’s population. It was historical acrimony and rivalry between these two dominant ethnic groups which provided a fertile ground for the divide and rule strategy so intensely practiced by the current regime which is dominated by the TPLF, the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front. The Tigre ethnic group account for less than 6% of Ethiopia’s population.

The Oromo-Amhara solidarity sent shock waves among the Tigrean ruling elites.  The Oromo Protest, Amhara Resistance and other popular protests elsewhere in Ethiopia exposed the fake nature of the coalition in the ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRDF). It has always been an open secret that EPRDF essentially means TPLF (the Tigrean People Liberation Front). The remaining parties, especially the OPDO (Oromo People’s Democratic Party) was cobbled up in haste from prisoners of war when TPLF was approaching Addis Abeba to control power by ousting the military junta back in 1991. However, even the so-called OPDO – lately joined by the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) – felt empowered by the popular protests in their respective regions sending a clear sign that TPLF was about to be left naked with its garbs removed.

Now that the Tigreans realized that they cannot reply on dividing Oromo and Amhara any more, they resorted to another variant of divide and rule – fostering alliance between minorities to withstand the impending solidarity between the two majority ethnic groups. This strategic shift was elucidated by two most senior TPLF veterans, Abay Tsehaye and Seyoum Mesfin, in their two-part interview conducted (in Amharic) with the government affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation. The TPLF-dominated-EPRD’s new strategy was to present the Oromo-Amhara coalition as a threat to the minority ethnic groups, such as Tigre and Somali.  The regime has already experimented pitting minority against majority at different scales: Tigreans against the rest of Ethiopians at national scale, Somali against Oromo at regional scale, and many more similar fabricated divisions at regional and local levels in many communities across Ethiopia.  What is new is the fact that these two relatively separate strands are explicitly brought together and extensively implemented at national scale.

In addition to the interview cited above, one can adduce more evidences to illustrate the new machination by the Tigre and Somali political and security alliance.  For instance, there was an incidence in which Amhara popular uprising caused some ethnic Tigreans to get relocated from the Amhara regional state. What happened next raised eyebrows of many observers: Abdi Mohamoud Omar, SRS President who rules his people with iron fist, declared his cabinet’s endorsement to “donate 10 million birr for displaced innocent Ethiopian people [Tigreans] from Gondar & Bahir Dar cities of the Amhara regional state”.

Further evidence regarding the maneuvering of minority alliance with deadly intent comes from Aigaforum, a TPLF mouthpiece. In an article entitled “Liyyu Police: The Savior”, the website came up with the following jumbled up assertion: “they [Liyyu Police] are from the people and for the people of Somali region; to protect the honor and dignity of their own people and overall Security of the region, and Ethiopia at large. This special force has a mandate primarily to protect the people of [the] region, to secure and stabilize the aged conflict in Somali region of Ethiopia.  This Special force is not like a tribal militia from any specific clan or sub-clan in the region, rather they are holistic and governmental arms —who are well screened, registered and recruited from kebeles and woredas and trained [as per the] standards [of] Ethiopian military training package and armed with modern military equipment. Besides being regional state special forces; they are part and parcel of Ethiopian arm[y].”

In an overzealous effort to glorify the devilish proxy militia, aigaforum inadvertently exposes TPLF by admitting that actually Liyyu Police is part and parcel of the national army, a fact the TPLF politicians have never admitted in public.

Towards full-scale atrocity?

The alliance between Tigre elites and Abdi Mohammed Omar’s cabinet got manifested in the transformation of Liyyu police’s mission from sporadic military excursions to full scale invasion of Oromia. This started by deploying Liyyu police in Oromia to attack and disburse peaceful protestors. For instance, based on eye witness accounts Land-info reported that starting from January 2016 Liyu Police was being used against Oromo demonstrators in many locations, including in Dire Dawa and Bededo.

By the third quarter of 2016, popular protests did not only intensify but literally covered most parts of the country.  However, protests that were inherently peaceful were transformed into confrontations between the protestors and the security forces because the latter have already mowed down the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians during the previous months.  In a desperate attempt to hang onto power, the TPLF dominated regime enacted a State of Emergency (SoE) on October 8, 2016.

An essential component of the SoE is securitization of many regions and transport corridors in Ethiopia.   Particularly, Oromia, the birth place of the latest popular protest, was literally converted into a “high security prison” and Oromos were effectively “put under house arrest”.  Oromia’s regional government was made redundant, being replaced at all levels by Military Command Posts, a form of local and regional government by a committee of armed officers. This was exactly the way it has been for the most part of the previous two decades except that the SoE signaled a temporary move to direct control by the military, abandoning the all too familiar indirect controls through puppet civilian parties such as OPDO.

Soon after the SoE was enacted, Abdi Illey declared an all-out war and the Liyyu Police was unleashed on all fronts along the Oromia and SRS boundary, stretching over a total of close to 1200 km. According to information from the Oromia Regional State, the 14 districts affected in the latest wave of Liyyu Police invasion are: Qumbi, Cinaksan, Midhaga Tola, Gursum, Mayu Muluqe and Babile in East Hararghe; Bordode in West Hararghe; Dawe Sarar, Sawena, Mada Walabu and Rayitu in Bale; Gumi Eldelo and Liban in Guji; and Moyale in Borana.  It is highly significant to note that there is at least 500 km “as the-crow-flies” distance between Qumbi (extreme North East) and Moyale (extreme South West).  Therefore, the sheer number of districts affected, the physical distances between them, and the simultaneous attacks at all fronts indicate that Liyyu’s latest invasion of Oromia is a highly sophisticated and coordinated military adventure which can only be understood as planned by the TPLF-dominated regime’s military central command.

The SoE was enacted with explicit intention of laying information blackout all over Ethiopia, particularly in the highly securitized Oromia Regional State.   For this reason, it is difficult to obtain reliable estimates on victims of Liyyu’s invasion of Oromia.  Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been receiving reports that dozens of casualties have been, including many civilians in Oromia but “[R]estrictions on access have made it difficult to corroborate details.” Locals indicate that Liyyu police have so far killed large numbers of civilians.  Oromo civilians have given up with the hope of getting any meaningful protection from ENDF, given that by now it has become an open secret that the latter is complicit in the invasion.  Consequently, in a desperate act of survival, Oromos have organized a civilian defense force.  Based on incidents of confrontation between Liyyu Police and Oromo civilian defense force around 23rd February 2017 in Southern Oromia, the Human Rights League for Horn of Africa (HRLHA) reported about 500 people were killed, over 200 injured.  If so much destruction has happened in a few days and few districts, then it is possible to imagine that wanton destructions must have been happening during several months of Liyyu police’s occupation in all districts across the long stretch along the Oromia-Somali region boundaries.  Opride, an online media, reported: “Mothers and young girls have been gang raped, according to one Mayu resident, who spoke to OPride by phone. He said the attacking Liyu Police were fully armed and they moved about in armored vehicles brandishing machine guns and other heavy weapons. They stole cattle, goats, camels and other properties.”

Publicity and Accountability

When it comes to publicity and awareness, Darfur and Eastern Oromia can only be contrasted.  Although it did not lead to avoiding large-scale atrocities, the international community got involved in the case of Darfur at much early stage of the crisis.  On the contrary, it is well over a decade now since Abdi Illey’s Liyyu police began rampaging in Ogaden as well as Oromia but the international community has chosen to turn a blind eye to the regional crisis, which has gained momentum and now nearly getting out of control.

Perhaps the reason gross human rights violations by Liyyu Police has been ignored or tolerated by the international community lies in the fact that some donors have been directly implicated in financing and supporting the paramilitary group. For instance, the British Press has repeatedly accused DFID for wasting UK tax payer money on providing training to the Somali Liyyu Police.  Similarly, there are evidences to suggest that the notorious proxy militia has also been funded by the US government.  It is no wonder then that the UK, US, and the rest of the international community have ignored for so long the unruly Liyyu Police’s military adventures in Ogaden and Oromia.

Last week, the HRW released a report entitled Ethiopia: No Justice in Somali Region Killings. This report is timely in raising awareness of the general public as well as drawing the attention of authorities in the UK and the US, who are most directly implicated with financing the militia group.  However, I would hasten to add that what has been lacking is the political will to act and curb the activities of Liyuu police.  Starting from 2008 the HRW has released numerous similar reports but this did not stop the atrocities the paramilitary group is committing from escalating over the years.

The HRW’s report asserting that “Paramilitary Force Killed 21, Detained Dozens, in June 2016”, indicates that the report is anchored on an incident that happened in SRS about ten months ago.  Although the focus of the report was on the particular incident in SRS, it has also highlighted Liyyu Police’s latest atrocities in Oromia.  As indicated in the report, the SoE related movement restrictions means the HRW had to release the report on the incidence in SRS with ten months delay.  Clearly, HRW and other human rights organizations could not undertake any meaningful independent assessment on the damages caused by the latest invasion into Oromia.  The point here is that while HRW has been grabbling with conducting inquiries into a case in which dozens of people were killed or detained in SRS in mid-2016, Liyyu police has killed and abducted hundreds in Oromia since the start of 2017.

The TPLF dominated EPRDF regime in Addis Abeba has long started sowing the seeds of divide and rule strategy coupled with deliberate acts of fomenting conflicts between different communities.  The motivation is pretty clear –it is an act of survival, a minority rule can sustain itself only if it turned other ethnic groups against each other.  The case of Liyyu Police and its latest invasion of Oromia fits into that scheme.

If not addressed timely and decisively, Liyyu Police’s invasion of Oromia has a potential to turn into a full-blown atrocities that is likely to dwarf what happened in Darfur. Clearly, the tell-tale signs are already in place. Genocide Watch, the international alliance to end genocide, states that “Genocide is always organized, usually by the state, often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility (the Janjaweed in Darfur.) Sometimes organization is informal (Hindu mobs led by local RSS militants) or decentralized (terrorist groups.) Special army units or militias are often trained and armed. Plans are made for genocidal killings.”

In Ethiopia, this situation on the ground is rapidly changing and it requires an urgent response from the international community.


 

Global Voices: Ethiopian Protester Sentenced to Six Years Behind Bars for Facebook Posts May 27, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Because I am Oromo.
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Ethiopian Protester Sentenced to Six Years Behind Bars for Facebook Posts

Yonatan Tesfaye. Photo shared on Twitter by Eyasped Tesfaye @eyasped

This week in Ethiopia, two prominent human rights advocates and critics of the ruling government were given long-term prison sentences for “incitement” on Facebook.

On May 25, Yonatan Tesfaye was sentenced to six years and three months in prison for “inciting” antigovernment protests in nine Facebook updates.

Breaking: fed court sentenced former oppos’n Blue party PR head to six years & 3 months in jail for terrorism

The 30-year-old activist has been an outspoken opponent of government’s violent response to the popular protest movement that has challenged Ethiopia’s ruling party and government since 2015. Yonatan had previously served as a press officer for the leading opposition Blue Party before resigning in 2015.

Yonatan was jailed for nine Facebook posts that expressed solidarity with the protesters, called for open dialogue and pleaded for an end to the violence.

The day before his sentencing, Yonatan’s former colleague Getachew Shiferaw, was found guilty of inciting violence for a private message he sent to colleagues through his Facebook messenger app. The former editor-in-chief of opposition newspaper Negere Ethiopia, Getachew was sentenced to one year and six months in prison:

Breaking- court sentenced , editor-in-chief of Negere Ethiopia NP, to 1yr & half in jail, time he already served

The Facebook message that allegedly contained inciting content made reference to a heckling incident targeting late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at a 2012 symposium in Washington, D.C. In the message Getachew wrote, “since the political space in Ethiopia is closed heckling Ethiopian authorities on public events [sic] should be a standard practice.”

These cases are among many others of less well-known citizens who have spoken out against the regime’s violent targeting of protesters demanding protections for land rights and other fundamental freedoms. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 800 people have died at the hands of Ethiopian police, and thousands of political opponents have been imprisoned and tortured during the protests.

Facebook is a key tool for activists — and law enforcement

Facebook, along with other social media platforms, has had a central role in interactions between authorities and protesters. Ethiopian authorities have blamed social media for waves of protests that began in April 2014 and have continued ever since. In October 2016, Facebook was blocked in Ethiopia as part of the government’s state of emergency. But activists — and likely Ethiopian law enforcement — have continued to use the platform via VPN.

Although it is difficult to know the precise number of detainees, dozens of arrests appear to have been triggered by a person posting, liking or sharing a post on Facebook. Others have been arrested for communicating with diaspora-based activists through Facebook messages.

These cases have been compounded by an increasingly common practice in which Ethiopian authorities demand that detainees divulge their Facebook logins and passwords. In some cases, people have been arrested before being charged, forced to hand over their Facebook credentials, and then charged based on what authorities find in their accounts.

Police will arrest activists, force them to hand over their Facebook credentials, and then charge them based on what they find in their private message logs.

Getachew was charged with “inciting violence” after he was forced to give his username and password of his Facebook page. The private chat texts on his Facebook message were presented as evidence in his charge sheet.

Whatever the court decides, friends and family members of Yonatan and Getachew wanted the case to end. So, they would learn their fate, to take their fight to the next stage. But their case, like so many others court cases, had been delayed.

In Ethiopia, it is not uncommon for court cases involving bloggers journalists and politicians to take longer than other cases. This causes exhaustion for defendants and brings pain to their loved ones.

Yonatan and Getachew each spent 18 months in jail before they learned their fate. They were brought before the court at least a dozen times. Their private Facebook accounts were laid bare by authorities. Judges failed to appear in court, and police failed to bring defendants to court on their trial days, causing their cases to drag on for 18 months.

Facebook has been a critical platform for Ethiopian activists and rights advocates working to document and communicate human rights violations. This makes the experience of Yonatan and Getachew an especially chilling story for Ethiopians.

Bipartisan Resolution Calling on Ethiopia to Respect Human Rights, Open Democratic Space May 25, 2017

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) today introduced a Senate resolution condemning excessive use of force by Ethiopian security forces that led to hundreds of deaths last year, and calling on the Ethiopian government to release all political opposition, dissidents, activists, and journalists and to respect the rights enshrined in its constitution.

“As the Ethiopian government continues to stall on making progress on human rights and democratic reform, it is critical that the United States remains vocal in condemning Ethiopia’s human rights abuses against its own people,” said Rubio, chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on human rights and civilian security. “I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to urge the Ethiopian government to respect the rule of law and prioritize human rights and political reforms.”

“The Ethiopian government must make progress on respecting human rights and democratic freedoms.  I am deeply troubled by the arrest and ongoing detention of a number of prominent opposition political figures.  The fact that we have partnered with the Ethiopian government on counterterrorism does not mean that we will stay silent when it abuses its own people,” said Cardin, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “On the contrary, our partnership means that we must speak out when innocent people are detained, and laws are used to stifle legitimate political dissent.”

The resolution notes that hundreds of people have been killed and thousands were arrested during the course of the protests in Ethiopia. To date, there has not been a credible accounting for security forces’ excesses.

Joining Rubio and Cardin as original cosponsors of the resolution are Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Al Franken (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).


USA on Ethiopia, senate resolution

Wixineen Seeraa Haaraan Seenaateroonni US Dhiheessan Qaamota Lammiiwwan Itoophiyaa Irratti Dhiitaa Mirgaa Hamaa Geechisan Irra Qoqqobbin Akka Kaayamu Gaafata.


OMN: Oduu (Caamsaa 18, 2017)

 

HRC35: Addressing the pervasive human rights crisis in Ethiopia. May 25, 2017

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HRC35: Addressing the pervasive human rights crisis in Ethiopia

 


 

Your Excellency,

 

To Permanent Representatives of

Members and Observer States of the

UN Human Rights Council

Geneva, 25 May 2017

 

RE: Addressing the pervasive human rights crisis in Ethiopia

Your Excellency,

The undersigned civil society organisations write to draw your attention to persistent and grave violations of human rights in Ethiopia and the pressing need to support the establishment of an independent, impartial and international investigation into atrocities committed by security forces to suppress peaceful protests and independent dissent.

As the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) prepares to convene for its 35th session from 6 – 23 June 2017, we urge your delegation to prioritise and address through joint statements the ongoing human rights crisis in Ethiopia.

In the wake of unprecedented, mass protests that erupted in November 2015 in Oromia, Amhara, and the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples (SNNPR) regional states, Ethiopian authorities routinely responded to legitimate and largely peaceful expressions of dissent with excessive and unnecessary force. As a result, over 800 protesters have been killed, thousands of political activists, human rights defenders, journalists and protesters have been arrested, and in October 2016, the Ethiopian Government declared a six-month nationwide State of Emergency, that was extended for an additional four months on 30 March 2017 after some restrictions were lifted.

The State of Emergency directives give sweeping powers to a Command Post, which has been appointed by the House of People’s Representatives to enforce the decree, including the suspension of fundamental and non-derogable rights protected by the Ethiopian Constitution, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and other international human rights treaties to which Ethiopia is party. More information on the human rights violations occurring under the current State of Emergency is included in the Annex at the end of this letter.

Lack of independent investigations

Few effective avenues to pursue accountability for abuses exist in Ethiopia, given the lack of independence of the judiciary – the ruling EPRDF coalition and allied parties control all 547 seats in Parliament.

Ethiopia’s National Human Rights Commission, which has a mandate to investigate rights violations, concluded in its June 2016 oral report to Parliament that the lethal force used by security forces in Oromia was proportionate to the risk they faced from the protesters. The written Amharic version of the report was only recently made public, and there are long-standing concerns about the impartiality and research methodology of the Commission. On 18 April 2017, the Commission submitted its second oral report to Parliament on the protests, which found that 669 people were killed, including 63 members of the security forces, and concluded that security forces had taken “proportionate measures in most areas.”  Both reports are in stark contrast with the findings of other national and international organisations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions has rated the Commission as B, meaning the latter has failed to meet fully the Paris Principles.

Refusal to cooperate with regional and international mechanisms

In response to the recent crackdown, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has called for “access for independent observers to the country to assess the human rights situation”, and recently renewed his call for access to the country during a visit to the capital, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia’s government, however, has rejected the call, citing its own investigation conducted by its Commission. UN Special Procedures have also made similar calls.

In November 2016, the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights adopted a resolution calling for an international, independent, and impartial investigation into allegations of the use of excessive and unnecessary lethal force by security forces to disperse and suppress peaceful protests. Recent European parliament and US Congressional resolutions have also called for independent investigations. The Ethiopian embassy in Belgium dismissed the European Parliament’s resolution citing its own Commission’s investigations into the protests.

As a member of the UN HRC, Ethiopia has an obligation to “uphold the highest standards” of human rights, and “fully cooperate” with the Council and its mechanisms (GA Resolution 60/251, OP 9), yet there are outstanding requests for access from Special Procedures, including from the special rapporteurs on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly, among others.

Recommendations

During the upcoming 35th session of the UN HRC, we urge your delegation to make joint and individual statements reinforcing and building upon the expressions of concern by the High Commissioner, UN Special Procedures, and others.

Specifically, the undersigned organisations request your delegation to publicly urge Ethiopia to:

    1. urgently allow access to an international, thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into all of the deaths resulting from alleged excessive use of force by the security forces, and other violations of human rights in the context of the protests;
    2. respond favourably to country visit requests by UN Special Procedures,
    3. immediately and unconditionally release journalists, human rights defenders, political opposition leaders and members as well as protesters arbitrarily detained during and in the aftermath of the protests;
    4. ensure that those responsible for human rights violations are prosecuted in proceedings which comply with international law and standards on fair trials; and
    5. fully comply with its international legal obligations and commitments including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and its own Constitution.

With assurances of our highest consideration,

Sincerely,

Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Civil Rights Defenders

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)

Ethiopia Human Rights Project

Freedom House

Front Line Defenders

Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

Human Rights Watch

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Service for Human Rights

Reporters Without Borders

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

https://ahrethio.org/2017/05/25/hrc35-addressing-the-pervasive-human-rights-crisis-in-ethiopia/

 

ANNEX: BACKGROUND

A repressive legal framework

The legal framework in Ethiopia restricts the enjoyment of civil and political rights, and therefore the activity of the political opposition, civil society, and independent media in the country.

The Charities and Societies Proclamation (2009) caps foreign funding at 10% for non-governmental organisations working on human rights, good governance, justice, rule of law and conflict resolution. The law has decimated civil society and human rights activism in the country. Currently, a handful of independent human rights organisations continue to operate, but with great difficulty.

The Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (2009) has been used repeatedly to silence critical voices. Political opposition party leaders and members, people involved in public protests, religious freedom advocates and journalists have been arrested and charged under this law. Both laws are a matter of great concern and have been repeatedly raised in international forums, including at Ethiopia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2014.

Overarching restrictions under the State of Emergency

The State of Emergency directives restrict the organisation of political campaigns, demonstrations, and any communication that may cause “public disturbance.” It also bans communications with foreign governments and NGOs that may undermine ‘national sovereignty, constitutional order and security’, and the right to disseminate information through traditional and social media. Additionally, the Command Post was given sweeping powers to arbitrarily arrest and detain individuals without due process.

A few weeks before the State of Emergency was extended by an additional four months, the government announced it was lifting some of these restrictions, including the Command Post’s power to arbitrarily arrest people or conduct property searches without warrants, curfews, and certain restrictions regarding sharing of information online and offline.

Despite some improvements in internet access since mobile data services were restored throughout parts of the country on 2 December 2016, social media platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter remain inaccessible except through VPNs.

Mass arrests

Since the declaration of the State of Emergency, the Command Post announced that tens of thousands have been arbitrarily arrested and transported to different detention centers throughout the country. Most of the detainees were held for a period of around three months in Awash, Alage, Bir Sheleko, and Tolay police and military camps. In November 2016, authorities announced the release of 11,607 people who were detained under the State of Emergency following “rehabilitation training programs.” One month later, authorities announced they were releasing an additional 9,800 detainees.  Former detainees have reported being subjected to torture, harsh prison conditions, and other forms of ill treatment. In late March 2017, the Command Post announced through state media that 4,996 of the 26,130 people detained for allegedly taking part in protests would be brought to court.

Continued targeting of the political opposition, the media and civil society

According to the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia, three of Ethiopia’s main opposition parties, the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ), Blue Party, and All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP) have claimed that a large number of their members were targeted by Command Post and arbitrarily arrested.

On 30 October 2016, Dr. Merera Gudina, a professor and prominent opposition leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress was arrested after his return from Brussels where he provided testimony on the current political crisis to some members of the European Parliament and described human rights violations being committed in Ethiopia. On 3 March 2017, prosecutors formally charged Dr. Merera with a bid to “dismantle or disrupt social, economic and political activity for political, religious and ideological aim […] under the guise of political party leadership”. Dr. Merera was also accused of meeting with an organisation designated as a terrorist group contravening restrictions contained in the State of Emergency directives.

Members of the Wolqait Identity Committee, including Colonel Demeqe Zewude, have also faced allegedly politically motivated criminal charges under the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. Their attempted arrest sparked protests in the Amhara capital of Gondar in August 2016.

On 18 November 2016, journalists Elias Gebru and Ananiya Sori were arrested by security forces, according to the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia. Both were reportedly arrested in relation to their criticism of government policies and actions. Ananiya was released on 13 March 2017. At the time of writing, Elias is still being held in prison without due process of law.

On 6 April 2017, Ethiopia’s Supreme Court ruled that two bloggers from the Zone 9 collective previously acquitted of terrorism charge should be tried instead on charges of inciting violence through their writing. If convicted of the charge, Atnaf Berhane and Natnael Feleke would face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. The court also upheld the lower court’s acquittal of two other Zone 9 bloggers, Soleyana S Gebremichael and Abel Wabella.


 

Surveillance and State Control in Ethiopia May 21, 2017

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A small Tigray elite dominates a political system that formally derives its legitimacy from ethnoregional autonomy and representation. This has fueled resentment and discontent in many parts of the country. As a result, the government fears that any space for autonomous civic action could spark further mobilization and unrest, potentially triggering defections within the ruling apparatus.


The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power in 1991 as an insurgent coalition intent on transforming Ethiopia’s politics and economy. Over the past two decades, the government’s heavy-handed approach has fostered significant regional and ethnic discontent.

TACTICS

The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power in 1991 as an insurgent coalition intent on transforming Ethiopia’s politics and economy. Over the past two decades, the government’s heavy-handed approach has fostered significant regional and ethnic discontent. As the EPRDF’s grip on power has weakened, it has moved to further close political and civic space. Two laws adopted in 2009—the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation—decimated the country’s already weak human rights community. The government’s crackdown has also extended to development and humanitarian groups, which have been targeted with burdensome funding regulations and government harassment.

The closing of civic space in Ethiopia has the following key features:

  • Harsh restrictions on foreign funding for civil society organizations working on a wide range of politically related issues.
  • Violent repression of civic mobilization in the name of counterterrorism and anti-extremism.
  • Efforts to bring all independent civil society groups—including development and humanitarian actors—in line with the government’s national development policy.

Civil Society Growth Amid Constraints

A History of Repression

While Ethiopia has a long history of mutual self-help organizations and informal community groups, the formal nongovernmental sector has historically been weak and marked by adversarial relations with the state.407Any autonomy enjoyed by civil society during the reign of emperor Haile Selassie was severely restricted after the Marxist Derg regime assumed power in 1974. State authorities closed down or co-opted almost all independent professional organizations and interest groups, including traditional associations in rural areas. Those organizations that survived state repression focused on providing emergency relief services. However, the famines of the 1970s and 1980s forced the Derg leadership to open the door to international assistance, triggering an influx of foreign NGOs that often relied on local partners to facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid.408

Ethiopia’s NGO sector expanded rapidly during the brief period of political liberalization that followed the EPRDF’s ascent to power. As aid flowed into the country to support the political transition, new professional associations and development organizations emerged, as well as a handful of advocacy groups.409 The Ethiopian Teachers Association took an active role in challenging the government’s education reforms. Traditional associations such as the Mekane Yesus church in western Oromia and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region added human rights components to their community work, and student activism flourished.410At the same time, most civil society organizations had relatively limited resources and capacity, and their impact on state policy remained marginal. Given Ethiopia’s dire humanitarian situation after years of civil war, many groups continued to focus on service delivery and relief efforts.411 Those that ventured into advocacy typically worked on relatively safe issues such as children’s and women’s rights and operated within existing policy frameworks.412

Continued Government Suspicion

Despite efforts at liberalization, the EPRDF remained suspicious of independent media and civil society. Beginning in the early 1990s, the government sought to bring independent trade unions under EPRDF control by replacing government critics with party loyalists. The Ethiopian Teachers Association and the Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions—both of which had been critical of the government’s reforms—experienced sustained harassment. The president of the teachers association was convicted of armed conspiracy in 1996, and the confederation chairman fled the country in 1997. State officials also set up a rival teachers association of the same name that was staffed exclusively with EPRDF supporters.413

The lack of a comprehensive legal framework governing civil society created additional barriers for nongovernmental groups, with some being arbitrarily denied registration for having ostensibly political goals. For instance, the ruling party characterized the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, the country’s most prominent human rights monitoring group, as a partisan political movement affiliated with the Amhara-dominated opposition, rejected its application for registration, and temporarily blocked the organization’s bank account.414 When prominent intellectuals and professionals from Addis Ababa’s Oromo community formed the Human Rights League in 1996, the group’s leaders were promptly arrested for being supporters of the Oromo Liberation Front—although their case never went to trial.415

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the civil society sector as a whole remained vulnerable to state control. Most civil society organizations were led by urban elites and lacked a strong grassroots base. Many did not have a significant presence beyond the capital and in rural areas. This provided fodder for government accusations of parasitism and rent-seeking. Distrust among NGOs also stood in the way of forming sector-specific coalitions and consortiums that could have maximized their outreach and impact. At the same time, the government rarely consulted civil society organizations in its policy formulation processes.416 Beginning in 2003, it began to consider restrictions on foreign funding of civil society organizations, arguing that external funding for political and rights advocacy amounted to illegitimate meddling in the country’s internal affairs.417

Narrowing of Political Space

The 2005 Postelection Crisis

The 2005 election proved to be a turning point for Ethiopian civil society. The run-up to the election witnessed unprecedented displays of political competition and opposition party coordination. Civil society organizations sponsored televised debates on public policy issues and sued the government to be allowed to monitor the polls.418 Early election results indicated that the opposition coalition had made unexpected gains, suggesting a win of more than 180 parliamentary seats. When official tallies indicated that the ruling party had won, the largest opposition coalition refused to concede defeat. They alleged that the ruling party had stolen the election, while the EPRDF claimed that opposition parties had conspired to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means. The ensuing standoff continued for months, with violence erupting between protesters and security forces across the country.419

In this climate of intense polarization, government authorities accused civil society organizations that had monitored the polls and conducted voter education efforts of sparking unrest and inciting violence.420 Even before the election, the government had ordered representatives of highly visible international organizations providing democracy and governance aid to leave the country, including the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute. Surprised by the outpouring of opposition support, EPRDF officials concluded that foreign-funded human rights groups and independent media outlets had coordinated with the opposition to undermine the ruling party.421

Yet the EPRDF did not immediately move to impose legal restrictions on civil society. Rather, the clampdown unfolded in two main phases. In the immediate aftermath of the election, the EPRDF was in crisis mode. Its initial efforts centered on quelling opposition protests and consolidating power ahead of the 2008 local elections. Approximately 20,000 protesters and as many as 150 opposition leaders, activists, and journalists were arrested, and numerous independent newspapers and magazines were shut down.422 Two well-known human rights lawyers, Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demisse, were among the first to be charged with conspiracy and incitement to overthrow the government. In 2007, both were sentenced to two and a half years in prison.423

The EPRDF introduced a series of laws that specifically targeted activities that had facilitated widespread popular mobilization during the previous election cycle.

The EPRDF viewed the opposition’s success as an existential threat to its own survival and to the ethnic federation it had constructed. Starting in 2005, the party leadership embarked on a massive party rebuilding effort, investing significant resources in expanding local party structures and bringing the rural population back into the party’s fold.424 It strengthened its control over local administrative units (kebele) that have the capacity to monitor households and restrict access to government services.425 Party membership increased from 760,000 in 2005 to more than 4 million in 2008. The government also passed electoral reforms that ensured the EPRDF’s dominance in the 2008 polls. For example, it drastically increased the number of local council seats, which made it impossible for any but the largest parties to field enough candidates to seize control of the councils. These efforts paid off: in 2008 the EPRDF won virtually all the local council seats. Together with the revival of mass associations and youth cooperatives, these reforms effectively incorporated millions of Ethiopians into EPRDF structures and government organizations.426

Institutionalization of Legal Restrictions

The second phase of the crackdown began as the 2010 general election drew near. Aiming to prevent a repeat of the 2005 crisis, the EPRDF introduced a series of laws that specifically targeted activities that had facilitated widespread popular mobilization during the previous election cycle: independent media publishing, civil society advocacy and monitoring, free public debate, and opposition party coordination. The Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation, passed in December 2008, allowed prosecutors to stop any print publication that threatened national security concerns or the public order—a provision that has been used to target independent newspapers. In addition, the law criminalized the “defamation” of legislative, executive, or judiciary authorities and raised defamation fines to about $10,000.427

In February 2009, the government adopted the Proclamation for the Registration and Regulation of Charities and Societies (referred to hereafter as the Charities and Societies Proclamation), the first comprehensive law governing Ethiopian nongovernmental organizations. While civil society organizations were allowed to contribute to the draft proclamation, they had little meaningful influence over the final version.428 The law imposed a wide range of burdens on civil society. Most important, it divided all civil society organizations into three categories: Ethiopian charities and societies, Ethiopian resident charities and societies, and foreign charities and societies. The first category comprises all NGOs that receive at least 90 percent of their funding from domestic sources, and only these groups are allowed to work on “the advancement of human and democratic rights; the promotion of equality of nations, nationalities and peoples and that of gender and religion; the promotion of the rights of the disabled and children’s rights; the promotion of conflict resolution or reconciliation; and the promotion of the efficiency of the justice and law enforcement services.”429 This means that any organization that receives significant outside funding is effectively barred from a wide range of advocacy, peacebuilding, and rights-focused activities. The government justified this provision as necessary to ensure that organizations working on political issues are “Ethiopian in character” and, in an apparent nod to Russia, to prevent “color revolutionaries” from trying to overthrow the regime.430

For many Ethiopian civil society organizations, this provision was devastating. Given the dearth of domestic funding sources, they had relied almost exclusively on external aid. They had few alternative options; the Ethiopian government was unlikely to fund any advocacy efforts or politically related programs. In addition, the proclamation specified that any charity or society could allocate no more than 30 percent of its budget to administrative activities—while classifying an unusually wide range of expenditures as administrative costs.431 As a result, organizations were forced to count basic operational expenses—including staff allowances and benefits, monitoring and evaluation expenditures, and travel and training costs—as administrative overheads, triggering widespread pushback.432

The 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation also had a debilitating effect on civil society and independent media. Like similar legislation around the world, the law includes extremely broad definitions of terrorist activity and material support for terrorism and imposes long prison sentences and even the death penalty for a wide range of crimes.433 The law’s vague language grants authorities the power to prosecute journalists who publish articles about protest movements, armed opposition groups, or any other individuals deemed as terrorist or anti-peace.434 Rights advocates also found themselves at risk of prosecution for carrying out or supporting terrorist acts.435 The law was particularly pernicious given the Ethiopian government’s extensive capacity to monitor citizen communications, including mobile phones and landlines.436 Since coming into force, the law has been broadly applied in criminal cases involving opposition politicians, activists, and journalists, even though credible evidence of communication with or support for terrorist groups is almost never provided. The judicial system lacks the independence and capacity to push back against abusive applications of the law.437

Repression in the Name of National Security

Targeting of Activists for Security-Related Offenses

With this restrictive legal framework in place, government authorities had new tools at their disposal to suppress civic activism and independent media in moments of crisis. Two key patterns have emerged over the past six years. First, the EPRDF has relied on its almost complete control over radio, television, and print media to cast pro-democracy and human rights activists as terrorists and foreign agents, tapping into popular fears of Islamic radicalism, foreign intervention, and ethnic strife. For example, after the U.S. Department of State issued its 2009 Human Rights Country Report on Ethiopia, the state-controlled Ethiopian Television Agency broadcast a three-part series accusing several Ethiopian human rights groups of supplying false information to the U.S. government in exchange for support.438 Media outlets also regularly blame foreign powers and organizations for stirring domestic unrest and use this alleged interference to justify extrajudicial action.439

These prosecutions had a chilling effect on the country’s online activists and remaining independent reporters—at least sixty journalists have fled the country since 2010.

Second, the government has used court proceedings to selectively intimidate and silence high-profile activists, reporters, and civil society leaders, typically based on alleged national security threats. For example, following repeated demonstrations by Ethiopia’s Muslim community against government interference in religious affairs between 2012 and 2014, Ethiopia’s Federal High Court convicted the protest leaders on charges of terrorism and conspiracy to create an Islamic state in Ethiopia.440 In the thirteen months before the 2015 polls—the first to be held following former prime minister Meles Zenawi’s death in 2012—journalists also witnessed escalating harassment by security and judicial officials.441 In April 2014, this campaign culminated in the arrest of three journalists and six bloggers from the Zone 9 blogging collective, who were convicted under the criminal code and the antiterrorism law for having links to banned opposition groups and attempting to violently overthrow the government.”442 In August 2014, an additional six newspapers and magazines were charged with encouraging terrorism, among other charges.443 These prosecutions had a chilling effect on the country’s online activists and remaining independent reporters—at least sixty journalists have fled the country since 2010.444 Security forces have also arrested and detained rights activists and lawyers who defend political prisoners, often without formally charging them with crimes.445

Extension of Rural Surveillance and Control

At the same time, the state’s extensive administrative apparatus has continued to subject citizens in rural areas to threats and detention, creating a pervasive climate of fear. The state’s surveillance capacities at the local level have stifled civic activism and dissent in many places without the need for violent repression.446 The EPRDF has relied on a pre-existing system of local governance that existed under the Derg regime to extend government control. Officially, Ethiopian officials insist that these local-level institutions are voluntary associations formed in regions like Oromia in order to advance rural agriculture and development. However, human rights organizations report that they are often used to monitor citizens’ activities, report incidents of dissent, and selectively withhold government benefits.447Attesting to this dramatic closing of civic and political space, the EPRDF and its affiliates claimed 99.6 and 100 percent of parliamentary seats in 2010 and 2015, respectively. These overwhelming majorities signaled political continuity after the upheaval that followed the 2005 polls and Zenawi’s sudden death, reminding the party’s rank and file that defection was pointless given that the EPRDF still controlled all access to public office.448

Citizens have nevertheless continued to mobilize, as evidenced by the widespread antigovernment protests that broke out in the Oromia and Amhara regions in 2015 and 2016. The government’s response to these outbursts of citizen discontent has been violent suppression: security forces arrested more than 11,000 people over the course of one month and killed at least 500.449 Once again, authorities have claimed that demonstrators are part of banned opposition groups in order to delegitimize the protests. The current state of emergency, declared in October 2016 and extended repeatedly since then, has imposed additional barriers on freedoms of assembly, association, and expression. The implementing directive initially restricted access to and usage of social media and banned communication with so-called terrorist and anti-peace groups as well as contact with foreign governments and NGOs that could affect “security, sovereignty and the constitutional order.”450 It also allowed the army to be deployed across the country for a period of at least six months. The government has blamed human rights groups seeking to document violations by security forces for stirring up unrest and has denounced diaspora groups for spreading misinformation about the government’s response to the protests.451

Support for Mass-Based and Development Associations

In contrast to its crackdown on independent groups, the EPRDF government has encouraged the growth of mass-based and state-supported development associations as a more authentic expression of grassroots activism. While these organizations have traditionally focused on development and service delivery, the government elevated their role with respect to governance and rights advocacy after the 2005 election—just as it began cracking down on independent media and civic activism. Most mass-based associations have their roots in the armed struggle against the Derg regime. For example, the Women’s Association of Tigray can be traced back to the Women’s Committee of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, established in 1976.452 The structures of these associations typically extend from the national level down to the regional, district (woreda), and village (kebele)levels, providing a wide societal reach. Development associations, on the other hand, are membership organizations that focus on promoting local development in their respective areas of operation.453 In Ethiopia, each regional state has its own development association, such as the Tigray Development Association and the Oromo Development Association.

Both mass-based and development associations generally lack political independence and financial and technical capacity.454 They tend to collaborate closely with sector ministries and bureaus, and government bodies often view them as implementing agencies rather than independent actors that represent the interests of their members.455 For example, owing to their presence in remote rural areas, mass-based organizations have played an important role in recruiting new party members and mobilizing EPRDF support ahead of local and national elections.456 In contrast, the few remaining independent trade unions and professional societies have experienced continued harassment and government interference. For example, the government has refused to register the National Teachers Association, which was forced to hand over its property, assets, and name to the government-aligned Ethiopian Teachers Association. Security agents have subjected the association’s members to surveillance and harassment.457The Confederation of Ethiopian Trade Unions, the Ethiopian Bar Association, and the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association have faced similar attacks.

DRIVERS

The Ethiopian government’s efforts to restrict civil society are a function of the EPRDF’s doctrine of revolutionary democracy, state-led development agenda, and struggle for political survival. Despite the party’s control over state institutions, the country’s political structure remains fundamentally fragile. A small Tigray elite dominates a political system that formally derives its legitimacy from ethnoregional autonomy and representation. This has fueled resentment and discontent in many parts of the country. As a result, the government fears that any space for autonomous civic action could spark further mobilization and unrest, potentially triggering defections within the ruling apparatus. The opposition’s unexpected gains in the 2005 election in particular sparked a renewed effort to consolidate party control by eliminating or co-opting alternative centers of power.

The EPRDF’s Ideological Underpinnings

The EPRDF was formed as a political coalition between different ethnic-based liberation fronts that had fought Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military regime. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which had led the insurgency under the command of Zenawi, recognized that transitioning from a rebel movement to a national government would require the support of the country’s many ethnic groups. At the same time, Zenawi sought to preserve the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s highly hierarchical structure. He and his allies were trained in Marxist ideology and rejected liberal democracy as a viable political model to achieve economic and political transformation.458 Instead, they conceived of the EPRDF as a Leninist vanguard party that rules on behalf of the rural masses. While the party adapted to the end of the Cold War by retreating from an explicitly socialist approach, it retained its core—though ambiguously defined—doctrine of revolutionary democracy, which stresses grassroots participation via mass organizations and party cells. Political competition and interest representation occur under the mantle of the vanguard party. As a result, even in the 1990s, the party had limited interest in encouraging the expansion of an independent civil society, which it considered an urban and elite-driven phenomenon with limited transformative potential.

The EPRDF’s pursuit of rapid economic development further reinforced the government’s efforts to extend its control over the civic sphere. The EPRDF came to power with a vision of itself as the only actor that could effectively tackle the country’s underdevelopment. Other societal actors—including civil society—had to be subordinated to the government’s modernization and industrialization efforts. Party leaders viewed development NGOs as opportunists who sought out foreign money to fund their inflated salaries and expenses without serving the public interest. They also blamed them for fostering aid dependence at the expense of long-term development and argued that their funding streams and activities should be subjected to greater government control.459 According to the EPRDF model, the development state not only intervenes in the economy, but “also has a role in guiding ‘appropriate’ citizen behavior and constructing useful social networks” that advance the national development agenda.460 Local kebele and sub-kebele administrative structures have been imposed from above both as tools of development and mechanisms of political control.461 This approach has gone hand in hand with a dramatic expansion of public goods and services meant to ensure continued popular support—particularly in light of growing ethnoregional discontent.462

A Contested Political Settlement

At the core of the EPRDF’s efforts to suffocate independent civil society lies the fear of further antiregime mobilization. Despite the government’s developmental success record, its position of power remains fundamentally fragile, owing primarily to the internal contradictions of the EPRDF regime. After coming to power, the EPRDF instituted a complex system of ethnic federalism that granted an unprecedented degree of political autonomy and representation on the basis of ethnicity. The EPRDF’s ascent was celebrated as the liberation of Ethiopia’s nations and nationalities from decades of centralized rule. The party also formally committed to multiparty elections and political pluralism.

However, these constitutional guarantees have not resulted in an actual decentralization of executive power.463 Instead, the state has become increasingly intertwined with the ruling party, and political and economic power has gradually become concentrated in the hands of a small elite. Ethiopia’s regions are governed by ethnoregional parties that are de facto subordinate branches of the EPRDF—which remains dominated by the ethnic Tigray, who make up only 6 percent of Ethiopia’s total population. Party leaders know that if the EPRDF were to open space for civic mobilization, it could mean the end of Tigray rule. The opposition’s unexpected gains in the 2005 election justified these fears. Throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s, Ethiopia had held regular elections, but the hegemony of the ruling EPRDF was never threatened. The opposition remained divided, and the ruling party used coercive means and its incumbency advantage to prevent rival parties from participating on a level playing field.464 When political space temporarily opened up in the lead-up to the 2005 polls and opposition actors unified, the EPRDF’s grip on power proved to be tenuous. As a result, the EPRDF under the leadership of Zenawi embarked on a de facto restoration of the one-party state.

After having eliminated the immediate threat of the political opposition, the government’s attention turned to civil society and the media. The ruling party’s continued control and legitimacy depends on regulating access to information and channeling civic activism through party and state structures. The fact that civil society organizations had monitored the 2005 elections, conducted voter education efforts, and condemned the security forces’ subsequent crackdown only reinforced the government’s view that advocacy organizations were partisan actors allied with opposition forces and set on upending EPRDF rule. As a result, most civil society organizations were not surprised when the government moved to enact further NGO restrictions ahead of the 2010 polls, even though many had not anticipated just how stifling the legislation would be.465 In sum, the EPRDF has compensated for vulnerabilities of the current political settlement by continuously extending the party’s control over Ethiopian society; any alternative space—whether in the political sphere or in civil society—could potentially emerge as a challenge to its continued authority.466

IMPACT

The political and legal changes introduced between the 2005 and 2010 elections had a profound impact on Ethiopian civil society. The total number of active organizations has shrunk, and many groups have been forced to shift their focus from political and rights-based work to development and service delivery in order to keep receiving foreign funding. As a result, there are very few advocacy and human rights monitoring groups left in the country. Initially, development organizations did not feel affected by the new legal regime. However, government-imposed budget specifications have forced them to abandon certain activities and have hindered the formation and operation of civil society networks and umbrella organizations.

Consequences of the Crackdown

Shrinking of the Human Rights Community

The Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation had a dramatic impact on human rights work in Ethiopia. The circle of active and professional human rights organizations was already small before the laws were passed. These groups, which were mostly established during the 1990s, provided legal aid and civic education, monitored elections and human rights violations, and advocated for the rights of minorities, women, and other vulnerable groups. Many were focused on single issues, such as voter education, religious freedom, peacebuilding and conflict resolution, and women’s rights.

The restrictions on foreign funding caused a near cessation of independent advocacy activities.

After the Charities and Societies Proclamation took effect, human rights and conflict resolution organizations faced a stark choice: they could either try to continue their work, which meant they would have to raise 90 percent of their funding from domestic sources, or register as resident charities and shift toward more politically neutral development and relief work. Given the lack of domestic funding sources, the restrictions on foreign funding caused a near cessation of independent advocacy activities. Many organizations opted to change their focus, knowing that they would not be able to sustain their work without international support.467 For example, local and international organizations such as Mercy Corps, Pact Ethiopia, Action for Development, and the Oromia Pastoralist Association abandoned their conflict resolution work and reduced their support for local peace committees.468 Those that lacked the resources and human capacity to retrain their staff and develop new programming shut down their operations altogether. Others fled the country in fear of prosecution under the antiterrorism law.469 The result was a rapid decline in the number of active human rights organizations in the country. Only around 10 percent of the 125 previously existing local rights groups reregistered under the new law.470

Reduced Capacity for Advocacy, Outreach, and Assistance

A small number of organizations—including the Ethiopian Bar Association, the Human Rights and Peace Center, the Human Rights Council (HRCO; previously the Ethiopian Human Rights Council), and the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA)—chose to reregister as Ethiopian charities and societies to continue their work. These groups have faced a dearth of domestic funding, which has forced them to scale back their work. While community-based giving is common across Ethiopia, there is no strong tradition of donating to charitable organizations. Organizations have struggled to raise money through membership fees and fund-raising events.471 As noted above, the Charities and Societies Proclamation imposed additional hurdles by giving the Charities and Societies Agency the power to deny or delay any fund-raising or income-generation proposals.472 The law also prohibits anonymous donations, which means that citizens who donate to human rights groups face potential political repercussions.473 To make matters more difficult, the agency froze the bank accounts of both the HRCO and EWLA after the law had been passed, depriving them of their accumulated savings.474

Faced with harassment and funding cuts, human rights organizations had to disband key training and assistance programs. For example, the HRCO had previously conducted human rights education seminars and workshops that aimed to raise awareness of human rights standards among public servants, police officers, and judicial officials. Despite initial skepticism, participation in these workshops was on the rise before the passage of the Charities and Societies Proclamation: in 2009, a total of 1,034 officials took part.475 After the law was passed, the organization’s budget shrank from $351,000 in 2008 to $26,300 in 2011, forcing it to disband the program.476 Another civil society initiative to establish child protection units at police stations was similarly suspended.477 EWLA—the only major NGO advocating for women’s rights and gender equality at the national level—has had to abandon key areas of work. The association had provided free legal aid to more than 17,000 women and established an emergency hotline for women that received 7,332 calls in the first eight months of its existence.478 After the Charities and Societies Proclamation was passed, EWLA was forced to cut 70 percent of its staff, shut down its hotline, and give up most of its public education work, continuing to provide only a small amount of free legal aid using volunteers.479

Reduction in Human Rights Monitoring

It has also become much more difficult for local and international groups to accurately document human rights violations and security force abuses. Before 2009, the HRCO monitored and documented human rights violations through twelve branch offices across Ethiopia. It was the only civil society group conducting extensive field investigations, including in high-risk areas.480 After the enactment of the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, half of the organization’s staff—including the director—left the country in fear of government reprisals. The organization was forced to close nine of its twelve branch offices, which curtailed its ability to effectively collect information and communicate with victims of human rights abuses.481 The number of field investigators decreased from seventeen to four, dramatically limiting the organization’s reach. Increased government harassment makes the work of the remaining investigators more difficult and dangerous.482

International organizations that could complement domestic monitoring efforts have been barred from entering the country or accessing certain regions. The International Red Cross was expelled from the Ogaden region in 2007 for allegedly aiding separatist forces, and Médecins sans Frontières has been denied access to certain areas.483 Ethiopian officials have denied entry to Human Rights Watch researchers and prevented Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights, and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (among others) from opening offices in Ethiopia. The government has then used their absence from the ground to deny the legitimacy of their reports.484

Those who tried to systematically collect information faced government surveillance, threats, and repression.

As a result of these restrictions, it has become increasingly difficult to undertake independent investigations into human rights abuses and monitor the government’s use of international donor funds.485 This became evident during the recent suppression of antigovernment protesters in Oromia and Amhara. As demonstrations broke out in Oromia in 2015, there were few independent analysts on the ground who could corroborate reports of security force abuses.486 Those who tried to systematically collect information faced government surveillance, threats, and repression. In the summer of 2016, four of the HRCO’s members were arrested and detained, likely because they were documenting the crackdown on antiregime demonstrators.487Government restrictions on Ethiopian NGOs have impeded their ability to prepare and submit parallel reports to international human rights treaty bodies.488 The Ethiopian diaspora has attempted to fill this gap by gathering information remotely through their contacts in the country.489

Faced with criticisms, the Ethiopian government has highlighted its own human rights institution, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which was created in 2000 and has been tasked with monitoring and raising awareness of human rights issues in the country. However, the commission lacks the technical and financial capacity to effectively carry out its mandate. It has yet to publish a single report detailing human rights violations in the country.490 In fact, it has at times been used to counteract the work of independent civil society organizations.491 For example, in 2016, the commission denied allegations made by civil society groups that Ethiopian security forces had used excessive force against demonstrators and declared the government’s response to have been “proportional.”492

Barriers to Election Monitoring and Voter Education

Independent civil society groups have also been forced to strike election monitoring and voter education from their mandates. Ahead of the 2005 elections, civil society organizations conducted civic and voter education efforts across the country. International donors allocated $6.2 million to support a free and fair electoral process, which included $1.6 million for twenty-four Ethiopian NGOs to provide information about the polls to voters.493 The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia initially barred most civic groups from observing the election, but national courts reversed the board’s decisions shortly before the vote. Despite the lateness of the court decision, the HRCO sent out 1,550 observers on polling day to monitor the vote.494

The 2010 and 2015 parliamentary elections occurred in an entirely different context. Ahead of the 2010 polls, independent groups struggled to obtain the necessary accreditation from the electoral board to monitor the elections or conduct voter outreach. For example, the HRCO was asked to remove both election observation and voter education from its statute to reregister with the government.495 The Ethiopian Civil Society Network for Elections, which consisted of twenty-four member groups, was dissolved.496The InterAfrica Group, which played a key role in organizing public debates in the run-up to the 2005 election, had shifted toward other activities and receded from the public eye.497

The Charities and Societies Proclamation encourages mass-based organizations to “actively participate in the process of strengthening democratization and election,” observe the electoral process, and cooperate with electoral organs.498 However, as noted above, these organizations remain closely aligned with the ruling party. The largest authorized domestic election observation group to monitor the 2010 polls, the Consortium of Ethiopian Civil Societies for Election Observation, is a case in point: it found the elections to be free and fair, despite a 99.6 percent victory by the ruling party.499 In contrast, the EU Election Observation Mission stated that the elections fell short of international standards.500Since the 2010 election, the only international observers to monitor Ethiopian elections have been from the African Union. The EU declined to take part after its previous recommendations were rejected by the Ethiopian government.501 Meanwhile, voter education has been taken over by the electoral board, which lacks independence from the government. In 2015, the board launched its voter education campaign just days before the election and limited its efforts to instructing citizens on how to find polling stations and complete their ballots.502

New Constraints for Development Work

Initially, development organizations did not feel particularly affected by the new legal framework.503 A key feature of the Charities and Societies Proclamation is that it treats rights advocacy and development work as distinct areas of activity. While organizations working on issues such as gender equality, children’s rights, and minority protection are prohibited from receiving foreign funding, the same restriction does not apply to development aid and humanitarian organizations. Indeed, the total number of organizations involved in development and service delivery grew in the six years following the enactment of the law.504

However, the government’s new funding rules and the overall shrinking of civic space have nevertheless constrained their work. First, the government’s bifurcation of Ethiopian civil society organizations failed to take into account that many aid organizations over the past few decades have embraced a rights-based approach to development that focuses on the connections between poverty, political marginalization, and discrimination. These groups were forced to abandon their work on national policy questions and shift toward more apolitical and service-oriented activities. The fear of criminal prosecutions for infringements of the NGO law reinforced this trend: many NGOs began practicing self-censorship and refraining from any open criticism of government policies to avoid administrative or legal reprisals.505

Second, the Charities and Societies Proclamation prohibits any organization from spending more than 30 percent of their budgets on administrative costs.506 Government officials justified this provision—what became known as the 70/30 regulation—as a mechanism to ensure that the majority of project funding reaches the intended beneficiaries rather than going toward excessive overhead costs. Yet for many organizations, the government’s expansive definition of administrative overhead meant that they could not comply with the requirement without drastically reducing the scope of their work. Expenses they considered critical to project implementation—such as staff allowances, travel and trainings costs, monitoring and evaluation expenses, and vehicle purchases—suddenly counted as administrative costs. Many organizations noted that spending on vehicles, fuel, and driver salaries was essential to maintaining project sites in remote rural areas. For example, health organizations providing mobile outreach services, trainings for health extensions workers, and clinical mentorship suddenly had to classify all of their core activities as administrative expenses.507 The guideline proved particularly challenging for civil society networks and umbrella groups that aimed to enhance individual member organizations’ influence and shape national policy discussions. Under the new guideline, these networks are no longer allowed to engage in advocacy work and can only finance their work through member contributions.508

Adaptation Strategies

Shift Toward Development and Service Provision Activities

To survive in the new legal and political environment, the majority of Ethiopian civil society organizations have chosen to shift their activities toward technical development and local service delivery work, moving away from any issues that could be construed as politically sensitive. A 2011 survey of thirty-two NGOs conducted by the Taskforce for Enabling Environment for Civil Society in Ethiopia found that 70 percent of development organizations and 44 percent of human rights organizations changed their organizational mandates and activities in order to preserve their access to foreign funding.509

Some organizations were able to simply rebrand stigmatized activities in a way that made them more palatable to government officials. They did so by removing any references to rights or governance from their mission statements, funding applications, and activity reports. Most international organizations successfully reregistered using the same tactic.510 For example, the pre-2010 mission statement of Action Aid’s Ethiopia branch was titled Rights to End Poverty and noted their work with excluded populations “to eradicate absolute poverty, inequality and denial of rights.” In response to the new law, the group changed its mission to ensuring “that poor people effectively participate and make decisions in the eradication of their own poverty and their well-being generally.”511

To survive in the new legal and political environment, the majority of Ethiopian civil society organizations have chosen to shift their activities toward technical development and local service delivery work.

Other groups had to undergo a more radical restructuring process. A significant shift in mandate and programming was feasible only for larger organizations that had sufficient human resources.512 For example, the prominent human rights organization Action Professionals’ Association for the People completely reoriented its mission toward providing socioeconomic services for the poor, producing research, and conducting capacity development activities. The Organization for Social Justice Ethiopia renamed itself the Organization for Social Development and shifted from human rights and voter education to corporate social responsibility. The Ethiopian Arbitration and Conciliation Center stopped providing conflict resolution and arbitration and began focusing on capacity building and judicial training.513

The abandonment of the rights-based focus has had a significant impact on the Ethiopian development landscape. Moving away from the underlying drivers of marginalization, many organizations have ceased their awareness-raising, advocacy, and training activities. For example, NGOs that previously worked on child trafficking, child labor, and juvenile justice had to abandon their focus on children’s rights and focus instead on livelihood improvements and direct support to orphans and vulnerable children.514The Forum on Street Children Ethiopia, which had sponsored child protection units in police stations and trained justice sector officials on children’s rights, ceased its child protection activities at the end of 2010.515Resident charities that have nevertheless engaged in gender equality, children’s rights, and justice sector reform have received official warnings from the government.516 Foreign-funded organizations are also barred from working on women’s rights and gender equality, meaning that they no longer advocate for policy and legal reforms on key issues such as female genital mutilation, unsafe abortions, and childhood marriage.517 On the other hand, those organizations that successfully shifted their work to purely developmental activities have continued to collaborate closely with government agencies at the national and regional levels and maintain fruitful working relationships.518

Compliance and Resistance in Response to the 70/30 Guideline

Adaptation to the 70/30 rule proved to be another significant challenge for the sector. Organizations undertook different measures to ensure their compliance, including cutting down on staff training and salaries, giving up capacity-building and training activities, reducing the frequency of field visits, or refocusing their work on urban or semi-urban areas.519 In addition, many groups had to drastically reduce their expenditures on monitoring and evaluation, which in turn made them less attractive partners for international donors.520 According to civil society representatives working in education, health, gender equality, and food security, the overall impact of the 70/30 directive was a decrease in the quality of service delivery and an inability to meet donor expectations with respect to project design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.521

After extensive domestic and international pressure, the government agreed to amend the 70/30 guideline in 2015. The regulation now classifies salaries, transportation costs, and training-related expenses as operational rather than administrative expenses. However, the majority of Ethiopian civil society organizations still struggle to fulfill the requirements. While the Charities and Societies Agency has been slow and inconsistent in enforcing the law, it has repeatedly closed down organizations that have failed to comply. In June 2016, the agency announced that it had shut down more than 200 NGOs over the previous nine months. The announcement followed a new directive imposing additional penalties for noncompliance with the Charities and Societies Proclamation.522 The effort may have been triggered by the Federal Auditor General’s performance audit of the agency, which found evidence of widespread inefficiencies and weak enforcement.523

Working Under the Radar

The few Ethiopian human rights groups that remain active in the country have struggled to survive. Raising local funding has proven particularly difficult. Before the Charities and Societies Proclamation came into force, the HRCO successfully negotiated with its international funders to invest some of the organization’s core funding into a property that could generate rental income for the organization.524 Other groups have organized film screenings or music evenings. However, such efforts have raised only small amounts that fail to cover even basic operating expenses.525 In addition, applications to the Charities and Societies Agency for proposed fund-raising activities have often been met with delays, forcing organizations to cancel planned events.526 As noted above, all active human rights groups have adjusted to the new context by further downsizing their activities and disbanding central areas of work.527

The primary survival strategy has been to carve out space at the local level, with the support of international donors. For example, the EU successfully negotiated exemptions in the government’s restrictive legal framework that allow limited amounts of international funding to flow to Ethiopian charities and societies, in spite of the 10 percent foreign funding limit. While these funding arrangements depend on the approval of Ethiopian authorities, they have ensured the survival of organizations like the HRCO, Vision Ethiopian Congress for Democracy, and EWLA that would otherwise most likely have vanished.528 However, receiving aid through government-approved channels has not protected these groups from harassment by security officials. Most recently, in October 2016, security agents raided an HRCO’s organizational fund-raiser—which had earlier been authorized by government authorities—and briefly detained the organization’s leaders before releasing them with a warning not to criticize the government.529 A number of regional organizations registered with local sector offices have been able to continue their work on gender equality, children’s and disability rights, and the rights of the elderly. For example, the Amhara Women’s Association has continued to focus on gender-based violence and the prevention of female genital mutilation. However, these types of regional organizations tend to have limited resources, which reduces their scope for action.530

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES

Similarly as in the case of Egypt, U.S. and European security interests have constrained Western responses to shrinking civic space in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian government’s successful development track record has further complicated international pushback. European and U.S. leaders have primarily engaged in quiet diplomacy rather than public shaming of Ethiopian authorities. They have focused their behind-the-scenes pressure on short-term issues on which they felt tangible progress could be achieved, such as the release of political prisoners. Lastly, they have generally not used overseas development assistance or security cooperation as tools to gain leverage, even though the EU managed to renegotiate assistance modalities to channel limited amounts of funding to embattled civil society organizations.

Competing Economic and Security Interests

International responses to the closing of space for civil society in Ethiopia have to be understood in the context of Ethiopia’s broader relationship to Western donor governments. In recent years, Ethiopia has been one of the largest African country recipients of overseas development assistance, receiving an average of $3.5 billion from international donors.531 However, although the Ethiopian government is highly dependent on external development assistance, Western governments have been hesitant to use this leverage to push back against repressive efforts in the country for several reasons.

First, Ethiopia’s status as a security and counterterrorism partner has made the country relatively impervious to external conditionality. The Ethiopian government has built an international reputation as an anchor of stability in a fragile region.532 The Ethiopian National Defense Forces have a played a key role in the fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia and served as peacekeepers in the disputed Abyei area between Sudan and South Sudan. From 2011 to 2016, the U.S. military also used an Ethiopian base to launch unmanned aerial vehicles assigned to counterterrorism operations in East Africa.533 The EU, on the other hand, has relied on Ethiopia to stem the flow of migrants from East Africa and the Horn of Africa.534 Western governments fear that heightened pressure could destabilize the Ethiopian government, thereby creating further instability in the Horn of Africa.535Second, Ethiopian leaders have been highly effective at warding off international pressure by highlighting the government’s commitment to economic development and its substantial developmental track record, as well as by threatening to turn further toward China in the event of Western funding cuts. Third, international donors have been unwilling to cut their humanitarian and development assistance out of concern that such a drastic step would only end up hurting the country’s poorest populations, which are already vulnerable to drought and famine.

Behind-the-Scenes Pressure Against the Charities and Societies Proclamation

In 2008, news of the draft Charities and Societies Proclamation triggered international diplomatic pressure behind the scenes. International partners privately lobbied the Ethiopian government to remove some of the law’s harshest provisions. Throughout the drafting process, Western governments showcased an unusual degree of unity and coordination in condemning the law. Delegations from the EU, the United States, and the United Kingdom (UK) expressed their concern over the legislation during high-level meetings with Ethiopia’s prime minister and Ministry of Justice officials.536For example, the assistant secretary for democracy, human rights, and labor traveled to Ethiopia to share U.S. concerns with Zenawi, raising issues such as the 10 percent cap on foreign funding and the limit on administrative overhead.537 However, these efforts did not significantly impact the final proclamation. The government agreed to a few amendments but retained the core features of the law. At the same time, it publicly accused the international community of illegitimate meddling.538

The international reaction to the passing of the law was timid. In a presidential declaration, the EU welcomed the “thorough exchanges of views” it had with the Ethiopian government regarding the law.539 It neither condemned the law nor asked for its repeal. The statement stood in contrast to the EU’s significantly stronger criticism of the 2006 Russian NGO law and similarly repressive legislation passed in Zimbabwe in 2004.540 Moreover, the European Commission simultaneously announced 250 million euros in additional assistance for the Ethiopian government. On the U.S. side, the Department of State issued a public statement of concern.541 Various high-level U.S. officials subsequently raised the issue of the shrinking civic space in meetings with their Ethiopian counterparts, but they rarely addressed the question in public.

Shift to New Funding Modalities

After the law’s passage, Western governments shifted their focus from lobbying to adaptation. The Civil Society Sub Group of the Development Assistance Group—a network of bilateral and multilateral donors established in 2001—set up a monitoring system to track the enforcement of the Charities and Societies Proclamation and collect systematic evidence on the challenges faced by civil society organizations. In addition, the group funded an Adaptation Facility to help Ethiopian civil society groups adjust to the new legal environment.542 The first part of this project was funded by USAID, whereas the second part was funded by a group of donors that included the Swedish International Development Agency, Irish Aid, the Danish and Dutch embassies, and the Canadian International Development Agency and was executed by a local CSO Taskforce.543

The EU also successfully pushed for an exemption from the Charities and Societies Proclamation. Thanks to the Cotonou Agreement—a treaty that obliges EU partner countries to more fully involve nonstate actors in development and policy planning—the EU convinced Ethiopian authorities to label the EU’s Civil Society Fund a domestic funding source. As a result of this exemption, the EU was able to keep funding civil society groups engaged in human rights and advocacy work, which would otherwise have been be barred from raising more than 10 percent of their budget from foreign sources.544 Between 2006 and 2012, the Civil Society Fund dispensed 14.9 million euros in small grants and capacity-building support to more than 250 Ethiopian civil society organizations.545 In 2012, the EU launched a second incarnation of the fund that allocated an additional 12 million euros to Ethiopian NGOs.546 As part of the agreement, Ethiopian government authorities participate in the funding allocation decisions and therefore exercise some degree of control over the process. The program has nevertheless benefited a few organizations working directly on democracy and rights, including the HRCO, EWLA, the Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Associations, and the Vision Ethiopian Congress for Democracy. In addition, the EU has channeled grants to Ethiopian NGOs through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.547

The U.S. government has struggled to continue its democracy assistance activities in the country. USAID initially continued funding the United Nations Development Program’s Democratic Institutions Program, which provided technical capacity building to Ethiopian governmental institutions, including the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. Yet it phased out its support after the Electoral Board denied civil society groups the right to provide voter education ahead of the 2010 elections.548 The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute did not resume their in-country activities after having been expelled from the country in 2005.549 However, the National Endowment for Democracy has continued disbursing small discretionary grants to Ethiopian civil society organizations, including the Vision Ethiopian Congress for Democracy, the Forum for Social Studies, and the Peace and Development Center (see Figure 6).550

Quiet Diplomacy

At the diplomatic level, both the EU and United States continued to address the human rights situation in Ethiopia privately and within the framework of high-level meetings and formal political dialogues with the Ethiopian government. Their efforts centered primarily on monitoring the impact of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and its use against journalists, opposition activists, and religious leaders. U.S. officials raised these issues in meetings of the U.S.-Ethiopian bilateral Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights Working Group.551 EU officials also regularly discussed the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation during its Article 8 dialogues with the Ethiopian government. These dialogues derive their name from Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, which requires the EU and its development partners to “regularly engage” in dialogue about democracy and human rights.552

This type of quiet diplomacy led to little political change. The Ethiopian government adopted a highly formalistic approach to dialogue that provided few opportunities for a genuine debate on governance and human rights. On the EU side, the Article 8 dialogues were hampered by the lack of political engagement by member states and the absence of verifiable human rights benchmarks.553 International lobbying efforts proved most effective when they centered on specific cases, such as the release of political prisoners. For example, U.S. officials privately urged the government to cease the harassment and detention of opposition party supporters, which may have contributed to the release and pardon of a number of opposition leaders and journalists.554 Similarly, the EU expressed strong concern about the fate of the Zone 9 bloggers, who were imprisoned in 2014 and ultimately released in 2015 shortly after Obama’s visit.555

Yet high-level public pressure remained rare, even as the human rights situation in Ethiopia deteriorated further. Several prominent U.S. officials glossed over Ethiopia’s backsliding on democracy in public statements. The former under secretary of state for political affairs, Wendy Sherman, caused a small stir among human rights organizations in 2015 when she referred to Ethiopia as “a democracy that is moving forward” and asserted that Ethiopia was willing to “make every election better than the last one in being inclusive” and “[make] sure everybody’s rights are respected.”556Obama faced a similar backlash in 2015 when he became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Ethiopia—the same year that the EPRDF claimed to have won all 547 parliamentary seats in a landslide victory. During his visit, Obama called Ethiopia’s government “democratically elected,” seemingly legitimizing the flawed elections.557 While praising Ethiopia as an “outstanding” partner in the war on terror, he privately pressed Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn for improvements on human rights and political freedoms.558 Faced with criticism, the Obama administration argued that raising the profile of governance concerns during a high-level meeting would be more effective than sidelining the Ethiopian government.559 As in the case of Russia and Egypt, Obama’s team thus prioritized what they termed “principled engagement” over punitive diplomacy.560

Continued Aid Flows

While the United States and European countries have engaged Ethiopian authorities on democracy and human rights issues in public statements and private meetings, they have not applied any significant financial or economic sanctions to pressure the Ethiopian government to open up political space. U.S. aid to Ethiopia has fluctuated greatly over the years, but it has generally not been subject to conditions relating to democracy and human rights. The Security Assistance Monitor reports that the United States has provided between $300 million and $900 million in economic aid and between $1 million and $25 million in security aid to Ethiopia every year since 2003.561 While Ethiopia’s access to foreign military financing and military education and training funds has been subject to certifications from the secretary of state that Ethiopia has improved along various political indicators, U.S. support for peacekeeping, counterterrorism, and other defense operations is exempt from such certifications.562

In Europe, the Nordic countries and the European Parliament have been the most vocal and public advocates for greater European conditionality toward Ethiopia. In January 2013, the European Parliament passed a resolution imploring the European Commission and other international donors to make military and development assistance to Ethiopia contingent on political reforms, including “the repeal or amendment of the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.”563However, these efforts have translated into few tangible changes in assistance modalities. For example, the EU has never activated Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement to suspend development aid to Ethiopia over democracy and governance concerns.564 After the Ethiopian government’s 2005 postelection crackdown, the EU did cancel its direct budget support to Ethiopia’s national treasury.565 Yet it redirected the funds to the World Bank’s Protection of Basic Services program in Ethiopia, which later came under fire from human rights organizations for enabling the EPRDF’s human rights abuses.566 The EU also approved a “middle-sized” governance incentive tranche—meant to incentivize and reward political reform—even as the country experienced a significant tightening of civic and political space.567 Ethiopia stands out as the only low-income African country other than The Gambia where the European Development Fund has not named democratic governance as a “focal area.”568 Between 2005 and 2014, the EU allocated only 3 percent of its total EU aid to Ethiopia to support governance reform programs.569

The United Kingdom, another major source of economic and military assistance for Ethiopia, has not significantly changed its policy toward Ethiopia since the crackdown on civil society intensified in 2009. In recent years, Ethiopia has consistently been among the top five recipients of British development aid. In fact, between 2015 and 2016, Ethiopia moved up from being the UK’s third-highest aid recipient (313 million pounds) to being the UK’s second-highest aid recipient (388 million pounds), with only Pakistan receiving more aid.570 In the past, UK aid has come under fire for allegedly supporting human rights abuses by the Ethiopian government, as in the case of Mr. O, an Ethiopian farmer who filed a suit against the UK Department for International Development for indirectly funding a “villagization” program in which Ethiopian security forces displaced hundreds of Ethiopian villagers.571

As noted in the introduction, the reluctance to use political conditionality partly stems from donors’ desire to support the Ethiopian government’s development efforts and concerns that increased pressure in the form of financial and development penalties would only hurt the most marginalized and impoverished Ethiopians.572 Donor governments also worry that isolating the Ethiopian government could further increase China’s influence in the country—particularly since the EPRDF already views Chinese investment as an important alternative to Western support.573 They point to existing evidence that democratic conditionality rarely works.574 Moreover, the belief that sustainable democracy in fact requires economic development and political stability remains prevalent among many donors, reinforced by multiple short-term incentives to continue diplomatic and assistance cooperation around counterterrorism and migration management.

Weak Responses to the Current Crisis

The disjunction between Western countries’ aid relationship to the Ethiopian government and concerns over increasing repression in the country became even more apparent during the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on protesters in 2015 and 2016. On the one hand, the frequency of high-level statements and condemnations increased. The European Parliament repeatedly issued strong statements criticizing the EPRDF’s handling of the protests. In January 2016, it passed another resolution calling on the EU to link its development cooperation with Ethiopia to democratic reform commitments and mitigate the “negative impact of displacement within EU-funded development projects.”575 In 2016, the EU delegation in Addis Ababa and various EU member states cosponsored a joint mission to Ethiopia’s Oromia region to conduct field visits, meet with stakeholders, and evaluate the human rights situation of protestors targeted by Ethiopian security forces. Similarly, twelve U.S. senators in April 2016 introduced a resolution condemning the use of violence against protesters and civil society and calling on the secretary of state to review U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia.576

At the same time, U.S. and EU officials have given no indication of a broader policy shift. In November 2015, the EU and Ethiopia signed a Declaration on a Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility, which allocates further financial support to the Ethiopian government to manage migration flows in the Horn of Africa.577 On the sidelines of the European Development Days in June 2016, EU leaders and the Ethiopian prime minister signed a joint declaration, Towards an EU-Ethiopia Strategic Engagement, which sets up a comprehensive process of cooperation along shared interests, including counterterrorism, trade, migration and economic development.578 While the initiative includes annual consultations on human rights and governance, it remains to be seen whether they will serve as an effective forum to challenge Ethiopian officials on the shrinking of civic space. After meeting Desalegn in March 2017, the EU’s high representative, Federica Mogherini, did not address the ongoing state of emergency in Ethiopia, and even praised the government’s establishment of a dialogue with the opposition.579 For now, it seems that the EU will continue to embrace quiet diplomacy while refraining from applying public pressure or conditionality, while the new U.S. administration has given no indication of a shift in approach.

NOTES

407 Jeffrey Clark, “Civil Society, NGOs, and Development in Ethiopia: A Snapshot View,” World Bank, June 30, 2000, http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/611131468773954100/Civil-society-NGOs-and-development-in-Ethiopia-a-snapshot-view, 1.

408 Clark, “Civil Society, NGOs, and Development in Ethiopia,” 4.

409 Sisay Alemahu Yeshanew, “CSO Law in Ethiopia: Considering Its Constraints and Consequences,” Journal of Civil Society 8, no. 4 (2012): 372.

410 . Ben Rawlence and Leslie Lefkow, “‘One Hundred Ways of Putting Pressure’: Violations of Freedom of Expression and Association in Ethiopia,” Human Rights Watch, March 2010, https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/ethiopia0310webwcover.pdf.

411 . Clark, “Civil Society, NGOs, and Development in Ethiopia,” 5–6.

412 . Bahru Zwede and Siegfried Pausewang, eds., Ethiopia: The Challenge of Democracy From Below (Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute, 2002), 109.

413 . Abadir M. Ibrahim, The Role of Civil Society in Africa’s Quest for Democratization (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2016), 137; and “Ethiopia: The Curtailment of Rights,” Human Rights Watch, December 9, 1997, https://www.hrw.org/report/1997/12/09/ethiopia-curtailment-rights.

414 Zwede and Pausewang, Ethiopia, 110.

415 Siegfried Pausewang and Günter Schröder, “Ethiopia,” in Encyclopedia of Human Rights,ed. David P Forsythe(New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 161.

416 . Zwede and Pausewang, Ethiopia, 109.

417 . Debebe Hailegebriel, “Ethiopia,” International Journal for Not-for-Profit Law 12, no. 2 (February 2010).

418 . Terrence Lyons, “Ethiopia in 2005: The Beginning of a Transition?,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, January 20, 2006, https://www.csis.org/analysis/africa-notes-ethiopia-2005-beginning-transition-january-2006, 3.

419 Jon Abbink, “Discomfiture of Democracy? The 2005 Election Crisis in Ethiopia and Its Aftermath,” African Affairs 105, no. 419 (2006): 174–99.

420 . Lovise Aalen and Kjetil Tronvoll, “The End of Democracy? Curtailing Political and Civil Rights in Ethiopia,” Review of Political Economy 36,no. 120 (2009): 193–207.

421 Interview with specialist on civil society in Ethiopia, January 9, 2016.

422 Simegnish Yekoye Mengesha, “Silencing Dissent,” Journal of Democracy 27, no. 1 (January 2016): 90.

423 Ibid., 90.

424 . Sarah Vaughan, “Revolutionary Democratic State-Building: Party, State and People in the EPRDF’s Ethiopia,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 5, no. 4 (2011): 633.

425 . Aalen and Tronvoll, “The End of Democracy?,” 203.

426 . Vaughan, “Revolutionary Democratic State-Building,” 634.

427 Mengesha, “Silencing Dissent,” 92.

428 Hailegebriel, “Ethiopia.”

429 . “Civic Freedom Monitor: Ethiopia,” International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), last updated October 27, 2016, http://www.icnl.org/research/monitor/ethiopia.html; and “Ethiopia: Proclamation No. 621/2009 of 2009, Charities and Societies Proclamation,” Federal Negarit Gazeta, February 13, 2009, http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ba7a0cb2.html.

430 Dereje Feyissa, “Aid Negotiation: The Uneasy “Partnership” Between EPRDF and the Donors,” in Reconfiguring Ethiopia: The Politics of Authoritarian Reform,eds. Jon Abbink and Tobias Hagman (New York: Routledge, 2013), 208–9.

431 . “Civic Freedom Monitor: Ethiopia,” ICNL.

432 . Berhanu Denu and Ato Getachew Zewdie, “Impact of the Guideline to Determine Charities’ and Societies’ Operational and Administrative Costs (70/30 Guideline)—Phase III,” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, September 2013, http://esap2.org.et/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Report-10_7030-Phase-III_Sep2013.pdf.

433 . Lewis Gordon, Sean Sullivan, and Sonal Mittal, “Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Law: A Tool to Stifle Dissent,” Oakland Institute, January 2015, 9.

434 “One Hundred Ways,” Human Rights Watch.

435 . Gordon, Sullivan, and Mittal, “Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Law,” 9.

436 . Hilary Matfess, “Rwanda and Ethiopia: Developmental Authoritarianism and the New Politics of African Strong Men,” African Studies Review 58, no. 2 (September 2015): 194.

437 Leonardo R. Arriola and Terrence Lyons, “The 100% Election,” Journal of Democracy 27, no. 1 (January 2016): 82.

438 “One Hundred Ways,” Human Rights Watch.

439 “Ethiopia Blames ‘Foreign Enemies’ for Stoking Unrest,” Al Jazeera,October 10, 2016, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/10/ethiopia-blames-foreign-enemies-stoking-unrest-161010100148946.html.

440 . Awol Allo, “Ethiopia Politicizes Courts to Strangle Dissent,” Al Jazeera America,July 10, 2015, http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/7/ethiopia-politicizes-courts-to-strangle-dissent.html.

441 Shannon Orcutt, “Caught Up in Bitter Contests: Human Rights Defenders Working in the Context of Elections in Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi and Uganda,” East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), Human Rights House, September 2015, https://www.defenddefenders.org/2015/09/caught-up-in-bitter-contests-report-on-human-rights-defenders-working-in-the-context-of-elections/, 18.

442 Agence France-Presse, “Ethiopian Bloggers and Journalists Charged With Terrorism,” Guardian, July 18, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/18/ethiopian-bloggers-journalists-zone-nine-charged-terrorism-ginbot-7.

443 . Orcutt, “Caught Up in Bitter Contests,” 18.

444 Ibid., 19; Mengesha, “Silencing Dissent,” 89; and “Journalism is Not a Crime: Violations of Media Freedoms in Ethiopia,”Human Rights Watch, January 2015, https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/01/21/journalism-not-crime/violations-media-freedoms-ethiopia.

445 . Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia,” U.S. Department of State, March 11, 2010, https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135953.htm.

446 . “‘One Hundred Ways of Putting Pressure,’” Human Rights Watch.

447 “Suppressing Dissent: Human Rights Abuses and Political Repression in Ethiopia’s Oromia Region,” Human Rights Watch, May 9, 2005, https://www.hrw.org/report/2005/05/09/suppressing-dissent/human-rights-abuses-and-political-repression-ethiopias-oromia.

448 Arriola and Lyons, “The 100% Election,” 85.

449 “Ethiopia Extends State of Emergency by Four Months,” Al Jazeera,March 30, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/ethiopia-extends-state-emergency-months-170330110807086.html.

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

451 . See, for example, “Human Rights Watch Encourages Opposition Violence in Ethiopia,” Official Blog of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, October 22, 2016, https://mfaethiopiablog.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/human-rights-watch-encourages-opposition-violence-in-ethiopia-article-drtedros/.

452 Tracking Trends in Ethiopia’s Civil Society (TECS), “Mass Based Societies in Ethiopia: Prospects and Challenges,” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, March 2012, http://www.dagethiopia.org/new/images/DAG_DOCS/TECS_Policy_Brief_MBS_Final_English_2April12.pdf, 16.

453 . Gebre Yntiso, Debebe Haile-Gebriel, and Kelkilachew Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia—Update Mapping,” Ethiopia–European Union Civil Society Fund and Civil Society Support Programme, March 2015, 66.

454 TECS, “Mass Based Societies in Ethiopia,” 23.

455 Ibid.

456 Dupuy, Ron, and Prakash, “Hands Off My Regime!,” 29.

457 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia,” U.S. Department of State, February 27, 2014, https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/af/220113.htm.

458 . Arriola and Lyons, “The 100% Election,” 79.

459 . Feyissa, “Aid Negotation,” 209.

460 Matfess, “Rwanda and Ethiopia,” 186.

461 “‘One Hundred Ways of Putting Pressure,’” Human Rights Watch.

462 Meles Zenawi, “States and Markets: Neoliberal Limitations and the Case for a Developmental State,” in Good Growth and Governance in Africa: Rethinking Development Strategies, eds. Akbar Noman, Kwesi Botchwey, Howard Stein, and Joseph E. Stiglitz(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

463 Tobias Hagmann and Jon Abbink, “The Politics of Authoritarian Reform in Ethiopia, 1991 to 2012,” in Reconfiguring Ethiopia, 3.

464 Pausewang and Schröder, “Ethiopia,” 160.

465 . Author interview with specialist on civil society in Ethiopia, January 9, 2016.

466 Feyissa, “Aid Negotiation,” 214.

467 “Stifling Human Rights Work: The Impact of Civil Society Legislation in Ethiopia,” Amnesty International, March 2012, http://files.amnesty.org/archives/afr250022012eng.pdf, 12.

468 Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 43.

469 Author interview with specialist on civil society in Ethiopia, January 9, 2016.

470 Dupuy, Ron, and Prakash, “Hands Off My Regime!,” 15.

471 “The Impact of the CSO Proclamation on the Human Rights Council,” Human Rights Council (HRC), July 2011, https://www.ehrco.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/impact_of_the_cso_proclamation_on_hrco.pdf, 8.

472 . Ibid., 4.

473 . Ibid.

474 . Amnesty International, CIVICUS, and Human Rights Watch, “Ethiopia: Supreme Court Ruling Marks a Further Erosion of Human Rights Work,” joint public statement, Human Rights Watch, October 19, 2012, https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/10/19/ethiopia-supreme-court-ruling-marks-further-erosion-human-rights-work.

475 “The Impact of the CSO Proclamation,” HRC, 12.

476 . Ibid., 9, 12.

477 . HRC et al., “Joint UPR Submission by the Ethiopian CSO Taskforce: Human Rights Council (HRC), Vision Ethiopia Congress for Democracy (VECOD), Ethiopian Human Rights Service (EHRS), Ye Ethiopia Ye Fiteh Seratoch Ma’ekel (Center for Legal Pluralism in Ethiopia,” UPR Info, September 2013, https://www.upr-info.org/sites/default/files/document/ethiopia/session_19_-_april_2014/js6_upr19_eth_e_main.pdf, 5.

478 . “Stifling Human Rights Work,” Amnesty International,26.

479 Ibid.,13.

480 Ibid., 24.

481 . “The Impact of the CSO Proclamation,” HRC, 9.

482 Ibid.

483 . Xan Rice “UN Fears Humanitarian Crisis in Remote Ethiopian Region,” Guardian, September 20, 2007, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2007/sep/20/internationalaidanddevelopment.internationalnews.

484 Addis Standard, “Ethiopia: The Slow Death of a Civilian Government and the Rise of a Military Might,” AllAfrica, January 24, 2017, http://allafrica.com/stories/201701240915.html.

485 Kenneth Roth, “Ethiopia: Development Assistance Group Should Address Human Rights in Ethiopia” (letter to Kenichi Ohashi, Ethiopia country director for the World Bank), Human Rights Watch, December 17, 2010, https://www.hrw.org/news/2010/12/17/ethiopia-development-assistance-group-should-address-human-rights-ethiopia.

486 “140th Special Report (Executive Summary),” HRC, March 14, 2016, https://ehrco.org/2016/03/140th-special-report-executive-summary/.

487 “Ethiopia: Civil Society Groups Urge International Investigation Into Ongoing Human Rights Violations,” press release, Amnesty International, August 30, 2016, https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2016/08/ethiopia-civil-society-groups-urge-international-investigation-into-ongoing-human-rights-violations/.

488 . Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 43.

489 “Ethiopia’s Compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities” (submitted to the 16th Session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, August 15–September 2, 2016), Advocates for Human Rights, http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/uploads/ethiopian_-_crpd_-_july_2016.pdf.

490 HRC et al., “Joint UPR Submission,” 2.

491 Addis Standard, “Ethiopia: The Slow Death of a Civilian Government.”

492 . Ibid.

493 “Ethiopia: The 15 May 2005 Elections and Human Rights,” Amnesty International, April 2005, http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/42ae98270.pdf, 6.

494 . “The Impact of the CSO Proclamation,” HRC, 13.

495 . “Stifling Human Rights Work,” Amnesty International,18.

496 . Dupuy, Ron, Prakash, “Hands Off My Regime!,” 16.

497 Addis Standard, “Ethiopia: The Slow Death of a Civilian Government.”

498 . “Charities and Societies Proclamation,” Federal Negarit Gazeta.

499 . “Coalition of Civil Societies Says Ethiopia’s Elections Fair, Democratic,” Xinhua,May 25, 2010, http://en.people.cn/90001/90777/90855/6997960.html.

500 . European Union Election Observation Mission to Ethiopia, “Final Report on the House of People’s Representatives and State Council Elections,” Election Observation and Democracy Support, May 2010, http://www.eods.eu/library/EUEOM%20FR%20ETHIOPIA%2008.11.2010_en.pdf.

501 Marthe van der Wolf, “No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections,” Voice of America,May 20, 2015, http://www.voanews.com/a/no-western-observers-for-ethiopian-elections/2779335.html.

502 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, “2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia,” U.S. Department of State, April 8, 2011, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/af/154346.htm.

503 Interview with Ethiopian civil society activist, January 9, 2017.

504 Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 14.

505 Barbara Unmüßig et al., “Closure of the Heinrich Böll Foundation Office in Ethiopia,” Heinrich Böll Stiftung, November 29, 2012, https://us.boell.org/2012/11/29/closure-heinrich-boll-foundation-office-ethiopia-democracy.

506 Denu and Zewdie, “Impact of the Guideline.”

507 . TECS, “On CHSOs Engaged in the Health Sector,” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, December 2013, http://www.dagethiopia.org/new/images/DAG_DOCS/TECS_Information_Bulletin_10_CSOs_in_health_sector.pdf.

508 TECS, “Impact of the Proclamation and Guidelines on Consortia (Networks),” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, August 2013, http://dagethiopia.org/new/images/DAG_DOCS/Policy_Brief_6_Consortia_August_2013.pdf.

509 Dupuy, Ron and Prakash, “Hands Off My Regime!,” 16.

510 . Ibid., 17.

511 . Ibid., 18.

512 . Ibid., 11.

513 . Ibid., 18.

514 TECS, “Charities Working With Children,” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, August 2014, http://esap2.org.et/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Policy-Brief-13-Children-August-2014.pdf.

515 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011: Ethiopia,” U.S. Department of State, May 24, 2012, https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/af/186196.htm.

516 . Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 43.

517 “Stifling Human Rights Work,” Amnesty International, 22.

518 . TECS, “Charities Working With Children.”

519 Hiwot Getachew Gebreyohannes, “The Challenges and Prospects of ChSA ‘70/30 Guideline’ Implementation on the Performance of NGOs in Ethiopia: A Case Study of Food for the Hungry/Ethiopia (FH/Ethiopia)” (master’s thesis, School of Management Studies, Indira Gandhi National Open University, April 2016), http://repository.smuc.edu.et/bitstream/123456789/1433/1/Hiwot%20Getachew.pdf, 22–23; and Denu and Zewdie, “Impact of the Guideline.”

520 Berhanu Denu and Ato Getachew Zewdie, “Early Evidence of the Impact of the 70/30 Guideline to Determine Operational and Administrative Costs (Guideline 2/2003 EC) Phase II,” Development Assistance Group Ethiopia, http://www.dagethiopia.org/new/images/DAG_DOCS/Policy_Brief_5_70_30_phase_II_April_2013.pdf.

521 Ibid.

522 Yoseph Badwaza, “Ethiopia: Attack on Civil Society Escalates as Dissent Spreads,” Freedom House, July 22, 2016, https://freedomhouse.org/blog/ethiopia-attack-civil-society-escalates-dissent-spreads.

523 Author interview with specialist on civil society in Ethiopia, January 9, 2016.

524 Ibid.

525 Ibid.

526 . CIVICUS, EHAHRDO and HRC, “Joint NGO Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review,” CIVICUS, September 16, 2013, http://www.civicus.org/images/CIVICUS_EHAHRDP_HRCO_Joint_Ethiopia_UPR_Submission.pdf, 4.

527 “Stifling Human Rights Work,” Amnesty International,5.

528 . Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011: Ethiopia”; and Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 76.

529 . “Ethiopia Undermines Financial Support for Human Rights Groups,” Freedom House, October 24, 2016; and interview with specialist on human rights in Ethiopia, November 25, 2016.

530 . Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 69.

531 Luis Flores, “Development Aid to Ethiopia: Overlooking Violence, Marginalization, and Political Repression,” Oakland Institute, 2013, https://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/OI_Brief_Development_Aid_Ethiopia.pdf, 1.

532 . Awol Allo, “Ethiopia’s Unprecedented Nationwide Oromo Protests: Who, What, Why?,” African Arguments, August 6, 2016, http://africanarguments.org/2016/08/06/ethiopias-unprecedented-nationwide-oromo-protests-who-what-why/.

533 “US Shuts Down Drone Base in Ethiopia,” BBC, January 4, 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35220279.

534 . James Jeffrey, “Europe Pays Out to Keep a Lid on Ethiopia Migration,” IRIN,October 24, 2016, https://www.irinnews.org/analysis/2016/10/24/europe-pays-out-keep-lid-ethiopia-migration.

535 . Interview with specialist on human rights in Ethiopia, November 25, 2016.

536 . Hailegebriel, “Ethiopia.”

537 Alphia Zoyab, “Criminalizing Humanitarian Aid—Ethiopia’s Controversial New Law,” International Affairs Review, December 7, 2008, http://www.iar-gwu.org/node/50.

538 Hailegebriel, “Ethiopia.”

539 “Declaration by the Presidency on Behalf of the EU on the Adoption of the Charities and Societies Proclamation by the House of Peoples’ Representatives of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,” press release, Council of the European Union, January 30, 2009, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_PESC-09-7_en.htm.

540 . Lotte Leicht and Georgette Gagnon, “Letter to the European Union on Their Disappointing Reaction to the Ethiopian NGO Law,” Human Rights Watch, February 10, 2009, https://www.hrw.org/news/2009/02/10/letter-european-union-their-disappointing-reaction-ethiopian-ngo-law.

541 Robert Wood, “New Ethiopian Law Restricts NGO Activities,” press statement, U.S. Department of State, January 8, 2009, https://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2009/01/113692.htm.

542 ICNL, “The NGO Legal Enabling Environment Program (LEEP): Quarterly Programmatic Report, July–September 2009,” U.S. Agency for International Development, http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/Pdacp042.pdf, 3; and Hailegebriel, “Ethiopia.”

543 . Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 14, 48.

544 “About CSF,” Ethiopia–European Union Civil Society Fund, http://csf2.org/?q=content/about-csf; and “Answer Given by High Representative/Vice-President on Behalf of the Commission,” European Parliament, March 9, 2012, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2012-001616&language=EN; “Annual Action Programme 2011 Covered by the Country Strategy Paper 2008–2013 for the European Development Fund in Ethiopia,” Germany Trade and Invest, https://www.gtai.de/GTAI/Content/DE/Trade/Fachdaten/PRO/2011/10/P19726.pdf?v=6; Max Hennion et al., “Evaluation of the Commission of the European Union’s Co-Operation With Ethiopia,” European Commission, January 2012, http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/how/evaluation/evaluation_reports/reports/2012/1301_vol1_en.pdf.

545 “Quarterly Newsletter of the EU Delegation to Ethiopia (July-October 2016),” Delegation of the EU to Ethiopia, November 2, 2016, https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/ethiopia/13782/quarterly-newsletter-of-the-eu-delegation-to-ethiopia-july—october-2016_en; and “Supporting Non-State Actors, Building Partnerships,” Ethiopia–European Union Civil Society Fund, http://csf2.org/sites/default/files/CSF%20BROCHURE%20Jun%2021-FINAL.pdf.

546 “About CSF,” Ethiopia–European Union Civil Society Fund.

547 Karen Del Biondo, “Multiple Principals, Multiple Agents: EU and US Democracy Assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, December 2014, http://cddrl.fsi.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/del_biondo_1_final.pdf, 19; and Yntiso, Haile-Gebriel, and Ali, “Non-State Actors in Ethiopia,” 55.

548 Ibid., 18.

549 Ibid.

550 “Ethiopia 2015,” National Endowment for Democracy, http://www.ned.org/region/africa/ethiopia-2015/.

551 . “U.S. and Ethiopia Hold 6th Bilateral Democracy, Governance and Human Rights Working Group in Addis Ababa,” press release, U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, March 30, 2016, https://ethiopia.usembassy.gov/pr_2016_20.html.

552 “Answer Given by High Representative/Vice-President Ashton on Behalf of the Commission,” European Parliament, November 9, 2012, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2012-008050&language=EN; “Answer Given by High Representative/Vice-President Ashton on Behalf of the Commission,” and European Parliament, March 9, 2012, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2012-001616&language=EN.

553 Federica Petrucci et al., “Thematic Evaluation of the European Commission Support to Respect of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Including Solidarity with Victims of Repression),” European Commission, December 2011, http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/how/evaluation/evaluation_reports/reports/2011/1298_vol1_en.pdf, 49.

554 Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia.”

555 . “Answer Given by Vice-President Mogherini on Behalf of the Commission,” European Parliament, September 11, 2015, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getAllAnswers.do?reference=E-2015-008413&language=EN.

556 “Press Availability by Wendy R. Sherman,” U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, April 16, 2015, https://ethiopia.usembassy.gov/wendy-sherman-foreign-minister.html; “The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime,” Washington Post,April 30, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ethiopias-wrong-turn/2015/04/30/e170d29c-ed1f-11e4-a55f-38924fca94f9_story.html; Mohammed Ademo, “US Official Praises Ethiopian ‘Democracy,’ Rest of World Begs to Differ,” The Scrutineer (blog), Al Jazeera America,April 18, 2015, http://america.aljazeera.com/blogs/scrutineer/2015/4/18/us-official-praises-ethiopian-democracy-us-begs-to-differ.html.

557 . “Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia in Joint Press Conference,” White House, July 27, 2015, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/27/remarks-president-obama-and-prime-minister-hailemariam-desalegn-ethiopia.

558 . Katrina Manson, “Barack Obama Urges Ethiopia to Improve Political Freedoms,” Financial Times, July 27, 2015, https://www.ft.com/content/fcd537c2-346d-11e5-b05b-b01debd57852.

559 . Edward-Isaac Dovere, “Obama Differs From Top Aides Over Ethiopia’s Democracy,” Politico,July 27, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/obama-differs-from-top-aides-over-ethiopias-democracy-120657.

560 . Richard Youngs, “The End of Democratic Conditionality: Good Riddance?,” FRIDE, September 2010, http://fride.org/descarga/WP102_The_end_democratic_conditionality_ENG_set10.pdf, 3.

561 “Security Aid: Ethiopia, 2000–2016,” Security Assistance Monitor, http://securityassistance.org/data/program/military/Ethiopia/1996/2016/is_all/Global.

562 Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, H.R. 2055, 112th Cong. (2011), https://www.congress.gov/bill/112th-congress/house-bill/2055; Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, H.R. 3547, 113th Cong. (2013), https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/3547; Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, H.R. 83, 113th Cong. (2013), https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/83/text; Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, H.R. 2029, 114th Cong. (2015), https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2029/text.

563 . European Parliament, Resolution of 15 January 2013 on EU Strategy for the Horn of Africa, 2012/2026(INI), January 15, 2013, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P7-TA-2013-0006&language=EN&ring=A7-2012-0408.

564 Karen Del Biondo and Jan Orbie, “The European Commission’s Implementation of Budget Support and the Governance Incentive Tranche in Ethiopia: Democracy Promoter or Developmental Donor?,” Third World Quarterly 35, no. 3 (2014).

565 Ibid.

566 “Development Without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia,”Human Rights Watch, October 19, 2010, https://www.hrw.org/report/2010/10/19/development-without-freedom/how-aid-underwrites-repression-ethiopia; and Helen Epstein, “Why Are We Funding Abuse in Ethiopia?” New York Review of Books, March 14, 2013, http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2013/03/14/why-are-we-funding-abuse-ethiopia/.

567 . Del Biondo and Orbie, “The European Commission’s Implementation of Budget Support and the Governance Incentive Tranche in Ethiopia.”

568 Christine Hackenesch, “Good Governance in EU External Relations: What Role for Development Policy in a Changing International Context?,” Directorate-General for External Policies, European Parliament, July 2016, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/578012/EXPO_STU(2016)578012_EN.pdf.

569 Ibid.

570 . UK Aid Development tracker, https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/; and “Ethiopia Is Top UK Aid Recipient,” Voice of America, February 28, 2011, http://www.voanews.com/a/ethiopia-is-top-uk-aid-recipient-117204413/157544.html.

571 Claire Provost, “Ethiopia’s Rights Abuses ‘Being Ignored by US and UK Aid Agencies,’” Guardian,July 17, 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/jul/17/ethiopia-rights-abuses-us-uk-aid-agencies; and David Smith, “’Britain Is Supporting a Dictatorship in Ethiopia,’” Guardian, July 6, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/06/britain-supporting-dictatorship-in-ethiopia.

572 . William Easterly and Laura Freschi, “Why Are We Supporting Repression in Ethiopia?,” New York Review of Books,November 15, 2010, http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2010/11/15/why-are-we-supporting-repression-ethiopia/.

573 . David H. Shinn, “The Evolution of China-Ethiopia Relations,” This Is Africa, March 31, 2015, http://www.thisisafricaonline.com/News/The-evolution-of-China-Ethiopia-relations?ct=true.

574 . Youngs, “The End of Democratic Conditionality.”

575 European Parliament, Resolution of 21 January 2016 on the Situation in Ethiopia, 2016/2520(RSP), January 21, 2016, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P8-TA-2016-0023+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN.

576 “Cardin, Rubio, Colleagues Condemn Ethiopia’s Crackdown on Civil Society,” press release, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, April 20, 2016, https://www.foreign.senate.gov/press/ranking/release/cardin-rubio-colleagues-condemn-ethiopias-crackdown-on-civil-society-.

577 . “European Union and Ethiopia Sign Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility,” press release, European Commission, November 11, 2015, http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-6050_en.htm.

578 “Ethiopia, EU Sign Joint Declaration Towards Strategic Engagement,” Ethiopian News Agency, June 15, 2016, http://www.ena.gov.et/en/index.php/politics/item/1495-ethiopia-eu-sign-joint-declaration-towards-strategic-engagement

579 “HRVP Federica Mogherini Meets Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegm,” press release, European Union External Action, March 17, 2017, https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/22980/hrvp-federica-mogherini-meets-ethiopian-prime-minister-hailemariam-desalegn_en.

End of document

Why I run: I will continue to protest until the Oromo people in Ethiopia gain their freedom. May 20, 2017

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Why I run 


I will continue to protest until the Oromo people in Ethiopia gain their freedom.


 ALJAZEERA ENGLISH, 19 May 2017
Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia crosses his wrists in solidarity with the Oromo people after crossing the finish line at the 2016 Rio Olympics [Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha]
Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia crosses his wrists in solidarity with the Oromo people after crossing the finish line at the 2016 Rio Olympics [Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha]

by 

Feyisa Lilesa is a long-distance runner from Ethiopia and a member of the Oromo people.

My name is Feyisa Lilesa. I am an exiled marathon runner from Ethiopia.

I have not been back to my country since winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games last August. In Rio, as I approached the finish line, I crossed my wrists above my head in solidarity with the men, women and children who have died fighting for their rights and those who are still suffering under the brutal regime in Ethiopia.

It was a sign of nonviolent resistance used by protesters in my native Oromia region, the largest of Ethiopia’s nine ethnic-based states.

Much has changed since my Olympic protest in Rio. I now live and train in exile in the United States. Last February, I was reunited with my wife and two children.

Meanwhile, despite the global spotlight my protest attracted, the killings, imprisonment and harassment of my people by Ethiopian security forces have only worsened.

This is why I continue to protest, after every race and at every media event.

In a few days, the World Health Organization (WHO) member states will elect a new director general at the 70th World Health Assembly. One of the top three candidates is Tedros Adhanom, current special adviser to the Ethiopian prime minister and Ethiopia’s former foreign and health minister. Adhanom is travelling the world discussing human rights (while comically admitting Ethiopia’s record is “not perfect“) as part of his campaign to lead WHO.

Adhanom is one of the chief architects of Ethiopia’s repressive regime. He has been a cabinet minister for more than a decade. In 2015 and 2016, according to human rights organisations security forces killed hundreds of peaceful protesters; the number in my opinion might be more than 1000. Adhanom, then the country’s foreign minister, downplayed the extent of the problem and denounced even the scant international scrutiny of Ethiopia’s human rights record.

In an op-ed last October, Adhanom targeted Human Rights Watch – blaming the New York-based nonprofit and the Ethiopian diaspora for whipping up anti-government protests. Having systematically decimated domestic opposition, the civil society and independent press, this was part of his regime’s attempt to intimidate and silence critics abroad. Like the government he served, which spends millions of dollars on lobbying to shore up international support, Adhanom has turned to PR agencies to whitewash his image.

Adhanom is now travelling around the world hypocritically talking about health as a human right. But when he was health minister, his office refused to acknowledge large cholera outbreaks, which cost many lives. Today Ethiopia is also covering up yet another cholera outbreak, using the euphemism of acute watery diarrhoea.

Adhanom has also been touting his success with Ethiopia’s national Health Extension Program. I have friends who worked as extension workers and know communities that were supposed to benefit from this much-hyped initiative. Particularly in Oromo areas, the services never reached the people who needed them the most.

OPINION: The Oromo protests have changed Ethiopia

In some towns, poorly supplied health centres were built and extension workers with 10th grade education – who had only a year of medical training – were assigned to staff the facilities.

However, the poor training, distance the workers had to travel to get to the satellite offices and the lack of medical equipment and supplies meant the majority still don’t have access to quality health services. Moreover, admission into the programme requires party membership and mandatory political indoctrination.

In other words, Adhanom’s health ministry used the donor-funded health extension programme as a coercive political recruitment tool for the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). In some cases, people were denied access or were asked to join EPRDF in order to access even the measly services provided by extension workers.

That is not all. Ethiopia has gained international praise for reaching the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. However, in Oromia today, babies often still die in great numbers from preventable diseases like diarrhoea. The true child mortality rate is never recorded since the statistics are falsified with the aim of meeting global development goals and keeping foreign aid coming. This practice has so far escaped international scrutiny given the lack of independent press, organised opposition and robust civil society in Ethiopia.

After years of authoritarian backsliding, Ethiopia is now effectively a military state, ruled by a Command Post that was setup to oversee the country’s now 8-month-long state of emergency, declared in October.

Despite these crimes, there is still an opportunity for Adhanom and the Ethiopian regime to do the right thing.

First, the martial law must be immediately lifted and protesters, journalists, opposition leaders and civil society members must be released from jail. Specifically, Oromo opposition leaders Bekele Gerba, Merera Gudina and their colleagues, must be released without further delay. Authorities must also allow independent investigation, including by UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and assembly, into human rights violations and the killings of protesters.

Second, instead of blaming the diaspora and neighbouring countries for the deepening political crisis, authorities must meet the protesters demands for a free and fair Ethiopia. That entails opening up the political environment and allowing the country’s 100 million citizens to elect their leaders – ending the hegemony of Adhanom’s Tigrayan ethnic group.

Finally, Adhanom – still a special adviser to the Ethiopian prime minister – must withdraw from the election for director general of the WHO and issue a formal apology to the Ethiopian people, the African Union and human rights groups for trying to divert attention from the crimes he and his government have committed over the last two decades and a half.

International civil society groups, the media and WHO member states face a unique opportunity to send a clear message that human rights matter. And perpetrators and enablers of atrocious crimes cannot be rewarded for their complacence in the face of egregious right abuses. Member states must reject Adhanom’s candidacy and demand that Ethiopia stops covering up water-borne diseases and be transparent about its record of child mortality and other key indicators.

I look forward to one day returning home to run across the blood red soil of my homeland. However, until the Oromo people gain their freedom, I will continue to protest in solidarity.  

Feyisa Lilesa is a long-distance runner from Ethiopia and a member of the Oromo people.


 

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

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

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


AP Photo
AP Photo/STR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Associated Press writer Justin Lynch in Nairobi, Kenya contributed.




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


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

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

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


 

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

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


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

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Release and drop charges against Dr. Merera Gudina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HRLHA Press Release

April 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

For example,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HRLHA Press Release

April 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

For example,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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House of cards

 


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

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

Development now, democracy later

The Economist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

A mirror Story: The striking similarities of Native American Ordeal and the Oromo people April 16, 2017

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A mirror Story: The striking similarities of Native American Ordeal and the Oromo people
   By Najat Hamza
Najat Hamza

As documented in the archives of history throughout the world, Oromo’s are not the only indigenous people targeted for their land and their identity. This article will be exploring the indigenous people of Americas, the Native Americans in comparison to the Oromo people. Native Americans have their own way of life, culture, tradition, language and indigenous religious beliefs untouched by the outside world. They were communal society in nature. They embraced a philosophy of living in harmony with nature. The land has and still has special place in their spirituality, as something scared, something to be protected and nurtured. Contrary, to their European invaders that viewed the land only from economic points of view.
At the end of 15th century Europeans migrated to the Americas to conquer the land and resources. Their only obstacle was removing the indigenous people off of the land in order to achieve their objectives. However, the special relationship Native Americans had with their land presented a challenge to the new conquerors. The Europeans wanted the land to settle on, to use, to prosper from and to own. Native Americans viewed land as part of their identity, intrinsic in nature and not dependent on economic again or be swayed by it. Thus, the Indian wars spanning decades are part of these two opposing views. The Native Americans put up a fierce resistance against the Europeans and it was apparent to them that were losing. The Europeans could not win by arm forces, so they used the law to achieve their objectives.
The most devastating blow to Native Americans was delivered as a piece of legislature called The Dawes Act of 1887 which allowed for the allotment of tribal land to an individual ownership. When an individual Native American accepts these pieces of land he/she is granted a U.S. citizenship which means they are no longer under the protections of Indian tribal land and jurisdiction. Thus, every U.S citizen has to abide by the law of the land and state laws and regulations as well. This elaborate plan allowed United States government to take control of 90 million acres of Indian land and made 90,000 Indians Landless in their own ancestral land. In 1908 another legislature called the Curtis Act was introduced to the law which delivered the final blow to Native Americans. The Curtis act, basically abolished tribal communal jurisdiction and rendered tribal government useless.
After they have lost control of their lands and their way of life, a war was declared on their identity. In the name of assimilation, Native Americans were forced to assimilate into Europeans ways of life. Children were forcefully removed from their families and communities and sent to Indian boarding schools established by Europeans to be more “civilized.” They were forced to abandon their languages, cultural heritage and their identity. Their elaborate plan worked because we now see people who have lost their pride, sense of identity and a place they once called home. They live as second citizens in their own ancestral land and trying to survive.
In the Native American Story, European settlers took the center stage as an unwelcomed intruder of once pride filled people while in the Oromo Story we have a garden variety of oppressors. All of these oppressors have one characteristics in common, savagery. We can reflect back to the time long before intruders entered Oromo land and remember how our society functioned. We had our own governing system, culture, tradition, language and peace among us. That order and harmony we had among us and our neighbors were disturbed because savages took over our land and our ways of life much like Europeans took over Indian lands. Menelik II created a land reform that suited his special interest and allowed him to ration our land to his officers, generals and whoever he deemed worthy. Our own land was leased to us by appointed people and the church and the reminder was under direct control of this brute.
Every regime that came and left had one form of land reform or another, but one thing is crystal clear, none of those reforms are in the best interest of the Oromo people. Case in point, what is going on with Finfinne’s sounding area special Oromiya zone is no different. I have outlined how an oppressor can hide behind the law to achieve an objective in the Native American story. The current situation in Oromiya is exactly the same. The law should only be considered law if it upholds a high moral value not when it caters to the special few while disregarding others. We have managed to keep our identity, culture and language against all odds. Are we now defeated both in sprit and in strength to allow our enemies to rob us of our land under the guise of development? Are we ready to say that those who wrote history in their own blood, so that you and I can stand tall as Oromos, did so in vein? Are we ready, to give up? If we are anything like our ancestors the answer is Never!
My massage to the TPLF is that, as much as you like to think of yourselves as clever, I would like to say you did not invent the wheel. You have recycled an old idea and trying to paint it new. We recognize your agenda and we are fully aware. You will not win!!! We will prevail!
                               OromoRevolution

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

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

Realeted:-

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

IRIN: Analysis: Ethiopia extends emergency as old antagonisms fester April 9, 2017

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Ethiopia extends emergency as old antagonisms fester

James Jeffrey,  IRIN, 3 April 207


The Ethiopian government has extended a nationwide state of emergency for four months, hailing it as successful in restoring stability after almost a year of popular protests and crackdowns that cost hundreds of lives.

But while parts of Amhara, one of the hotbeds of the recent unrest, may be calm on the surface, IRIN found that major grievances remain unaddressed and discontent appears to be festering: There are even widespread reports that farmers in the northern region are engaged in a new, armed rebellion.

Human rights organisations and others have voiced concern at months of draconian government measures – some 20,000 people have reportedly been detained under the state of emergency, which also led to curfews, bans on public assembly, and media and internet restrictions.

“The regime has imprisoned, tortured and abused 20,000-plus young people and killed hundreds more in order to restore a semblance of order,” said Alemante Selassie, emeritus law professor at the College of William & Mary in the US state of Virginia. “Repression is the least effective means of creating real order in any society where there is a fundamental breach of trust between people and their rulers.”

The government line is far rosier.

“There’s been no negative effects,” Zadig Abrha, Ethiopia’s state minister for government communication affairs, told IRIN shortly before the measures were extended by four months, on 30 March.

“The state of emergency enabled us to focus on repairing the economic situation, compensating investors, and further democratising the nation… [and] allowed us to normalise the situation to how it was before, by enabling us to better coordinate security and increase its effectiveness.”

Clamping down

On 7 August 2016, in the wake of protests in the neighbouring Oromia region, tens of thousands of people gathered in the centre of Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara. They had come to express their frustration at perceived marginalisation and the annexation of part of their territory by Tigray – the region from which the dominant force in Ethiopia’s ruling coalition is drawn.

Accounts vary as to what prompted security forces to open fire on the demonstration – some say a protestor tried to replace a federal flag outside a government building with its now-banned precursor – but by the end of the day, 27 people were dead.

That toll climbed to 52 by the end of the week. In all, some 227 civilians died during weeks of unrest in the Amhara region, according to the government. Others claim the real figure is much higher.

A six-month state of emergency was declared nationally on 9 October. Military personnel, under the coordination of a new entity known as the “Command Post”, flooded into cities across the country.

“Someone will come and say they are with the Command Post and just tell you to go with them – you have no option but to obey,” explained Dawit, who works in the tourism industry in the Amhara city of Gondar. “No one has any insurance of life.”

Local people told IRIN that the Command Post also took control of the city’s courts and did away with due process. Everyday life ground to a halt as traders closed shops and businesses in a gesture of passive resistance.

In Bahir Dar and Gondar, both popular historical stop-offs, tourism, an economic mainstay, tanked.

“In 2015, Ethiopia was voted by the likes of The New York Times and National Geographic as one of the best destinations,” said Stefanos, another Gondar resident who works in the tourism sector. “Then this happened and everything collapsed.”

Lingering resentment

Before it was renewed, the state of emergency was modified, officially reinstating the requirement of search warrants and doing away with detention without trial.

Prominent blogger and Ethiopian political analyst Daniel Berhane said the state of emergency extension might maintain calm in Amhara.

It “isn’t just about security,” he said. “There is a political package with it: Since two weeks ago, the government has been conducting meetings across the region at grassroots levels to address people’s economic and administrative grievances, which are what most people are most concerned about.”

But bitterness remains.

“We have no sovereignty. The government took our land,” a bar owner in Gondar who gave his name only as Kidus explained. “That’s why we shouted Amharaneut Akbiru! Respect Amhara-ness!” during the protests, he added.

Others still feel marginalised and are angry at the government’s heavy-handed response.

“If you kill your own people, how are you a soldier? You are a terrorist,” 32-year old Tesfaye, who recently left the Ethiopian army after seven years, a large scar marking his left cheek, told IRIN in Gondar. “I became a soldier to protect my people. This government has forgotten me since I left. I’ve been trying to get a job for five months.”

A tour guide in Gondar, speaking on condition of anonymity, was also critical of the response: “The government has a chance for peace, but they don’t have the mental skills to achieve it. If protests happen again, they will be worse.”

However, some do believe the authorities have to take a tough line.

“This government has kept the country together. If they disappeared, we would be like Somalia,” said Joseph, who is half-Amharan, half-Tigrayan. “All the opposition does is protest, protest. They can’t do anything else.”

Mountain militias

Even as calm has been restored in some areas, a new form of serious opposition to the government has taken shape: Organised militia made up of local Amhara farmers have reportedly been conducting hit-and-run attacks on soldiers in the mountainous countryside.

“The topography around here is tough, but they’ve spent their lives on it and know it,” said Henok, a student nurse who took part in the protests. “They’re like snipers with their guns.”

“The government controls the urban but not the rural areas,” he said. “[The farmers] are hiding in the landscape and forests. No one knows how many there are,” he said, adding that he’d seen “dozens of soldiers at Gondar’s hospital with bullet and knife wounds.”

Young Gondar men like Henok talk passionately of Colonel Demeke Zewudud, who led Amhara activism for the restoration of [the annexed] Wolkite district until his arrest in 2016, and about Gobe Malke, allegedly a leader of the farmers’ armed struggle until his death in February – reportedly at the hands of a cousin on the government’s payroll.

“The farmers are ready to die,” a priest in Gondar told IRIN on condition of anonymity, stressing that the land is very important to them. “They have never been away from here,” he explained.

Without referring specifically to any organisation of armed farmers, Zadig, the government minister, said the state of emergency had been extended because of “agitators” still at large.

“There are still people who took part in the violence that are not in custody, and agitators and masterminds of the violence who need to be brought before the rule of law,” he said. “And there are arms in circulation that need to be controlled, and some armed groups not apprehended.” 

Solutions?

Terrence Lyons, a professor at The School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in the United States, said the government must decentralise power to achieve longer-term stability.

“Grievances haven’t been addressed by the state of emergency or by the government’s commitment to tackle corruption and boost service delivery,” Lyons told IRIN. “There needs to be a reconsideration of the relationship between an ethnic federation and a strong centralised developmental state, involving a process that is participatory and transparent – but we aren’t seeing that under the state of emergency.”

In 1995, Ethiopia adopted a federal system of government, which in theory devolves considerable power to the country’s regions. But in practice, key decisions are still taken in Addis Ababa.

“If the government wants a true and real form of stabilisation, then it should allow for a true representative form of governance so all people have the representation they need and deserve,” said Tewodros Tirfe of the Amhara Association of America.

In a report presented to a US congressional hearing in early March, Tewodros said some 500 members of the security forces had been killed in the recent clashes in the Amhara region. “Deeper resentment and anger at the government is driving young people to the armed struggle,” he told IRIN.

But Zadig and the government insisted: “The public stood by us.”

“They said no to escalating violence. In a country of more than 90 million, if they’d wanted more escalation we couldn’t have stopped them.”

Lyons warns of complacency.

“As long as dissidents and those speaking about alternatives for Ethiopia are dealt with as terrorists, the underlying grievances will remain: governance, participation, and human rights,” he told IRIN.

“The very strength of the [ruling] EPRDF is its weakness. As an ex-insurgency movement, its discipline and top-down governance enabled it to keep a difficult country together for 25 years. Now, the success of its own developmental state means Ethiopia is very different, but the EPRDF is not into consultative dialogue and discussing the merits of policy.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UNPO: Oromo: Violent Oppression and Disregard for Human Rights Continue as State of Emergency Gets Prolonged April 4, 2017

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Oromo: Violent Oppression and Disregard for Human Rights Continue as State of Emergency Gets Prolonged

Photo courtesy of J. Pandolfo/Flickr

 

On 30 March 2017, the Ethiopian Parliament voted to extend the state of emergency it had first declared in October 2016. The decision made by the parliament – which is fully controlled by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic front (EPRDF) – paves the way for further state-sponsored oppression of the Oromo people as it empowers the Council of Ministers to “suspend such political and democratic rights guaranteed by the constitution.” The Tigray-dominated government abuses the state of emergency for political purposes, conveniently neglecting the fact that the suspension of political and democratic rights allowed under a state of emergency does not absolve the Ethiopian government from its human rights obligations.  Although Oromo protests have virtually disappeared as the region is now a de-facto military state, the Ethiopian government justifies the prolongation of the state of emergency with the alleged necessity to assure a “point of no return” for Oromo protests. This decision illustrates the Ethiopian government’s increasing disrespect for human rights and its abuse of political instruments to quench any form of dissent. 

 

Below is an article published by OPride:

The Ethiopian parliament on March 30, 2017 voted to extend by four months the state of emergency it declared in October 2016 to suppress the unprecedented Oromo protests that engulfed the country for a year and a half. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) controls every seat in the legislature after claiming 100 percent victory in the May 2015 elections.

Ethiopia adopted the emergency law under the pretext that ‘foreign elements’ are threatening the country’s peace and security. The draconian decree was drawing closer to its sixth month end, when on Thursday, Siraj Fegessa, Ethiopia’s Minister of Defense and Head of the Command Post – a body established to oversee the decree – told lawmakers, despite relative peace and security in the country, a prolongation is required to ensure that the repression of Oromo protests reaches “a point of no return.”

Even before the declaration of the martial law, Ethiopian security forces have summarily killed over 1,000 peaceful protesters and committed a range of serious human rights violations. By declaring the state of emergency, authorities sought to intensify the crackdown on Oromo uprising. One particular phrase in the constitution’s state of emergency clause ((Art 93(4)(b)) especially appealed to Ethiopia’s authoritarian government. It empowers the Council of Ministers to ‘suspend such political and democratic rights’ guaranteed under the constitution.

Not every disturbance warrants the declaration of an emergency decree. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Ethiopia ratified in 1993, stipulates that the “situation must amount to a public emergency which threatens the life of the nation” for member states to proclaim a state of emergency. The treaty emphasizes the paramount importance of human rights safeguards even during the exercise of such “temporary and exceptional” decree.

In other words, the power to ‘suspend political and democratic rights’ does not absolve Ethiopia from its human rights obligations. Yet since the declaration of the state of emergency, the already dismal human rights condition in Oromia took a turn for the worst. The emergency measures empowered the Command Post to conduct arbitrary arrests and searches without a warrant, impose curfews and suspend basic human rights guaranteed both under the 1993 treaty and the Ethiopian constitution.

In fact, the Constitution limits the scope of the Council of Ministers power to suspend rights guaranteed under the law in the same provision that confers such powers on it. Accordingly, the law stipulates that the suspension shall be ‘to the extent necessary to avert the conditions that required the declaration of the state of emergency.’ In addition, ICCPR states that measures taken during the state of emergency should be limited to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.

The Ethiopian Constitution and other international instruments that Ethiopia ratified, particularly the ICCPR, provide for non-derogable rights that cannot be suspended even during a state of emergency. Notably, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights has no derogation clause obligating Ethiopia to uphold all the provisions of the Charter even during a state of emergency.

Ethiopia’s constitution explicitly states provisions dealing with the federal state structure and some basic individual and collective human rights as non-derogable rights. As such the government cannot derogate from individual rights against inhuman treatment or punishment, right to equality and nation, nationalities and people’s right to self-determination including the right to secession. The constitutional requirement to interpret the human rights chapter of the Ethiopian constitution in conformity with the ICCPR also makes the Right to Life a non-derogable right. In the absence of a derogation clause, the African Charter goes one step further and obligates Ethiopia to uphold all the rights guaranteed under the Charter.

In declaring a nationwide state of emergency, Ethiopian authorities tried to legitimize the extrajudicial killings and other heinous crimes committed through direct act or omission of its security forces most notably during the grand Oromo protests across Oromia, the Irreechaa massacre, the Qilinto prison fire and killings in Amhara region during protests against the incorporation of Wolkait region into the state of Tigray.

During the last five months, under the cover of the state of emergency, Ethiopia resorted to yet more repression and violent use of government power to crush peaceful Oromo dissent rather than addressing legitimate Oromo demands. Even by government’s own account, authorities detained  , hoarding detainees into overcrowded ‘rehabilitation camps’ under terrible conditions.

Ethiopian authorities have now arrested and charged most of the senior leadership of the sole legally registered Oromo political party, the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC). Prominent advocates of nonviolent struggle, including Bekele Gerba, Dejene Tafa, and other defendants, were charged under the sweeping anti-terrorism proclamation for allegedly inciting the Oromo protests.

The chairman of OFC, Dr. Merera Gudina, was also arrested in December upon his return from testifying before the European Parliament in Brussels by the invitation by EU Parliamentarian, Ana Gomez. In a letter addressed to the Ethiopian Prime Minister, the President of European Parliament, Martin Schultz, raised concerns about Merera’s arrest noting that he took part ‘in meetings in the European Parliament’ which he said is “a House of Democracy where different voices can be heard from foreign governments and representatives of opposition groups.”

On February 23 [2017], prosecutors brought four counts of criminal charges against Merera, alleging that he violated the State of Emergency regulation, the country’s Penal Code and Anti-terrorism proclamation provisions. These politically motivated charges include an attempt to disrupt constitutional order by instigating Oromo protests, meeting individuals designated as ‘terrorists’ during his EU visit and giving interviews critical of the government to the Voice of America radio.

The state of emergency has been used together with the anti-terrorism law to intensify government crackdown on Oromo dissent. Since its adoption in 2009, the Anti-terrorism proclamation has been instrumentalized to clamp down on Oromo dissent. In 2011, the EPRDF controlled parliament proscribed the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) as a terrorist organization. Since then, Ethiopia has heavily relied on vague and broad provisions of the terrorism law to criminalize what the government deems “encourages or provides moral support’ for the OLF.

Ethiopia uses various mechanisms to restrict and maintain its stranglehold on the free flow of information including censorship, intimidation and arrest of journalists and bloggers. The emergency regulation and a provision of the terrorism law bans reporting on Oromo protests and other events that the government says constitutes providing moral support for the OLF. This has made an already embattled Oromo media even more vulnerable. The chilling effect forced independent publishers, including the Addis Standard, which reported extensively on the Oromo protests, to suspend their print magazines.

Notwithstanding its obligations under the Constitution and international instruments it ratified, Ethiopia has been trampling over the non-derogable individual and collective rights of the Oromo. As stated in ICCPR General Comment 29, government measures with regard to rights from which these instruments permit derogation were not tailored to the exigencies of the situation for the duration, geographical coverage, and material scope.

On March 15 [2017], the Command Post had lifted some of the emergency restrictions, including arbitrary arrests and search without warrant, curfews, and bans on the media citing the relative calm in Oromia. Fegessa told reporters that “the situation for which the restrictions were imposed could now be treated on a regular law enforcement processes.”

Given the relative calm in Oromia today, the exigencies that authorities cited to declare the state of emergency do not justify its extension. Instead, Ethiopia has now put Oromia under a de facto military rule, leaving little room for nonviolent Oromo dissent. The sustained protests that drew international attention to the plight of the Oromo people shattering the make-believe ‘Ethiopia rising’ narrative were unprecedented but the Oromo quest for freedom and self-determination did not start in 2015. It’s been going on in the background during the entirety of EPRDF’s dictatorial reign, often withstanding persistent crackdown on nonviolent Oromo dissent.

Prior to his arrest, Merera warned that Ethiopia will descend into an armed conflict if EPRDF does not address the demand of the Oromo people. The state of emergency might enable the government to intensify repression in the short term but it certainly will not crush the Oromo dissent to “a point of no return.” On the contrary, continued official repression is hardening public grievances and making the Oromo people ever more skeptical of nonviolent resistance as a way to achieve their freedom.

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

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


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

 

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


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

Ethiopian migrants

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


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

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

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

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

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

Children and women workers in Ethiopia

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

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


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

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

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Al Jazeera : Ethiopia extends state of emergency by four months

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPINION: The Oromo protests have changed Ethiopia

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

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

Crushed to death

Map of Oromia region in Ethiopia [Al Jazeera]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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

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A license to torture

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

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

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

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

Accused without evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barely survived

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

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

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

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

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

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

Undeterred

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fitsum Abera, Addis Standard, 27 March 2017


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

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

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

The ups and downs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The opposite of…

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

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

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

Other hurdles

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

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

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

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

Lots of plans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AP Photo


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Ethiopia: List of Fascsit TPLF Military and Intelligence officers involved in planning and commanding the Somali region Liyu Police mercenary paramilitary conducting genocide against the Oromo People March 19, 2017

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List of TPLF Military and Intelligence officers involved in planning and commanding the Somali region Liyu Police mercenary paramilitary


1. Col. Gebremedihin Gebre, Shhinelle Zone Coordinator and deputy commander of Somali Special Forces
2 Col. Fiseha, chief of intelligence of somali regional government, specializing particularly in Oromos and Oromia issue, also heads and supervises Fefem zone security
3. Col. Gitet Tesfaye , coordinates and leads disputed borders issue and security
4. Major Desalegn Haddish, Babile front intelligence chief
5 Major Abraha Sisay, heads training of mercenaries and somali recruits at Bobas training center
6 Brigadier General Hadgu Belay, advisor to the president of Somali region on security and organizational affairs on security at regional government level
7 Col. Gebretensae, heads and coordinates Somali militias organization Oromo mercenaries working with the TPLF officials
1. Lieutenant Hassan Ali, former member of defense forces of Ethiopia, now commands a Liyu Police unit consisting 120 members at attacking Erer district( wereda)
2. Captain Mohammed Ibrahim, with a unit of 120 members at Babile front( WEREDA)
3 Sergeant Usman Mohammed, Garalencha district
4 Sergeant Jibril Ahmed spies on Oromo militia in Gursum district, to Fafam direction
5 Sergeant Mohamed Usman, Raqe, Meyu Muluke areas military operations
6 Sergeant Fuad Aliyi, Chinaksen district
* The Liyu Police and Somali region militia are organized in 26 regiment each consisting up to 500 personnel.


 

UNPO: A report on human rights in Ethiopia, shedding light on the worrying situation of the Oromo and Ogadeni peoples. March 16, 2017

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Those living in the Ogaden and Oromia regions are most vulnerable to the State-sponsored persecution. Protests in Oromia were violently repressed by the government since they started in April 2014, and continue to be. “Jail Ogaden” holds thousands of prisoners of conscience in overcrowding conditions and unhygienic facilities. Rape is systematically used as a weapon by the government and local polices such as the Liyu Police, combined with other forms of torture. And those are just a handful of examples. UNPO Report, Human Rights in Ethiopia


UNPO Releases Report on Human Rights in Ethiopia

Photo courtesy of Andrew Heavens @Flickr

UNPO has released a report on human rights in Ethiopia, shedding light on the worrying situation of the Oromo and Ogadeni peoples. While international partners tend to hail Ethiopia as an African democratic role model and a beacon of stability and hope in an otherwise troubled region, the fundamental rights of the country’s unrepresented continue to be violated on a daily basis. With the support of major international donors such as the European Union, Addis Ababa increasingly prioritises strong economic growth, development and a high degree of enforced political stability at the expense of human rights and civil liberties.

Ethiopia’s economy has been growing steadily in recent years, boasting a small emerging middle class and receiving continuously-increasing foreign investment. The country is seen as a key ally by Western powers in the fight against terrorism and the regulation of international migration. Meanwhile, Ethiopia remains one of the world’s poorest countries, with a third of the population living in abject poverty and the country’s regime is also one of the African continent’s most authoritarian in character, cracking down mercilessly on those who voice dissent.

Those living in the Ogaden and Oromia regions are most vulnerable to the State-sponsored persecution. Protests in Oromia were violently repressed by the government since they started in April 2014, and continue to be. “Jail Ogaden” holds thousands of prisoners of conscience in overcrowding conditions and unhygienic facilities. Rape is systematically used as a weapon by the government and local polices such as the Liyu Police, combined with other forms of torture. And those are just a handful of examples.

As of March 2017, 300 people have died of hunger and cholera in the Ogaden region, because of the restrictions imposed by the Ethiopian government. Limitations on freedom of movement bars access to healthcare facilities and the trade embargo causes critical food shortages. UNPO calls on the international community to play its role in safeguarding human rights by putting an end to the financial flows fueling the Ethiopian State’s oppression and intimidation of the most vulnerable among its population.

To view and download the report, please click hereUNPO Report, Human Rights in Ethiopia

Oromo-Somali Solidarity Forum Press Release March 16, 2017

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Oromo-Somali Solidarity Forum Press Release
Date: 16th of March, 2017    Ref: OSSF/01/17


For immediate release


Since November 2016, i.e., for the last five months, the murderous Liyu Police forces, commanded by the President of the Somali Regional State, have been undertaking border raids and attacks against civilians in the Oromia region, in the process killing and displacing many people. The attack is launched on five Oromia zones and 14 districts bordering the Somali region. At least 200 civilians have been killed and many others injured in the attacks according to reports. These senseless attacks were ordered by the TPLF as part of its strategy to weaken the popular uprising underway in Oromia against the minority ruling clique. TPLF has been trying to portray the conflict it maneuvered between the brotherly Somali and Oromo peoples as a dispute between the two regions over the ownership of border towns and localities, a dispute that has been settled through public referenda in 2005/6. The two neighboring ethnic groups have co-existed peacefully for centuries and have a culture of resolving disputes through established traditional conflict resolution mechanisms. Without the sinister hands of the TPLF, this conflict would not have even started. TPLF is hiding in plain sight and should understand that such mischief will not absolve it from the crimes it continues to commit against both the Oromo and Somali people.

The atrocities committed by the Liyu Police did not start with defenseless Oromos. These merchants of death and destruction have been terrorizing their own Somali people for the last ten years at the behest of their TPLF masters. They have committed numerous grave human right violations inside the Somali region and even as far beyond as Somalia with gruesome executions, rape, and burning of villages being their distinctive trademarks.

We at the Oromo-Somali Solidarity Forum hereby condemn this TPLF-engineered reckless conflict which led to the bloodshed of our brotherly peoples. We urge the brotherly Somali and Oromo peoples to stand in solidarity and deny the TPLF the pleasure of achieving the division and animosity it aspires to sow between our people. The ongoing conflict is not a war between Oromos and Somalis. It is a proxy war orchestrated by the TPLF against Oromos through the Liyu Police which is an auxiliary instrument of repression by the desperate minority regime. United, we will overcome TPLF’s 26 years of oppression and mayhem.

Victory to the oppressed Oromo and Somali people!

With profound regards!
Oromo-Somali Solidarity Forum

Addressed to: All Ethiopians, Oromos, Somalis and the international press

Representative signatories:
 Geresu Tufa
 Mohamed Hassan
 Najat Hamza
 Nagessa Oddo Dube
 Jemal-Dirie Kalif
 Jawar Mohammed
 Abdullahi Hussein
 Dahabe M. Abdella
 Tibebu Sime
 Hadi Luqman
 Girma Gutema
 Solomon Ungashe
 Tsegaye Ararsa
 Gadissa Abrahim
 Eda’o Dawano
 Latu Bushan
 Aman Maldewo
 Endiris Negewo

WMS students lend hands to Oromo Awareness Project March 11, 2017

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WMS students lend hands to Oromo Awareness Project

WORTHINGTON — Worthington Middle School students came together Friday afternoon to make bracelets as a way to support the Oromo Awareness Project.

 

The Oromo Awareness Project is an effort led by WMS student and Oromo eighth-grader Chaltu Uli, who hopes to bring awareness to the community about injustice happening in her home country of Ethiopia — specifically with the Oromo people.

The Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, have developed their own cultural, social and political system throughout history that differs from the rest of the country, which is governed by the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF). The TPLF has stepped over human rights and silenced any entity or individuals who don’t support its leadership, creating an environment of crisis in Ethiopia. There is constant confrontation currently taking place between the TPLF and the Oromo people that has resulted in significant loss of life.

Initially, Uli handed out letters during Worthington’s International Festival in which she shared her story and the situation in Ethiopia.

“The letter had a good response among some but she wanted to make it bigger, and so we thought, ‘What we can do to get the word out?’ said Kelly Moon, English immersion teacher at WMS. “And what actions do we want people to have in response to the letter?”

Moon was able to answer those questions while attending a student council leadership conference at which she connected with More Believe, a multimedia organization that helps companies promote their causes. Although the company agreed to produce the video for an affordable price, Moon still needed to come up with an idea to finance the video.

“The video is basically going to be about her story and what is happening in Ethiopia,” Moon said. “In order to make that video, we need the funds to create it.”

Uli and part of her family came to the United States in 2014 to flee the violence taking place in their country. However, her mother and youngest sister are still in Ethiopia.

“I have family there, so I am really concerned for them because there are really bad things happening there,” Uli said.

Despite the difficult situations she has had to overcome, Uli has been able to learn English and adapt to her new environment. She still worries, though, about the injustice happening in her native land.

Moon and Uli came up with the idea of creating bracelets and will sell them in the community to raise funds for the video. The student-made bracelets have four beads that represent the Oromo flag. Along with the bracelet, a short description of the meaning of each color is written on the back of the packaging.

Students will sell the bracelets, and a $500 goal has been set.

Moon explained that students are still deciding how to proceed after video is made. Possibilities include approaching legislators or donating funds to an organization, among others.

“We are still trying to figure out which avenues are going to be legitimate — like if it’s going to be donation, where is that money going to go where it will actually help and not just be incorrectly used,” Moon said.

Uli explained that her ultimate goal with the project is to bring awareness to government officials so they take action in helping the Oromo people.

“If they want they can donate money, but more importantly, we want them to contact the government and tell them about the Oromo people and what is happening in Ethiopia,” Uli said. “In the end, our goal is to make the government aware and to take action.”

Moon noted that although the project is focused on the Oromo, she hopes people will be more empathetic with refugees — or any individual who arrives in the country who is running from violence.

“I think when you know somebody’s story, it puts a face to the issue,” Moon said. “it’s not longer just an issue or problem “


 

HRW: US: Stand Up for Ethiopians as Government Stifles Protests, Jails Journalists Human Rights Watch Statement on Ethiopia to US Congress March 10, 2017

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US: Stand Up for Ethiopians as Government Stifles Protests, Jails Journalists

Human Rights Watch Statement on Ethiopia to US Congress

HRW, 9 March 2017


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Human Rights Watch Statement to US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, members of the Subcommittee: thank you for holding this important hearing on the current situation in Ethiopia and for inviting me to testify. I am pleased to be a part of it.

Ethiopia is a country of dual realities. Visitors and diplomats alike are impressed with the double-digit economic growth, the progress on development indicators, and the apparent political stability. But in many ways, this is a smokescreen: many Ethiopians live in fear. The current government – the only one since 1991 – runs the country with an almost complete grip on power, controlling almost all aspects of political, public, and even much private life. Pervasive telephone and online surveillance and an intricate network of informants allow the government to quickly curb any threats to its control; it silences critical voices through the use of arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions. These actions also prevent critical and divergent views as many who may be impacted by these harsh policies fear repercussions.

Ethiopia remains among Africa’s leading jailors of journalists. If you are or you seek to be an independent Ethiopian journalist you must choose between self-censorship, harassment, and possible arrest, or living in exile. The government blocks websites critical of the authorities and sometimes blocks the internet completely. Independent radio and television stations are regularly jammed. In short, the state tightly controls the media landscape, making it extremely challenging for Ethiopians to access information that is independent of government perspectives. As a result, Voice of America, which broadcasts in three Ethiopian languages, has become an increasingly important source of information for many Ethiopians but the government has, at times, obstructed its broadcasts as well.

Independent civil society groups face overwhelming obstructions. The 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation has made obtaining foreign funding nearly impossible for groups working on human rights, good governance, and advocacy. Leading members of the human rights movement have been forced to flee abroad and many organizations have stopped working on human rights and good governance to avoid problems.

There have also been serious restrictions on opposition political parties. This led to the ruling coalition in the May 2015 election winning 100 percent of the seats in the federal and regional parliaments. This is despite evident anti-government sentiments in much of the country, as the protests would later illustrate. Arbitrary dentition of members and supporters, politically motivated criminal charges, and restrictions on financing ensures that opposition parties are constrained and largely ineffective.

The state systematically ensures that many of the country’s 100 million citizens are dependent on the government for their livelihoods, food security and economic future. It controls the benefits of development including access to seeds, fertilizers, jobs, health care, and humanitarian assistance, even when funded by the US or other donors. While US-funded development assistance contributes to much-needed poverty reduction efforts, it also adds to the repressive capacity of the government by bolstering Ethiopians’ reliance on the government for their livelihoods and ultimately for their survival.

There is no evidence that the ruling party rigs elections – they don’t need to. The population’s dependence on the ruling party and the limits on opposition parties leaves many citizens, particularly in rural areas, little choice but to support the ruling party come election time. As one farmer in the Amhara region told me in July 2014, “we do not like this government, but we always vote for them. We have to because we get our seeds and fertilizer from them. During times of drought, we get food aid from them. If we don’t vote for them, we can’t eat.” He went on to tell me about his neighbor who voted for the opposition in the 2010 election and shortly thereafter was denied food aid, was denied treatment at a government health clinic, and eventually was displaced from his land for an investment project run by a government cadre.

The justice system provides no check on the government. Courts have shown little independence during politically charged trials. Many opposition politicians, journalists, and activists have been convicted under the repressive 2009 anti-terrorism law and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Acquittals are rare, credible evidence is often not presented, and trials are marred by numerous due process concerns. Mistreatment and torture are common in Ethiopia’s many places of detention. Just two weeks ago, Dr. Merera Gudina , the chair of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), a legally registered political opposition party, was charged with “outrages against the constitution.” A former fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Merera joins many other senior opposition leaders currently facing politically motivated criminal charges. Among those presently standing trial is OFC deputy chairman Bekele Gerba. Prosecutors included as ostensible evidence of his crimes a video of Bekele at an August 2016 conference here in Washington, DC, where he spoke of the importance of nonviolence and commitment to the electoral process. Like Merera, he has been a moderate voice of dissent in a highly polarized political landscape.

This begs the question: what avenues are left in Ethiopia to express dissent, to question government policies or to voice concern over abusive practices and how can the United States help strengthen free expression and association rights in Ethiopia?

I speak to you to today 16 months after large-scale and unprecedented protests started in Ethiopia’s largest region of Oromia in November 2015, spreading to the Amhara region in July 2016. Ethiopian military forces and police cracked down on these largely peaceful demonstrations, killing hundreds and detaining tens of thousands. The protests were a predictable response to the systematic and calculated suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms.

On October 2, the protest movement took a devastating turn. In Bishoftu in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, security forces mishandled a large crowd at the Irreecha cultural event causing a stampede that killed scores of people as they fled security forces. In the days that followed, angry mobs of youth destroyed government buildings and private property. Ethiopia was on the brink of chaos. One week after the Irreecha tragedy the government announced a state of emergency that remains in place. It prescribed sweeping and vaguely worded restrictions on a broad range of actions undermining rights to free expression, association, and peaceful assembly. It goes far beyond what is permissible under international human rights law and signaled a continuation of the militarized response to the expression of grievances. While the state of emergency has halted both the destruction of properties and the protests themselves, underlying grievances remain. No one should deny there are serious risks that more unrest could occur.

Since imposing the state of emergency, the Ethiopian government has repeatedly committed publicly to undertake “deep reform” and engage in dialogue with opposition parties to address grievances. In short, the authorities are saying the right things. But the only changes the government has made so far are largely cosmetic and fall dramatically short of the protesters’ calls for the protection of basic human rights.

The continuation of the state of emergency – furthering crushing the space for free expression and divergent views of governance – is not conducive for the open dialogue that is needed to address Ethiopia’s ongoing crisis. The government announced that it arrested over 20,000 people since the state of emergency began, although there has been little corroboration of these numbers, which could be higher. These mass arrests along with politically motivated trials of key opposition leaders, reinforces the message that the government is continuing along the path of suppressing dissent by force and not engaging in genuine and meaningful dialogue with opposition groups.

The Ethiopian government’s responses to all of these abuses have been consistent. The allegations are routinely denied without meaningful investigation, the government claiming they are politically motivated, while simultaneously restricting access for independent media and human rights investigators. In a report to parliament last June, the Ethiopia Human Rights Commission, a government body, concluded that the level of force used by federal security forces was proportionate to the risk they faced from protesters. This is contrary to all available evidence, including that contained in the US State Department’s recently released Human Rights Country Report for Ethiopia. No one has seen a written version of the Commission’s report that would justify such a conclusion.

While we are speaking today about the lack of accountability over the brutal crackdown in Oromia and Amhara regions over the last 16 months, Ethiopians in other regions have also been victims of serious abuses, most often without any meaningful investigations by the government. For example, Human Rights Watch documented possible crimes against humanity committed by the Ethiopian army in 2003 and 2004 in the Gambella region. There was no credible investigation into the extrajudicial executions, rape, and torture. In Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State, the Ethiopian military committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity between mid-2007 and 2008 during their counterinsurgency campaign against the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The Liyu police, a paramilitary force formed in 2008 that reports to the president of the Somali Regional State, have been implicated in numerous extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and attacks on civilians accused of backing the ONLF. No meaningful investigations have been undertaken into any of these alleged abuses in the Somali Regional State.

International scrutiny of Ethiopia’s rights record has also been lacking despite its June election to the UN Security Council, and its membership on the UN Human Rights Council – which requires it to uphold the “highest standards of human rights” and cooperate with UN monitors. Ethiopia has refused entry to all UN special rapporteurs since 2007, except the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea. There are outstanding requests from the special rapporteurs on torture, freedom of opinion and expression, and peaceful assembly, among others. In total, 11 UN Special Rapporteurs have outstanding requests for access to Ethiopia.

Despite abundant evidence of serious and growing repression by the Ethiopian government, particularly since the 2005 election, the US government has been a muted critic. Quiet diplomacy proven ineffectual and has coincided with the dramatic downward spiral in human rights and a serious constriction of political space that has led to the crisis Ethiopia is in today. It is time for a new US approach to Ethiopia in which Congress can play a leadership role in seeking a more balanced policy and requiring more deliberate oversight as it has done in other countries in crisis, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Egypt.

As a starting point, members of Congress should speak out strongly and publicly against abuses by the Ethiopian government. House Resolution 128 and the resolutions introduced last year are steps in the right direction and contain many important elements. While non-binding, they are impactful because they let the Ethiopian government know there are repercussions for brutality against their own citizens – brutality that undermines US priorities in the Horn of Africa, including security, development, and economic growth. These partnerships are dependent on long-term stability in Ethiopia. Opposition to the ruling party’s repressive rule – as witnessed in the last 16 months – is a glaring indication that Ethiopia’s governance model marked by lack of respect for basic rights, is incapable of ensuring that stability.

International legitimacy is very important to the Ethiopian government – it wants to be a key player on the international stage and condemnation of its human rights record contradicts that image. So consistent, sustained and vocal pressure is critical.

It is crucial that the US makes it clear that if Ethiopia is going to remain a strong US partner it needs to open up legitimate political space and allow for critical voices to be heard. To begin with, members of Congress can and should call for the release of all political prisoners, including those like Bekele and Merera who should be part of any credible dialogue between the government and opposition parties. Members of Congress should also call for the release of all journalists unjustly jailed and call for the repeal or substantial amendment of repressive laws used to stifle critical voices. Any meetings with the Ethiopian ambassador to the US should include these points, as should any meetings with other Ethiopian officials, whether in DC or elsewhere. As the FY18 budget process gets underway, US support to the Ethiopian government should be conditioned on making progress in these and other areas of concern.

Members of Congress should use available opportunities to tell Ethiopia to stop hiding its own human rights record from international scrutiny. As a member of both the Human Rights Council and the Security Council, Ethiopia should cooperate fully with UN special mechanisms, in particular the rapporteurs on peaceful assembly and torture.

As expressed in House Resolution 128, members of Congress should reiterate the call of the UN high commissioner for human rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and others for an independent international investigation into the crackdown in Oromia and Amhara regions. Such action will send a powerful message to the Ethiopian government that its security forces cannot shoot and kill peaceful protesters with impunity. It will also send an important message to the victims and families, that their pleas for justice are being heard.

I’ll close by saying that I am aware of concerns expressed by some in the administration – and even here in Congress – that a more public stance on Ethiopia’s domestic situation might undermine the bilateral partnership between Addis Ababa and Washington – including cooperation on development, security and peacekeeping. But the United States has often underestimated its own leverage and been overly cautious as a result. Some of Ethiopia’s international partners have made strong public statements in the last year and these statements have not undermined their strategic partnerships. Far from it. The US may need Ethiopia – but Ethiopia needs the US too. The US should send a strong signal of support to the many Ethiopian citizens and Ethiopian Americans who seek the protection of their rights, greater political space, and democracy but whose fight for dignity and freedom has been crushed time and again through brutal force.

Thank you.


Related articles:

Terrence Lyons, Testimony for hearing entitled Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia

Seenaa Jimjimoo, Testimony for hearing entitled Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia

Tewodrose Tirfe, Testimony for hearing entitled Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia

Abaguya Ayele Deki, Testimony for hearing entitled Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia

Yoseph Tafari, Testimony for hearing entitled Democracy Under Threat in Ethiopia

Why fascist TPLF Ethiopia’s regime waging a proxy war on the Oromo through the Liyu Police? March 9, 2017

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Why is Ethiopia waging a proxy war on the Oromo through the Liyu Police?

By: Nadhii G. Hawaas


This article explores the raison d’être for why the Neo-Agazians – the king makers in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a.k.a. the present-day rulers of Ethiopia – have adopted a non-intuitive strategy of waging a war of attrition against the Oromo through a notoriously brutal proxy, the ill-reputed Liyu Police of the Somali region; whilst they were rather widely expected to reassess their current policy and attempt to pacify Oromia – a state that has been the epicenter of a historic and heroic popular opposition against the government in the last three years. In my opinion, here are some of the primary reasons.

Why is Ethiopia waging a proxy war on the Oromo through the Liyu Police?

The obsession to smoke out and defeat the Oromo Liberation Army:

TPLF’s general disposition and military escapades over the last twenty five years, would lead a neutral analyst to the conclusion that it is obsessed, more than anything else, with the goal of dismantling the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and its army. As a result of this fixation, Afaan Oromo has earned the unique distinction of becoming Ethiopia’s “language of prisons”, and Oromia has turned into the killing field of the Horn of Africa, where all sorts of human rights abuses are the norm. TPLF’s various military adventures in the Horn of Africa – from its various illegal military interventions in

(Ayyaantuu) -Somalia to its regular incursions into Kenya, as well as its so-called peacekeeping missions in south Sudan – are all motivated by what appears to be a preoccupation to deny the Oromo liberation army (OLA) a base of operation. These military adventures have been carried out without due regard for the cost in human lives, but they have allowed the regime to stay in power by weakening its greatest homegrown threat which comes in the form of OLA.

There is no doubt that the OLF has been downgraded, partly as a result of these actions by the TPLF and the resulting geo-political outcomes. The OLA has diminished in size and effectiveness from its heyday in the late 1980’s, when it was able to engage two formidable opponents – the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the Ethiopian army in the west, and the latter in the east and the southeast – and thrive at the same time. TPLF’s strategic maneuver and direct military interventions in the neighboring countries contiguous to Oromia in the last two decades should thus be seen in light of its fixation to deny its strategic nemesis, the OLF, a military base of operation – an objective in which it has succeeded to a great extent, thus far.

But, judging by events that have transpired in Oromia in the last three years, particularly in 2016, it appears that the OLF has adapted to these difficult geo-political circumstances and could be poised to take on the TPLF more vigorously than before. Notwithstanding the misguided efforts by some in the diaspora to hijack the Oromo Protests, there are clear signals that the protest movement is orchestrated by the OLF. This development has shaken the regime to its core, from which it is likely not going to able to recover. The Oromo Protests have put the TPLF in unfamiliar territory, forcing it to react to facts on the ground its adversary has set in motion. Albeit at tremendous cost to Oromo lives, round one of this phase of the conflict between the OLF and the TPLF was decisively concluded with the latter substantially degraded politically and economically, if not militarily yet, invigorating the former substantially. Therefore, the ground work seems to have been laid for round two and perhaps the decisive stage of this phase of the conflict; and judging by its current activities, the TPLF is mightily worried (as it should be) about the likely outcomes.

One of the dangerous policies the TPLF is pursuing currently to foil what is shaping up to be a historic faceoff between its forces and Oromo freedom fighters, is to unleash the notorious Somali region paramilitary group on peaceful Oromo citizens in the east, the south and the southeast. In my opinion, the main purpose of this move is to provoke OLF fighters to come out of the woodwork, as it were, in order to engage them militarily before more recent events have a chance to solidify in ways that will benefit the combatants. Based on certain signals that are out there, the OLF might have succeeded in embedding its forces in certain communities in Oromia, and it would be reasonable to assume that the TPLF wants to flush these Oromo fighters by goading them into battles of its choosing. It is a clever move, but it doesn’t appear that the OLF is taking the bait.

Why is Ethiopia waging a proxy war on the Oromo through the Liyu Police?

The best defense is a good offense:
The principle of “the best defense is a good offense” has successfully been employed in many areas of life that are guided by strategic interactions between two or more actors. Whether it is sporting competitions, competitions for market, or more consequential human conflicts such as wars, players that prevail are often times those that strike first and knock their opponents off their game plan, forcing them to react. Successful war generals and strategic thinkers – including George Washington, Mao Zedong, Machiavelli and others – have utilized this principle with remarkable success.

The TPLF has used this adage throughout its existence – both in the military and the political arenas – initially against the fearsome Dergue, and later on against all opposition parties, including the OLF. In all the engagements I personally witnessed closely, for instance, the TPLF always seemed to relish the initiative to attack – often with surprising speed and agility – forcing its opponents to scramble to assume defensive positions, denying them opportunities to launch their own attacks. The surviving members of Dergue’s armed forces could speak more competently than I can about the efficacy of TPLF’s famed Qorexa tactics in the battle field.

With the OLF adapting to the aforementioned difficult geo-political realities in the Horn of Africa, and OLA likely getting deeply rooted in Oromia, the TPLF appears to have lost the strategic edge it has worked so hard to achieve and maintain. The Oromo Protests have exposed its weaknesses so unmistakably, sending a clear signal to potential partners or enemies, big or small, that the “dogs from Tigray” might have just been neutered and may not have potent bites anymore. Notice the most recent political developments in Somalia, South Sudan, the European Parliament, and even some corners of the US government – developments that mark that the ground has begun shifting from under the TPLF. Therefore, with no obvious OLF military camp it can attack, and a realization setting in among its senior ranks that its strategic opponent might have regrouped enough to start putting some non-trivial points on the board; the TPLF is undertaking unprovoked military aggressions against Oromo civilians in the east, the southeast, the south, and the west via its proxy paramilitary units, certain that the oppressive system it has built over the years cannot be sustained if it is perceived to have lost its mojo. Thus, its latest move is most likely a desperate attempt to send a signal to its friends and foes that it is in control and still calling the shots.

Attempting to ingratiate to the Oromo a Trojan-Horse named the OPDO:

One of the remarkable outcomes of the Oromo Protests was that it annihilated the intricate and oppressive state structure the TPLF had built in Oromia using the so-called Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), an outfit that was created by TPLF to rule and exploit the Oromo. The TPLF doesn’t stand a chance to rule Oromia without the OPDO serving the purpose for which it was invented. To reinstitute its tentacles throughout Oromia, therefore, the TPLF is employing a number of obvious and subtle strategies including the following: launching different initiatives meant to seduce the unemployed youth; promoting a few “educated” Oromo individuals to positions of power; and most importantly, undertaking moves that might ingratiate the OPDO to the Oromo. Lemma Megersa – the shiny-new telegenic puppet of the regime– is assigned a role of play-acting as the second coming of Tadesse Birru on TV, although he is little more than a pawn in a game being conducted behind his back against his own people.

If implemented properly, the unfolding strategy of unleashing the Liyu police on the Oromo would also contribute to the objective of endearing the OPDO to the Oromo to a certain extent. Here is a two-sentence script for this play: The TPLF invades the Oromo by using its proxies just enough to rile up the Oromo from coast-to-coast; then boom, the OPDO comes to the rescue, turning – contrary to reason and logic – into a “legitimate” Oromo organization that can protect the interests of its constituents. Arguably, this drama has thus far played out as planned by its authors, considering how many Oromo activists have fallen for this cruel scheme. Just because they uttered nationalistic soundbites on state TV, some members of the so-called Caffee Oromiyaa are being promoted as defenders of Oromo national interests by individuals who should know better, indicating that the Neo-Agazians might have achieved some of their short term objectives by making the OPDO an acceptable alternative to a segment of our traumatized population. The Oromo national trauma must be so deep that many mistake the enablers of their abusers for their saviors.

Breaking the thriving morale of the Oromo:

Events that have transpired in the last three years in Oromia – particularly the well-orchestrated massacre at the Irreechaa festival on October 2, 2016 and the ethnic cleansing operations being carried out against the Oromo of Hararge, Bale, Guji, Borana, and some parts of Wollega – are well-designed operations by TPLF aimed at, among other things, breaking the thriving morale of the Oromo and checking the rising tide of Oromo nationalism. The TPLF has always banked on riding Oromo nationalism that it believed could be manipulated at will to exploit Oromo resources, and utilized to engage in a campaign against the traditional and historical nemesis of Tigray – the Amhara elites. When this strategy failed – with the Oromo taking a heroic stand to challenge its monopoly of power and exploitation of their resources; and the Oromo and the Amhara showing some signs of solidarity, even if tactically – it resorted to a war of attrition against the Oromo, foolishly thinking that that would break the thriving morale of the Oromo and put the genie back in the bottle.

For those capable of discerning the zeitgeist in contemporary Ethiopia, however, the writing on the wall is unmistakable: Oromo nationalism has prevailed against all odds – thanks to the sacrifices of countless precious Oromo children – and will continue to develop at a pace determined largely by the dialectics within Oromo society. No amount of treacherous designs by the current rulers of Ethiopia, or the ill-will of those who wish to dismantle it, can derail it from its current auspicious trajectory.

Avenging for the loss it has sustained politically, diplomatically, and financially due to Oromo Protests:

As stated earlier, the Oromo Protests have inflicted heavy losses – politically, diplomatically, and financially – on the TPLF from which it will never recover. Although this is not how smart strategic players are supposed to conduct themselves in high-stakes political games, I can’t put it beyond the realm of possibility that avenging for these losses might just be one of the motivating factors for the dangerous course the TPLF has chosen recently. To the extent that the Neo-Agazians are disposed towards having a sense of entitlement to the political and economic power they are currently enjoying undeservedly (there are plenty of evidences indicating that this might be the case), their lashing out against the Oromo – a nation that has effectively foiled their long-term objective of developing Tigray at the expense of Oromia – should not be unexpected.

In summary, the TPLF is a severely wounded entity that is running out of options faster than most so-called experts of the Horn of Africa anticipated. There will not be any measure it will not pursue in order to stay in power for as long as it is feasible. For now, Abay Tsehay and co. are using Abdi Iley and his UK-financed killing-squads as a “Hail Mary pass” to see if that could extricate the TPLF out of its desperate situation. The OLF is expected to execute its game plan with discipline, focusing on the real prize, disregarding the white noise coming out of the diaspora in the virtual space.


Related:

Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, Canada has expressed solidarity for #OromoProtests.

ETHIOPIA: FASCIST TPLF’S PROXY WAR THROUGH THE LIYU POLICE March 2, 2017

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Via Oromo-American Citizens Council

For immediate release:

February 27, 2017

TPLF’S PROXY WAR THROUGH THE LIYU POLICE

The OACC is alarmed by the unsettling grave situation transpiring in Oromia today. Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, the TPLF has hit a new low.  The revival and strengthening of Oromo protest over the last two years had shaken the TPLF/EPRDF regime to its core. Even though it has by and large installed military administration using the so called State of Emergency declaration, the TPLF knows that this is a temporary fix that cannot stop the impending Oromo uprising. The regime has realized that it cannot quell the Oromo movement and rule as before.

Therefore, in addition to its old tactic of dividing the Oromo within itself, the regime has now devised and rolled out a new tactic aimed at averting the Oromo rage from itself to a new foe it is fabricating for the Oromos.  This new tactic is instigating conflict between the Oromo and all its neighbors. In the last few months, the regime has partially succeeded in one area. In using the puppet Somali regional state, that has committed untold atrocities against its own people, TPLF has declared war and annexed some Oromia territories to Somalia region.

As a result of the terroristic and violent action of the notorious semi criminal roving band called Liyu Police, to date more than two-hundred Oromos are killed and many more hundreds are maimed, and thousands of goats and chattels are looted from the people.  In addition, thousands are evicted from their land and homes. The Liyu Police, with the blessing of the Ethiopia government, is today occupying significant part of Oromia.  Unless stopped immediately, this has a great consequence for the future territorial integrity of Oromia.

Evidence is coming out that the regular TPLF army members are not only participating in the Liyu Police raids against the Oromo population, but are also leading it from behind. One of the fundamental functions of any government is to keep peace and stability. In Ethiopia, the irony is that it is the government that foments conflict and instability.

The Oromo and Somali population should not fall prey to this malicious TPLF tactic of divide and rule. There is no enmity between the Oromo and Somali population. They should rather be wise and stand together and fight this cancerous regime that is becoming the source of all conflict in the country.

Unless and until it is removed from power, it should definitely be expected that the TPLF will concoct similar conflicts between the Oromo and other ethnic groups. Thus, it’s incumbent on the Oromo population to keep vigilant and guard against such political machinations.

It is only the lack of strong Oromo government and the division between the Oromos that has made Oromia vulnerable and to be overrun by any force at will.  And it’s only the concerted effort of the Oromo population, in alliance with all peace loving peoples of Ethiopia, that can put an end to this troubling situation.

Today, it is the Somali militia, and tomorrow, unless we are prepared, it’s going to be militia forces from other regions that are going to occupy and slaughter our defenseless and forsaken population with impunity. Therefore, it is high time that all Oromos, including those in the government who still have a little nationalism left in them, come together, strengthen their unity, and confront this dangerous situation in unison.

This is a national issue that should worry every Oromo irrespective of any political and any other differences. At this crucial stage of our people’s struggle, it’s especially incumbent on Oromo political organizations, by taking into account the gravity of the situation, to close their gap more than any other time, and lead our people to the final victory.

Oromo-American Citizens Council (OACC) is a Minnesota non-profit organization established and functioning since 2002. We are made up of Oromo-Americans and others who are concerned about Oromo issues. Among others, we advocate for equal rights of Oromos in Ethiopia, expose human rights violations, and help initiate dialogue and reconciliation among various Ethiopian groups.

Ethiopia’s Oromo Revolution echoes around the globe March 1, 2017

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

Ethiopia’s Oromo Revolution echoes around the globe

Published on February 28, 2017 by Lima Charlie News

| “If I go back to Ethiopia, maybe they will kill me. If I am not killed, maybe they will put me in prison.” These words were not spoken by just anyone seeking asylum. They were spoken by 2016 Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa when he displayed the Oromo Revolution symbol of an X after running a 2:09:54 marathon in Brazil, in August 2016.

Image Feyisa Lilesa, Ethiopian Olympic Silver Medalist
FEYISA LILESA, ETHIOPIAN OLYMPIC SILVER MEDALIST (OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Feyisa, 27, fearing for his life, found refuge in Arizona, where he is training for the London Marathon. Feyisa received a green card and has been living in the United States since September. On Valentine’s Day of this year, his wife, daughter, and son, were reunited with him.

Feyisa highlights the real story.

The Oromo Revolution is a movement seeking societal change and equal rights in Ethiopia, a country of over 86 million. It developed in response to the government’s violent response to peaceful protests. Oromia is the largest of nine ethnically based regions in Ethiopia, and it is one of the most fertile lands in Ethiopia’s agrarian society. Protesters initially displayed opposition to the “Master Plan,” a government push to expand the capital, Addis Ababa, further into Oromia.

In response to the protesters, the Government of Ethiopia eventually decided to cancel the Master Plan, but damage was done as security forces killed hundreds, wounded thousands, and imprisoned tens of thousands.

Image Ethiopia protest
OROMO AND AMHARA PROTESTERS CALL FOR EQUITABLE RIGHTS, AUGUST 6, 2016. REUTERS/TIKSA NEGERI

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented hundreds of cases of alleged human rights abuses by the government against the Oromos and Amhara populations, including the killing of peaceful protesters, the arrest and detention of students, journalists, and political leaders, and the stifling of political dissent under the guise of “counterterrorism.” Ethiopia is a strategic ally of the United States, assisting in counterterrorism efforts against al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda aligned jihadi terrorist group based in Somalia.

In 1991, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power and has ruled for nearly two decades. The EPRDF is primarily comprised of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is a minority group. In Ethiopia, the Oromos and Amharas constitute the two largest ethnic groups, combining for over 61% of the population. Yet, in 2015, the EPRDF won 100% of parliamentary seats, up from 99.6% in 2010. Despite an obvious lack of equality in representation, in 2015 President Obama referred to the Government of Ethiopia as “democratically elected”.

As a response to the Oromo Revolution, the Oromo Leadership Convention (OLC) is seeking to organize an overall consensus for the future of the Oromo. While several conferences have been conducted, there is another scheduled for March 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.

While the OLC continues to build consensus, the Government of Ethiopia continued to implement a state of emergency. Last week prosecutors also brought multiple criminal charges against key Oromo opposition leaders, which included charges of treason, that they attempted to “violently overthrow the constitutional order”. Charges were also brought against two foreign-based television stations, OMN and ESAT, which included allegations that they violated Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism laws.

TPLF has finally put on its honor roll by charging me at its kangaroo court. The charge is said to include… http://fb.me/8eNv4u6PY 

Lima Charlie News, by J. David Thompson

Follow David on Twitter @JDThompsonLC 

Lima Charlie provides global news, insight & analysis by military veterans and service members Worldwide.

 


 

Human Rights League: ETHIOPIA: The Ethiopian Government is Plotting a War Among the Nations and Nationalities in Ethiopia February 28, 2017

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ETHIOPIA:  The Ethiopian Government is Plotting a War Among  the Nations and Nationalities in Ethiopia

 

HRLHA Press Release


HRLHAFebruary 26, 2017

The  Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police led by the Ethiopian Federal government’s killing squad have been engaged in a cruel war for the past six months against the Oromo nation in fifteen districts of Oromia.   The Oromia districts that have been invaded by the two aforementioned forces are in east and east- west Hararge Zone, Eastern Oromia,  Guji,  Borana and  Bale, South Oromia zones, Southern Oromia of Oromia Regional State.

Nations

Somali Liyu Police Invading Southern Oromia

The Ethiopian Federal government, which in theory has a state duty and a responsibility to bring peace and harmony among the nations and nationalities in the country, is actually engaged in instigating a war between the Ethiopian Somali and Oromo nations. High casualties have been registered on both sides in the past six months.  Hundreds of Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police led by the Federal government’s killing squad have entered into Oromia villages, attacked and killed and abducted hundreds of Oromos and looted properties; over 750 goats, ships,  and camels were taken.

According to the HRLHA informants, the Oromia Regional State nominal administrative leaders, including Lema Megersa- the president- turned a blind eye while the citizens they claimed to be governing have been killed,  abducted, and displaced from their lands and villages  and dehumanized by the warriors of the  Ethiopian Somali Liyu Police led by the Federal government of Ethiopa’s killing squad.

Recently, the invasion into Oromia has expanded into the western part of Oromia Regional State. The Federal government force in Gambela crossed into West Wallaga, Oromia Regional State villages and displaced thousands of Oromos in Qelem Zone of Anfillo and Yatii districts. The HRLHA informants also disclosed that the Ethiopian Killing squad force is on intensive training on the western side of Oromia regional state boundary in Benshangul regional state preparing to invade Oromo villages in the western part of Wallaga zone of Oromia Regional State.

During the recent skirmish between Liyu  Police and Oromo people on February 23, 2017, in  Bale, Sawena district at Qilessa village Southern Oromia,  19 Oromos were killed and 13 wounded. In the same fight,  35 were killed and 50 wounded from the Ethiopian Somali Liyu  Police invaders by Oromo civilian resistance force.

According to the HRLHA informants, the total casualties in connection with the invasion by the  Ethiopian -Somali Liyu Police led by the Federal government’s killing squad in Oromia Zones of Guji, Borana, Bale and east and west Hararge zones caused the deaths of over 200 Oromos and injured over 150 and many were abducted and taken to Somali Region. The report from our informants also confirmed  Oromo self-defense civilians killed over 260 invaders,  members of  Liyu police and Ethiopian Federal Killing squads, and injured many others.

This meaningless and reckless action by the Ethiopian Federal government will destabilize the region in general and Ethiopia in particular.

It is clear that the  Ethiopian Federal government is demonstrating its hidden agenda- to eliminate the Oromo nation under the pretext of boundary conflict between nations and nationalities. During the  Oromo self-defense attack against Somali  Liyu Police, many invaders were killed and others injured. This shows that the plan to invade  Oromia in all directions may lead to a  civil war, which suggests that the Federal  Government of Ethiopia is deliberately plotting to cause a war among nations and nationalities in the country.

Background

Ethiopians have been under extreme repression ever since  October 8, 2016- a State of Emergency in fact.  The Ethiopian government has used a state of emergency in order to kill, imprison and abduct citizens from their homes and workplaces in Oromia and Amhara regional states. During the past four months- under the State of Emergency- over  70,000 Oromos,  including pregnant women, seniors and underage children have been taken to concentration camps in Xolay, Zubway, Didessa, Huriso and other places. There, they have been tortured, exposed to communicable diseases and malnutrition from which hundreds have died.

 

The cause of the civilian unrest in Ethiopia during the past two years was the marginalization of the citizens from the political and fair distribution of their economic resources; they have also been evicted from their ancestral lands without consultation and compensation. Evictions from the land around the city of Addis Ababa after the declaration of ” The Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan”- evictions which have confronted by the Oromo nation from all walks of lives and have caused the deaths of over 2000 Oromos by the federal government sniper force Agazi- still continue. In the Month of February over 200 People have been displaced by the government and their lands have been taken.  Every day a number of people are detained all over Oromia and Amhara regional States and tortured.

Today, over ten million Ethiopians are daily exposed to hunger and poverty while the Ethiopian government has invested billions of dollars of foreign aid in training killing squads to kill its own people, claiming that Ethiopians were not dying from hunger and poverty.

A call on International Communities:

  • The HRLHA once again renews its calls to the international community to act collectively in a timely and decisive manner to request the Ethiopian government to stop instigating war among the Nations and nationalities in Ethiopia, a situation that could easily lead to civil war.
  • The HRLHA further requests that members of the UN Human Rights Council urge the Ethiopian government to allow the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteurs to visit the country to assess the human rights situations of political prisoners and others in detention centers all over the country
  • The HRLHA calls upon major donor governments, including the USA, UK, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Australia to make sure that their aid money is not used to train the Ethiopian Government’s killing squads to dehumanize the citizens of Ethiopia

Copied To:

  • UN Human Rights Council
    OHCHR address: 
    Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
    Palais Wilson
    52 rue des Pâquis
    CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Africa Union (AU)
    African Union Headquarters
    P.O. Box 3243 | Roosevelt Street (Old Airport Area) | W21K19 | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    Tel: (251) 11 551 77 00 | Fax: (251) 11 551 78 44
    Webmaster: webmaster@africa-union.org
  • The US Department of State
    WASHINGTON, D.C. HEADQUARTERS
    (202) 895-3500
    OFMInfo@state.gov
    Office of Foreign Missions
    2201 C Street NW
    Room 2236
    Washington, D.C. 20520
    Customer Service Center
    3507 International Place NW
    Washington, D.C. 20522-3303