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ህወሀት አጥምዶ መቀሌ ላይ በመቀመጥ የሚችለውን እያደረገ ነው:: በእጅ አዙር የእርስ በእርስ ግጭት የጥፋት ተልዕኮን ማራመድና የተዛቡና ሀሰተኛ መረጃዎችን በስፋት በማስራጨት ህዝቡ ላይ የስነልቦና ቀውስ መፍጠር ነው August 11, 2018

Posted by OromianEconomist in Uncategorized.
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oromianeconomist

ህወሃት ሁለት ግንባሮችን ከፍቶ በሰፊው እየሰራበት ነው (መሳይ መኮንን)

 

Abraha Desat of Arena Tigray and Abay Tsehaye, Debretsion Gebremichael of TPLF.

ህወሀት ከቤተመንግስት ተባሮ መቀሌ ከመሸገ ወዲህ ሁለት ግንባሮችን ከፍቶ በሰፊው እየሰራበት ነው። አንደኛው ግንባር የቀድሞውን መዋቅር በመጠቀም ከፍተኛ ገንዘብ ውጪ አድርጎ በየአከባቢው አለመረጋጋትን መፍጠር ነው። ሁለተኛ ደግሞ በማህበራዊ መገናኛ መድረኮች የተዛቡ፡ ሀሰተኛና ህዝብን ሰላም የሚነሱ መረጃዎችን የሚያሰራጩ ወደ 100ሺህ የሚጠጉ አካውንቶችን በዘመቻ ከፍቶ መረበሽ ነው። በቅርቡ መቀሌ የመከሩት የህወሀት ”ምሁራን” ላይ አንዱ የፌስ ቡክ አዛማቻቸው ቃል በቃል ያለውም ይሀው ነው። ” በ100ሺዎች ሆነን መረጃው ላይ መዋጋት አለብን” ያለው ልጅ አሁን አሜሪካ መጥቶ ምን እያደረገ እንዳለ ግልጽ ነው። በይፋ ኤታ ማዦር ሹሙ ጄነራል ሳዐረ መኮንን ለዶ/ር አብይ እንዳይታዘዙ አደገኛ መልዕክት እያሰተላለፈ ነው።

አዎን! ህወሀት በሁለቱም ግንባሮች እረፍት አጥቶ በመስራት ላይ ነው። የምንዋጋው ሁለቱንም ግንባሮች መሆን አለበት። ሁለቱ ግንባሮች ተደጋጋፊ ናቸው። አንደኛው ለአንደኛው እንደፍግ፡ ማዳበሪያ ሆኖ እያገለገለ ነው።

ህወሀት የሚከተለው የቀውስ አመራር ነበር። ህዝብ ከህዝብ ጋር ካልተጋጨ በስልጣን የመቆየት እድል እንደሌለው ስለሚያምን የአመራር ስልቱን ማጋጨት ላይ አተኩሯል። ባይዘልቅበትም ለተወሰኑ ዓመታት ዕድሜን አግኝቷል። አሁን ያለው አመራር በተቃራኒው የቆመ ነው። ከግጭት ይልቅ ሰላምን የሚመርጥ አስተዳደር ነው። ህወሀት የማወከ ስትራቴጂ ነድፎ፡ በግልጽ ጦርነት እያወጀ እንኳን የሚታገስ አመራር ነው ቤተመንግስት ያለው። በእርግጥ ትዕግስት ድንበር አለው። ሀገርን ወደ ለየለት ቀውስ ለመክተት ሁለት ግንባሮችን የከፈተ አጥፊ ቡድንን መታገሱ እስከመቼ ሊዘልቅ ይችል ይሆን? እነአብይ የመረጡት መንገድ ህወሀትን ከጥፋት ጉዞው ያስቆመዋልን?

ጠ/ሚር አብይ ህወሀትን እያፈራረሱት መሆኑ ግልጽ ነው። በጥበብና በድፍረት በፌደራል መንግስቱ ያሉትን የህወሀትን መዋቅሮች በማወላለቅ በአጭር ጊዜ ከመንግስትነት ወደተራ ሽፍታ ቡድን እንዲቀየር ማድረጋቸው አስደማሚ ነው። በዚህ ፍጥነት ህወሀት ተሰባብሮ ከነጥቁር ታሪኩ ወደ መፈጠሪያ ዋሻው ደደቢት እንዲጠጋ የተደረገበት ድምጽ አልባው መፈንቅለ መንግስት በሆሊውድ መንደር ቢሆን ጥሩ ፊልም የሚወጣው ታሪክ ነው። ህወሀት ከእንግዲህ ወደ አራት ኪሎ ቤተመንግስት የሚመመለስበት አንድም እድል የለውም። በምርጫ አይችልም። ለምርጫ የሚያበቃ ተፈጥሮአዊ ባህሪ የለውም። ሌላው መንገዱ ሃይል ነው። ሞትን የማይፈራው ትውልድ በእነዶ/ር አብይ እየተመራ ህወሀት በሀይል ልሞክር ቢል ትርፉ እስከወዲያኛው መጥፋት ነው። አጉል አሟሟት ነው። ቢሞክሯት ጥሩ ነበር።

ህወሀት ለጊዜው ያለው ምርጫ መረበሽ ነው። ማወክ ነው። የስነልቦና ጦርነት ማወጅ ነው። በዝርፊያ በተከማቸ ገንዘብ በየአቅጣጫው ብጥብጥ መፍጠር ነው። ለዚህም ሁለት ግንባሮችን በይፋ ከፍቷል። ሁለቱ ግንባሮች ጊዜያዊ ሰላም መደፍረስን እያስከተሉ ነው። ለሰላም፡ እርቅና እድገት የሚውለውን ጊዜና ገንዘብ መብላት ጀምረዋል። እናም ነቅተንና አስምረን የተከፈቱትን ግንባሮች ልንዋጋቸው ይገባል። ከምንጊዜውም በላይ ጥንቃቄ የሚፈልግ ዘመን ላይ ነን። ከስሜት ግልቢያ ወጥተን፡ በዕውቀትና በእርጋታ፡ ከአንድ ሰሞን ዘመቻ ተላቀን በራዕይና ተልዕኮ በተቀረጸ የተግባር እርምጃ ላይ እናተኩር ዘንድ የሁላችን ቅን ልቦናና ዝግጁነት የሚጠይቅበት ወቅት ላይ ነን።

ህወሀት በአንደኛው ግንባሩ የሚችለውን እያደረገ ነው። በሶማሌ ክልል በእጅ አዙር የከፈተበትን የእርስ በእርስ ግጭት እንደተፈራው ሀገርን የሚገነጣጥል ባይሆንም ጠባሳ አሳርፎብናል። በቅማንት አከባቢ የቀበረው ፈንጂም በአግባቡ ካልተነቀለ የፈነዳ ዕለት ጥፋቱ አደገኛ ሊሆን ይችላል። በሌሎች አከባቢዎችም ተመሳሳይ የልዩነት ቦምቦችን አጥምዶ መቀሌ ላይ በመቀመጥ የሚፈነዱበትን ሰዓት እየጠበቀ ነው። የዶ/ር አብይ አስተዳደር ይህን ግንባር ብቻውን አይመክተውም። የኢትዮጵያውያን ድጋፍና ደጀንነት ለጥያቄ የሚቀርብ አይደለም። የህወሀትን የጥፋት ተልዕኮ ማሳካትም፡ ማምከንም የሚችለው ህዝባችን ነው። እነዶ/ር አብይ በጥበብ የሚያደርጉትን የማረጋጋት ሀገራዊ ስራ ትንሽ ፍጥነት ጨምረውበት ከቀጠሉና የህዝባቸውን ድጋፍ ካገኙ የህወሀት አንደኛው ግንባር ድባቅ መመታቱ አይቀርም።

ሁለተኛው ግንባር የተዛቡና ሀሰተኛ መረጃዎችን በስፋት በማስራጨት ህዝቡ ላይ የስነልቦና ቀውስ መፍጠር ነው። ጦር ከፈታው ወሬ የፈታው እንዲሉ በተባራሪ፡ አፍና ጭራ በሌላቸው ሀሰተኛ ወሬዎች ህዝባችን ምን ያህል እንደሚደናገጥ የሰሞኑን ”የአብይ የመግደል ሙከራ” ወሬ አይነተኛ ማሳያ ይሆናል። ዶ/ር አብይ ዛሬ በቴሌቪዥን መስኮት ቀርበው ”ህዝባችን ሰምቶ ከሚወስን ለምን አይመርምርም?” ዓይነት ወሳኝ ነጥብ አንስተዋል። ግጭቶች የሚከሰቱት እውነት ላይ ተመስርተው እንዳልሆነና በስማ በለው በሚሰራጭ ሀሰተኛ መረጃዎች መሆኑን ጠ/ሚር አብይ ጠቆም አድርገዋል። እውነት ለመናገር የሚቀርበን የምንሰማው እንጂ የምናየው አይደለም። በገሀድ ከሚታየው ይልቅ በሹክሹክታ የምንሰማው ቀልባችንን ይገዛዋል። ህወሀት ይህችን ደካማ ጎናችንን ጠንቅቆ አውቆታል። በመቶ ሺዎች የሚቆጠሩ የፌስቡክና የቲውተር አካውንቶችን በመክፈት ካለፈው ሳምንት መጀመሪያ አንስቶ በሰፊው የተሰማራበትን ግንባር ከፍቷል።

የህወሀት የፌስ ቡክ ሰራዊት በብዛት የገባበት በተሳሳተ መረጃ የስነልቦና ሽብር የመፍጠር ጦርነት የሰሞኑ ግርግርና ብዥታን አስከትሏል። የፌስቡክ ሰራዊቱ አባላት ማለያ እየቀያየሩ፡ የብሄር ታፔላ እየያዙ ህዝብን ከህዝብ የሚያጋጩ፡ አንዱን ብሄር የሚያጥላሉ፡ በሌላው ብሄር ማለያ ተከስተው የሚያነግሱ፡ ፍጹም ሃላፊነት በጎደለው መልኩ ሀገርን በሀሰተኛ መርጃዎች በማጥለቅለቅ ደረቱን ለጥይት ያልሳሳውን ትውልድ በወሬ ለማንበርከክ በሰፊው ተሰማርተዋል። በአማራና በኦሮሞ ስም በተከፈቱት እነዚህ አካውንቶች ስር የመሸጉት የህወሀት የጥፋት ሃይሎች ሰርግና ምላሽ ሆኖላቸዋል። በቀላሉ በፈጠራና አሉባልታ ወሬዎች የሚሸበር ህዝብ አግኝተዋል። ከመጀመሪያ ግንባር የበለጠ አደጋ ሊፈጥር የሚችለው ሁለተኛው ግንባር ነው። በህወሀት የስነልቦና ጦርነት እጅ ሰጥቶ መሸበርን የመሰለ ሽንፈት የለም።


Related:

TPLF: Stabbing Ethiopians in the Back

Furthermore, using their former influence, strong ties with security and police agents and other groups, they will spare no efforts to bring chaos and upset peace and order in Ethiopia (for example the present instability in Somali region) by instigating protests, killings, riots and stirring up street politics, to say the least.

Finally, holding all the aces of Ethiopia enabled the nefarious group of the TPLF to feather their nest quite comfortably. In addition to this, they are now attempting to destabilize Ethiopia by sponsoring and financing violence in many parts of the country to create another Yugoslavia in the Horn of Africa. … Click  here to read more


 

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TPLF’s Grief: Kubler-Ross Model to Understand the Emotional State of TPLF Hardliners and the Old Guards July 28, 2018

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The emergence of Team Lema within the ranks of EPDRF and the appointment of new PM has marked an end of a reign for TPLF Hardliners and Old Guards. With the end of the era, exercises of excessive power, extraordinary lifestyle, massive wealth accumulation, prestige and sentimental privilege were all lost. This was an authority to hire or fire, arrest or release, feed or starve etc…; and a splendid life full of extravaganza not just in the country but around the world. Also it is an ability to erect multiple story buildings in Addis Ababa overnight, embezzlement of billions of public dollars with impunity and entitlement to nation’s services and other resources by virtue of ethnic background. The loss is a blow of gargantuan proportion, by far more earth-shattering than a loss of the loved ones by death. Any significant loss of this magnitude would incur predictable and progressive emotional experience best known as grief process, effectively modeled by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969 [1].

According to Kubler-Ross, Swiss psychiatrist, people’s grief process undergo through 5 phases, namely: denial, anger, bargain, depression and acceptance. This article applies the model to help understanding the current and future emotional state and dynamics of TPLF Hardliners and Old Guards following the loss.

by Tekleab Shibru (PhD, Associate Prof. of Geomatics, Chicago State University)

Read more via TPLF’s Grief: Kubler-Ross Model to Understand the Emotional State of TPLF Hardliners and the Old Guards — Ethiopian Think Thank Group

AI ETHIOPIA URGENT ACTION: TWO MEN HELD FOR CRITICIZING THE GOVERNMENT (ETHIOPIA: UA 62.18) March 20, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Amnesty International

URGENT ACTION: TWO MEN HELD FOR CRITICIZING THE GOVERNMENT (ETHIOPIA: UA 62.18)  03/19/2018


Seyoum Teshome and Taye Dendea were both arrested from their homes in March for publicly criticizing the Ethiopian government during the State of Emergency.

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Seyoum Teshome and Taye Dendea were both arrested from their homes in March for publicly criticizing the Ethiopian government during the State of Emergency.

1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:

  • Calling on the Ethiopian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release both Seyoum and Taye, as they have been detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling on them to ensure that, pending their release, the two men are granted access to both their lawyers and families; and
  • Urging them to ensure that the provisions of the State of Emergency Proclamation comply with international and regional human rights law and standards.

Contact these two officials by 30 April, 2018:

Federal Attorney General
Getachew Ambaye
Jomo Kenyatta St.
P.O. Box 1370
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Email: justabr@ethionet.et
Salutation: Dear Attorney General                

Ambassador Kassa Tekleberhan
Embassy of Ethiopia
3506 International Drive, NW, Washington DC 20008
Tel: 202 364 1200
Email: ethiopia@ethiopianembassy.org
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

2) LET US KNOW YOU TOOK ACTION

Click here to let us know if you took action on this case! This is Urgent Action 62.18

Here’s why it is so important to report your actions: we record the actions taken on each case—letters, emails, calls and tweets—and use that information in our advocacy.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

SPILLOVER: Ethiopia’s political crisis is now spilling over into Kenya’s borders. – Quartz Africa #MoyaleMassacre March 20, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist
SPILLOVER:  Ethiopia’s political crisis is now spilling over into Kenya’s borders

The refugees fled the restive Oromia region following a botched military operation targeting members of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front. During a raid on the villages, the government said faulty intelligence led soldiers to “mistakenly” kill nine civilians and injure 12 others. Since then, the unrest and fear has forced thousands—including 600 expectant mothers, disabled, and elderly persons—to flee into the border town of Moyale in Kenya and establish makeshift camps. The UN refugee agency said it was difficult to assess how many more people had fled since many were being housed by friends and relatives.

The outbreak of violence comes weeks after the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front’s council imposed a six-month a state of emergency amid mass anti-government protests. The grassroots opposition to the government largely stemmed from the Oromos and Amharas, who for over two years now have decried systematic exclusion, land grabs by the minority Tigray-dominated state, besides limited representation in senior government posts.

The government reacted to these protests with force, drawing sharp criticism from its allies in the West. The unrest also jeopardized the nation’s booming economy and its place as an important center for global apparel sourcing.

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Representatives from @UNHCR_KENYA, @UNICEFKenya, WFP, @IFRCAfrica, Refugee Affairs Secretariat and Kenya , visit Moyale to see first-hand the situation of the over 9000 displaced persons from Ethiopia.

In January, in a move described as a salve for the Oromo, the government announced it would close an infamous detention center and release political prisoners, including those awaiting trial. And in a corollary gesture, prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn resigned in mid-February, opening up a succession game and bitter internal wrangles. Opposition figures insisted that tepid reforms or half-hearted concessions won’t solve the country’s problems, calling for the system of governance to be overhauled.

The EPRDF is set to meet soon to choose its next leader. Chris Suckling, a senior analyst with IHS Markit, says Abiy Ahmed who leads the Oromo party that makes up the ruling alliance “is the most likely successor as prime minister.” Suckling said Ahmed was a favorite given his close relationship with Oromo youth and the country’s political and security agencies.

In Moyale, meanwhile, the displaced refugees continue to arrive daily, narrating stories of horror from the villages straddling the border on the other side.


Related (Oromian Economist sources):

 

 

Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Law: A Tool to Stifle Dissent, OAKLAND Institute March 10, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Law: A Tool to Stifle Dissent

 

Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Law: A Tool to Stifle Dissent, authored by lawyers from leading international law firms, provides an in-depth and damning analysis of Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. The report examines how the law, enacted in 2009, is a tool of repression, designed and used by the Ethiopian Government to silence its critics.

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DownloadPDF (size: 0.19 MB)Press Release

Ethiopia must probe and prosecute culprits of recent killings: U.N. – Africa News March 9, 2018

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Ethiopia must probe and prosecute culprits of recent killings: U.N.

ETHIOPIA

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has expressed concern over the reinstatement of a state of emergency (SOE) in Ethiopia – the second in the last two years.

Zeid was delivering his remarks on global update of human rights concerns at the 37th seccion of the Human Rights Council on March 7, 2018.

Whiles applauding reforms started announced in January 2018 and which was being rolled out by way of prisoner releases, the U.N. human rights chief said recent reports of killings needed to be investigated and perpetrators brought to book.

I am concerned about the declaration of a second State of Emergency last month. Reforms can only be carried out successfully through truly inclusive dialogue and political processes.

“In Ethiopia, I welcome the release of more than 7,000 detainees in January and February, including several high profile figures.

“I urge the authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible for recent killings in the country, and I reiterate my request for access to affected regions,” he said.

He also weighed in on the need for government to commit to reforms and to do so in the spirit of inclusive dialogue. The country is currently under a six-month state of emergency imposed to quell spreading violence. The government has admitted a violent fightback of the measure especially in the Oromia region.

The SOE was imposed barely twenty four hours after the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. The ruling EPRDF is set to pick his successor over the weekend. Desalegn who took the post in 2015 says his decision is to allow the party to fully pursue reforms.

“I am concerned about the declaration of a second State of Emergency last month. Reforms can only be carried out successfully through truly inclusive dialogue and political processes,” Zeid who visited Ethiopia last year stressed.


related (Oromian  Economist Sources):

The controversial Ethiopia’s regime Sate of Emergency (SOE) failed to get the required support of not less than two-thirds of the 547 MPs entitled to vote. Paarlaamaan Labsii Muddamaa Kuffise March 2, 2018

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Paarlaamaan Labsii Muddamaa Kuffise – OMN 

The controvehttps://www.oromiamedia.org/2018/03/03/omn-paarlaamaan-labsii-muddamaa-kuffise-live-bit-2-2018/rsial Ethiopia’s regime Sate of Emergency (SOE) is rejected. It is failed  to get the required 2/3 majority support of its MPs entitled to vote. Only 346 of the 539 active MPs voted yes. It requires at least the yes votes  of 365 MPs.   

According to Dr. Tsegaye Ararsa (legal expert):

SOE can be effective only if it is approved “by two-thirds majority vote of the members of THE HOUSE OF PEOPLES’ REPRESENTATIVES”(Art 93(2)). The total number of members is 547. The members currently active are 539 (Listen to the Speaker’s statement). Two-thirds of 547 is 364.6. Two-thirds of 537 is 359.3. The total number of MPs that voted today are 346 (listen to Speaker’s statement on the floor). What is required is 364. If it has to be counted out of the active members, the minimum required is 359. Consequently, the draft did not get the minimum required. That is why it is of no effect.

Oromia: #OromoProtests in Naqamtee (Nekemte) city amid state of emergency, chanted “down down TPLF”.  Dhaloota garaan fincile sossobbaan hin dhaabu February 27, 2018

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Nekemt protests
Picture from the protest scene in Nekemt. Source : ESAT

borkena.com, February 26, 2018


As the state of emergency (SoE) which was decreed a day after Hailemariam Desalegn’s resignation enters its eleventh day today, residents of Nekemte took to the street en masse to oppose government’s move to restrict freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

No details are available so far regarding casualty so far. However, an intense gunshot is heard in un Unverified video footage shared on social media.

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Protestors demanded the withdrawal of federal security forces from the region and chanted “Down, down Woyane”, “Down, down TPLF” which is a call for an end to the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front Government, as many Ethiopians in the opposition call it.

Pictures shared on social media from citizen activists show roads closed with big rocks and tire burning.

A reception program for released Oromo Federalist Congress leaders including Merera Gudina was organized in the city’s stadium. However, it was canceled after federal security forces detained Merera Gudina and his colleagues in Gute town, just twenty kilometers outside of Nekemete. The opposition leaders were forced to return to the capital Addis Ababa.

The Nekemte protest today seem to be triggered by government action over the weekend, according to local media sources who claim to have insider information.

Last week, there was protest a protest in Wolkite town, south-west of Addis Ababa, and federal security forces were deployed to quell it down.

Over the weekend, fans of Bahir Dar City and Dessie city soccer teams chanted anti-government slogans specifically targeting TPLF.

SoE banned freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, among other things. Activists and politicians alike were warning the government that SoE would rather accentuate the crisis in the country.

One of the protestant churches in Ethiopia,Mekane Eyesus, issued a statement over the weekend calling for the government to repeal the SoE decree.

Last week, the United States embassy in Addis Ababa issued a statement to express “strong” disagreement with the SoE. The European Union on its part advised to make the SoE brief and focus on dialogue with stakeholders.

Theoretically, the SoE was supposed to be approved by the parliament before its implementation. However, the government has bypassed that part of the procedure claiming that it is unable to maintain order and “rule of law” through the regular law enforcement procedures. Today, the government has called the parliament,which is in recess for one month, for an emergency meeting.

For the opposition, SoE is meant to rescue crumbling TPLF power which has lost legitmacy long time ago.


   More from   Oromian Economist social media sources:-

Dhaloota garaan fincile sossobbaan hin dhaabu

 

 

 

Lets recap how things came to this stage in Western Oromia

– Saturday morning Feb 24, Dambi Dollo, a certain young man was announcing a call for religious conference scheduled for the coming week. Agazi soldiers catch the guy and begin beating him. Elders in the area rush to the scene and try to explain to the soldiers. They too got beaten. Crowd began gathering around and soldiers opened fire killing 1 and wounding 8 others.

– Saturday afternoon Feb 24, leaders of Oromo Federalist Congress who were recently released from prison were heading to Nekemte per invitation from local elders. They had been visiting several towns in previous days with no problem. Locals in Nekemte had secured permit from city administration and reserved the stadium. The leaders heading to Nekemte asked high officials in Finfine and have been told there is no problem with their visit. In fact they were provided with police escort. But 5 Km outside Nekemte a convoy of special forces blocked the road and prevented them from proceeding to the city. They forced them to sleep in the wilderness and turned them back to the capital the next day.
– Sunday Feb 25 Morning- When people of Nekemte woke up and began walking to their jobs , they came under attack from federal police and soldiers. They began beating young and old. The city, still angry about unjustified cancellation of the OFC event a day earlier, erupted in protest against the beating on streets. The protest continued till today. At least one person have been killed and over 10 injured.
-Conclusion: The regime purposely instigated the conflict to justify this state state of emergency that is being rejected even by its foreign supporters. If the regime thinks this is the right course, well let it try. But the best thing for all concerned is to cancel the SOE and sit down with opposition to chart transitional government. Any attempt at further crackdown will only speed up its downfall.


“Oromoon waliif gaachana” Baqqalaa Garbaa Calliyatti

Humnoota Federaalaatu Uummata Nagaa Irratti Haleellaa Oofa: Itti Gaaftamaa Waajjira Kantiibaa Dambi Dolloo

Geneva press Club: Fear of State Collapse and Prospect of Democratic Transition in Ethiopia January 11, 2018

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Odaa Oromoooromianeconomist

 

 

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EU: INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE RECENT VIOLENCE IN ETHIOPIA ESSENTIAL December 20, 2017

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In a statement by spokesperson released this afternoon regarding the current situation in Ethiopia, the European Union (EU) said it was “essential that independent investigations on all acts of violence are conducted.”

The statement from the EU came in  the wake of increasing numbers of violence, including ethnic-based in nature, seen in various parts of Ethiopia as a result of which at least eighty people were killed in just one week

At least 61 people Ethiopian Somalis and Oromos were killed in the latest spate of violence in eastern Ethiopia, Oromia regional state. More than 800 houses were also burned and 14, 000 people were internally displaced.

In the previous week sixteen civilians were killed by  the federal army in Chelenko, eastern Hararghe zone of the Oromia regional state in eastern Ethiopia, bringing the death toll higher.

Residents of Nekemte, western Ethiopia, staging peaceful protest against the Killing in Chelenko last week.

“Recurring reports of violence in several universities and clashes in different parts of Ethiopia are deeply worrying” said the statement, adding, “in particular as regards their increasingly ethnic nature. This includes the recent incidents in Oromia-Somali regions, causing many casualties and the destruction of properties. The European Union extends its condolences to the families of the victims.”

Teaching learning processes in many universities have been disrupted following ethnic clashes in universities located in Oromia, Amhara and Tigrai regional states in which at least a dozen students were killed. Some universities are gearing up to open while other remain closed.

According to a local newspaper, Ethiopian ruling party dominated  members of parliament have requested PM Hailemariam Desalegn to appear in parliament to give explanations on current pressing issues related to ethnic based violence & growing political crisis. Representatives of OPDO & ANDM, the two parties representing Oromia and Amhara regional states and are members of the ruling EPRDF were at the forefront of the request, according to the report.

“The setting up by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne of a task force to investigate the most recent killings is a welcome step. All sides, including regional and federal police forces, should show restraint to ensure full protection and safety of all citizens,” the EU said in the statement.

It also said that the conflict resolution mechanisms enshrined in the Constitution “should be activated swiftly in order to allow for a peaceful settlement of the issues” and called for inclusive political dialogue. “We remain convinced that only an inclusive political dialogue with all stakeholders will address the grievances of the population in a peaceful and constructive manner.”

Protests have continued in various places as residents and students keep taking to the streets denouncing these killings. AS


Photo credit : Social media

Open Democracy: “Ethnic clashes” in Ethiopia: setting the record straight October 24, 2017

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“Ethnic clashes” in Ethiopia: setting the record straight

First there are the undisputed events. Then there are the media reactions, and these – apart from a few rare exceptions, among them some of Ethiopia’s private media – have been perplexing.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn at a ress conference in Addis Ababa, October 2016. Michael Kappeler/Press Association. All rights reserved.

In their intensity, scale and duration, the big demonstrations of 2015 and 2016 in the country’s most populous states (or regions), Oromya and Amhara, showed the level of rejection of the ruling power. After a respite attributable to the declaration of the state of emergency, they have recently flared up again in Oromya. Furthermore, the so-called “ethnic clashes” in Oromya and in the Somali Regional State suggest that the same ruling power is now coming apart.

Let us briefly recapitulate from the beginning:

– The population of the border zone between the two federal states of Oromya and Somali has long been mixed, with recurrent conflicts over resources, in particular between pastoralists for access to grazing land and water. Sometimes violent, these disputes were generally settled by traditional mechanisms of mediation.

– In 2004, a referendum was held in 420 municipalities (kebele) of this border zone, to decide which region they should belong to. 80% voted to be part of Oromya. However, this preference was never enacted on the ground.

– In 2007, the ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front), a secessionist movement that is the embodiment of Somali irredentism in Ethiopia, attacked an oilfield and killed 74 people, seven of them Chinese.

– The government then decided, as it were, to subcontract the struggle against the ONLF by setting up, training and equipping the only regional armed force in the whole federal state of Ethiopia, the Liyu Police. According to sources, this force now consists of between 25,000 and 45,000 men, as compared with the federal army’s slightly over 200,000.

– Gradually, the Liyu Police extended its field of action to the fight against Al Shabaab in Somalia, supporting the regular Ethiopian army that had been operating there since late 2006.

– International organisations have regularly denounced the multiple and serious human rights violations committed by the Liyu Police in its counterinsurgency actions.

– A few years earlier, Abdi Mohamoud Omar, better known as Abdi Illey, a former electrician turned minor security service officer in the region, had begun a lightning rise through the political ranks: Member of Parliament, head of the regional security services and, in 2010, President of the Region, all with the decisive support of local top brass.

– Shortly before his death in 2012, the country’s all-powerful premier Meles Zenawi seems to have realised his mistake. He considered dismissing Abdi Illey and bringing the force that had become his praetorian guard, the Liyu Police, back into line. It is not known whether in the end he was unwilling or unable to achieve this.

– In October 2015, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn was planning the same move, but was forced to backpedal within just a few days. In explanation, he cited the force’s fundamental role in the fight against the ONLF. In reality, however, the pressure from Abdi Illey’s military backers in particular was too great, and he also made it clear that if he was dismissed, the Liyu Police would continue to obey him and him alone.

– In October 2016, the government justified its declaration of the state of emergency by the need to end protest in Oromya and Amhara state. The task of implementing the measure was assigned to a “Command Post” that was de facto under the control of the heads of the army and the security services. In reality, the country’s entire administration was “militarised”. In particular, authority over all the armed structures of each of the country’s nine states (regional police, security, militias, etc.), shifted from their governments to the Command Post and therefore – at least on paper – to the Liyu Police as well.

– Two months later, i.e. while the state of emergency was in full swing, the Liyu Police carried out its first significant raid in Oromya, and such raids proliferated in the months that followed. Hundreds were killed. According to the Oromo government spokesman, Adissu Arega, “overall, some 416,807 Oromo have been displaced this year alone in a series of attacks by the Somali region’s Special Police Force” (Associated Press, 17/09/2017) – it is not clear whether the year in question refers to the western or Ethiopian calendar (the period between 10 September 2016 and 2017). The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies stated (30/09/2017) that the  ethnic clashes have led to the displacement of more than 45,000 households (225,000 people)”, though without specifying the period concerned. In any case, it is the largest forced population displacement since the one that followed the end of the war with Eritrea (1998-2000).

– For a long time, the Oromo government spokesman remained vague about the perpetrators of these raids, describing them simply as “armed men”, which can mean anyone in an area where carrying a weapon is common. He claimed that their objective is twofold: plunder and at least symbolic annexation, since they raise the Somali flag in place of the Oromo flag (Addis Standard, 14/09/2017).

– The tension escalated after the arrest by the Liyu Police and subsequent murder of two Oromo officials (denied by the Somali government spokesman) followed, perhaps in direct response, by a massacre of 18 to 32 people (depending on the sources), the large majority of them Somali, in Awaday in Oromya. Ethnic cleansing was unleashed, essentially in Oromya since, according to the federal government spokesman, 70,000 Oromos and 392 Somalis have been “displaced”, once again with no clear identification of the period involved (The Reporter, 7/10/2017)

– Interviews with “displaced” Oromos confirm that their departure was mostly forced by Somali officials: Liyu Police, Somali militias, local authorities. Some even report that their Somali neighbours tried their best to protect them. On the other hand, there is no reliable information on what role, if any, their Oromo counterparts may have played in the expulsion of Somalis from Oromya.

– On either side, the Somali and Oromo spokesmen are engaged in a war of words, but the leaders of the two states remain silent. On the Somali side, there are claims of “mass killings and torching of villages” by members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF, a long-standing armed secessionist movement, described as “terrorist” by Addis-Abeba) “in coordination with officials of the Oromo regional state”, the latter having “direct links” with the former (Voice of America, 12/09/17). But no proof has been forthcoming. On the Oromo side, the finger was eventually pointed directly at the Liyu Police and the Somali militia, but the Somali authorities are never implicated (Associated Press, 14/09/2017).

“Border disputes”

In response to these indisputably documented events, the media reactions – apart from a few rare exceptions, among them some of Ethiopia’s private media – have been perplexing. First, a long absence of information. Then a one sentence summary: “the events triggering the recent violence between Oromo and Somali remain unclear” (Africa News, 7/10/2017). Overall, these events are presented as a resurgence of ordinary “clashes”, as “tribal border conflict”, “fighting between two ethnic groups”, “interethnic violence”, motivated by a long tradition of “territorial competition which often leads to disputes and conflicts over resources, including wells and grazing land” (BBC, 18/09/2017), in short just another revival of the old conflicts typical of border zones.

As if, one fine morning, for no particular reason, a few overexcited Oromos had decided to turn on their Somali neighbours, and vice versa, to act out an ancient and unresolved “ethnic conflict”.  This account of things has one essential outcome: these events are attributed to ancestral tribal urges, responsibility for them to unstable locals, and the regional or federal authorities are ultimately exonerated from all responsibility other than their failure to contain the violence. And though the role of the Liyu Police in the raids and expulsions is sometimes mentioned, nobody points out the obvious: they can only act on the orders of the Somali authorities, and therefore of Abdi Illey in person.

However, the Ethiopian authorities have adopted precisely the same position. First, months of deafening silence. Then, at the end of April, news of the signature of an agreement between Oromya President Lemma Megersa and Abdi Illey, “to bring an end to the hostilities stemmed from the recent border disputes” (Ethiopian Herald, 21/04/2017), hostilities to which no high-ranking official had previously referred. Lemma’s declaration on this occasion – “it is unacceptable to fuel unrest in the pretext of border dispute” – can be interpreted as a veiled criticism of the Somali authorities. Abdi Illey denied all direct responsibility, likewise turning it back on “those who instigate violence in these two states”. We know what became of this agreement.

It was not until 16 September, by which time the “displaced” could be counted in tens – and even hundreds – of thousands, and the dead in hundreds, that a leading political figure took a position on the events. Given the gravity of the situation, it was expected that the Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, would prove energetic and lay down the law. In fact, his words were vague, timorous and sounded like a confession of impotence. At “a meeting with community elders, tribal and religious leaders” of the two states concerned, in other words without their respective leaders, he began by refraining from a precise assessment of the crisis, despite the fact that he should undoubtedly be familiar with all its ins and outs. He couldn’t do differently: this deliberate omission was his only way to avoid recognising that the situation had moved beyond his control.

According to agency reports (Africa News and Fana, 17-18/09/2017), he stuck to the story that a “boundary dispute arose between the regional states”, resulting in “clashes” between “feuding parties”. At no point would any member of the government say anything more explicit. In his speech to Parliament on 9 October, President of the Republic Mulatu Teshome again spoke of “rabble-rousers who have triggered violence in both regions” (Walta, 9/10/17). Even Lemma Megersa would reduce the “conflict” to the “criminal activities of some individuals” (Walta, 18/09/2017).

“Organized groups”

Sole slim exception: government spokesman Negeri Lencho’s acknowledgement that those “displaced” from the Somali region had not been driven out by the Somali people, but by “some organized groups” (The Reporter, 7/10/2017). For his part, the Oromo government spokesman implicated only the Liyu Police, never the Somali authorities, let alone Abdi Illey.

True, Hailemariam announced that the government would send federal police to patrol the main roads, “the deployment of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission to investigate rights violation in the conflict” and humanitarian aid for “displaced persons”. He added that he would do everything to “disarm weapons in the area of the conflict” and that “security forces of both regional states will withdraw from the conflict areas”, thereby equating the Somali region’s seasoned military force with Oromya’s simple regional police force. However, the essence of the message sounded like a cry for help addressed to “civil society”: “the Premier called on all stakeholders to assist the government’s efforts to resolve the boundary dispute” (Fana, 18/09/2017). In short, the federal authority, at least in public, exonerated the main instigator and actor of this unprecedented crisis – the Somali authorities – and assigned responsibility equally to unspecified Oromo and Somali actors.

Except when the Somali spokesman went a step too far, just three days after Hailemariam, this time in the presence of the Presidents of both regions, had declared that “the ongoing efforts to fully stop the border conflict need to be further consolidated” (Walta, 5/10/2017). Speaking on behalf of the “regional state” and the “traditional leaders”, the spokesman wrote, under the headline “Oromo People’s War on Ethiopian Somalis”, that  “Oromo is going forcibly for land expansion and creating relationship to neighboring sea ports such as Somaliland and Somalia for importing heavy weapons for federal government destruction which Somali region become the only existing barrier confronted”. He continued: “Ethiopian Somalis opposed Oromo illegal upraising and re-establishing cruel Derg regime and also violating federal system and the supremacy of constitution. This illegal upraising was aimed to collapse current federal government”.[1] The government responded that “the statement violates the federal government’s direction” and threatens the  “sustainable peace and security of the nation” (Addis Standard, 8/10/2017). Ultimately, according to a recent story in The Reporter (07/10/2017), “Somali-Oromya conflict persists”.

Ethno-nationalism

To understand why, two factors need to be highlighted. The first, to put it succinctly, is that ethno-nationalism is intensifying to the point of detonation, triggering centrifugal forces in the federal system of power. Like it or not, the regional authorities are increasingly asserting their autonomy vis-à-vis the federal centre – Addis Ababa – where the Tigrayan elite has long played a disproportionate role and kept them too long under its control.

As a result, this federal centre is disintegrating. [2] Not only is emancipation supported by numerous Oromos and Amharas, as well as others, but many want to go much further. It is no accident that the slogan that dominated their protests in 2015-16, and again this year, is “Down Woyane!”, a Tigrinya word that has come to refer to Tigrayan power.

This ethno-nationalism is particularly strong in Oromya. The region was subjugated by force, then quasi colonised, in the last era of Ethiopian feudalism. The ethnic Oromo party, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), was for a long time swallowed up by the TPLF (Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front), to the point that it was not until 2015 that it was able to elect its own leaders without external pressure. Finally, the top-down, authoritarian mode of development has gone down particularly badly here. As Ethiopia’s richest region, Oromya has been heavily affected by the brutal eviction of small farmers, with derisory compensation, to make way for investors (“land grabbing”).

Within this general context, the Somali state has followed the same trajectory, but with its own characteristics and objectives. No other state has seen anything like the rise of Abdi Illey and the Liyu Police: none of them is led by such an all-powerful figure, supported by this kind of regional armed force. It was a development that faced opposition from the federal authority, but in vain since the latter was overmatched, as events have shown: the support of part of the military top brass, especially within the command responsible for Somalian operations and at the head of the military security service – at daggers drawn with its civilian counterpart – and probably also the support of part of the TPLF.

Three factors are at work. First, Abdi Illey and the Liyu Police have become irreplaceable in the overcoming of any armed dissidence  – the ONLF is now only a shadow of its former self – and in the war against Al Shabab in Somalia itself. It is equally indispensable in the iron grip it maintains over the Somali state: not a hint of protest is tolerated there. Irreplaceable, but also a threat: Abdi Illey makes no secret of the fact that the Liyu Police answers to him and him alone, and that its destiny is indissociably bound up with his own.

Next, the business links between the leading clans and this military group are as profitable as they are interwoven, entailing above all the smuggling of khat, technology products such as mobile phones or household electric appliances, arms, and even basic food products. And finally, they are now coupled with a shared political goal.

The Somali authority justifies itself by claiming to be “the only existing barrier” against those who, “violating federal system and the supremacy of constitution”,seek “to collapse current federal government”. The first target here is obviously the Oromo authority: overtaken by “narrow nationalism” and ultimately in sympathy with the OLF, it is claimed to seek nothing less than “federal government destruction”.

Flawed federal system

By posing as the keeper of the flame, Abdi Illey gains the support of anyone opposed to reform of the federal system. The flaws of the federal system have been at the heart of the protests that have been raging for three years, in particular among the Oromos and Amharas. To redress them is deemed inevitable and urgent by the reformist section of the leadership, even within the TPLF. Opposition to reform, Abdi Illey’s support, comes first from the military group mentioned above, essentially Tigrayan, unlike moderately or unequivocally reformist senior officers, including army chief Samora Yunus and head of the civilian security services Getachew Assefa, both pillars of Tigrayan power.  However, this support probably also encompasses a fringe of the Tigrayan ruling elite, which is ready to fight – by force if necessary – for the status quo, i.e. the reestablishment of a highly centralised authority de factounder Tigrayan dominance.

Numerous websites that say out loud what is being said in private in certain TPLF circles call for this approach. They claim that the protests are being surreptitiously stage-managed by foreign countries – headed by Egypt and Eritrea – who want “Ethiopia to break up into fiefdoms”. They argue, for example, that “the state of emergency should have been kept for a few more years”. “Unless the government in Ethiopia makes a major policy change towards domestic security, things will get worst and the integrity of Ethiopia will be in danger.”[3] The proliferation of gestures of friendship made by the Somali authorities to the Tigrayan population is obviously no coincidence.

This state of affairs explains why Abdi Illey retains a sufficiently free hand to advance his own pawns, including his pursuit of the ancestral goal of Somali expansionism. In so doing, he serves the aspirations of his supporters, who do not shy away from worst-case political scenarios. Weakening the new Oromo leadership, markedly more nationalist and therefore autonomous than its predecessors, by showing that it is unable to protect its population. Proving that the federal authority is incapable of containing protest and, beyond this, maintaining law and order. With the implication that law and order must be reinstated at any price, and the subtext that if the government does not do it, others will have to do it in their place.

However, the attempt to discredit the Oromo leadership seems to be coming back to bite its promoters. According to reports, chants of “Lemma Megersa is our president!” were heard at the most recent demonstrations in Oromya, though this has not been confirmed. In any case, the slogan “Down Woyane!” continues to dominate.

In the eyes of the demonstrators or Oromo’s “displaced persons”, there is no doubt that behind the Somali authorities and the Liyu Police, it is the TPLF that is pulling the strings (Le Monde, 13/10/17). In this view, the manoeuvre is yet another version of the so-called “triangulation” operations the Front uses to set the Oromo against the Somali, in order to defuse the tension between itself and the Oromo. Oromo opposition websites have always advanced this thesis: Abdi Illey and the Liyu Police are TPLF creations, toeing the TPLF line to the letter; the leadership of the Liyu Police includes numerous Tigrayan officers.

The reality is more complex. First “the” TPLF no longer exists as a homogeneous organisation: Tigrayan domination within the EPRDF has eroded, the military and security command has become more independent of political authority, and is moreover deeply divided. Abdi Illey has a hold over the federal authority and the military and security apparatus because his armed support is irreplaceable and answerable only to him. Reciprocally, those forces, including the group closest to him, have a hold over him, because the Liyu Police could not operate without the support, at least material, they provide. Neither is subordinate to the other. They are bound together by a convergence of political, military and material interests, and reciprocal support.

The most powerful wave of protests since its instatement (the demonstrations of 2015-16 in Oromya and the Amhara Region) threw the ruling power into disarray for months. However, it eventually found the necessary inner resources to respond, albeit after months of internal prevarications and rifts, and albeit by largely handing over control to the military and security forces.

But the state of emergency would seem to have brought no more than a respite: after a marked reduction in the intensity and scale of protest, it has just resumed on a large scale, as evidenced by the wave of demonstrations in Oromya since 10 October. More significant still: “Local officials and police officers either joined the protests or were submerged by it.”[4] And while a consultation process was undertaken with the opposition, its scope is unknown and its outcomes so far unseen.

In response to an “ethnic conflict” which, in reality, is nothing less than armed aggression by one federation state within another, triggering ethnic cleansing on an unprecedented scale, the federal authority initially remained silent. When it finally took a stance, it was so far from reality that it was little more than an admission of its powerlessness to play one of its fundamental roles: to impose a minimum of respect for the constitution on one of the federal states, at least by preventing its aggression.

Why? The federal government executes the decisions of the Executive Committee of the EPRDF, where the four major ethnic parties – Oromo, Amhara, South, Tigrayan – have equal representation. It is hard to believe that a majority of the Executive Committee wouldn’t be aware of the danger and wouldn’t like to bring Abdi Illey back into line. The most plausible explanation is that even if it has the will, it no longer has the means, because it has had to give way to at least a part of the military and security apparatus that opposes such a move.

Power shifts

It was known that the power balance between the politicians and the military/security apparatus had shifted in favour of the latter, in particular with the declaration of the state of emergency. There were questions about whether ethnic nationalism had also penetrated the ranks of the military/security forces and hence undermined their cohesion. There is now reason to wonder not only about their degree of autonomy and ethnic cohesion but also the scale of their divisions, and even their internal conflicts over how to respond to the many-sided crisis that Ethiopia faces. In these circumstances, can the regime still count on the use of force as the ultimate guarantor of its survival?

Behind an appearance of normality, based on the continuing day-to-day operation of the state apparatus, there lurks a question: are the political and executive federal institutions simply in a deep slumber, or already plunged in an irreversible coma?

The more the four major ethnic parties that form the dominant coalition play their own cards, the emptier the shared pot becomes, and the greater the fragmentation of the federal authority responsible for supranational interests.

The OPDO is looking at the possibility of the resignation of some of its senior officials after its strongman, Abadula Gemeda, stood down from his post of Speaker of the House of Representatives, on the grounds that “my peoples and party were disrespected” (AFP, 14/10/2017). If he doesn’t go back on his protest gesture, with almost no precedent in the recent Ethiopian history, this bluntly means: the leading coalition being incapable of fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of the Oromo, to the point that Oromya’s elementary right to be protected is flouted, why continue to support this impotent structure by remaining one of its key figures? But taking into account the very role of the Speaker, this gesture is more symbolic than consequential. From what is known, Abadula remains a member of OPDO’s Central Committee, so de facto its bigwig.

But if the OPDO were to formally distance itself by the resignation of some top officials from key posts, as internally discussed, what would remain of the coalition’s legitimacy if a nation that accounts for more than a third of the country’s total population were no longer represented?

In these circumstances, the Amhara party, the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), could be a key player. Amid the multiple faultlines that divide both the EPRDF and each of its components, three clusters can be identified: OPDO, ANDM, and an alliance of the “peripheries”, i.e. TPLF and the South, which are attempting to win over other peripheral nations. Historically, there has been a longstanding rivalry between Amhara and Tigrayans, but – as fellow Abyssinians sharing the same culture and Coptic religion – they would bury the hatchet when they perceived an Oromo threat. Will this alliance continue, or will ANDM join forces with OPDO? And if so, at what price?

Four scenarios

At least four scenarios merit consideration. The EPRDF is in the midst of preparations for its next Congress, set for March 2018. The first possibility is that it reaches an agreement on a way out of the crisis that is sufficiently substantive, credible, innovative and unifying to defuse at least the most radical opposition and to rally the various ethnic governing elites. Its primary focus will need to be a response to the eternal “national question”, or rather the “nationalities question”.

To this end, the only road to success is for the ANDM and OPDO to join forces, acquire allies among Tigrayans and Southerners in the upper levels of the EPRDF, perhaps also take advantage of their majority in the Parliament, and begin to establish a remodelled federal system consistent with the spirit and the letter of the constitution.

To do so, they could capitalize on two strengths. First, the unprecedented size and scale of the popular protest. Second, even the most activist of the younger generation have at least until now largely proved their non-violence and that they are not lured with a call to arms like the revolutionaries of the 70’s and 80’s, while they could have plenty of reasons and opportunities to do so.

If this were to fail, even leading lights of the EPRDF have been predicting for years where the country might be headed: towards a Yugoslavian scenario. That’s the second scenario.

However, a third scenario is possible, arising from a relative balance of forces: none of the elements in place – the civil opposition or the regime as a whole, the federal centre or the centrifugal ethnic forces, the “reformists” or the “hardliners” – would be strong or determined enough to get the upper hand. The power system would continue to stumble along, the country would more or less hold together, and thus the key problems would remain if not deepen.

Unless – fourth scenario – the military decided that it could and should take responsibility for countering the remodelling of the federal system, the risk of a Yugoslavian outcome, or the decay of the regime. Which raises another question: the military as a whole, or one of its factions?


[1] https://www.facebook.com/idi.s.osman/posts/1587956397936631

[2] See for example R. Lefort, Ethiopia’s crisis. Things fall apart: will the centre hold? 19 November 2016, https://www.opendemocracy.net/ren-lefort/ethiopia-s-crisis

[3] http://www.tigraionline.com/articles/oromo-demo-ethiopia-1017.html

[4]https://www.facebook.com/danielberhane.ethiopia/posts/10155967606239880

 

Repressive Ethiopia comes out as the worst place in #Africa for internet freedom. #BecauseIAmOromo December 21, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in 10 best Youtube videos, Afar, Africa, African Internet Censorship, Amnesty International's Report: Because I Am Oromo, Because I am Oromo, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Ethnic Cleansing, Facebook and Africa, Free development vs authoritarian model, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Groups at risk of arbitrary arrest in Oromia: Amnesty International Report, Internet Freedom, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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OEnemies of Internetinternet freedom

http://mashable.com/2014/12/17/internet-freedom-countries/

 

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and founder of the Web Foundation, has called for the Internet to be recognised as a basic human right.  Sir Tim noted that in our increasingly unequal world, the Web has the potential to be a great equalizer, but only “if we hardwire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and net neutrality into the rules of the game.”

In order to reverse this slide and leverage the power of technology to fight inequality, the Web Foundation is calling on policymakers to:

  • Accelerate progress towards universal access by increasing access to affordable Internet and ensuring that everyone can use the Web all of the time, safely, freely and privately.
  • Level the playing field by preventing price discrimination in Internet traffic, and treating the Internet like any other public utility.
  • Invest in high-quality public education for all to ensure that technological progress doesn’t leave some groups behind.
  • Promote participation in democracy and protect freedom of opinion by reversing the erosion of press freedom and civil liberties, using the Web to increase government transparency, and protecting the freedoms of speech, association, and privacy.
  • Create opportunities for women and poor and marginalised groups by investing more in ICTs to overcome key barriers in health, education, agriculture and gender equity.

http://thewebindex.org/blog/recognise-the-internet-as-a-human-right-says-sir-tim-berners-lee-as-he-launches-annual-web-index/

Internet freedom in Africa: Ethiopia and The Gambia most repressive; South Africa and Kenya freest

  ChristineMungaihttp://www.mgafrica.com/article/2014-12-11-internet-freedom-in-africa-ethiopia-and-the-gambia-most-repressive-south-africa-and-kenya-freest/

ETHIOPIA, The Gambia and Sudan are some of the most repressive places in Africa for online freedom, a new report by watchdog organisation Freedom House indicates, while South Africa and Kenya are the among the most free for internet users in the continent.

But the 12 African countries surveyed show a worrying trend – the majority are becoming more repressive compared to last year. Just South Africa – the best ranked – Kenya, Uganda and Malawi have maintained the same score as last year; Nigeria, Angola, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Sudan and Ethiopia have deteriorated. Zambia and The Gambia are new entrants on the list this year.

The negative trajectory in internet freedom is mirrored around the world – the report states that in 36 of the 65 countries surveyed, internet freedom scores have become worse, as governments become increasingly nervous about their national security, and more sophisticated in surveillance and control.

“Very few countries registered any gains in internet freedom, and the improvements that were recorded largely reflected less vigorous application of existing internet controls compared with the previous year, rather than genuinely new and positive steps taken [by governments],” the report states.

Although most African countries do not explicitly censor content much, there has been an increasingly harsh manner in which users are targeted for the things they say online – in some countries, Freedom House reports, “the penalties for online expression are worse than those for similar actions offline”.

A higher score means a more repressive environment. Source: Freedom House

In July 2013, for example, the Gambian government passed amendments to the Information and Communication Act that specifically criminalised the use of the internet to criticise, impersonate, or spread false news about public officials. Anyone found guilty could face up to 15 years in prison, fines of roughly $100,000, or both—significantly harsher punishments than what the criminal code prescribes for the equivalent offenses offline.

The report reveals that breaches in cybersecurity are also eroding freedom, as government critics and human rights organisations are subject to increasingly sophisticated and personalised malware attacks, documented in 32 of the 65 countries examined.

Low internet penetration, state monopoly

Ethiopia comes out as the worst place in Africa for internet freedom. In the first place, lack of telecoms infrastructure, government monopoly and oppressive regulation means that internet penetration is just 2%, one of the lowest in Africa.

A law enacted in November 2013 gives the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) carte blanche to inspect private online activities without oversight. Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and CNN were inaccessible for 12 hours in July 2013, while the number of permanently blocked webpages also increased.

In the Gambia, as well as setting out punitive new laws, internet cafe registration regulations were tightened in September 2013, requiring operators to provide thorough details for a license, as well as mandating the physical layout of cafes and the signs that must be displayed.

In Nigeria too, cybercafés have to keep a log of their customers – although the mobile revolution means that these attempts at controlling internet use will become increasingly irrelevant.

But if you can’t control access, then persecution and punishment becomes the next measure – and African governments show remarkable sophistication here.

In Ethiopia, the government launched high-tech surveillance malware against several online journalists in the Ethiopian diaspora and dissidents in exile; six bloggers of the prominent Zone9 blogging collective were arrested in April 2014 on charges of terrorism.

This year shows a more repressive environment than last year in many countries. Source: Freedom House

The same was observed in Angola, where “insider sources” affirmed that a German company had assisted the Angolan military intelligence in installing a sophisticated communications monitoring system on a military base, the report states. Further evidence, as of November 2013, found that at least one major ISP hosts a spyware system directly on its server.

In Rwanda, a growing number of independent online news outlets and opposition blogs were intermittently inaccessible in Rwanda in the past year. The Law Relating to the Interception of Communications enacted in October authorised high-ranking security officials to monitor email and telephone conversations of individuals considered potential threats to “public security”.

In Sudan, a localised internet service disruption in June and a nationwide blackout in September corresponded with large anti-government protests; the blackouts were reportedly directed by the government.

Even in the countries ranked as relatively free, harassment and intimidation of journalists and bloggers – and even ordinary citizens – is a widespread form of internet control. In Malawi online journalists are “periodically detained and prosecuted for articles posted on news websites”.

Most recently, Justice Mponda,  a correspondent for the online publication Malawi Voice, was arrested in November 2013 for allegedly “intimidating the royal family” in an investigative story about former President Banda’s connection to the theft of millions of Malawian kwacha from government coffers in a scandal known as “Cashgate.”  He was later acquitted.

Mugabe’s digital ‘death’

But it’s Zimbabwe that has had some of the most bizarre persecutions. An editor at the Sunday Mail state newspaper, Edmund Kudakwashe Kudzayi, was arrested in June on accusations of running the Baba Jukwa Facebook account, an activist page of over half a million followers harshly critical of the government. In July, the government took down the facebook page, and Kudzayi’s case remains unresolved.

It gets crazier – in January 2014, teenage Facebook user Gumisai Manduwa was arrested for allegedly insulting the president after he posted on his Facebook page that President Mugabe “had died and was being preserved in a freezer.” Manduwa was released on bail two days after his arrest. His case remains on the court’s docket as of mid-2014.

And another court case, this one against 21-year old Shantel Rusike is still being dragged through the magistrate courts in Bulawayo as of mid-2014.

Rusike was arrested on December 24, 2012 and held for four days after she was reported to the police for sending an image depicting President Mugabe “in a nude state” via WhatsApp on her mobile phone. Rusike faces charges of “causing hatred, contempt or ridicule of the president”.

Ethiopia
2013                                                                        2014
Internet Freedom Status                   Not Free                                                                Not Free

Obstacles to Access (0-25)                22                                                                                23
Limits on Content (0-35)                  28                                                                               28
Violations of User Rights (0-40)      29                                                                               29
TOTAL* (0-100)                                  79                                                                               80
* 0=most free, 100=least free

Population: 89.2 million

Internet Penetration 2013:  2 percent
Social Media/ICT Apps Blocked: Yes
Political/Social Content Blocked: Yes
Bloggers/ICT Users Arrested: Yes
Press Freedom 2014 Status: Not Free
Key Developments: May 2013 – May 2014
• Telecom services worsened, characterized by frequently dropped phone calls, prolonged internet service interruptions, and slow response times to service failures (see Obstacles to Access).
• Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and CNN were inaccessible for 12 hours in July 2013, while the
number of permanently blocked webpages also increased (see Limits on Content).
• A law enacted in November 2013 gives the Information Network Security Agency (INSA)
carte blanche to inspect private online activities without oversight (see Violations of User
Rights).
• The government launched sophisticated surveillance malware against several online journalists
in the Ethiopian diaspora and dissidents in exile (see Violations of User Rights).
• Six bloggers of the prominent Zone9 blogging collective were arrested in April 2014 on
charges of terrorism (see Violations of User Rights).

Introduction
Ethiopia continues to have one of the lowest rates of internet and mobile phone connectivity in the world, as meager infrastructure, government monopoly over the telecommunications sector, and obstructive telecom policies have significantly hindered the growth of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the country. Coupled with highly repressive laws and tactics aimed at restricting freedom of expression and access to information, internet freedom in Ethiopia is consistently rated the worst in sub-Saharan Africa and among the worst in the world.
Despite the country’s extremely poor telecommunications services and a largely disconnected population, Ethiopia is also known as one of the first African countries to censor the internet, beginning in 2006 with opposition blogs.1. Since then, internet censorship has become pervasive and systematic through the use of highly sophisticated tools that block and filter internet content and monitor user activity. The majority of blocked websites feature critical news and opposition viewpoints run by individuals and organizations based mostly in the diaspora. Surveillance of mobile phone and internet networks is systematic and widespread, enabled by Chinese-made technology that allows for the interception of SMS text messages, recording of phone calls, and centralized monitoring of online activities. The government also employs commentators and trolls to proactively manipulate the online news and information landscape.
During the report’s coverage period, internet freedom in Ethiopia worsened due to increasing restrictions on access to social media and communications tools, such as Storify, and the temporary blocking of Facebook and Twitter in July 2013. A new law passed in November 2013 gave the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) carte blanche to track private online communications and investigate electronic devices without oversight. In addition, a number of diaspora journalists and exiled dissidents were targeted with surveillance malware, demonstrating a growing level of sophistication in the government’s effort to silence critical voices that extends beyond the country’s borders.
In 2014, the Ethiopian authorities increased their crackdown against bloggers and online journalists, using the country’s harsh laws to prosecute individuals for their online activities and quash dissent. Most alarmingly, six bloggers from the critical Zone9 blogging collective and three journalists associated with Zone9 were arrested in late April 2014 on charges of terrorism, which, under the Telecom Fraud Offenses Law and anti-terrorism proclamation, can entail a sentence of up to 20 years in prison if the bloggers are found guilty. The Zone9 case was repeatedly stalled by the courts throughout 2014, leaving the bloggers in pre-trial detention for over six months as of late-2014. Meanwhile, two online radio journalists were arrested and detained for a week without charges in August 2013, and the prominent dissident blogger, Eskinder Nega, and award-winning journalist, Reeyot Alemu, continue to serve lengthy prison sentences, despite international pressure for their release. The overall crackdown has had a major chilling effect on internet freedom and freedom of expression in the country, leading to increasing levels of self-censorship among online journalists, bloggers, and ordinary users alike.

Obstacles to Access
In 2013 and 2014, access to ICTs in Ethiopia remained extremely limited, hampered by slow speeds and the state’s tight grip on the telecom sector. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), internet penetration stood at a mere 1.9 percent in 2013, up from 1.5 percent in 2012. Only 0.25 percent of the population had access to fixed-broadband internet, increasing from 0.01 percent in 2012.Ethiopians had more access to mobile phone services, with mobile phone penetration rates increasing from 22 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2013 though such access rates still lag behind a regional average of 80 percent. Meanwhile, less than 5 percent of the population has a mobile-broadband subscription. Radio remains the principal mass medium through which most Ethiopians stay informed. While access to the internet via mobile phones increased slightly in the last year, prohibitively expensive mobile data packages still posed a significant financial obstacle for the majority of the population in Ethiopia, where per capita income in 2013 stood at US$470.8 Ethiopia’s telecom market is very unsaturated due to monopolistic control, providing customers with few options at arbitrary prices. Prices are set by the state-controlled Ethio Telecom and kept artificially high. As of mid-2014, monthly packages cost between ETB 200 and 3,000 (US$10 to $150) for 1 to 30 GB of 3G mobile services.

The computer remains the most practical option for going online, though in 2014, personal computers are still prohibitively expensive. The combined cost of purchasing a computer, initiating an internet connection, and paying usage charges makes internet access beyond the reach of most Ethiopians. Consequently, only 2 percent of Ethiopian households had internet access in their homes in 2013. The majority of internet users rely on cybercafes to log online, leading to a growth of
cybercafes in recent years, particularly in large cities. A typical internet user in Addis Ababa pays between ETB 5 and 7 (US$0.25 to $0.35) for an hour of access. Because of the scarcity of internet cafes outside urban areas, however, rates in rural cybercafes are more expensive.
For the few Ethiopians who can access the internet, connection speeds are known to be painstakingly slow. For years, logging into an email account and opening a single message could take as long as six minutes at a standard cybercafe with broadband in the capital city.12 According to May 2014 data from Akamai’s “State of the Internet” report, Ethiopia has an average connection speed of 1.2 Mbps (compared to a global average of 3.9 Mbps). Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s broadband adoption (characterized by connection speeds greater than 4 Mbps) is less than 3 percent,14 while the country’s narrowband adoption (connection speed below 256 Kbps) is about 20 percent among those with access. Numerous users reported that internet and text messaging speeds were extremely slow during the coverage period, with services completely unavailable at times. Frequent electricity outages are also a contributing factor to poor telecom services. Despite reports of massive investments from Chinese telecom companies in recent years,17 Ethiopia’s telecommunications infrastructure is among the least developed in Africa and is almost entirely absent from rural areas, where about 85 percent of the population resides. The country is connected to the international internet via satellite, a fiber-optic cable that passes through Sudan and connects to its international gateway, and the SEACOM cable that connects through Djibouti to an international undersea cable. In an effort to expand connectivity, the government has reportedly installed several
thousand kilometers of fiber-optic cable throughout the country over the past few years. Construction of the East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) was completed and launched in July 2010, but its effects on Ethiopia have yet to be seen as of mid-2014. The space for independent initiatives in the ICT sector, entrepreneurial or otherwise, is extremely
limited, with state-owned Ethio Telecom holding a firm monopoly over internet and mobile phone services in the country. Consequently, all connections to the international internet are completely centralized via Ethio Telecom, enabling the government to cut off the internet at will. As a result, the internet research company Renesys classified Ethiopia “as being at severe risk of Internet disconnection,” alongside Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen in a February 2014 assessment. During the coverage period, one Renesys report found that 40 percent of Ethiopia’s networks were down for a few hours on July 18, 2013 as a result of a disruption on the SEACOM network, though the exact reason for the disruption was unknown. In September 2013, a number of cybercafe owners in Ethiopia reported an increasing trend of unpredictable internet connections and speeds beginning in June that resulted in a significant decline in business, with internet connections reported as unavailable for up to 15 days in a month. Mobile phone networks—also completely centralized under Ethio Telecom—are similarly vulnerable to service disruptions and shutdowns by the government, which often occur during politically sensitive times. During the coverage period, there were frequent reports of dropped cell phone and landline calls, complete network blackouts in many parts of the country, and overlapping voices in calls. The latter phenomenon led people to suspect government engagement in a widespread eavesdropping scheme (see “Violations of User Rights” for details on surveillance). Meanwhile, cybercafes are subject to onerous requirements under the 2002 Telecommunications
(Amendment) Proclamation, which requires cybercafe owners to obtain an operating license with Ethio Telecom via a murky process that can take months. During the coverage period, Ethio Telecom began enforcing its licensing  requirements more strictly in response to the increasing spread of cybercafes, reportedly penalizing Muslim cafe owners more harshly. Violations of the stringent requirements, such as a prohibition on providing Voice-over-IP (VoIP) services, entail criminal liability. Despite repeated international pressure to liberalize telecommunications in Ethiopia, the government
has not eased its grip on the sector. In June 2013, the prime minister publicly affirmed that the government would maintain a monopoly over the country’s telecoms. In the meantime, China has emerged as a key investor and contractor in Ethiopia’s telecommunications industry, and in July 2013, the government signed a US$1.6 billion agreement with the Chinese telecom companies,
Zhongxing Telecommunication Corporation (ZTE) and Huawei, to upgrade its broadband network to 4G in Addis Ababa and expand 3G across the country. The networks built by the Chinese firms have been criticized for their high costs and poor service, though the partnership has enabled Ethiopia’s authoritarian leaders to maintain their hold over the telecom sector. Furthermore, the contracts   have led to increasing fears that the Chinese may also be assisting the authorities in developing more robust internet and mobile phone censorship and surveillance capacities.
The Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA) and the Ethiopian Telecommunications Agency (ETA) are the primary regulatory bodies overseeing the telecommunications sector. These two organizations were established as autonomous federal agencies, but both are highly controlled government bodies.
Limits on Content
During the coverage period, over a hundred websites remained inaccessible in Ethiopia, with a greater number of online tools and services targeted for blocking. A June 2014 report affirmed the government’s efforts to recruit and train progovernment citizens to attack politically objectionable content online.
The Ethiopian government imposes nationwide, politically motivated internet blocking and filtering that tends to tighten ahead of sensitive political events. The majority of blocked websites are those that feature opposition or critical content run by individuals or organizations based in the country or the diaspora. The government’s approach to internet filtering generally entails hindering access to a list of specific internet protocol (IP) addresses or domain names at the level of the Ethio Telecom-controlled international gateway. A more sophisticated strategy of blocking websites based on a keyword in the URL path, known as deep-packet inspection (DPI),  was detected in May 2012 when the Tor network—an online tool that enables users to browse anonymously—was blocked. In January 2014, an independent test conducted by a researcher based in the country found 120 unique URLs that were inaccessible in the country, 62 of which were Ethiopian news websites, 14 of which were political party websites,  of which were blogs, and 7 of which were television and online
radio websites. During the test, some websites opened at the first attempt but were inaccessible when refreshed. The test also found that select tools and services on Google’s Android operating system on smart phones were inaccessible at irregular intervals but for unclear reasons. A separate test on over 1,400 URLs between July and August 2013 by the OpenNet Initiative in partnership withHuman Rights Watch similarly found 62 websites blocked altogether and numerous others intermittently inaccessible. International news outlets were increasingly targeted for censorship. Al Arabiya, a Saudi Arabia-based media outlet, and both of Al Jazeera’s Arabic and English websites were intermittently blocked during the coverage period. In July 2013, websites belonging to Yahoo and CNN were reportedly inaccessible for about 12 hours. Facebook and Twitter were also targets of the short-term July 2013 blocking. There was no evident impetus or reason for the short-term blocking, and other major services such as Gmail and new outlets such as the New York Times remained accessible. Nevertheless, the incident further increased worries over reports of government plans to block popular social media tools completely. Facebook and Twitter platforms were otherwise generally accessible, although some individual Facebook groups belonging to opposition individuals remained blocked altogether, particularly when accessed via the unencrypted (http://) URL pathway. Meanwhile, the social media curation tool Storify—first blocked in July 201241—remained blocked during the coverage period, while the URL shortening tool Bit.ly was inexplicably blocked in late 2013.
In the past few years, the authorities have become more sophisticated in their censorship techniques, electing to block select webpages as opposed to entire websites. Critical online news articles are usually targeted, such as an August 2012 Forbes article titled, “Requiem for a Reprobate Ethiopian Tyrant Should Not Be Lionized,” which was blocked for criticizing the local and global praise of the former prime minister’s debatable economic growth achievements; the article remained blocked as of June 2014.44 A July 2013 YouTube video of the anti government Muslim protests that occurred from 2012-13 was also blocked as of late 2013.
International blog-hosting platforms such as Blogspot have been frequently blocked since the disputed parliamentary elections of 2005, during which the opposition used online communication tools to organize and disseminate information that was critical of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. In 2007, the government instituted a blanket block on the domainnames of two popular blog-hosting websites, Blogspot and Nazret, though the authorities have
since become more sophisticated in their censorship techniques, now blocking select pages such as the Zone9 independent blog hosted on Blogspot, as opposed to the entire blogging platform. Nazret, however, remained completely blocked as of June 2014. Circumvention strategies have also been targeted, with the term “proxy” yielding no search results on Google, according to an independent source. Meanwhile, the terms “sex” or “porn” are still searchable.
In addition to increasing blocks of online content, politically objectionable content is often targeted for removal, often by way of threats from security officials who personally seek out users and bloggers to instruct them to take down certain content, particularly critical content on Facebook. The growing practice suggests that at least some voices within Ethiopia’s small online community are being closely monitored. Some restrictions are also placed on mobile phones, such as the  requirement for a text message to obtain prior approval from Ethio Telecom if it is to be sent to more than ten recipients. A bulk text message sent without prior approval is automatically blocked. There are no procedures for determining which websites are blocked or why, which precludes any avenues for appeal. There are no published lists of blocked websites or publicly available criteria for how such decisions are made, and users are met with an error message when trying to access
blocked content. This lack of transparency is exacerbated by the government’s continued denial of its censorship efforts. Meanwhile, the decision-making process does not appear to be controlled by a single entity, as various government bodies—including the Information Network Security Agency (INSA), Ethio Telecom, and the ministry of ICT—seem to be implementing their own lists, contributing to a phenomenon of inconsistent blocking. Lack of adequate funding is a significant challenge for independent online media in Ethiopia, as fear of government pressure dissuades local businesses from advertising with politically critical websites. Local newspapers and web outlets receive their news and information from regime critics and opposition organizations in the diaspora. While the domestic Ethiopian blogosphere has been expanding, most blogging activity on Ethiopian issues still originates in the diaspora. Few Ethiopian journalists work for both the domestic print media and overseas online outlets due to the threat of repercussions. Increasing repression against journalists and bloggers has had a major chilling effect on expression online, particularly following the arrest of the Zone9 bloggers in April 2014 (see “Violations of User Rights”). Fear of pervasive surveillance has led to widespread self-censorship, and many bloggers publish anonymously to avoid reprisals. Notably, users on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter seem to practice a lower degree of self-censorship, which may be due to poor awareness of privacy settings, or the perception that posts on social media are anonymous or more secure. Despite extremely low levels of internet access, the authorities employ progovernment commentators and trolls to proactively manipulate the online news and information landscape. Acrimonious exchanges between commentators on apologist websites and an array of diaspora critics and opposition figures have become common in online political debates. There was a noticeable increase in the number of progovernment commentators during the coverage period, as confirmed in a June 2014 report by the Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT) that detailed the government’s efforts to recruit and train progovernment citizens to attack politically objectionable content online. According to the ESAT report, hundreds of bloggers who report directly to government officials had been trained on how to post progovernment comments and criticize antigovernment articles on social  media platforms. As the country prepares for the upcoming 2015 National Election, the state media has stepped up its campaign against the press in general and the use of social media in particular, claiming that foreign agents and terrorists are using social media to destabilize the country. Consequently, many civil society groups based in the country are wary of mobilizing against the government, and calls for protest come mostly from the Ethiopian diaspora rather than from local activists who fear the government’s violent crackdowns against protest movements. Nevertheless, over the past few years, Facebook has become one of the most popular mediums through which Ethiopians share and consume information. Social media services have also become significant platforms for political deliberation and social justice campaigns. For example, in September 2013, a group of young Ethiopian bloggers and activists based in Addis Ababa launched a Facebook and Twitter campaign on the occasion of Ethiopia’s New Year celebration to share their vision of a better Ethiopia, using the hashtag #EthiopianDream.52 In November 2013, Ethiopians responded to the Saudi government’s crackdown on undocumented Ethiopian immigrants in Saudi Arabia by organizing the online campaign, #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia, to protest the abusive treatment of Ethiopian immigrants. Netizen activism was particularly pronounced and widespread following the arrest of six Zone9 bloggers and three journalists for their alleged affiliation with the Zone9 collective (see “Violations of User Rights”). Ethiopian bloggers and social media users flocked online to spread the #FreeZone-9Bloggers hashtag in a campaign that quickly swept across the social media sphere and garnered

widespread support from around the world. Within five days, the #FreeZone9Bloggers hashtag had been tweeted more than 8,000 times. Unfortunately, the international campaign elicited no response from the government, and the imprisoned bloggers and journalists are still awaiting trial on charges of terrorism as of late-2014.

Violations of User Rights 
During the coverage period, the Ethiopian government’s already limited space for online expression continued to deteriorate alongside its poor treatment of journalists. A new proclamation passed in November 2013 empowered INSA with sweeping surveillance capabilities without judicial oversight. Sophisticated malware was launched against online radio journalists and dissidents in exile, while repression against bloggers and ICT users in the country increased notably. Six bloggers of the critical Zone9 blogging collective were arrested for their alleged terrorist activities. The 1995 Ethiopian constitution guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and access to information, while also prohibiting censorship. These constitutional guarantees are affirmed in the 2008 Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation, known as the press law, which also provides certain protections for media workers, such as prohibiting the pre-trial detention of journalists. Nevertheless, the press law also includes problematic provisions that contradict  constitutional protections and restrict free expression. For example, media outlets are required to obtain licenses to operate through an onerous registration process that applies to all outlets, regardless of size, though it is uncertain whether the press law’s broad language encompasses online media. Penalties for violating the registration requirement and other restrictions on content, such as defamation, involve high fines and up to two and three years in prison, respectively.
In September 2012, the government codified specific restrictions on various telecommunications activities through the passage of the Telecom Fraud Offences law,  which revised a 1996 law that had placed bans on certain communication applications, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)60— including Skype and Google Voice—call back services, and internet-based fax services. Under the new law, the penalties under the preexisting ban were toughened, increasing the fine and maximum prison sentence from five to eight years for offending service providers, and penalizing users with
three months to two years in prison. The law also added the requirement for all individuals to register their telecommunications equipment—including smart phones—with the government, which security officials typically enforce by confiscating ICT equipment when a registration permit cannot be furnished at security checkpoints, according to sources in the country.

Most alarmingly, the Telecom Fraud Offences law extended the violations and penalties defined in the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and 2004 Criminal Code to electronic communications, which are broadly defined yet explicitly include both mobile phone and internet services. The anti-terrorism legislation prescribes prison sentences of up to 20 years for the publication of statements that can be understood as a direct or indirect encouragement of terrorism, vaguely defined.64 Meanwhile, the criminal code holds any “author, originator or publisher” criminally liable for content allegedly linked to offenses such as treason, espionage, or incitement, which carries with it the penalty of up to life imprisonment or death. The criminal code also penalizes the publication of a “false rumor” with up to three years in prison. In 2014, the Ethiopian authorities increased their crackdown against bloggers and online journalists, using the country’s harsh laws to prosecute individuals for their online activities and silence dissent. Most alarmingly, six bloggers from the critical Zone9 blogging collective and three journalists associated with Zone9 were arrested in late April 2014 on charges of terrorism. They were accused of “working with foreign organizations that claim to be human rights activists… and receiving finance to
incite public violence through social media,”  though the arrests had occurred just days following Zone9’s Facebook post announcing plans to resume its activism. The blogging collective had been inactive for seven months as a result of “a considerable amount of surveillance and harassment” the bloggers had suffered at the hands of security agents for their writings and social media activism. Despite widespread international condemnation of the Zone9 arrests, the detainees were denied bail in August and remained in jail as of fall 2014, awaiting trial. Meanwhile, the well-known dissident journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega is still carrying out an 18-year prison sentence handed down in July 2012 under the anti-terrorism law. Numerous other journalists and media outlets—both online and print—were targeted for arrest and prosecutions during the coverage period, including Darsema Sori and Khalid Mohammed who were arrested in August 2013 for their work with the online radio station, Radio Bilal, which is known for its extensive coverage of the 2012-13 anti government protests organized by Ethiopian Muslims.

They were released after being held for a week without charges,71 but the arrests were in keeping with the government’s concerted efforts to silence the protests. Given the high degree of online repression in Ethiopia, some political commentators use proxy servers and anonymizing tools to hide their identities when publishing online and to circumvent filtering, though the ability to communicate anonymously has become more difficult. The Tor Network anonymizing tool was blocked in May 2012, confirming that the government has deployed deep-packet inspection technology, and Google searches of the term “proxy” mysteriously yield no results. Anonymity is further compromised by strict SIM card registration requirements. Upon purchase of a SIM card through Ethio Telecom or an authorized reseller, individuals must provide their full name, address, government-issued identification number, and a passport-sized photograph. Ethio Telecom’s database of SIM registrants enables the government to cut-off the SIM cards belonging to targeted individuals and to restrict those individuals from registering for new SIM cards. Internet subscribers are also required to register their personal details, including their home address, with the government. In 2013, an inside informant leaked worrying details of potential draft legislation that seeks to mandate real-name registration for all internet users in Ethiopia, though there are no further
details of this development as of mid-2014. Government surveillance of online and mobile phone communications is pervasive in Ethiopia, and evidence has emerged in recent years that reveal the scale of such practices. According to 2014
Human Rights Watch research, there are strong indications that the government has deployed a centralized monitoring system from the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE, known as ZXMT, to monitor phone lines and various types of communications, including mobile phone networks and the internet.73 Known for its use by repressive regimes in Libya and Iran, ZXMT enables deep-packet inspection (DPI) of internet traffic across the Ethio Telecom network and has the ability to intercept emails and web chats. Another ZTE technology, known as ZSmart, is a customer management database installed at Ethio Telecom that provides the government with full access to user information and the ability to intercept SMS text messages and record phone conversations. ZSmart also allows security officials to locate targeted individuals through real-time geolocation tracking of mobile phones. While the extent to which the government has made use of the full range of ZTE’s sophisticated surveillance systems is unclear, the authorities frequently present intercepted emails and phone calls as evidence during trials against journalists and bloggers or during interrogations as a scare tactic. In November 2013, a new Cyber Security Law expanded the surveillance powers of the Information Network Security Agency (INSA)—the government body established in 2011 to preside overcurity of the country’s critical communications infrastructure. According to reports, the law states that “social media outlets, blogs and other internet related media have great capabilities to instigate war, to damage the country’s image and create havoc in the economic atmosphere of the country”—
setting the logic for expanding INSA’s duties to include developing offensive cyber capabilities and ICT tools. The proclamation also empowers INSA to investigate computers, networks, internet, radio, television, and social media platforms “for any possible damage to the country’s social, economic, political and psychological well being.” INSA reportedly uses sophisticated spyware, such as the commercial toolkit FinFisher—a device that can secretly monitor computers by turning on webcams, record everything a user types with a key logger, and intercept Skype calls—to target dissidents and supposed threats. A leaked document confirmed that the UK-based company, Gamma International, had provided Ethio Telecom with the FinFisher surveillance toolkit at some point between April and July 2012.80 In addition, research conducted by Citizen Lab in March 2013 worryingly found evidence of an Ethio Telecom-initiated  inSpy campaign launched against users that employed pictures of the exiled prodemocracy group, Ginbot 7, as bait. There has been an increasing trend of exiled dissidents targeted with surveillance malware in the past few years. In April 2013, Tadesse Kersmo, a senior member of Ginbot-7 living in exile in the United Kingdom since 2009, came across the above-mentioned Citizen Lab FinSpy report and noticed that one of the spyware campaign’s bait was a picture of himself. He contacted Citizen Lab to have his computer examined and found that FinSpy had been active on his computer over two days in June 2012. The spyware may have transmitted any or all of Kersmo’s emails, chats, Skype calls, files, and web searches to a server based in Ethiopia, which could have provided the authorities with names of contacts, colleagues, and family members still living in the country. In February 2014, Privacy International filed a criminal complaint to the UK’s National Cyber Crime Unit on Kersmo’s behalf, urging them to investigate the potential unlawful interception of communications.
In the same month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a similar suit in the United States on behalf of another Ethiopian dissident (and American citizen) identified publicly under the pseudonym Mr. Kidane. Kidane’s computer had also been found infected with the FinSpy malware sometime between late October 2012 and March 2013, which had secretly recorded dozens of his Skype calls, copied emails he had sent, and logged a web search conducted by his son on the history of sports medicine for a school research project.86 The FinSpy IP address was linked to a server belonging to
Ethio Telecom. Recent Citizen Lab research published in February 2014 uncovered the use of Remote Control System
(RCS) spyware against two employees of the diaspora-run independent satellite television, radio, and online news media outlet, Ethiopian Satellite Television Service (ESAT), based in Alexandria, VA.87 Made by the Italian company Hacking Team, RCS spyware is advertised as “offensive technology” sold exclusively to law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, and has the ability to steal files and passwords, and intercept Skype calls/chats. 88 While Hacking Team claims that they do not deal with “repressive regimes,” the RCS virus sent via sophisticated bait to the two ESAT employees made it clear that the attack was targeted, and researchers have strong suspicions of the Ethiopian government’s  involvement.
While the government’s stronghold over the Ethiopian ICT sector enables it to proactively monitor users, its access to user activity and information is less direct at cybercafes. For a period following the 2005 elections, cybercafe owners were required to keep a register of their clients, but the requirement has not been enforced since mid-2010.91 Nevertheless, some cybercafe operators revealed that they are required to report any “unusual behavior” to security officials, and officials often visit cybercafes (sometimes in plainclothes) to ask questions about specific users or monitor user activity themselves.
Government security agents frequently harass and intimidate bloggers, online journalists, and ordinary users for their online activities. Independent bloggers are often summoned by the authorities to be warned against discussing certain topics online, while activists claim that they are consistently threatened by state security agents for their online activism. Bloggers from Zone9, for example, reported suffering a considerable amount of harassment for their work, leading them to go silent for several months. Shortly after the blog announced on Facebook that it was resuming activities in April 2014, six Zone9 bloggers were arrested and sent to a federal detention center in Addis Ababa where the torture of detainees is reportedly common. The active Gmail accounts belonging to several of the Zone9 bloggers94 while in detention suggests that they may have been forced give their passwords to security officials against their will.

Read more @ https://freedomhouse.org/sites/default/files/FOTN_2014_Full_Report_compressedv2_0.pdf

ETHIOPIA: ‘BECAUSE I AM OROMO’: SWEEPING REPRESSION IN THE OROMIA REGION OF ETHIOPIA

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR25/006/2014/en

Is H&M Turning a Blind Eye to Land Grabs in Ethiopia? A TV4 Investigation November 30, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in African Poor, Colonizing Structure, Corruption in Africa, Ethiopia's Colonizing Structure and the Development Problems of People of Oromia, Afar, Ogaden, Sidama, Southern Ethiopia and the Omo Valley, H & M, Land Grabs in Africa, Land Grabs in Oromia, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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Is H&M turning a blind eye to land grabs in Ethiopia? TV4 does an investigation into H&M’s cotton sourcing from Ethiopia and discovers the disturbing truth.