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

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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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.

 


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

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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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.

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

Global Voices: As WHO Director-General Election Nears, Ethiopia’s Candidate Is Accused of Cholera Cover-Ups. #WHA70 May 16, 2017

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As WHO Director-General Election Nears, Ethiopia’s Candidate Is Accused of Cholera Cover-Ups

A Unicef-supported pump in Ethiopia. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

In January 2017, when Ethiopia’s candidate for director-general of World Health Organization, Tedros Adahanom, stormed to the top of the final three candidates — beating out six other candidates — it was a high time for Ethiopia’s government.

Although Adahanom had faced ferocious opposition from his fellow citizens, he has largely made it through unscathed, giving a propaganda victory for Ethiopian state media. With his well-funded campaign, Adahanom has traveled to more than 120 countries, and his supporters felt confident that his election is all but a matter of time.

Then on May 13, the New York Times ran a story reporting that a “prominent global health expert” had accused Adahanom of concealing three cholera epidemics from 2008 to 2011 during his tenure as Ethiopia’s health minister. Lawrence O. Gostin made the allegations; he is an informal adviser to one of Adahanom’s opponents in the director-general race, the UK’s David Nabarro, but Nabarro told the New York Times that he had not instructed Gostin to make the accusations on his behalf.

Finally! The @NYTimes calls out @WHO DG candidate @DrTedros for covering up cholera epidemic using the euphemism of Acute Water Diarrhea. https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/863525012258656257 

Abebe Gellaw, a prominent Ethiopian journalist in the diaspora, wrote on Facebook that it was only the beginning:

New York Times has a hard-hitting article on Tedros Adhanom. Tedros says it is a “smear campaign”. But the revelation is just the tip of the iceberg. A lot more will come out in the next few days…

A screenshot of the New York Times article on Tedros Adahanom. Click the image to read the story on nytimes.com

The explosive article made Adahanom and his supporters defensive while it created a sense of vindication for his opponents. Adahanom has denied the allegations. A former Reuters journalist who wrote Ethiopia’s cholera outbreak in 2009, however, responded on Twitter that the accusations as detailed in the New York Times story was consistent with what he had seen.

In 2009, when Tedros was health minister, I obtained minutes of an NGO/UN meeting, in which a cholera outbreak was acknowledged.

NGOs, UN and government refused to comment. And UN officials pressured me not to run story. Full story here: http://reut.rs/2pLNcz5 

Photo published for Cholera/diarrhoea outbreak hits 18,000 in Ethiopia

Cholera/diarrhoea outbreak hits 18,000 in Ethiopia

Cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases have infected 18,000 people in Ethiopia over the last three weeks in many parts of the country, including the capital Addis Ababa, according to a document seen…

reuters.com

At the time, UN officials regularly complained in private that lack of acknowledgement from govt stopped them getting more aid in.

In responding to the allegations, Adahanom accused Nabarro’s camp of engaging in smear campaign with imperialistic intentions. Pro-government groups took this line of accusation even further, claiming Nabarro is working with Ethiopian opposition groups that are labeled as “terrorists.”

Ethiopia’s semi-official news outlet accuses the current special advisor to the UN Secretary General, Dr. David Navarro with terrorism.

😳 https://twitter.com/abbaacabsa/status/863805131342700545 

Since April 2014, a popular protest movement in Ethiopia has challenged the government, which in turn has responded brutally. According to Human Rights Watch, at least 800 people have died, and thousands of political opponents and hundreds of dissidents have been accused of terrorism. Since October 2016, authorities have imposed some of the world’s toughest censorship laws after it declared a state of emergency.

Now, the tactic of calling opponents “terrorists” has spilled over Ethiopia’s borders and might create blowback for Adahanom as his record is examined critically by international media.

The health ministers of WHO member states will vote for the new director-general on May 23, 2017.

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.

Oromo-American Citizen Council (OACC): Extension of the State of Emergency-All is Not Well in Oromia March 31, 2017

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Press Release: Oromo-American Citizen Council (OACC)

For immediate release: March 30, 2017


Extension of the State of Emergency-All is Not Well in Oromia


On October 8, 2016, in the wake of the 2016 October Irrecha Massacre, the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency for a period of six months. Today, by a unanimous vote, the pseudo-parliament has extended the declaration for 4 months. This is a clear indication that all is not well in Ethiopia.

Following the state of Emergency, most areas of Oromia and some areas in the Amhara state were virtually put under a military rule called a Command Post. Under the rule of the Command Post, the previous serious human rights violations in Oromia were further intensified and caused an alarming and untold misery on the people.

Today, by and large, Oromia is turned into one big prison camp. State structures are overtaken by a military rule, and special paramilitary Agazi force comprising mainly of Tigrean are terrorizing the population. Anybody could be jailed and tortured at any time for just being born an Oromo. Schools, public services, Commerce, farms, and all other trades and vocations were disrupted. People lived in the last six months under a constant fear of imprisonment, torture and execution.

It is this state of affairs that the Ethiopian pseudo parliament today prolonged for six more months. Even before the declaration of the state of emergency, Ethiopia was not by any stretch of imagination a democratic state where the rights of the population were respected. With the introduction of the State of Emergency, however, things just went from bad to worse. Furthermore, the extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, tortures and imprisonment were simply normalized and legalized.

In today’s Ethiopia, the state of emergency has become the new normal. The prolonging of this perverse repression and torturous situation will have its toll and a long lasting consequence. In order to normalize its brutal repression, the government tries to dismiss the Oromo Protest as triggered by outside forces, and itself as efficient enforcer of law and order. Additionally, it tries to normalize it by portraying the state of emergency as a needed temporary measure.

However much the government tries to justify its brute actions and normalize its violence, the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia will not accept this state of affair and live in their own land as animals in a cage. What exists in Ethiopia today is not normal, and it is the moral obligation of everyone to resist and bring an end to it.

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.

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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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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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistHuman rights League of the Horn of Africatplf-ethiopias-federal-army-abbay-tsehaye-and-samora-yunus-are-architects-of-the-ongoing-ethnic-cleansing-against-oromo-in-south-and-eastern-oromia

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

 

Ethiopia in Crisis: What is going on now in Oromia is a massacre in the name of emergency, terrorising civilian populations January 31, 2017

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomistun-copyNo To Fascist TPLF Ethiopia's genocidal militarism and mass killings in Oromia, Ethiopia

 

Ethiopia in crisis, closes down news

By Ismail Einashe, sage Journals


oromo-people


ETHIOPIA HAS BEEN in lockdown for months. There has been a state of emergency declared and there is little news coming in and out of the country.  Social media and the internet have been outlawed, religious and cultural events banned, curfews imposed. Thousands of soldiers are roaming the streets.

It escalated after security services started killing people at the annual Irreechaa festival for the Oromos in Bishoftu in October 2016 This thanksgiving celebration of the Oromos is attended by millions from across Ethiopia and the diaspora. They wear traditional clothes and sing songs of resistance. As Ethiopia declares a state of emergency, Ismail Einashe explains some of the history to the current situation

For Oromos, Irreechaa is their most significant cultural event, and even though they are evenly split between Christians and Muslims, they all share ties to the original Oromo faith, Waaqefanna.

But at this year’s festival there was a stampede and attack by the Ethiopian police. The numbers killed are disputed – the government said 52 were killed, but activists from the Oromo Federalist Congress claim 678 people died.

And since pictures of the festival goers who were killed were published internationally, the state has shut down all access to the outside world. Behind the tragedy at Irreechaa is a long history of the Ethiopian state repressing Oromos, said Dr Awol Kassim Allo, an Ethiopian lecturer at the UK’s Keele University. “What is going on now in Oromia is a massacre in the name of emergency, terrorising civilian populations to force them into capitulation,” he said.

What is going on now in Oromia is a massacre in the name of emergency, terrorising civilian populations

He added: “The massacre at Irreechaa occurred before the state of emergency, although Ethiopia has always been under a state of emergency, the official declaration of emergency was a conclusive evidence that the state was losing control and that a large segment of the society has rejected the government’s authority to govern”.

Celebrating their traditions and wearing traditional dress, as the Oromos were doing at Irreechaa, has historically been part of the resistance to the government in Ethiopia, according to Mohammed Ademo, founder and editor of OPride.com, a multimedia news site focused on Ethiopia’s Oromo community, and now based in the USA.

Recently, many Oromos have begun to eschew Western attire completely and wear Oromo clothes. Oromo clothing has been more visible on the streets. This way of dressing is becoming a cornerstone of their identity and self- expression.

Traditional Oromo clothes consist of woya for men, which are toga-like robes, usually white, and a skirt called a wandabo for women. Oromo women also wear qollo and sadetta, cotton cloths traditionally hand-spun and hand-woven, and sometimes other garments are worn such as leather or animal skin robes.

On Facebook there are numerous groups now dedicated to dissecting the latest fashion styles of Oromo dress and there are popular style blogs that enjoy a huge following. Latest pop hits by Oromo artists heavily feature Oromo clothes – along with dances.

 

Peri Klemm, a professor in African history of art at the University of California at San Diego and expert on Oromo dress, said: “At times when identity is threatened, dress, particularly that of Oromo women who have always been the carriers of culture, becomes a way in which the Oromo maintain a sense of who they are.”


click-here-to-read-in-pdf-sage-journals-ethiopia-in-crisis

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 Fox News: Ethiopia targets opposition who met with European lawmakers

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

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

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

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

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


 

NO TO IMPUNITY! The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is not an independent institution and that it is incapable of doing human rights monitoring has long been admitted by the regime itself. So, no report it presents is a result of an independent inquiry June 14, 2016

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Odaa OromooSay no to the master killer. Addis Ababa master plan is genocidal plan against Oromo people. Say no.#OromoProtests, Qabosoon itti fufa jedhu aayyoleen#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia


NO TO IMPUNITY!!!

By Tsegaye Ararssa)


That the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is not an independent institution and that it is incapable of doing human rights monitoring has long been admitted by the regime itself. So, no report it presents is a result of an independent inquiry. No statement it makes is an impartial statement. What we heard yesterday is not even close to the admission of guilt on the part of the regime made by the Prime Minister and the Spokesperson earlier in the year.
We have yet to see its report, the methods it used, and the personnel it mobilized to conduct its investigation. We have yet to see whom they identified as these “other forces who sought to take advantage of the people”. We have yet to see how “these other forces” are implicated. We have yet to see a full description of who did what so that we can make them responsible. To blame indefinite (and invisible) forces for the people killed (over 500 now), for the people injured (in thousands), and for the people arbitrarily arrested (estimated to be over 50,000), for the destruction of property (through vandalizing and burning of university campuses), for the suspension and dismissal of Oromia’s civil administration unconstitutionally (without even a semblance of legality that could be seen if there were an emergency declaration or a “federal intervention”) is a farce of incredible proportion. And we reject that completely, and we say NO!

Referring to “these other forces” as the responsible bodies without clearly identifying them and without establishing the mode of their involvement is only deflecting responsibility from the regime that acted completely lawlessly (illegally and unconstitutionally) to take “merciless and definitive measures” on protestors and to subject the entire region to military rule. This is simply unacceptable. And we say NO to impunity!

The report claims that the federal army, special forces, federal police, and the entire intelligence personnel was unleashed on Oromia to kill, injure, arrest, and terrorize the people [totally in accordance with the order of the Prime Minister to take “merciless and definitive measures”] on the invitation of the region. However, it doesn’t even care to tell us when was it requested, how it was requested, and according to which rules of procedure (apart from that put in place for a legitimate Federal Intervention in the regions). This is completely illegal and unacceptable. We reject this, and mercilessly and conclusively say NO to that, too!
The report claims that the crisis was caused, among other things, by a misunderstanding of the Master Plan. This suggests that the Master Plan is an appropriate plan. This is utterly unacceptable. We say NO!

By issuing this statement by the EHRC, the regime is now suppressing and displacing the truth of the atrocities it perpetrated on innocent protestors.
We say NO to this suppression of the truth, our truth, just as we say NO to the repression of the protest, and the wider systematic oppression of the Oromo and other peoples of Ethiopia by a regime that has rendered itself not just undemocratic but utterly anti-democratic.
The modest road we suggested from the start remains to be the only road the regime has to take in order to restore peace (and survive this crisis as a regime).
We state it to them again:
1. Rescind the Master Plan unequivocally (both in Addis and in the adjacent Oromia Zones). Take a clear, public stance by issuing a Parliamentary Resolution against the Master Plan.

2. Stop the violence and remove the Army, the Special Force, the Federal Police, and the intelligence personnel from all civilian life in Oromia.

3. Release all the political prisoners arrested in relation to the protest, including political dissidents arbitrarily taken captive in the wake of the re-eruption of the protest.

4. Set up a genuinely independent commission with members and/or observers from international organizations to conduct a proper investigation to the crisis and to make efforts to establish responsibility (political, administrative, legal, and moral) for the harm caused in the process.

5. Take political responsibility as a government, apologize to the public officially (with a clear statement written and delivered in a proper forum fully transparently to the media), and take all appropriate measures to restore the dignity of the victims and pay reparations to the same.

6. Remove all officials who are at the forefront of political and administrative responsibilities, for by being implicated in the bloodbath that they caused in the course of the crisis, they have totally lost the moral legitimacy, the legal competence, and the public credibility to govern.

7. Ensure that those who did and caused the killings, injuries, rapes, tortures, and arbitrary arrests be held legally accountable (in accordance with the criminal law of the country) before an independent court of law. Allow a forensic determination of guilt and punishment in proportion to the degree of their participation. Fail to do this, the regime will be haunted by the possibility of being brought before international justice institutions (or at least they will face the inconvenience of having to defend themselves).

8. The Government in Oromia has lost all the credibility and all the legitimacy (which it never had anyway!) to govern the region. It is imperative that the Caffee Oromia dismiss itself and call for an election before the next parliamentary year (leaving the day to day administration of matters to a care taker government of the old cabinet).

9. Stop all acts of eviction of farmers from their land which, to most of them, is their only means of livelihood. Work towards a better (possessory) tenure security over the plots of land they now have. Stop all activities of land grab and consequent displacement of people everywhere (in Oromia and beyond) even in the name of “development.” Work towards a more legally entrenched, fair, just, and consultative mode of development planning where necessary expropriation is done with due, effective, and adequate compensation.

10. Ensure that the ‘Special Interest’ clause of the constitution is implemented urgently. In the determination of the content of the Special Interest, Oromia’s voice must be properly listened to as well as that of the city government of Addis Ababa. Start a comprehensive, inclusive, open, and genuinely participatory discussion with all the peoples of Ethiopia about where to place the federal Capital city. In an act of bona fide cooperation, the Oromia government should take steps towards suggesting another options and modes for relocating the capital city within or outside of Oromia (and its own contribution, as the largest State in the Federation, towards building the new capital–if this be the option).

These things are doable things. These things are easier things to do for the regime. Anything short of this will only provoke a more vehement and persistent resistance. To do anything less, or anything other than these modest suggestions, is an invitation for further crisis.

We will do everything at our disposal to resist this. We keep saying NO!
We keep saying NO to justification and rationalization of State terror.
We keep saying NO to all forms of impunity for the gross violation of human rights in Oromia and beyond.
We keep saying NO to all forms of eviction from land including through the Master Plan.

https://yerooblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/2587/

Oromia & Ethiopia: Land – the Perpetual Flashpoint of Ethiopia’s Political Crisis: #OromoProtests Special coverage January 28, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, Ethnic Cleansing, Oromia, Oromo.
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Odaa Oromoo

Ethiopian-land-giveaway#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in EthiopiaOromoProtests @Finfinnee University Dec. 7, 2015


Ethiopia: Land – the Perpetual Flashpoint of Ethiopia’s Political Crisis


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OROMO PROTESTS SIGN OF ETHIOPIA’S FAILURE TO ATTAIN SOCIAL PROGRESS

OROMIA: OROMO PROTESTS: MARKING THE NEXT ETHIOPIAN POLITICAL CHAPTER January 25, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa, Oromia, Oromiyaa, Oromo.
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Odaa Oromoo#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia#OromoProtests, Qabosoon itti fufa jedhu aayyoleenOromo students Protests, Western Oromia, Mandii, Najjoo, Jaarsoo,....

OPINION: OROMO PROTESTS: MARKING THE NEXT ETHIOPIAN POLITICAL CHAPTER

#OromoProtests Special coverage


 

By Henok Gabisa, Addis Standard,  25 January 2016


 

The current situation in Oromiya and wider Ethiopia is blusterous. In the words of an anonymous commentator on the ground, “Oromiya is a war zone; we are under effective military control.” From this characterization, I gather that the government security forces’ merciless firing of live ammunition at peaceful protestors has turned the situation into a popular civil rebellion in all of Oromiya. As a matter of fact, protest actions have taken place in more than 170 Oromo cities, towns and villages. As of this writing, Oromo activists have verified and documented the killing of over 100 Oromo persons, the majority of whom are students and farmers. The Associated Press reports that 80 Oromo protestors were killed. Oromo mothers and female students are being kidnapped and transported to unknown locations.

 

Effective December 15, the Oromo nation has fallen under the administrative jurisdiction of a “Command Post”, an entity chaired by the Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. “Counter-Terrorism Task Force”, which is assembled for this particular purpose is also deployed. It remains a major legal question whether the “military administration” constitutes the same effect as declaration of emergency situation-executive decree which should have followed a procedure of its own as under article 93 of the constitution. However, as of now, what we know is that the inception of the “command post” already has obliterated any semblance of legality because it unconstitutionally suspended the bodies that administer (i.e., the State Parliament and the Executive) of the State of Oromiya and the nominal political party in charge there.
On December 16, the federal government released something very close to a national decree. It was read on a national TV during prime time broadcast service. A joint venture of the “Command Post” and “Anti-Terrorism Special Task Force”, the decree’s content was considered by many as amounting to a declaration of war against the Oromo in general. The following day, the communication minister, Getachew Reda, followed up the decree with a presser, in which he described Oromo protesters as “devils”, “demons”, “satanic”, “witches” and “terrorists”, who need special military operation “to be put back in their place”. In his cantankerous statements, Getachew cleared up what many observers already suspected: the deep-seated and systematized dehumanization project of the Oromo by the regime and beyond. Again, PM Hailemariam Dessalegn, in an exclusive interview with the national TV, menacingly vowed for a “merciless” national response against the Oromo protesters if they don’t stop protesting. Now, we are observing synchronized, condescending and patronizing melodrama being translated into collective punishment against the Oromo. Getachew’s sordidly loaded press communication in fact reminded me of Seif-Al Islam Gaddafi’s last taunting moment in one of the notorious TV broadcast in which he called the Libyan protestors “rats” who had to be annihilated. The current military control in Oromiya exactly resembles the famous Nazi Law known as The Third Reich of 1933 that Nazified all German law in order to grant arbitrary power to Hitler to detain and convict Jews. In a similar way, ours is also a regime that has unequivocally and arrogantly displayed that it is not only the enemy of the people, but also of itself.

 

Why the plan is the reincarnation of perennial Oromo question?
The protest, now turned into an unarmed popular uprising or movement, is a renewed call from Oromo people to object to and demand the unconditional and permanent termination of the implementation of the Addis Abeba Master Plan, which is designed to incorporate surrounding Oromo lands into the capital against the will of owner-operators. The complete absence, on the part of the government, to solicit public consultation or participation since the start of the plan’s preparation in 2009 did not only make it a surreptitious political scheme, but also flagged major questions as to the substantive intent and content of the plan itself. In fact, the plan was viewed among the Oromo as an existential threat to the people and their land. The Oromo see the plan as a danger to their identity, language, culture, environment, and most importantly, their right to property/land security and the right to a sustainable development.
The government’s initial attempt to foist the plan in 2014 faced a stiff resistance from Ambo University students and all corners of Oromiya, triggering a massive crackdown by the government that killed unknown number of Oromo students in April and May of the same year. No judicial investigation or commission of inquiry was established, nor did anyone government official was hold accountable.

 

Completely disrespecting the peoples’ persistent objection against the plan, as of November 2015, the government came back with an imperious determination to implement the infamous master plan. At this juncture, the Oromo people, indisputably, were convinced of the federal government’s long-term scheme to end the meager economic and political presence, of the Oromo in central Addis Abeba and its surroundings.
The Master Plan, which the regional government said was scarped all together, is an epitome of the major political and economic injustices that have lingered on unresolved for far too long. Political subordination and denial of self-governance, rising poverty and increasing unemployment rate among Oromo households because of the policy of land eviction and language discrimination, are some of the fundamental questions. The ongoing movement is an expression of demand for an international scrutiny towards the Ethiopian regime’s system of wealth distribution and economic regulation in the ethnically structured federal system of the country.

 

Over the last quarter of century, the Oromo people have been ruthlessly targeted for their identity, falling prey to one of the authoritarian regimes in the continent. For example, various reports indicate that about 90% of the political prisoners in Ethiopian prison are exclusively made up of the Oromo. Not only did this create a deep-seated grievance among the Oromo, but also displayed the inept political leadership of the incumbent, potentially risking long-term stability of the region. The condensed account of political and economic discrimination based on identity, language and culture, the widespread and systematic violation of fundamental rights to property, crumbling land security, complete non-existence of freedom of assembly and of the press are some of the rudiments that are heating up the recent Oromo civil movement. These questions are as old as the coming into power of the current regime itself, or well beyond. The surreptitiously designed Addis Master Plan is the latest iteration of the long-standing policy of dispossessing the Oromo from their property, this time under the shibboleth of “urbanization” and “development.”

 

Humanitarian Crises: regime’s breach of common Article 3 of Geneva Convention
With the civilian protestors facing a regime that has no hesitation to use the national military force, a humanitarian crises has unfolded at an alarming rate. In some cases the government has deployed military helicopters to transport military personnel to the protest sites. We have witnessed that the regime’s military response doesn’t have moral boundary. I suspect the regime is oblivious to the fact that the whole world is watching.
Material breach-by the regime’s military force-of humanitarian obligation also continues to take place in several other forms. For example, in Wallaga, reports indicate that medical professionals are being beaten and arrested for treating wounded protesters. In Najjo town, Ambo and Burayu, security forces have occupied hospital compounds and other medical facilities in order to detain, deny and refuse admittance of the fatally injured protesters. In fact, the same type of cruelty has been witnessed during the 2014 Oromo protest. Of course, this kind of material breach of international humanitarian duty could also be considered as a constitutive element of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 

Furthermore, the regime’s moral revulsion against the protestors is well indicated in the pervasive and horrifying acts of group rapes allegedly committed by members of the military  in a number of villages and university campuses. Some reports also reveal a disturbing account of a wife who was raped at night in front of her husband. It is clear that rape has always been used as a tool of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in different countries at different times. That is why International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) developed a legal theory under which an act of rape could give rise to a joint criminal conviction for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Any viable solution?
The movement is an expressed demand for sustainable peace, justice, democracy, equality and true development that had been lacking in the country over the last 25 years. Apparently, the existing model of governance couldn’t extend to the greater public beyond the elites and a few members of a group who are affiliated with the regime. In fact, that is why Ethiopia is on the brink of famine with over 20 million Ethiopian people in need of urgent food, the majority of the affected being the Oromo. The number of Ethiopian youths that very frequently perish in the Mediterranean Sea while running away from home should put the lie to the government’s claim of the double digit growth. The stories thousands of our sisters living in an almost slavery-like situation in the Middle East should be a sufficient indication of how the travesty of the assertion Ethiopia’s fast economic growth.

 

 

The recent movement filled with ultimate self-sacrifice is the latest episode in Oromo’s quest for a better future and legitimate self-governance. The movement understands that unchecked state power in Ethiopia has been the problem and not the solution to economic development. The movement is an ultimate negation of the regime’s grandiloquent declaration of the recent 100% parliamentary win. It is the movement that is guarding and protecting the constitution from the government that was supposed to defend it. At the end of the day, the movement is a demand for reconfiguration and restructuring of the politics of the country. Of all, the movement is a plea for the permanent removal of the metastasized political cancer that that has diminished the lives and existence of the Oromo.
So, it is possible that the movement will soon culminate in being a sole driving force for the emergence of a new Ethiopia that all can call home. Oromo children’s blood gushing like a river on every street of Oromo city is a timely proof for a well-deserved moral leadership in the country. Over the last two months, the incumbent regime has conveyed a message to the Oromo and all other Ethiopians that it cannot lead the country; that its moral integrity is already corrupted, busted and politically bankrupt. The regime didn’t cash in on the benefit of the doubt it was granted 25 years ago. Now, it is a prime time for the people to step up their games by owning and showing the right leadership. That is the only way out.


 

 

Ed’s Note: Henok Gabisa is Visiting International Law Fellow based at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. He can be reached at GabisaH@wlu.edu. The opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect Addis Standard’s editorial guideline.

 

Opinion: Oromo Protests: Marking the next Ethiopian political chapter

The Ethiopian Regime Is Destabilizing the Horn of Africa Region November 12, 2015

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???????????Zenawi the tyrant still rules after death

Ethiopia and Somalia have a long history of mutual distrust and acrimony roughly similar to the history of India and Pakistan. Somalia has border dispute with both Ethiopia and Kenya whose roots are in colonial impositions. It would be just as cynical and foolish for Ethiopia to send troops to Somalia as for India to send troops to Waziristan intending to stabilize its relation with Pakistan.

Regarding democratic elections in Ethiopia, Susan Rice could not contain herself fromchuckling cynically about the regime’s 100% claim of victory. How she could reconcile her sarcasm with her impassioned speech during the mourning for the late Prime Minster, Meles Zenawi, is puzzling. She called those who oppose Meles fools and idiots. After the violence and rigged election of 2005, hopes for any democratic transfer of power in the country have been dashed.

There are also questions raised on the sustainability of the much publicized double- digit economic
growth of Ethiopia, despite the current dramatic makeover of Addis Ababa: the government seems oblivious to the fact that 80% of Ethiopians are peasants even asfamine now threatens 15 million Ethiopians. The impact on the country of the foreignland grab, with its environmental cost and human displacement and the destruction of the pastoralist life style, has received wide coverage. A fertile area the size of Belgium has been leased cheaply to Indian and Saudi investors in the name of development. Along with the environmental costs, the displacement of indigenous pastoralists is enormous.

Mary Harper in her report says that inequality gap in Ethiopia is one of the narrowest in the world. However, a quick search shows that inequality in Ethiopia is one of the highest in the world. Ethiopia’s positioning in UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) is 173rd of 187 countries for the 2013 data. Transparency index ranks Ethiopia 111th of 177 countries for corruption, “with a score of 33 on a scale where 100 means very clean and 0 means highly corrupt.” The country suffers from high levels of bribery and those with access to state power act in brutally self-interested and exploitative ways. By most accounts, polarized ethnic divisions in the country have led to winner-take-all situations.

In an ideal scenario, the brotherly people of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia, whose fates are intertwined by geography and history, need cooperation and trade between and within themselves based on mutual respect for basic human rights and due regard for the health of the environment. Increased militarization and fragmentation will only entrench existing cycles of violence, death, displacement, environmental degradation and famine.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yohannes-woldemariam/the-ethiopian-regime-is-d_b_8507642.html

The Ethiopian Regime Is Destabilizing the Horn of Africa Region

huffingtonpost.com

By Associate Professor of International Relations and Environmental Studies at Fort Lewis College

The Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn claims Al-Shabab is diminishing with Ethiopian support to the Somali government. He also told BBC Africa editor, Mary Harper, that “Ethiopians are satisfied with the system of government in the country.”

During the interview, PM Desalegn painted a very rosy picture of the situation in Ethiopia and its dealings with the region. The regime seems to be on a charm offensive with the Western media. According to Mary Harper, PM Desalegn requested for the interview, which was conducted impromptu. After listening to the interview, I wished Ms. Harper had scrutinized the PM a bit more on Eritrea and Somalia as she did with his domestic human rights violations. For example, the PM was never confronted on the important issue of the boundary demarcation with Eritrea. He freely pontificated on the issue of refugees without being challenged about the role of the Ethiopian regime in refugee production.

One can easily make a case that in fact Ethiopia is destabilizing the region through its interventions in Somalia and its insidious refusal to implement the verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Ethiopia has chosen to blackmail Eritrea with impunity through a “no war, no peace” strategy assisted by successive U.S. administrations. As a result, Eritrean survival as a state is increasingly threatened, exacerbating the acute issue of refugee flows.

The Eritrean regime’s response of indefinite conscription of its population into the military is having disastrous consequences. Eritrea is hemorrhaging and experiencing unsustainable brain drain. A whole generation is being wasted in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Sudan, and those who made it farther are suffering all the tragic consequences of life-in-exile. The Ethiopian regime, while claiming the moral high ground, appears to be enjoying humiliating Eritreans by every means available.

Mr. Girma Asmerom, who is the Eritrean envoy to the UN, dubiously claims that the reason for the exodus is economic and that the pull factor from Europe exerts a “pull factor” when it “freely” grants asylum to Eritreans. He also blames Eritrea’s suffering on a conspiracy by Western countries to weaken the regime. It is true, as Mr. Asmerom also asserts, that many African countries in addition to Ethiopia are experiencing unprecedented migrations of their own; neverthelsss, the Eritrean exodus is numerically more alarming and qualitatively different from other migrations in Africa.

To dismiss it as motivated primariy by economics is to wallow in a dangerous self-serving denial. Indeed, there can be no doubt that a major cause of the refugee exodus is the indefinite military conscription by the Eritrean regime and by the loss of even basic freedoms for the people. The Eritrean government has declared a self-defeating war on the Eritrean people while deceptively affording the same Ethiopian government the opportunity to play the magnanimity game.

It is also true that the U.S. continues to reward the Ethiopian government despite its intransigence in the face of accusations of human rights abuses and other flagrant violations of international law. The U.S. wrongly and stubbornly assumes that Ethiopia is a stabilizing force for the region.

Faced with isolation from the world community as well as by UN sanctions and Ethiopian belligerence, the Eritrean regime appears to be looking to strengthen its alliances with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. There are reports that Eritrea is “making available…its land, territorial waters and airspace to conduct military operations” against the Houthis in Yemen in exchange for fuel and monetary compensation. About 400 Eritreans are also said to be embedded with troops from the UAE/Saudi campaign in the Yemeni civil war.

If true, this is a dramatic turnaround after the rumors that Eritrea was serving as an Iranian conduit for the transfer of weapons to the Houthis. It appears that the latent Ethiopian ambition to snatch and annex the port of Assab, its refusal to demarcate the border between the two countries, and the effectiveness of Ethiopian campaign to isolate the Eritrean regime may have driven it to entangle itself in the Yemeni conflict. The Yemeni conflict started out as a local civil war but is increasingly a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Ethiopian regime has been able to get away with its belligerent policies partially because it has powerful friends within the Clinton and Obama administrations in the person of Dr. Susan Rice. Her influence is quite depressing for any self-respecting African: Dr. Rice actually advised “the Clinton White House…to avoid any public recognition that actual genocide was being committed [in Rwanda], because to do so would legally require the United States to take action.”

According to Howard French, a keen observer of Africa, writing in The Atlantic and quoting Samantha Power, says that Rice has a “Cold War” approach to African politics, who supports African strong men whom she approves of — regardless of their human rights track record and complete disregard for international law. Salem Solomon, writing an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times articulates the destructive role that Susan Rice has played with the Eritrea Ethiopia dispute.

Decisions by the likes of Susan Rice impact the lives of so many like we witness with the youth exodus from Eritrea. It should be noted that Ethiopia has a population approaching 100 million while Eritrea’s population is approximately 5-6 million. I fear that increasing Ethiopian bravado over U.S. support may cause more states to collapse in the Horn of Africa.
U.S. military involvement in Africa is much deeper than is generally acknowledged. The U.S. has a base in Arba Minch, Ethiopia, which it uses to unleash drone operations in Somalia, in addition to camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

The U.S. encouraged Ethiopian intervention in Somalia in 2006 with disastrous implications. Any one with a cursory understanding of the region knows that Ethiopian intervention only strengthened the extremists in Somalia, resulting in the emergence of Al-Shabab. Even as PM Desalegn was claiming in his interview that Al Shabab is “diminished,” it struck with a suicide attack in Mogadishu against a well-fortified hotel which hosts foreign journalists and important Somali political and military figures. The violence shows no sign of abating. If anything, it has expanded into the neighboring countries of Kenya and Uganda.

Ethiopia and Somalia have a long history of mutual distrust and acrimony roughly similar to the history of India and Pakistan. Somalia has border dispute with both Ethiopia and Kenya whose roots are in colonial impositions. It would be just as cynical and foolish for Ethiopia to send troops to Somalia as for India to send troops to Waziristan intending to stabilize its relation with Pakistan.

Regarding democratic elections in Ethiopia, Susan Rice could not contain herself fromchuckling cynically about the regime’s 100% claim of victory. How she could reconcile her sarcasm with her impassioned speech during the mourning for the late Prime Minster, Meles Zenawi, is puzzling. She called those who oppose Meles fools and idiots. After the violence and rigged election of 2005, hopes for any democratic transfer of power in the country have been dashed.

There are also questions raised on the sustainability of the much publicized double- digit economic
growth of Ethiopia, despite the current dramatic makeover of Addis Ababa: the government seems oblivious to the fact that 80% of Ethiopians are peasants even asfamine now threatens 15 million Ethiopians. The impact on the country of the foreignland grab, with its environmental cost and human displacement and the destruction of the pastoralist life style, has received wide coverage. A fertile area the size of Belgium has been leased cheaply to Indian and Saudi investors in the name of development. Along with the environmental costs, the displacement of indigenous pastoralists is enormous.

Mary Harper in her report says that inequality gap in Ethiopia is one of the narrowest in the world. However, a quick search shows that inequality in Ethiopia is one of the highest in the world. Ethiopia’s positioning in UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) is 173rd of 187 countries for the 2013 data. Transparency index ranks Ethiopia 111th of 177 countries for corruption, “with a score of 33 on a scale where 100 means very clean and 0 means highly corrupt.” The country suffers from high levels of bribery and those with access to state power act in brutally self-interested and exploitative ways. By most accounts, polarized ethnic divisions in the country have led to winner-take-all situations.

In an ideal scenario, the brotherly people of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia, whose fates are intertwined by geography and history, need cooperation and trade between and within themselves based on mutual respect for basic human rights and due regard for the health of the environment. Increased militarization and fragmentation will only entrench existing cycles of violence, death, displacement, environmental degradation and famine. As it stands, the egoistic leaders are making the region dangerous and vulnerable to intensive neocolonialist extractive exploitation by the U.S., China, Canada, India, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and others.

GAADDUUN WAYYAANEE SADDEET SAAXILAME November 5, 2015

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???????????Roobsan Falmataa Roorroo's photo.

(Oromedia, Finfinnee, 3 Sadaasa 2015) Mootummaan Wayyaanee karooraa Gaaduu (spy) haaraa Raawwii Saddeet biyya keessa, biyya ollaa fi biyya alaatti facaasuun beekame.

Odeessi nu gahe akak addeessetti, mootummaan Wayyaanee tasgabbii fi jabina moora qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo keessatti uumamaa dhufetti yaaddaúun gaadduu haaraa bobbaasaa jirti.

“Walii galteen ABO fi jaarmiyooti bilisummaa sabootaa gidduu kana tolfatan naasuu fi yaaddoo itti uumee jira,” kan jedhu odeessi nu gahe kun, “naasuu fi sodaa itti bule kana keessaa bahuuf ijoolleen Tigiree karooraa haaraa saddeet qopheefatanii socho’aa jiran,”jedheera.

A. Ummatni biyyaa akka hin baqanne gochuu fi kan baqatellee tooftaa fi mala adda addaatiin biyyatti akka deebi’an gochuu,

B. ABO dadhabsiisuuf jecha, ilmaan Oromoo biyya ambaatti baqatan gara biyyaatti galchuu,

C. Miseensotaa fi qondaalota, akkasumas namoota sab-boonummaa fi dhageettii ummata biratti qaban ofitti qabuu,

E. ABO keessatti caasaa diriirsuuf waan barbaachisu qopheessuun jaarmayichaa diiguu,

F. Murna Gaadduu (tikaa) jabaa fi qaroo qopheessuun hawaasa fakkaatee hawaasa keessatti maadheffachuun murni kun hawaasa Oromoo akka laaffisu keessaan irratti hojjechuu,

G. Hoogganootaa ABO-jidduutti wal-shakkiin akka uumamu gochuu,

H. Namooti maqaa diyaasporaa jedhamuun biyyatti afeeramanii magaalaa Adaamaa turan biyya alaatti deebisuun akka isaan leenjii kennameef hojjaa irra oolchan gochuu, fi

I. Jaarmiyaa hawaasa Oromoo Oromummaa irratti hundaaée ijaaramee jiruu fi ijaaramaa jiru akka gosaan walqoodanii waldiigan irratti hojjachuun dha.
Odeessi kun dabalee akka adeessetti, miidiyaalee biyya alaa keessa jiran keessatti immoo odeeffannoon sobaa kan maqaa ABO xureessu facaasuun akka umamti Oromoo ABO irraa abdii dhabu taasisuuf karoorfamee jira.
Karoorri wayyaane biraa bahe kun dhuma irrattis, keessayyuu namootiin amma dura hooggana ABO-turanii wayyaanetti galan dirqama kana olaantummaan akka raawwataniif ramadamanii jiru.

Gareen gaadduu kun raawwii hojii kanaa hoggantoota humna tikaa wayyaaneef guyyuu kan gabaasu taúun hubatameera.

Yeroo ammaa kanas namni Biqilaa jedhamu, Lichoo Bukuraa fi Kumsaa Gadaa waliin icciitiin wal qunamuudhaan ABO diiguuf hojjachaa akka jiran odeessi kun dabalee saaxileera.

Oromia: The Agony of Oromo athletes under TPLF Ethiopia’s tyranny. #Africa September 27, 2015

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???????????Stop Torture

Running for their lives, Ethiopians seek a safer track in Washington

Many of the Ethiopian runners belong to the Oromo ethnic group, which accounts for more than one-third of the country’s population, according to the most recent census, making it by far the most populous ethnic group. “Oromo is no good to them,” explained one runner, who was detained three times but never faced charges. 

Oromos hold few positions of power in Ethiopia, and the EPRDF has governed the nation for more than two decades. In May, Ethiopia held its most recent national election, and the EPRDF and its allies swept every one of the 547 parliamentary seats.

“Most of the stories you hear now out of Ethiopia are about this sort of economic growth and development happening,” said Felix Horne, a researcher with the Human Rights Watch, the international watchdog and advocacy group. “But there are real stories about people who aren’t part of that success, who question the government and suffer pain and torture because of it.”

Fleeing persecution in their native country, Ethiopians such as 18-year-old Genet Lire put promising track careers on hold to take refuge in Washington

(The Washington Post) — Genet Lire locked herself in a bathroom stall at Dulles International Airport and hid. The clock was ticking. If she was found, she would have to get on the plane and eventually return home. She feared she surely would be locked up again, probably beaten, and her family terrorized.

The time passed slowly: five minutes, 10, 15, 20. Feet tapped on the tile floor. Doors opened and closed. Every noise and shuffle made Lire’s chest tighten.

This was supposed to be a quick layover. Lire was a 17-year-old sprinter from Ethi­o­pia, here to compete in the junior world championships in Eugene, Ore. But she had no intention of ever reaching the starting line. She and her teammates flew in from Addis Ababa. They rushed to their gate, watched their bags board the big jet, and that’s when Lire saw her chance, slipping away to the bathroom as the flight began to board.

Fleeing persecution in their native country, Ethiopians put promising track careers on hold to take refuge in Washington. Genet Lire cries while looking through an album containing photos of family and friends she left behind in Ethiopia. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

She didn’t know it at the time, but not far from Dulles, in and around the Washington area, there was an entire community of Ethiopian runners in similar situations. They were beaten and persecuted back home, almost all of them for political reasons. They feared for their lives and sought asylum in the United States, most putting their promising running careers on hold for the chance at stable and safe lives.

About three dozen Ethiopian runners have congregated in the Washington area, many in just the past three years, and 12 agreed to share their stories with The Post. Some requested their full names not be used, fearful that their families in Ethiopia would face retribution. The details vary, but some threads are consistent: They all had been imprisoned but never charged with crimes; most used visas they’d received through their track careers to flee; they were all beaten to some degree; and many have struggled to acclimate to a new life, far from family and lacking the time and resources to continue running competitively.

Ethiopian runner Genet Lire's father and mother, center, surrounded by her seven brothers and sisters in front of the family house. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

“They get here and they are physically and emotionally traumatized,” said Kate Sugarman, a Washington physician who has treated many of the runners. “Some of them can’t even run because of the injuries they suffered during their beatings. I think they’ve lost their confidence and arrive here without a lot of hope.”

The runners have varying skill levels, but most are long-distance specialists, having competed in marathons from New York to China. They’ve won big races in Europe and North America and claimed titles across Africa. One man in his mid-20s once completed a marathon in 2 hours 8 minutes. Only two American-born distance runners have ever run faster.

Genet Lire, right, says she misses her friends, seen here, and her family, but she feels that she will have a better life in the United States. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Lire was a rising star back in Ethiopia, a promising sprinter in a nation of distance runners. Less than a month earlier, she had won the national title in the 400 meters, setting an Ethiopian record. A strong showing at the junior world championships last July would’ve been an important stepping stone to representing Ethiopia in the 2016 Olympics.

Instead she sat in the Dulles bathroom, half-scared she would be spotted and half-scared she wouldn’t. All she had were the clothes on her back and a red Adidas backpack. Inside were photos of her family, friends and the life she was escaping. Lire felt she had no choice. She had spent several weeks discussing the trip to America at length with her family, and they all urged her to flee at the first opportunity.

After 30 minutes, Lire cautiously opened the bathroom door. The plane was gone, with her teammates and coaches aboard. She looked around and approached a man with a friendly face.

Genet Lire, holding medal on the right, poses for a photo with her track club. Less than a month before fleeing Ethiopia, she set a national record in the 400 meters. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

In her native Amharic, she said, “Please help me.”

‘You’ll never go anywhere’

In Addis Ababa, Haile Mengasha refused to join the nation’s ruling political coalition — the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) — and said he was detained for a week in 2012. His interrogators repeatedly struck him in the head and held a flame to his feet. It took 11/2 years to raise enough money, but he finally was able to fly to the United States for a half-marathon with no intentions of returning home. The 25-year-old now works in a Washington liquor store and runs when his aching back allows. Mengasha said many days are “dark” and his future uncertain, but that it beats the alternative.

“I’d rather commit suicide in America than return to Ethiopia,” he said.

Lire smiles as she unpacks groceries delivered to her by another Ethiopian runner in Washington. Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Others share similar stories. Authorities accused them of spreading propaganda or conspiring against the EPRDF. Most of the runners now living in Washington say they were never politically active back in Ethiopia. They simply refused to join the EPRDF. In some cases, their biggest offense was having relatives who refused to join.

“I told them I don’t support any other government. I just wanted to live by myself,” said one runner who was imprisoned for a week in 2010. “I didn’t have any politics.”

Once detained, most were beaten for days on end. For Tesfaye Dube, it was 10.

“They were coming every single day, beating me, saying, ‘We know what you are doing. You are sabotaging, you’re helping the opposition parties. You have to stop doing that or we’ll kill you,’” Dube recalled.

Genet Lire stretches before training on the track at Sidwell Friends. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

For Taddase Hailu, it was seven.

“In the morning, they’d come to take me to a dark place to beat me,” he said. “I’m never sure I’d live the next day.”

Hailu suffered a stab wound in his lower back, was beaten with a baton and kicked with heavy boots. Worst of all, they targeted his back and Achilles’, which two years later still prevents him from running at peak form.

“They told me, ‘If you can’t run, you’ll never go anywhere,’ ” he said.

Most detainments lasted only a few days or weeks. There were never criminal charges, no due process, attorneys or visitors. Often families were unaware their loved ones had even been imprisoned at all.

Many of the Ethiopian runners belong to the Oromo ethnic group, which accounts for more than one-third of the country’s population, according to the most recent census, making it by far the most populous ethnic group. “Oromo is no good to them,” explained one runner, who was detained three times but never faced charges.