FREEDOM 4 ALL ETHIOPIANS

FREEDOM,DEMOCRACY.JUSTICE.AND UNITY FOR ALL ETHIOPIANS …by DANIEL TESFAYE

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 – Ethiopia

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 FEB28,2014

Ethiopia EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Ethiopia is a federal republic. The ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of four ethnically based parties, controls the government. In September 2012, following the death of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, parliament elected Hailemariam Desalegn as prime minister. In national parliamentary elections in 2010, the EPRDF and affiliated parties won 545 of 547 seats to remain in power for a fourth consecutive five-year term. Although the relatively few international officials allowed to observe the elections concluded that technical aspects of the vote were handled competently, some also noted that an environment conducive to free and fair elections was not in place prior to the election. Authorities generally maintained control over the security forces, although Somali Region Special Police and local militias sometimes acted independently. Security forces committed human rights abuses.

The most significant human rights problems included: restrictions on freedom of expression and association, including through arrests; detention; politically motivated trials; harassment; and intimidation of opposition members and journalists, as well as continued restrictions on print media. On August 8, during Eid al-Fitr celebrations, security forces temporarily detained more than one thousand persons in Addis Ababa. The government continued restrictions on activities of civil society and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) imposed by the Charities and Societies Proclamation (the CSO law).

Other human rights problems included arbitrary killings; allegations of torture, beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; reports of harsh and, at times, life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention; a weak, overburdened judiciary subject to political influence; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights, including illegal searches; allegations of abuses in the implementation of the government’s “villagization” program; restrictions on academic freedom; restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and movement; alleged interference in religious affairs; limits on citizens’ ability to change their government; police, administrative, and judicial corruption; violence and societal discrimination against women and abuse of children; female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C); trafficking in persons; societal discrimination against persons with disabilities; clashes between ethnic minorities; discrimination against persons based on their [deleted] orientation and against persons with HIV/AIDS; limits on worker rights; forced labor; and child labor, including forced child labor.

Impunity was a problem. The government, with some reported exceptions, usually did not take steps to prosecute or otherwise punish officials who committed abuses other than corruption.

Factions of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an ethnically based, violent, and fragmented separatist group operating in the Somali Region, were responsible for abuses. Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:Share a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

Members of the security forces reportedly committed killings.

On August 8, security forces in Addis Ababa detained more than one thousand Muslims participating in Eid al-Fitr celebrations. Authorities released most of the detainees shortly thereafter, but there were credible allegations some of the detainees died while in detention.

There continued to be reports of abuses, including killings, by the Somali Region Special Police.

Scattered fighting continued between government forces – primarily regional government-backed militias – and elements of the ONLF. Clashes between ethnic groups resulted in injury and death. b. Disappearance

There were several reported cases of disappearances of civilians after clashes between security forces and rebel groups.

Security forces detained at least 12 residents of Alamata town in the northern Tigray Region in January following protests against government plans to demolish illegal housing units. The whereabouts of the detainees remained unknown at year’s end. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The constitution and law prohibit such practices; however, there were reports security officials tortured and otherwise abused detainees.

Authorities reportedly tortured Solomon Kebede, a columnist with Muslim Affairs magazine (see section 2.a.).

Sources widely believed police investigators often used physical abuse to extract confessions in Maekelawi, the central police investigation headquarters in Addis Ababa. Human Rights Watch reported abuses, including torture, occurred at Maekelawi. In an October report the NGO described beatings, stress positions, the hanging of detainees by their wrists from the ceiling, prolonged handcuffing, the pouring of water over detainees, verbal threats, and solitary confinement at the facility. Authorities continued to restrict access by diplomats and NGOs to Maekelawi.

In 2010 the UN Committee Against Torture reported it was “deeply concerned” about “numerous, ongoing, and consistent allegations” concerning “the routine use of torture” by police, prison officers, and other members of the security forces – including the military – against political dissidents and opposition party members, students, alleged terrorists, and alleged supporters of violent separatist groups like the ONLF and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The committee reported that such acts frequently occurred with the participation of, at the instigation of, or with the consent of commanding officers in police stations, detention centers, federal prisons, military bases, and unofficial or secret places of detention. Some reports of such abuses continued during the year. Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison and pretrial detention center conditions remained harsh and, in some cases, life threatening. There were numerous reports that authorities beat prisoners. Medical attention following beatings reportedly was insufficient in some cases.

Physical Conditions: As of September 2012 there were 70,000-80,000 persons in prison, of whom approximately 2,500 were women and nearly 600 were children incarcerated with their mothers. Authorities sometimes incarcerated juveniles with adults and sometimes incarcerated small children with their mothers. Male and female prisoners generally were separated.

Severe overcrowding was common, especially in prison sleeping quarters. The government provided approximately eight birr ($0.42) per prisoner per day for food, water, and health care. Many prisoners supplemented this amount with daily food deliveries from family members or by purchasing food from local vendors, although there were unspecified reports officials prevented some prisoners from receiving supplemental food from their families. Medical care was unreliable in federal prisons and almost nonexistent in regional prisons. Prisoners had limited access to potable water, as did many in the country. Also water shortages caused unhygienic conditions, and most prisons lacked appropriate sanitary facilities. Many prisoners had serious health problems in detention but received little treatment. Information released by the Ministry of Health in 2012 reportedly stated that nearly 62 percent of inmates in various jails across the country suffered from mental health problems as a result of solitary confinement, overcrowding, and lack of adequate health care facilities and services.

The country had six federal and 120 regional prisons. The Ethiopian NGO Justice For All-Prison Fellowship Ethiopia (JFA-PFE) ran model prisons in Adama and Mekele, with significantly better conditions than those found in other prisons. There also were many unofficial detention centers throughout the country, including in Dedessa, Bir Sheleko, Tolay, Hormat, Blate, Tatek, Jijiga, Holeta, and Senkele. Most were located at military camps.

Pretrial detention often occurred in police station detention facilities, where the conditions varied widely. Reports regarding pretrial detention in police stations indicated poor hygiene and police abuse of detainees.

Administration: It was difficult to determine if recordkeeping was adequate due to the lack of transparency regarding incarceration. Authorities did not employ alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders. Prisons did not have ombudspersons to respond to complaints. Legal aid clinics existed in some prisons for the benefit of prisoners. Authorities allowed the submission by detainees of complaints to judicial authorities without censorship. Courts sometimes declined to hear such complaints. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Federal Police Commission sometimes investigated allegations of abuse, although there were reports that detainees’ discussions with them were not done in private, which could limit their ability to speak freely.

Authorities generally permitted prisoners to have visitors, although some police stations did not allow pretrial detainees access to visitors (including family members and legal counsel). In some cases authorities restricted family visits to prisoners to a few per year. Family members of prisoners charged with terrorist activity alleged instances of blocked access to the prisoners. There were also reports authorities denied those charged with terrorist activity visits with their lawyers, or with representatives of the political parties to which they belonged. In June prison authorities temporarily granted full visitation privileges to imprisoned journalist/blogger Eskinder Nega; previously, Eskinder was been permitted visits by a select group of individuals. Prison officials limited the number of individuals permitted to visit journalist Reyot Alemu.

Prisoners generally were permitted religious observance, but this varied by prison, and even by section within a prison, at the discretion of prison management. There were some allegations that while in custody authorities denied detainees adequate locations in which to pray. Prisoners were permitted to voice complaints about prison conditions or treatment to the presiding judge during their trials.

Independent Monitoring: During the year the International Committee of the Red Cross visited regional prisons throughout the country.

Regional authorities allowed government and NGO representatives to meet regularly with prisoners without third parties present. The government-established EHRC, which is funded by parliament and subject to parliamentary review, monitored federal and regional detention centers and interviewed prison officials and prisoners in response to allegations of widespread human rights abuses. The JFA-PFE was granted access to various prison and detention facilities.

Improvements: The government and prison authorities generally cooperated with efforts of the JFA-PFE to improve prison conditions. Reports indicated prison conditions, including the treatment of prisoners, improved upon the completion of a local legal aid clinic, although specific data was not available. d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

Although the constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, the government often ignored these provisions. There were multiple reports of arbitrary arrest and detention by police and security forces throughout the country.

Civilians, international NGOs, and other aid organizations operating in the Somali Region reported government security forces, local militias, and the ONLF committed abuses such as arbitrary arrest. Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

The Federal Police reports to the Ministry of Federal Affairs, which is subject to parliamentary oversight. The oversight was loose. Each of the country’s nine regions has a state or special police force that reports to the regional civilian authorities. Local militias operated across the country in loose coordination with regional and federal police and the military, with the degree of coordination varying by region. In many cases these militias functioned as extensions of local EPRDF political bosses.

Security forces were effective, but impunity remained a serious problem. The mechanisms used to investigate abuses by the federal police were not known. There continued to be reports of abuse, including killings, by the Somali Region Special Police. The government rarely publicly disclosed the results of investigations into abuses by local security forces, such as arbitrary detention and beatings of civilians.

The government continued its efforts to provide human rights training for police and army recruits. The EHRC trained more than 100 police officers and prison officials during the year and in 2012 on basic human rights concepts and prisoner treatment. The government continued to accept assistance from the JFA-PFE and the EHRC to improve and professionalize its human rights training and curriculum by including more material on the constitution and international human rights treaties and conventions. Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

Although the constitution and law require that detainees be brought to court and charged within 48 hours of arrest, authorities did not always respect this requirement. With court approval, persons suspected of serious offenses may be detained for 14 days without being charged and for additional 14-day periods if an investigation continues. Under the antiterrorism proclamation, police may request to hold persons without charge for 28-day periods, up to a maximum of four months, while an investigation is conducted. The law prohibits detention in any facility other than an official detention center; however, local militias and other formal and informal law enforcement entities used dozens of unofficial local detention centers.

A functioning bail system was in place. Bail was not available for persons charged with murder, treason, and corruption. In most cases authorities set bail between 500 and 10,000 birr ($26 and $530), which most citizens could not afford. The government provided public defenders for detainees unable to afford private legal counsel, but only when their cases went to court. While detainees were in pretrial detention, authorities sometimes allowed them little or no contact with legal counsel, did not provide full information on their health status, and did not provide for family visits.

Arbitrary Arrest: Authorities regularly detained persons without warrants.

On May 24, in the western state of Benishangul-Gumuz, local police detained Muluken Tesfaw, a journalist for the Ethio-Mihdar newspaper, who was investigating allegations that local officials unlawfully evicted ethnic Amhara residents from their homes. The journalist reportedly was not carrying his press credentials. On May 31, authorities released Muluken without charge.

Pretrial Detention: Some detainees reported being held for several years without being charged and without trial. Information on the percentage of detainee population in pretrial detention and the average length of time held was not available. Trial delays were most often caused by lengthy legal procedures, the large numbers of detainees, judicial inefficiency, and staffing shortages.

Amnesty: On September 11, in keeping with a long-standing tradition of issuing pardons at the Ethiopian new year, the federal government pardoned 498 prisoners. Regional governments also pardoned persons during the year. For example, the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) regional government pardoned 1,984 prisoners, the Oromia regional government pardoned 2,604 prisoners, and the Amhara regional government pardoned 2,084 prisoners. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary. Although the civil courts operated with a large degree of independence, the criminal courts remained weak, overburdened, and subject to political influence. The constitution recognizes both religious and traditional or customary courts. Trial Procedures

By law accused persons have the right to a fair public trial by a court of law within a “reasonable time,” a presumption of innocence, the right to be represented by legal counsel of their choice, and the right to appeal. The law provides defendants the right against self-incrimination. The law gives defendants the right to present witnesses and evidence in their defense, cross-examine prosecution witnesses, and access government-held evidence. The government did not always allow defendants the right of access to evidence it held. The court system does not use jury trials. Judicial inefficiency and lack of qualified staff often resulted in serious delays in trial proceedings and made the application of the law unpredictable. The government continued to train lower court judges and prosecutors and made effective judicial administration the primary focus of this training. Defendants were often unaware of the specific charges against them until the commencement of the trial; this also caused defense attorneys to be unprepared to provide an adequate defense.

The Public Defender’s Office provided legal counsel to indigent defendants, although its scope and quality of service remained limited due to the shortage of attorneys. Numerous free legal aid clinics around the country, based primarily at universities, provided advice to clients. In certain areas of the country the law allows volunteers, such as law students and professors, to represent clients in court on a pro bono basis.

On January 22, citing national security concerns, the Federal High Court closed the trial of 28 Muslims identified with July 2012 protests and one Muslim accused of accepting funds illegally from a foreign embassy. On December 12, the Federal High Court dismissed charges against 10 of the defendants and reduced charges against 18 others. Although the Federal High Court also closed the trial of 28 additional Muslims the government alleged to have links to al-Qaida and al-Shabaab, the court reopened the trial to the public on October 29. Both trials continued at year’s end.

Many citizens residing in rural areas generally had little access to formal judicial systems and relied on traditional mechanisms of resolving conflict. By law all parties to a dispute must agree to use a traditional or religious court before such a court may hear a case, and either party may appeal to a regular court at any time. Sharia (Islamic law) courts may hear religious and family cases involving Muslims. Sharia courts received some funding from the government and adjudicated the majority of cases in the Somali and Afar regions, which are predominantly Muslim. In addition other traditional systems of justice, such as councils of elders, continued to function. Some women stated they lacked access to free and fair hearings in the traditional justice system because they were excluded by custom from participation in councils of elders and because there was strong gender discrimination in rural areas. Political Prisoners and Detainees

Estimates by human rights groups and diplomatic missions regarding the number of political prisoners varied. The government did not permit access by international human rights organizations.

All of the Ethiopian journalists, opposition members, and activists previously convicted and jailed under the antiterrorism proclamation remained in prison.

On January 8, the Federal Court of Cassation denied journalist Reyot Alemu’s appeal of her conviction on the charge of participating in the promotion or communication of a terrorist act. She was serving a five-year prison sentence.

On May 2, the Federal Supreme Court upheld the sentences of journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega and vice chairman of the opposition front Medrek Andualem Arage for terrorism and treason. In September 2012 the government announced it asked the Federal High Court to freeze the assets of Eskinder and Andualem while investigating whether their assets were used in conjunction with the commission of the crimes for which they were convicted. The court had not issued a decision by year’s end.

The Federal Supreme Court upheld the 2012 convictions under the criminal code of Bekele Gerba and Olbana Lelisa, two well-known political opposition figures from the Oromo ethnic group, for conspiracy to overthrow the government and conspiracy to incite unrest. The Supreme Court subsequently determined the Federal High Court did not consider mitigating circumstances and reduced Bekele’s sentence from eight years to three years and seven months. The Supreme Court also reduced Olbana’s sentenced from 13 to 11 years. Courts convicted 69 members of Oromo political opposition parties, charged separately in 2011 under the criminal code with “attacking the political or territorial integrity of the state.” Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

The law provides citizens the right to appeal human rights violations in civil court. No such cases were filed during the year. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law requires authorities to obtain judicial warrants to search private property; police often ignored the law, and there were no records of courts excluding evidence found without warrants.

There were periodic reports throughout the year police carried out nighttime raids of Muslims’ homes in Addis Ababa to collect evidence against persons they alleged to be terrorists. The government claimed the police had warrants.

Opposition political party leaders reported suspicions of telephone tapping and other electronic eavesdropping, and alleged government agents attempted to lure them into illegal acts by calling and pretending to be representatives of groups – designated by the country’s parliament as terrorist organizations – interested in making financial donations.

The government reportedly used a widespread system of paid informants to report on the activities of particular individuals. During the year opposition members reported ruling party operatives and militia members made intimidating and unwelcome visits to their homes and offices.

Security forces continued to detain family members of persons sought for questioning by the government. There were reports unemployed youths who were not affiliated with the ruling coalition sometimes had trouble receiving the “support letters” from their kebeles (neighborhoods or wards) necessary to get jobs.

The national government and regional governments continued to put in place “villagization” plans in the Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, SNNPR, and Somali regions. These plans involved the relocation by regional governments of scattered rural populations from arid or semiarid lands vulnerable to recurring droughts into designated clusters. The stated purposes of villagization were to improve the provision of government services (i.e., health care, education, and clean water), protect vulnerable communities from natural disasters and attacks, and change environmentally destructive patterns of shifting cultivation. Some observers stated the purpose was to enable the large-scale leasing of land for commercial agriculture. The government described the villagization program as strictly voluntary.

International donors reported that assessments from more than 16 visits to villagization sites since 2011 did not corroborate allegations of systematic human rights violations in this program. They did find problems such as delays in establishing promised infrastructure from rushed program implementation. Communities and individual families appeared to have agreed to move based on assurances from authorities of food aid, services, and land, although in some instances communities moved before adequate basic services and shelter were in place in the new locations. International human rights organizations, however, continued to express concern regarding the villagization process. A report by the Oakland Institute in February stated that the military forcibly relocated communities and committed human rights violations in the Omo Valley. A report by the Oakland Institute in July asserted that, during a January 2012 assessment in the Lower Omo Valley, donor representatives heard testimony from community members regarding human rights violations. Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:Share a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press; however, authorities arrested, detained, and prosecuted journalists and other persons whom they perceived as critical of the government.

Freedom of Speech: Authorities arrested and harassed persons for criticizing the government. The government attempted to impede criticism through various forms of intimidation, including detention of journalists and opposition activists and monitoring and interference in the activities of political opposition groups. Some persons feared authorities would retaliate against them for discussing security force abuses.

Press Freedoms: The government continued to take actions to close independent newspapers. Regulators revoked the operating licenses of Addis Times magazine and Li-Elina newspaper in February and March, respectively, after independent editor Temesgen Dessalegn acquired them. The remaining 14 newspapers had a combined weekly circulation in Addis Ababa of more than 140,000. Most newspapers were printed on a weekly or biweekly basis, with the exception of the state-owned Amharic and English dailies.

The government controlled the only television station that broadcast nationally, which, along with radio, was the primary source of news for much of the population. Four private FM radio stations broadcast in the capital city, one private radio station broadcast in the northern Tigray Region, and at least 16 community radio stations broadcast in the regions. State-run Ethiopian Radio had the largest reach in the country, followed by Fana Radio, which was affiliated with the ruling party.

Government-controlled media closely reflected the views of the government and the ruling EPRDF. The government periodically jammed foreign broadcasts. The law prohibits political and religious organizations and foreigners from owning broadcast stations.

Violence and Harassment: The government continued to arrest, harass, and prosecute journalists. This included the prosecution of three persons associated with the defunct Muslim Affairs magazine under the antiterrorism proclamation.

On January 17, authorities arrested Solomon Kebede, columnist and managing editor of Muslim Affairs. They charged him along with 27 other Muslims in April under the antiterrorism proclamation.

The case against Temesgen Dessalegn, editor in chief of the defunct Feteh newspaper, continued. Charges against him included inciting and agitating the country’s youth to engage in violence, defamation of the government, and destabilizing the public by spreading false reports. Mastewal Berhanu, former publisher and managing director of Feteh, reportedly left the country due to government harassment.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: Government harassment caused journalists to avoid reporting on sensitive topics. Many private newspapers reported informal editorial control by the government through article placement requests and calls from government officials concerning articles perceived as critical of the government. Private sector and government journalists routinely practiced self-censorship.

Libel Laws/National Security: The government used the antiterrorism proclamation to suppress criticism. Journalists feared covering five groups designated by parliament in 2011 as terrorist organizations (Ginbot 7, the ONLF, the OLF, al-Qaida, and al-Shabaab), citing ambiguity on whether reporting on these groups might be punishable under the law. Several journalists, both local and foreign correspondents, reported an increase in self-censorship.

The government used libel laws during the year to suppress criticism.

On May 15, police in Addis Ababa questioned Ferew Abebe, editor in chief of the Sendek newspaper, about 2012 articles that alleged the widow of former prime minister Meles Zenawi refused to vacate the prime minister’s official residence after the death of her husband. Police requested that Ferew reveal his sources to them and would not disclose who initiated the libel claim against Ferew. Ferew posted bail and was released; authorities did not file formal charges by year’s end. Internet Freedom

The state-owned Ethio Telecom was the only internet service provider in the country. The government restricted access to the internet and blocked several websites, including blogs; opposition websites; and websites of Ginbot 7, the OLF, and the ONLF. The government also temporarily blocked news sites such as al-Jazeera. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo! were temporarily inaccessible at times. Several news blogs and websites run by opposition diaspora groups were not accessible. These included Addis Neger, Nazret, Ethiopian Review, CyberEthiopia, Quatero Amharic Magazine, Tensae Ethiopia, and the Ethiopian Media Forum. Authorities took steps to block access to Virtual Private Network providers that let users circumvent government screening of internet browsing and e-mail. According to the International Telecommunication Union, approximately 1.5 percent of individuals used the internet in 2012.

In March, Citizen Lab, a Canadian research center at the University of Toronto, identified 25 countries, including Ethiopia, that host servers linked to FinFisher surveillance software. According to the report, “FinFisher has gained notoriety because it has been used in targeted attacks against human rights campaigners and opposition activists in countries with questionable human rights records.” A “FinSpy” campaign in the country allegedly “used pictures of Ginbot 7, an Ethiopian opposition group, as bait to infect users.”

In March police arrested university student Manyazewal Eshetu, for posting allegations of government corruption on Facebook. Authorities later released Manyazewal without charge. Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

The government restricted academic freedom, including through decisions on student enrollment, teachers’ appointments, and the curriculum. Authorities frequently restricted speech, expression, and assembly on university and high school campuses.

According to sources, the ruling party via the Ministry of Education continued to give preference to students loyal to the party in assignments to postgraduate programs. Some university staff members commented that priority for employment after graduation in all fields was given to students who joined the party.

Authorities limited teachers’ ability to deviate from official lesson plans. Numerous anecdotal reports suggested non-EPRDF members were more likely to be transferred to undesirable posts and bypassed for promotions. There were unspecified reports of teachers not affiliated with the EPRDF being summarily dismissed for failure to attend unscheduled meetings. There continued to be a lack of transparency in academic staffing decisions, with numerous complaints from individuals in the academic community alleging bias based on party membership, ethnicity, or religion.

According to multiple credible sources, teachers and high school students in grade 10 and above were required to attend training on the concepts of revolutionary democracy and EPRDF party ideology.

A Ministry of Education directive prohibits private universities from offering degree programs in law and teacher education. The directive also requires public universities to align their curriculum offerings with the ministry’s policy of a 70-to-30 ratio between science and social science academic programs. As a result the number of students studying social sciences and the humanities at public institutions continued to decrease, and private universities focused heavily on the social sciences. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Freedom of Assembly

The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly; however, the government did not respect this right. Organizers of large public meetings or demonstrations must notify the government 48 hours in advance and obtain a permit. Authorities may not refuse to grant a permit but may require that the event be held at a different time or place for reasons of public safety or freedom of movement. If authorities determine an event should be held at another time or place, the law requires that organizers be notified in writing within 12 hours of the time of submission of their request.

The government denied some requests by the Semayawi (Blue) Party and Medrek, the largest opposition coalition, to hold protests in Addis Ababa, although the government officially permitted a June 2 Semayawi Party demonstration. The march was widely reported as the first mass outpouring of discontent permitted by the government since protests in 2005. The government subsequently allowed additional protests to take place in Addis Ababa and several other cities, although organizers in most cases alleged government interference, and authorities required several of the protests to move to different dates or locations from those the organizers requested. Protest organizers alleged the government’s claims of needing to move the protests based on public safety concerns were not credible.

Local government officials, almost all of whom were affiliated with the EPRDF, controlled access to municipal halls, and there were many complaints from opposition parties that local officials denied or otherwise obstructed the scheduling of opposition parties’ use of halls for lawful political rallies. There were numerous credible reports that owners of hotels and other large facilities cited unspecified internal rules forbidding political parties from utilizing their space for gatherings.

Regional governments, including the Addis Ababa regional administration, were reluctant to grant permits or provide security for large meetings.

The government arrested persons in relation to opposition demonstrations. This included a March 17 protest and a planned August 31 protest by the Semayawi Party. Authorities also arrested Unity for Democracy and Justice Party members before and after a July 17 protest.

On August 31, security forces raided the headquarters of the Semayawi Party to prevent a demonstration planned for the following day. Authorities reportedly temporarily detained 60 to 90 persons and beat some of them. The demonstration would have coincided with a mass public rally promoting interfaith tolerance organized by the government.

Beginning in late 2011 and continuing throughout the year, some members of the Muslim community held peaceful protests following Friday prayers at several of Addis Ababa’s largest mosques, the Aweliya Islamic Center in Addis Ababa, and at other locations throughout the country. Most demonstrations occurred without incident, although police met some with arrests and alleged use of unnecessary force. For example, on August 8, security forces in Addis Ababa detained more than one thousand Muslims participating in Eid al-Fitr celebrations. Freedom of Association

Although the law provides for freedom of association and the right to engage in unrestricted peaceful political activity, the government limited this right.

A report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association stated, “The enforcement of these [the CSO law] provisions has a devastating impact on individuals’ ability to form and operate associations effectively.”

The CSO law bans anonymous donations to NGOs. All potential donors were therefore aware their names would be public knowledge. The same was true concerning all donations made to political parties.

International NGOs seeking to operate in the country had to submit an application via Ethiopian embassies abroad, which was then submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Charities and Societies Agency. c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/rpt/. d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

Although the law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, the government restricted some of these rights.

The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern; however, at times authorities, armed groups and the situation of insecurity limited the ability of humanitarian organizations to operate.

According to the UN, humanitarian organizations reported 36 incidents that impeded humanitarian work in the first six months of the year compared with 34 during the same period in 2012; 32 of these cases were in the Somali Region. The incidents included violence and hostility against humanitarian personnel, theft of assets, interference with the implementation of humanitarian programs, and restrictions on importation of personnel and goods into the country for humanitarian work. This data referred broadly to humanitarian work and were not limited to activities focusing on IDPs or refugees.

Although the Somali regional government granted several organizations access to Nogob (formerly Fik) to start humanitarian operations, access to areas in the Somali Region remained challenging due to continuing clashes between government forces and the ONLF, as well as reports of al-Shabaab elements operating in and around Somali refugee camps in Dolo Ado. Cases were noted in which NGOs were denied access to areas of operation despite agreements with regional officials. In numerous cases NGOs deferred travel to program activity sites due to insecurity. On June 13, suspected ONLF gunmen fired on a mobile health and nutrition team supported by the UN Children’s Fund in Korahe zone and seriously injured one person.

In-country Movement: The government continued to relax but did not completely remove restrictions on the movement of persons into and within the Somali Region, continuing to argue the ONLF posed a security threat (see section 2.d., Internally Displaced Persons). Security concerns forced a temporary halt of deliveries of food and medicine in the limited areas affected by fighting.

The government continued a policy that allowed refugees to live outside of a camp. According to the Administration for Returnees and Refugee Affairs (ARRA), which managed the out-of-camp program, 3,412 refugees lived outside of the camps in 2012, compared with 1,294 in 2011. Prior to this policy the government gave such permission primarily to attend higher education institutions, undergo medical treatment, or avoid security threats at the camps.

Foreign Travel: On October 23, the government enacted a temporary ban on citizens travelling to the Middle East for employment. The ban did not affect citizens travelling for investment or business reasons. The government stated it issued the ban to prevent harassment, intimidation, and trauma suffered by those working abroad as domestic employees.

Exile: Several citizens sought political asylum in other countries or remained abroad in self-imposed exile. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated the total number of IDPs in the country as of June to be 363,141, an increase of 71,487 from the period January through March. The increase was mostly due to conflict and flooding in the Somali and Gambella regions. Drought also caused displacements during the year.

In January conflict between ethnic Oromos and Somalis over border demarcation and land ownership displaced approximately 55,000 persons from Gursum, Meyu, Kimbi, and Chinaksen districts in Oromia Region. Insecurity resulted in the delay of humanitarian assistance. The impacted population remained displaced at year’s end.

Heavy rainfall in the Somali Region from late March to early April resulted in severe flooding in Faafan, Jerer, Korahe, Nogob, and Shebele zones, destroying homes and displacing thousands. Joint assessments by the United Nations, NGOs, and the government reported the floods affected 500 households in Kebredihar and 5,756 in the Mustahil, Ferfer, and Kelafo districts of Shebelle zone. Flooding from April to June displaced an additional 36,792 individuals in Ferfer, Kelafo, and Mustahil, and 6,657 individuals in the Kebrediar and Dobowein districts of Korahe zone.

During the year drought caused the displacement of more than 22,000 persons in Afar.

According to the IOM, an estimated 80 percent of all IDPs were considered “protracted” IDPs, for whom durable solutions (return to home areas, local integration, and resettlement in other parts of the country) were not possible at the time. This was due to lack of resolution of the conflict, lack of political decision or resources to support local integration, or undesirability of resettlement to other areas of the country.

The government, through the Disaster Risk Management Food Security Sector (DRMFSS) and regional and district administrations, encouraged humanitarian responses to internal displacement and facilitated assessments to determine humanitarian needs. Humanitarian organizations usually provided assistance received by IDPs. For example, both the DRMFSS and the local government helped to coordinate the humanitarian response following conflict between ethnic Somali and Oromo residents of East Hararghe zone, Oromia Region. Protection of Refugees

Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees.

According to the UNHCR, the country hosted 423,851 refugees as of September. The majority of refugees were from Somalia (242,588), with others coming from Sudan (31,951), South Sudan (67,958), Eritrea (77,083), and other countries particularly Kenya (4,271).

The UNHCR, the ARRA, and humanitarian agencies continued to care for Sudanese arrivals fleeing from conflict in Sudan’s Blue Nile State. The government also extended support to South Sudanese asylum seekers from South Sudan’s Jonglei State; 5,776 of these asylum seekers crossed into the country by July, raising the total of South Sudanese asylum seekers to more than 67,000.

Eritrean asylum seekers continued to arrive in the country. This included a large number of unaccompanied minors. Many Eritreans who arrived in the country regularly departed for secondary migration through Egypt and Sudan to go to Israel, Europe, and other final destinations.

Employment: The government did not grant refugees work permits.

Access to Basic Services: The UNHCR and ARRA, with support from NGOs, provided refugees in camps with basic services such as health, education, water, sanitation, and hygiene. For those outside of camps, there were no reports of discrimination in access to public services.

Durable Solutions: The government granted refugee status to asylum seekers from Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan. The government welcomed refugees to settle permanently in the country but did not offer a path to citizenship or facilitate integration. It permitted Eritrean refugees to live outside refugee camps provided they sustained themselves financially. The government provided some support for Eritreans who were pursuing higher education. During the first half of the year, approximately 2,600 refugees departed the country for resettlement. Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their GovernmentShare

The constitution and law provide citizens the right to change their government peacefully. The ruling party’s electoral advantages limited this right. Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In August 2012, following the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the ruling EPRDF elected Hailemariam Desalegn to take Meles’s place as chairman of the party and subsequently nominated him for the post of prime minister. In September 2012 parliament elected Hailemariam as prime minister.

In the 2010 national parliamentary elections, the EPRDF and affiliated parties won 545 of 547 seats to remain in power for a fourth consecutive five-year term. Government restrictions severely limited independent observation of the vote. Although the relatively few international officials allowed to observe the elections concluded technical aspects of the vote were handled competently, some also noted the lack of an environment conducive to free and fair elections prior to election day. Several laws, regulations, and procedures implemented since the 2005 national elections created a clear advantage for the EPRDF throughout the electoral process. There was ample evidence that unfair government tactics, including intimidation of opposition candidates and supporters, influenced the extent of the EPRDF victory. In addition, voter education was limited to information about technical voting procedures and was done only by the National Electoral Board just days before voting began.

The African Union, whose observers arrived one week before the vote, deemed the elections to be free and fair. The EU, some of whose observers arrived a few months before the vote, concluded the elections fell short of international standards for transparency and failed to provide a level playing field for opposition parties. The EU observed a “climate of apprehension and insecurity,” noting that the volume and consistency of complaints of harassment and intimidation by opposition parties was “a matter of concern” and had to be taken into consideration “in the overall assessment of the electoral process.”

The EPRDF’s continued dominance was demonstrated in nationwide elections to local and city council positions held in April. EPRDF-affiliated parties won all but five of 3.6 million seats; 33 opposition parties boycotted the elections.

Political Parties: Political parties were predominantly ethnically based. The government, controlled by the ruling EPRDF, restricted media freedom and arrested opposition members. Constituent parties of the EPRDF conferred advantages upon their members; the parties directly owned many businesses and were broadly perceived to award jobs and business contracts to loyal supporters. Several opposition political parties reported difficulty in renting homes or buildings in which to open offices, citing visits by EPRDF members to the landlords to persuade or threaten them not to rent property to these parties.

There were reports authorities had terminated the employment of teachers and other government workers if they belonged to opposition political parties. According to Oromo opposition groups, the Oromia regional government continued to threaten to dismiss opposition party members, particularly teachers, from their jobs. Government officials alleged that many members of legitimate Oromo opposition political parties were secretly OLF members and more broadly that members of many opposition parties had ties to Ginbot 7. At the university level members of Medrek and its constituent parties were able to teach.

Registered political parties must receive permission from regional governments to open and occupy local offices.

Participation of Women and Minorities: No laws or cultural or traditional practices prevented women or minorities from voting or participating in political life on the same basis as men or nonminority citizens, although women were significantly underrepresented in both elected and appointed positions. The Tigray Regional Council held the highest proportion of women nationwide, at 48.5 percent.

The government’s policy of ethnic federalism led to the creation of individual constituencies to provide for representation of all major ethnic groups in the House of People’s Representatives. There were more than 80 ethnic groups, and small groups lacked representation in the legislature. There were 24 nationality groups in six regional states (Tigray, Amhara, Beneshangul-Gumuz, the SNNPR, Gambella, and Harar) that did not have a sufficient population to qualify for constituency seats based on the 2007 census; however, in the 2010 elections, individuals from these nationality groups competed for 24 special seats in the House of People’s Representatives. Additionally these 24 nationality groups have one seat each in the House of Federation.

Women held three federal government ministerial positions and 152 of 547 seats in the national parliament. Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in GovernmentShare

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials. Despite the government’s prosecution of numerous officials for corruption, some officials continued to engage in corrupt practices. Corruption, especially the solicitation of bribes, remained a problem among low-level bureaucrats. Police and judicial corruption also continued to be problems. Some government officials appeared to manipulate the privatization process, and state- and party-owned businesses received preferential access to land leases and credit.

Corruption: The Ministry of Justice has primary responsibility for combating corruption, largely through the Federal Ethics and Anticorruption Commission (FEACC).

During the year the FEACC initiated criminal proceedings against the director general of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority, his deputy, and as many as 60 other government officials and private business leaders for alleged corrupt practices. Most trials continued at year’s end, although some cases were dropped due to lack of evidence.

Whistleblower Protection: The law provides protection to public and private employees for making internal disclosures or lawful public disclosures of evidence of illegality, such as the solicitation of bribes or other corrupt acts, gross waste or fraud, gross mismanagement, abuse of power, or substantial and specific dangers to public health and safety. The law also specifically bars appointed or elected officials and public servants from making direct or indirect reprisals against whistleblowers.

Financial Disclosure: The law requires all government officials and employees officially register their wealth and personal property. The president and prime minister registered their assets. By the end of 2012, a total of 32,297 federal government officials registered their assets, according to the FEACC. The FEACC held financial disclosure records. According to the law, any person seeking access to these records may do so by making a request in writing, although access to information on family assets may be restricted unless the FEACC deems the disclosure necessary. The law includes financial and criminal sanctions for noncompliance.

Public Access to Information: The law provides for public access to government information, but access was largely restricted. The law includes a sufficiently narrow list of exceptions outlining the grounds for nondisclosure. Responses generally must be made within 30 days of a written request, and fees may not exceed the actual cost of responding to the request. The law includes mechanisms for punishing officials for noncompliance, as well as appeal mechanisms for review of disclosure denials. Information on the number of disclosures or denials during the year was not available.

The government publishes its laws and regulations in the national gazette prior to their taking effect. The Government Communications Affairs Office managed contacts between the government, the press, and the public; the private press reported the government rarely responded to its queries. Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human RightsShare

A few domestic human rights groups operated, but with significant government restrictions. The government was generally distrustful and wary of domestic human rights groups and international observers. State-controlled media were critical of international human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch.

The CSO law prohibits charities, societies, and associations (NGOs or CSOs) that receive more than 10 percent of their funding from foreign sources from engaging in activities that advance human and democratic rights or promote equality of nations, nationalities, peoples, genders, and religions; the rights of children and persons with disabilities; conflict resolution or reconciliation; or the efficiency of justice and law enforcement services. The implementation of the law continued to result in the severe curtailment of NGO activities related to human rights. In July 2012 the UN high commissioner for human rights expressed concern that civil society space “has rapidly shrunk” since the CSO law’s enactment.

Some human rights defender organizations continued to register either as local charities, meaning they could not raise more than 10 percent of their funds from foreign donors but could act in the specified areas, or as resident charities, which allowed foreign donations above 10 percent but prohibited activities in those areas.

One of several sets of the law’s implementing regulations, commonly known as the 70/30 rule, caps administrative spending at 30 percent of an organization’s operating budget. The regulations define training of teachers, agricultural and health extension workers, and other government officials as an “administrative” cost, contending the training does not directly affect beneficiaries, thus limiting the number of training programs that can be provided by development assistance partners who prefer to employ train-the-trainer models to reach more persons. The government addressed application of this regulation on a case-by-case basis. A Civil Society Sector Working Group cochaired by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and a representative of the donor community convened periodically to monitor and discuss challenges that arose as the law was implemented.

The government denied most NGOs access to federal prisons, police stations, and political prisoners. The government permitted the JFA-PFE, one of four organizations granted an exemption enabling them to raise unlimited funds from foreign sources and to engage in human rights advocacy, to visit prisoners. The JFA-PFE played a positive role in improving prisoners’ chances for clemency.

Authorities limited the access of human rights organizations, the media, humanitarian agencies, and diplomatic missions to conflict-affected areas, although it eased such restrictions. Humanitarian access in the Somali Region improved in particular. The government lacked a clear policy on NGO access to sensitive areas, leading regional government officials and military officials frequently to refer requests for access to the federal government. Officials required journalists to register before entering conflict regions. There were isolated reports of regional police or local militias blocking NGOs’ access to particular locations on particular days, citing security concerns. Some agencies limited project activities for security reasons.

Some persons feared authorities would retaliate against them if they met with NGOs and foreign government officials who were investigating allegations of abuse.

UN and Other International Bodies: Requests to visit the country from the UN special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment remained outstanding.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The EHRC investigated human rights complaints and produced annual and thematic reports. The commission operated 112 legal aid centers in collaboration with 17 universities and two civil society organizations, the Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association and the Ethiopian Christian Lawyers Fellowship. The commission also completed the preparatory measures to sign collaborative agreements with two additional universities. The EHRC reported its Addis Ababa headquarters resolved 90 percent of the 952 complaints submitted to it during 2012.

The Office of the Ombudsman has authority to receive and investigate complaints with respect to administrative mismanagement by executive branch offices. From September 2011 to September 2012, the office received 2,094 complaints. Of these, the ombudsman opened investigations into 784, and the office reported it resolved the remaining cases through alternative means. The majority of complaints dealt with social security, labor, housing, and property disputes. The Office of the Ombudsman did not compile nationwide statistics. Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in PersonsShare

The constitution provides all persons equal protection without discrimination based on race, nation, nationality or other social origin, color, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, property, birth, or status, but the government did not fully promote and protect these rights. The constitution does not address discrimination based on disability, [deleted] orientation, or gender identity. Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape and provides for penalties of five to 20 years’ imprisonment, depending on the severity of the case; the law does not expressly address spousal rape. The government did not fully enforce the law, partially due to widespread underreporting. Recent statistics on the number of abusers prosecuted, convicted, or punished were not available. Anecdotal evidence suggested reporting of rapes had increased since the 2004 revision of the criminal code but the justice system was unable to keep up with the number of cases.

Domestic violence, including spousal abuse, was a pervasive social problem.

Although women had recourse to the police and the courts, societal norms and limited infrastructure prevented many women from seeking legal redress, particularly in rural areas. The government prosecuted offenders on a limited scale. Domestic violence is illegal, but government enforcement of laws against rape and domestic violence was inconsistent. Depending on the severity of damage inflicted, legal penalties range from small fines to imprisonment for up to 10 to 15 years.

Domestic violence and rape cases often were delayed significantly and given low priority. In the context of gender-based violence, significant gender gaps in the justice system remained, due to poor documentation and inadequate investigation. “Child friendly” benches hear cases involving violence against children and women. Police officers were required to receive domestic violence training from domestic NGOs and the Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs. There was a commissioner for women and children’s affairs in the EHRC.

Women and girls experienced gender-based violence, but it was underreported due to cultural acceptance, shame, fear, or a victim’s ignorance of legal protections.

Harmful Traditional Practices: The most prevalent harmful traditional practices were FGM/C, uvula cutting, tonsil scraping and milk tooth extraction, early marriage, and marriage by abduction.

Marriage by abduction is illegal, although it continued in some regions despite the government’s attempts to combat the practice. A 2009 Population Council study of seven regions found that 2.6 percent of married female youth reported their marriage occurred through abduction. The study found the rate to be 12.9 percent in the SNNPR, 4.4 percent in Oromia, 3 percent in Afar, and less than 1percent in Beneshangul Gumuz. The study did not include the Gambella or Somali regions. Forced [deleted] relationships accompanied most marriages by abduction, and women often experienced physical abuse during the abduction. Abductions led to conflicts among families, communities, and ethnic groups. In cases of marriage by abduction, the perpetrator did not face punishment if the victim agreed to marry the perpetrator.

Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C is illegal, but the government did not actively enforce this prohibition or punish those who practiced it.

[deleted] Harassment: [deleted] harassment was widespread. The penal code prescribes penalties of 18 to 24 months’ imprisonment, but authorities generally did not enforce harassment laws.

 

Reproductive Rights: Individuals and couples have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of children and to have the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. The 2011 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) indicated a modern contraceptive prevalence of 27 percent nationwide among married women, a twofold increase from the survey done six years earlier. The survey found 25.3 percent of married girls and women ages 15 to 49 had unmet family planning needs. The 2011 DHS indicated the maternal mortality rate was 676 deaths per 100,000 live births as compared with 673 per 100,000 reported in the 2005 DHS. The immediate causes of maternal mortality included excessive bleeding, infection, hypertensive complications, and obstructed labor, with the underlying cause being the prevalence of home births and lack of access to emergency obstetric care. Only 9 percent of women reported delivering in a health facility or with a skilled birth attendant.

Discrimination: Discrimination against women was a problem and was most acute in rural areas, where an estimated 85 percent of the population lived. The law contains discriminatory regulations, such as the recognition of the husband as the legal head of the family and the sole guardian of children more than five years old. Courts generally did not consider domestic violence by itself a justification for granting a divorce. Irrespective of the number of years the marriage existed, the number of children raised, and joint property, the law entitled women to only three months’ financial support if a relationship ended. There was limited legal recognition of common-law marriage. A common-law husband had no obligation to provide financial assistance to his family, and as a result, women and children sometimes faced abandonment. Traditional courts continued to apply customary law in economic and social relationships.

According to the constitution all land belongs to the government. Both men and women have land-use rights, which they may pass on as an inheritance. Land law varies among regions. All federal and regional land laws empower women to access government land. Inheritance laws also enable widowed women to inherit joint property they acquired during marriage.

In urban areas women had fewer employment opportunities than men, and the jobs available did not provide equal pay for equal work. Women’s access to gainful employment, credit, and the opportunity to own or manage a business was further limited by their generally lower level of education and training and by traditional attitudes.

The Ministry of Education reported female participation in undergraduate and postgraduate programs increased to 144,286 during the 2011-12 academic year, compared with 123,706 in 2010-11, continuing the trend of increasing female participation in higher education. Children

Birth registration: Citizenship is derived from one’s parents. The law requires all children to be registered at birth. Children born in hospitals were registered while most children born outside of hospitals were not. The overwhelming majority of children, particularly in rural areas, were born at home.

Education: As a policy, primary education was universal and tuition-free; however, there were not enough schools to accommodate the country’s youth, particularly in rural areas. The cost of school supplies was prohibitive for many families, and there was no legislation to enforce compulsory primary education. The number of students enrolled in schools expanded faster than trained teachers could be deployed.

Child Abuse: Child abuse was widespread. A 2009 study conducted by the African Child Policy Forum revealed prosecuting offenders for [deleted] violence against children was difficult due to inconsistent interpretation of laws among legal bodies and the offender’s right to bail, which often resulted in the offender fleeing or coercing the victim or the victim’s family to drop the charges. “Child friendly” benches heard cases involving violence against children and women. During the year the Federal Court of First Instance announced that tribunals hearing cases relating to families and children would keep extended hours to accommodate children’s school schedules. There was a commissioner for women and children’s affairs in the EHRC.

Forced or Early Marriage: The law sets the legal marriage age for girls and boys at 18; however, authorities did not enforce this law uniformly, and rural families sometimes were unaware of this provision. In several regions it was customary for older men to marry young girls, although this traditional practice continued to face greater scrutiny and criticism.

According to the 2011 DHS, the median age of first marriage among women surveyed between the ages of 20 and 49 was 17.1 years. The age of first marriage appeared to be rising. In 2005 the median age of marriage for women surveyed between 20 and 24 was 16.5 years, and while 39 percent of women between 45 and 49 reported being married by age 15, only 8 percent of young women between 15 and 19 years of age reported being or having been married.

In the Amhara and Tigray regions, girls were married routinely as early as age seven. Child marriage was most prevalent in the Amhara Region, where the median first marriage age was 15.1 years, according to the 2011 DHS, compared with 14.7 years in 2005. Regional governments in Amhara and, to a lesser extent, Tigray offered programs to educate young women on problems associated with early marriage.

Harmful Traditional Practices: Societal abuse of young girls continued to be a problem. Harmful practices included FGM/C, early marriage, marriage by abduction, and food and work prohibitions.

The majority of girls in the country have undergone some form of FGM/C, although the results of the 2009 Population Council survey suggested its prevalence had declined. Sixty-six percent of female respondents ages 21 to 24 reported they were subjected to FGM/C compared with 56 percent of those ages 15 to 17. Of the seven regions surveyed, the study found the rates to be highest in Afar (90.3 percent), Oromia (77.4 percent), and the SNNPR (74.6 percent).

FGM/C was much less common in urban areas, where only 15 percent of the population lived. Girls typically experienced clitoridectomies seven days after birth (consisting of an excision of the [deleted], often with partial labial excision) and infibulation (the most extreme and dangerous form of FGM/C) at the onset of puberty. The penal code criminalizes practitioners of clitoridectomy, with imprisonment of at least three months or a fine of at least 500 birr ($26). Infibulation of the genitals is punishable with imprisonment of five to 10 years. No criminal charges have ever been brought for FGM/C. The government discouraged the practice of FGM/C through education in public schools, the Health Extension Program, and broader mass media campaigns.

[deleted] Exploitation of Children: The minimum age for consensual [deleted] is 18 years, but authorities did not enforce this law. The law provides for three to 15 years in prison for [deleted] intercourse with a minor. The law provides for one year in prison and a fine of 10,000 birr ($530) for trafficking in indecent material displaying [deleted] intercourse by minors. The law prohibits profiting from the prostitution of minors and inducing minors to engage in prostitution; however, commercial [deleted] exploitation of children continued, particularly in urban areas. Girls as young as age 11 reportedly were recruited to work in brothels. Customers often sought these girls because they believed them to be free of [deleted] transmitted diseases. Young girls were trafficked from rural to urban areas. They also were exploited as prostitutes in hotels, bars, resort towns, and rural truck stops. Reports indicated family members forced some young girls into prostitution.

 

Infanticide or Infanticide of Children with Disabilities: Ritual and superstition-based infanticide continued in remote tribal areas, particularly South Omo. Local governments worked to educate communities against the practice.

Displaced Children: According to a 2010 report by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, approximately 150,000 children lived on the streets, of whom 60,000 were in the capital. The ministry’s report stated families’ inability to support children due to parental illness or insufficient household income exacerbated the problem. These children begged, sometimes as part of a gang, or worked in the informal sector.

A 2010 Population Council Young Adult Survey found that 82.3 percent of boys who lived or worked on the streets had been to or had enrolled in school, 26.4 percent had lost one parent, and 47.2 percent had lost both parents. Among these boys, 72 percent worked for pay at some point in their lives. Government and privately run orphanages were unable to handle the number of street children.

Institutionalized Children: There were an estimated 5.4 million orphans in the country, according to a 2010 report by the Central Statistics Authority. The vast majority lived with extended family members. Government orphanages were overcrowded, and conditions were often unsanitary. Due to severe resource constraints, hospitals and orphanages often overlooked or neglected abandoned infants. Institutionalized children did not receive adequate health care.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Anti-Semitism

The Jewish community numbered approximately 2,000 persons. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts. Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at http://www.state.gov/j/tip/. Persons with Disabilities

The constitution does not mandate equal rights for persons with disabilities. The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment and mandates access to buildings. It is illegal for deaf persons to drive.

The law prohibits employment discrimination based on disability. It also makes employers responsible for providing appropriate working or training conditions and materials to persons with disabilities. The law specifically recognizes the additional burden on women with disabilities. The government took limited measures to enforce the law, for example, by assigning interpreters for hearing-impaired civil service employees.

The law mandates building accessibility and accessible toilet facilities for persons with physical disabilities, although specific regulations that define the accessibility standards were not adopted. Buildings and toilet facilities were usually not accessible. Landlords are required to give persons with disabilities preference for ground-floor apartments, and this was respected.

Women with disabilities were more disadvantaged than men with disabilities in education and employment. An Addis Ababa University study from 2008 showed that female students with disabilities were subjected to a heavier burden of domestic work than their male peers. The 2010 Population Council Young Adult Survey found young persons with disabilities were less likely to have ever attended school than young persons without disabilities. The survey indicated girls with disabilities were less likely than boys with disabilities to be in school; 23 percent of girls with disabilities were in school, compared to 48 percent of girls without disabilities and 55 percent of boys without disabilities. Overall, 47.8 percent of young persons with disabilities surveyed reported not going to school due to their disability. Girls with disabilities also were much more likely to suffer physical and [deleted] abuse than girls without disabilities. Of [deleted] experienced girls with disabilities, 33 percent reported having experienced forced [deleted]. According to the same survey, some 6 percent of boys with disabilities had been beaten in the three months prior to the survey, compared with 2 percent of boys without disabilities.

There were several schools for hearing and visually impaired persons and several training centers for children and young persons with intellectual disabilities. There was a network of prosthetic and orthopedic centers in five of the nine regional states.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs worked on disability-related problems. The CSO law continued to affect negatively several domestic associations, such as the Ethiopian National Association of the Blind, the Ethiopian National Association of the Deaf, and the Ethiopian National Association of the Physically Handicapped, like other civil society organizations. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The country has more than 80 ethnic groups, of which the Oromo, at approximately 35 percent of the population, is the largest. The federal system drew boundaries roughly along major ethnic group lines. Most political parties remained primarily ethnically based.

Clashes between ethnic groups during the year resulted in injury and death. In January ethnic clashes broke out at Addis Ababa University reportedly due to anti-Oromo graffiti. The clashes resulted in injury to as many as 20 persons. In February clashes between members of the Afar, Somali, and Oromo ethnic groups in the eastern town of Awash Arba reportedly resulted in the deaths of more than 20 persons.

Authorities in the western region of Benishangul-Gumuz forcibly evicted as many as 8,000 ethnic Amhara residents from their homes; some of those evicted alleged police beat and harassed them because of their ethnicity. The regional president publically stated the evictions were a mistake and called on the evictees to return. Government officials also stated that victims would be compensated for lost property and any injuries sustained. Authorities dismissed several local officials from their government positions because of their alleged involvement in the evictions, and charged some of these officials with criminal offenses. Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on [deleted] Orientation and Gender Identity

Consensual [deleted] [deleted] activity is illegal and punishable by imprisonment under the law. There is no law prohibiting discrimination against [deleted], [deleted], [deleted], and [deleted] (LGBT) individuals. There were some reports of violence against LGBT individuals; reporting was limited due to fear of retribution, discrimination, or stigmatization. There are no hate crime laws or other criminal justice mechanisms to aid in the investigation of abuses against LGBT persons. Persons did not identify themselves as LGBT persons due to severe societal stigma and the illegality of consensual [deleted] [deleted] activity. Activists in the LGBT community stated they were followed and at times feared for their safety. There were periodic detentions of some in the LGBT community, combined with interrogation and alleged physical abuse.

The AIDS Resource Center in Addis Ababa reported the majority of self-identified [deleted] and [deleted] callers, most of whom were male, requested assistance in changing their behavior to avoid discrimination. Many [deleted] men reported anxiety, confusion, identity crises, depression, self-ostracism, religious conflict, and suicide attempts. Other Societal Violence or Discrimination

Societal stigma and discrimination against persons living with or affected by HIV/AIDS continued in the areas of education, employment, and community integration. Persons living with or affected by HIV/AIDS reported difficulty accessing services. Despite the abundance of anecdotal information, there were no statistics on the scale of the problem. Section 7. Worker RightsShare a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The constitution and the law provide workers, except for certain categories of workers primarily in the public sector, with the right to form and join unions, conduct legal strikes, and bargain collectively, although other laws severely restrict or excessively regulate these rights. The law specifically prohibits managerial employees, teachers, health care workers, and civil servants (including judges, prosecutors, and security service workers) from organizing unions. Other workers specifically excluded by law from unionizing include domestic workers and seasonal and part-time agricultural workers.

A minimum of 10 workers is required to form a union. While the law provides all unions with the right to register, the government may refuse to register trade unions that do not meet its registration requirements. The law stipulates a trade union organization may not act in an overtly political manner. The law allows administrative authorities to appeal to the courts to cancel union registration for engaging in prohibited activities, such as political action. While the law prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers and provides for reinstatement for workers fired for union activity, it does not prevent an employer from creating or supporting a workers’ organization for the purpose of controlling it.

Other laws and regulations that explicitly or potentially infringe upon workers’ rights to associate freely and to organize include: the CSO law; Council of Ministers Regulation No. 168/2009 on Charities and Societies to reinforce the CSO law; Proclamation No. 652/2009 on Antiterrorism. During the year the International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations noted the CSO law gives the government power to interfere in the right of workers to organize, including through the registration, internal administration, and dissolution of organizations, and that the Antiterrorism Proclamation could become a means of punishing the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and the right to organize.

While the law recognizes the right of collective bargaining, this right was severely restricted. Negotiations aimed at amending or replacing a collective agreement must be completed within three months of its expiration, or the provisions on wages and other benefits cease to apply. Civil servants, including public school teachers, have the right to establish and join professional associations, but are not allowed to negotiate for better wages or working conditions. Furthermore, the arbitration procedures in the public sector are more restrictive than those in the private sector.

Although the constitution and law provide workers with the right to strike to protect their interests, the law contains detailed provisions prescribing excessively complex and time-consuming formalities that make legal strike actions difficult to carry out. The law requires aggrieved workers to attempt reconciliation with employers before striking and includes a lengthy dispute settlement process. These provisions applied equally to an employer’s right to lock workers out. Two-thirds of the workers involved must support a strike for it to occur. If a case has not already been referred to a court or labor relations board, workers retain the right to strike without resorting to either of these options, provided they give at least 10 days’ notice to the other party and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and make efforts at reconciliation.

The law also prohibits strikes by workers who provide essential services, including air transport and urban bus service workers, electric power suppliers, gas station personnel, hospital and pharmacy personnel, firefighters, telecommunications personnel, and urban sanitary workers. The list of essential services exceeds the ILO definition of essential services. The law prohibits retribution against strikers, but also provides for excessive civil or penal sanctions against unions and workers involved in unauthorized strike actions. Unions may be dissolved for carrying out strikes in “essential services.”

The informal labor sector, including domestic workers, is not unionized and is not protected by labor laws. Lack of adequate staffing prevented the government from effectively enforcing applicable laws during the year. Court procedures were subject to lengthy delays and appeals.

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining were not respected. Although the government permits unions, the government established and controlled the major trade unions. As it had for more than four years, the government continued to use its authority to refuse to register the National Teachers’ Association (NTA) on the grounds that a national teacher association already existed, and that the NTA’s registration application was not submitted in accordance with the CSO law. According to the Education International report to the ILO in 2011, government security agents subjected members of the NTA to surveillance and harassment, with the goal of intimidating teachers to abandon the NTA and forcing them to give up their long-standing demand for the formation of an independent union. In November 2012 the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association expressed its concern with regard to serious violations of the NTA’s trade union rights, including continuous interference in its internal organization that prevented it from functioning normally, as well as interference by way of threats, dismissals, arrest, detention, and mistreatment of NTA members. The committee urged the government to register the NTA without delay; to ensure the CSO law was not applicable to workers’ and employers’ organizations; and to undertake civil service reform to fully protect the right of civil servants to establish and join organizations of their own choosing.

While the government allowed citizens to exercise the right of collective bargaining freely, representatives negotiated wages only at the plant level. It was common for employers to refuse to bargain. Unions in the formal industrial sector made some efforts to enforce labor regulations.

Despite the law prohibiting antiunion discrimination, unions reported employers fired union activists. There were reports most Chinese employers generally did not allow workers to form unions and often transferred or fired union leaders, and intimidated and pressured members to leave unions. Lawsuits alleging unlawful dismissal often take years to resolve because of case backlogs in the courts. Employers found guilty of antiunion discrimination were required to reinstate workers fired for union activities and generally did so. While the law prohibits retribution against strikers, most workers were not convinced the government would enforce this protection. Labor officials reported that, due to high unemployment and long delays in the hearing of labor cases, some workers were afraid to participate in strikes or other labor actions. Antiunion activities occurred but were rarely reported. b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits most forms of forced or compulsory labor, including by children, but it also permits courts to order forced labor as a punitive measure. The government did not effectively enforce the forced labor prohibition, and forced labor occurred. Both adults and children were forced to engage in street vending, begging, traditional weaving, or agricultural work. Children also worked in forced domestic labor. Situations of debt bondage also occurred in traditional weaving, pottery, cattle herding, and other agricultural activities, mostly in rural areas.

Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at http://www.state.gov/j/tip/. c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

By law the minimum age for wage or salary employment is 14 years. The minimum age provisions, however, only apply to contractual labor and do not apply to self-employed children or children who perform unpaid work. Special provisions cover children between the ages of 14 and 18, including the prohibition of hazardous or night work. The law defines hazardous work as work in factories or involving machinery with moving parts or any work that could jeopardize a child’s health. Prohibited work sectors include passenger transport, electric generation plants, underground work, street cleaning, and many other sectors. The law expressly excludes children under age 16 attending vocational schools from legal protection with regard to the prohibition on young workers performing hazardous work. The law does not permit children between the ages of 14 and 18 to work more than seven hours per day, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., on public holidays or rest days, or on overtime.

The government did not effectively enforce these laws. The lack of labor inspectors and controls prevented the government from enforcing the law. The resources for inspections and the implementation of penalties were extremely limited. Despite the introduction of labor inspector training at Gondar University in 2011, insufficient numbers of labor inspectors and inspections resulted in lax enforcement of occupational safety and health measures and in increased numbers of children working in prohibited work sectors, particularly construction. The National Action Plan to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor was signed at the end of 2012.

While primary education is free, it is not compulsory, and net school enrollment was low, particularly in rural areas. To underscore the importance of attending school, joint NGO and government-led community-based awareness raising activities targeted communities where children were heavily engaged in agricultural work. During the year the government invested in modernizing agricultural practices and constructing schools to combat the problem of child labor in agricultural sectors.

Child labor remained a serious problem. In both rural and urban areas, children often began working at young ages. Child labor was particularly pervasive in subsistence agricultural production, traditional weaving, fishing, and domestic work. A growing number of children worked in construction. Children in rural areas, especially boys, engaged in activities such as cattle herding, petty trading, plowing, harvesting, and weeding, while other children, mostly girls, collected firewood and fetched water. Children worked in the production of gold. In small-scale gold mining, they dug their own mining pits and carried heavy loads of water. Children in urban areas, including orphans, worked in domestic service, often working long hours, which prevented many from attending school regularly. They also worked in manufacturing, shining shoes, making clothes, as porters, directing customers to taxis, parking, public transport, petty trading, and occasionally herding animals. Some children worked long hours in dangerous environments for little or no wages and without occupational safety protection. Child laborers often faced physical, [deleted], and emotional abuse at the hands of their employers.

Also see the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor athttp://www.dol.gov/ilab/programs/ocft/tda.htm. d. Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no national minimum wage. Some government institutions and public enterprises set their own minimum wages. Public sector employees, the largest group of wage earners, earned a monthly minimum wage of approximately 420 birr ($22). The official estimate for the poverty income level was approximately 315 birr ($16) per month.

Only a small percentage of the population, concentrated in urban areas, was involved in wage-labor employment. Wages in the informal sector generally were below subsistence levels.

The law provides for a 48-hour maximum legal workweek with a 24-hour rest period, premium pay for overtime, and prohibition of excessive compulsory overtime. The country has 13 paid public holidays per year. The law entitles employees in public enterprise and government financial institutions to overtime pay; civil servants receive compensatory time for overtime work. The government, industries, and unions negotiated occupational safety and health standards. Workers specifically excluded by law from unionizing, including domestic workers and seasonal and part-time agricultural workers, generally did not benefit from health and safety regulations in the workplace.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs’ inspection department was responsible for enforcement of workplace standards. The country had 380 labor inspectors, but due to lack of resources, the labor inspectors did not enforce standards effectively. The ministry’s severely limited administrative capacity; lack of an effective mechanism for receiving, investigating, and tracking allegations of violations; and lack of detailed, sector-specific health and safety guidelines hampered effective enforcement of these standards. In addition penalties were not sufficient to deter violations.

Compensation, benefits, and working conditions of seasonal agricultural workers were far below those of unionized permanent agricultural employees. The government did little to enforce the law. Most employees in the formal sector worked a 39-hour workweek. Many foreign, migrant, and informal sector workers worked more than 48 hours per week.

Workers have the right to remove themselves from dangerous situations without jeopardizing their employment. Despite this law most workers feared losing their jobs if they were to do so. Hazardous working conditions existed in the agricultural sector, which was the primary base of the country’s economy. There were also reports of hazardous and exploitative working conditions in the construction and fledgling industrial sectors. – See more at: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/hu … 13#wrapper

POSTED BY DANIEL TESFAYE

ከባዶ ጭንቅላት ባዶ እግር ይሻላል!!!

February 27, 2014

የባህርዳር እና አካባቢው ሕዝብ ከባዶ ጭንቅላት ባዶ እግር ሺህ ጊዜ እንደሚሻል አካሉን ብቻ ሳይሆን ህሊናውንም ለትግራዩ ነፃ አውጪ ህወሓት ባርነት ላስገዛው “የብሔረ አማራ ዴሞክራሲያዊ ንቅናቄ (ብአዴን)” እያለ እራሱን ለሚጠራው ድርጅት መሪዎች ተናገረ።

ባርነት ክፉ ነው። በባርነት ላይ የጭንቅላት ባዶነት ሲታከልበት ደግሞ አለምነው መኮንንን የመሰሉ የብአዴን መሪዎችን ይፈጥራል። የብአዴን መሪዎች ለጌታቸው ህወሓት ያላቸውን ታማኝነት ለማሳየት ራሳቸውን ማዋረዳቸው ሳያንስ እንወክለዋለን የሚሉትን ሕዝብ በጅምላ መስደባቸው ብአዴን እንደ ድርጅት የሚገኝበት የተዋረደ ደረጃ ያሳያል።

ህሊና ያለው ባርያ ዛሬ ነፃ ባይሆንም ወደፊት ነፃ የመውጣት ህልም አለው። ዛሬ በጉልበተኛ የባርያ አሳዳሪ ነፃነቱን ቢያጣም የህሊና ነፃነቱን ያላስደፈረ ባርያ ለነፃነት መታገሉ የማይቀር ነው። እንደ ብአዴን መሪዎች በታማኝ ባርያነቱ እየፈነጠዘ ያለ ባርያ ግን ነፃ ሰው የመሆን ህልሙንም ጭምር አጥቷል። እንዲህ ዓይነቱ ባርያ በአካልም፤ በመንፈስም ባሪያ ነው። ነፃ ሰው የመሆን እድል የለውም።

የአማራ ሕዝብ ብአዴንን የመሰለ አሳፋሪ ድርጅት በታሪኩ ገጥሞት አያውቅም። በፋሽስት ጣልያን ወረራ ጊዜ ለጠላት ያደሩ ባንዶች እንኳን ከዛሬዎቹ ብአዴኖች የተሻለ ክብር ነበራቸው። እነሱም ከዛሬዎቹም በተሻለ በጌቶቻቸው ጣሊያኖች ይሰሙ ነበር። በገዢዎቹ ለመወደድ የራሱን ሕዝብ የሚዘልፍ፣ የሚሰድብና የሚያዋርድ እንደ ብአዴን ያለ አዋራጅ ድርጅት በአማራ ምድር አልታየም።

ለዚህም ነው የባህርዳር እና አካባቢው ሕዝብ የብአዴንና የወያኔን አፈናዎችን በጣጥሶ የካቲት 16 ቀን 2006 ዓ.ም. ቁጣውን በባዶ እግሩ አደባባይ በመውጣት የገለፀው። እግር ባዶ መሆኑ ጭንቅላት ባዶ የመሆኑ ያህል የሚያሳፍር አይደለም። ድህነት ወንጀል አይደለም። ነፃ አዕምሮና የሕዝብ ይሁንታ ያገኘ አስተዳደር ካለ ድህነትን ማሸነፍ ይቻላል።

ግንቦት 7: የፍትህ፣ የነፃነትና የዲሞክራሲ ንቅናቄ፣ ፈታኝ ሁኔታዎችን ተቋቁመው የየካቲት 16 ቀን 2006 ዓ.ምን ሕዝባዊ ተቃውሞ ላደራጁና በተቃውሞውም ለተካፈሉ ሁሉ ያለውን አክብሮት ይገልፃል። ሕዝብ ብሶቱን የሚገልጽበት ሕዝባዊ ተቃውሞ ማደራጀትና መምራት መቻል ትልቅ ነገር ነው። ሕዝባዊ ተቃውሞዎች ወደ ሕዝባዊ እምቢተኝነት የማደግ እድል አላቸው። ስለሆነም ግንቦት 7 ለባህርዳሩ ሕዝባዊ ተቃውሞ አደራጆችና ተሳታፉዎች “እንኳን ደስ ያላችሁ” በማለት የትግል አጋርነቱን መግለጽ ይሻል።

ግንቦት 7፣ ብአዴንን ከአባላቱ ለይቶ ማየት ይሻል። ከዚህም በተጨማሪ የብአዴንን ከፍተኛ አመራር ከሌላው ለይቶ ይመለከታል። ብአዴን ነፍሳቸውን ሳይቀር ለወያኔ በሸጡ ሰዎች የሚመራ፤ ነፃ የመውጣት ተስፋ የሌለው ራሱ ባርያ የሆነ ድርጅት ነው። አባላቱ ግን ከዚህ የተለዩ ሊሆኑ እንደሚችሉ ግንቦት 7 ያውቃል።

ግንቦት 7፡ የፍትህ፣ የነፃነትና የዲሞክራሲ ንቅናቄ ከዚህም በፊትም ደጋግሞ እንደገለጸው፤ በተለያዩ ጊዜያት ራሳቸውን ከወያኔ ባርነት ነፃ ለማውጣት በወሰዱት እርምጃ መስዋእትነት የከፈሉ የብአዴን አባላት መኖራቸውን ያውቃል። ግንቦት 7 ለእነዚህ ቆራጦች ትልቅ አክብሮት አለው። ዛሬም ህሊናቸውን ሙሉ በሙሉ ያልሸጡ የብአዴን አባላት አሉ ብሎ ያምናል። እነዚህ ወገኖቻችን ራሳቸውን ነፃ ለማውጣት የግል፣ የወገንና የአገር ግዴታ አለባቸው ብሎ ያምናል።

ስለሆነም ዛሬም ይህንን አጋጣሚ ተጠቅመን ጥሪዓችንን እናድሳለን።

የብአዴን አባላት ሆይ!!! የገዛ ራሳችሁን፣ የአማራን ሕዝብ እና ኢትዮጵያን እያዋረደ ካለው ብአዴን ተላቀቁ፤ አሊያም እውስጡ ሆናችሁ ድርጅቱን ግደሉት። የብአዴን መኖር ለወያኔ ካልሆነ በስተቀር ለማንም አይበጅም። ነፃነት ካለ ድህነትን በሥራ ማሸነፍ ይቻላል። ሰው ባርያ ሆኖ በሀብት ቢንበሸበሽ ምን ይፈይድለታል?

የብአዴን አባላት ሆይ!!! ወደ ህሊችሁ ተመለሱ። ራሳችሁንም የበደላችሁትን ሕዝብ የመካስ እድል አድል አላችሁ ተጠቀሙበት። ይህንን ባታደርጉ ግን ለገዛ ራሳችሁ ፀፀት፤ ለልጆቻችሁ ሀፍረትን የምታወርሱ መሆኑን አትዘንጉ። ወያኔ መሸነፉ በጭራሽ የማይቀር መሆኑን እያወቃቸው በድህረ ጣልያን ወረራ ባንዶች ያገኙትን ምህረት እናገኛለን ብላችሁ አታስቡ።

ድል ለኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ!!

posted by Daniel tesfaye

Cloaking corruption in international respectability and credibility

February 24, 2014

by Alemayehu G. Mariam

The regime in Ethiopia is making a desperate second run to bring international respectability to its corrupt mining sector by re-applying for admission as an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) candidate.  According to Anthony Richter, Chairman of the Board of the Revenue Watch Institute and a board member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), Ethiopia’s 2010 application was rejected because the  EITI

board concluded that Ethiopia’s ‘Proclamation on Charities and Society’ would prevent civil society groups from being sufficiently independent and meaningfully participate in the process.  The board decided, in effect, not to admit Ethiopia ‘until the Proclamation on Charities and Society is no longer in place.’ This is the only such instance in the history of EITI where a country has failed to be admitted and the grounds for this action was clearly rights-based. (Italics added.)

EITI is an international organization consisting of a “coalition of governments, companies, civil society, investors and international organisations” which “through robust yet flexible methodology company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining are published, and discrepancies are reduced.” Simply stated, EITI aims to promote accountability and transparency by requiring corporations and governments in  member countries to come clean on revenues generated in their extractive industries. EITI is widely recognized for its “standards that promotes revenue transparency at the local level.”The regime in Ethiopia is making a desperate second run

The regime in Ethiopia is seeking EITI membership not to promote genuine transparency and accountability in its mining sector. Its real purpose is to use EITI admission and certification as a badge of integrity and a stamp of approval of good governance and good business practices as it markets its corrupt mining sector to investors.  The candidacy appplication is a cynical ploy to use the EITI imprimatur to trick and lull potential international investors and financial institutions into believing that the regime is demonstrably committed to greater transparency and is in fact practicing accountability. It is a contemptuously audacious scheme to hoodwink EITI and foist on unsuspecting investors a false sense of political stability and convince them that they can expect full security for their mining investments.  The fact of the matter is that the regime has no respect for private property of its citizens or foreign investors and maintains an overall hostile business environment. In its 2014 report, COFACE, the multinational that provides credit insurance and credit management services worldwide concluded that Ethiopia has “a difficult business environment marked by the lack of public sector data transparency, corruption and the crowding out of the private sector.”

Ethiopia’s mining sector is “corruption central”

The mining sector in Ethiopia is a hotbed of corruption and hub for graft and fraud.  The World Bank (WB) in its 2012 massive report “Diagnosing Corruption in Ethiopia” identified the mining sector as one of the most corrupt sectors of Ethiopia’s economy.

According the WB, there are “seven areas of corruption risk” in the Ethiopian mining sector” including the “three main risk areas” of “license issuing, compliance with license conditions, and mining revenues”. The other critical areas of corruption include fraudulent practices in “compensations and obligations to local inhabitants, contracts with contractors and suppliers to the mining companies, falsification by mining companies of product quality, and theft of mining products and equipment.”

In the area of “license issuing”, the WB report states that “officials may extort or be offered bribes by mining companies in return for issuing licenses, for issuing licenses more quickly, or for specifying less-onerous license conditions.” A related risk is that “officials may secretly have ownership stakes in companies to which licenses are granted; acquire land for which a license application has been made; demand a share in mining companies or in their profits; and manipulate license registration to give themselves or their associates prior registration.” In “license compliance”, “mining companies may deliberately breach mining conditions (for example, environmental, health, and safety regulations, as well as the extent or area of mining)” with impunity.

In the area of revenue, “mining companies may deliberately understate output and profit and overstate costs to reduce royalties and profit taxes.” The regime has no independent means of verifying the revenues of mining companies. According to the WB, “Collection of royalties and income tax apparently depends almost entirely on the mining companies’ self-certification of output and profit because of the lack of resources at the Ethiopian federal, regional, and city licensing authority levels. It would, therefore, be relatively easy for the mining companies to exaggerate their capital and operating costs and understate their output and profit.” When “license operation and mining revenue breaches are discovered, the mining company may also bribe inspectors to overlook the breaches.”

The catalogue of corrupt practices in the mining sector documented by the WB in its 2012 report cover the entire spectrum ranging from bribes, falsification of records, shakedowns and take downs of mining companies and stealing compensation designated for local inhabitants to criminal use of insider information and fraudulent shell corporations. The egregious examples of corruption documented by the WB are mind boggling and include the following:

A mining company could be required to pay a large premium in return for a mining license. Senior officials and the mining company could keep this premium secret, and the officials could receive payment in offshore bank accounts.

An official may require the mining company to make a large donation to a charity if it wants the license to be issued more quickly. Although the charity may appear to be genuine, it may in fact be a front for a political party or for the official’s personal or family gain.

A mining company may submit a health and safety plan for a mining license in accordance with good practice, but an official may tell the company that unless it pays a bribe, he or she will impose additional and unnecessarily onerous health and safety conditions.

A mining company may submit an environmental management plan for a mining license that will inadequately control the leaching of poisonous chemicals into the water supply. Proper controls would [be costly]. The mining company may pay the official responsible for approving the license a bribe to approve the deficient conditions.

Officials may demand a share in the profits of a mining company. A mining company may agree to give an official’s relative a free share in the profits of the mining project if it receives a license on beneficial terms.

Officials grant licenses to companies secretly owned by them. Officials secretly acquire land that is subject to a license application.

An official who is aware that mining may take place on an area of land may lease the land in advance of the mine licensing. Once the license is granted, the value of the land may materially increase. The official thereby profits from his or her inside knowledge by selling or licensing his or her rights to the land to the mining company.

Companies illegally on-sell licenses granted to them.

Officials manipulate license registration.

An official in the department that issues mining licenses may hear that a mining company wishes to apply for a license. The official may alert a businessperson with whom he or she has connections, and the businessperson may quickly apply for a license over the same area. The official grants the license to the businessperson. The mining company then has to purchase the license from the businessperson, and the businessperson shares the profit with the official.

A prospector may discover minerals, mark the area, and contact the relevant licensing authority to receive a discovery certificate. A corrupt official may not register the discovery in that person’s name but instead notify a business colleague and register the discovery in the colleague’s name. The corrupt official may then falsely inform the discoverer that someone else had previously discovered the minerals.

Officials collude with mining companies to grant subcontracts to relatives. The licensing authority could, as a condition of the license award or social development plan, require the mining company to undertake a large amount of additional infrastructure works at the mining company’s own cost. For example, the mining company may be obliged to build or refurbish a road, a school, or a hospital. A government official could then require the mining company to award one or more of these infrastructure projects to a contractor secretly owned by a member of the official’s family.

Officials or community leaders may steal compensation that should have gone to local inhabitants. Mining companies may bribe officials to set compensation below a proper rate.

Local inhabitants may falsely claim that they occupy land subject to a license application.

Contractors and suppliers may engage in fraudulent transactions in tendering, submitting claims, and concealing or approval of defective works.

Mining companies may commit fraud by making false declarations about the identity and quality of minerals or by bribing certifiers to approve false declarations. A major, ongoing investigation into corruption of this type is under way in Ethiopia.  

Smoke and mirrors in the Ethiopian mining sector?

The regime in power has been playing a magical game of smoke and mirrors with mining revenues.  According to a recent report citing official regime sources, “The Ethiopian government earned USD 419 million from the export of minerals supplied by artisanal miners operating in the country in the first 11 months of the current financial year.  Export of gold made up the largest proportion of minerals, generating USD 409.1 million in foreign currency, followed by gemstones and tantalum earning USD 9.3 million and USD 1.6 million. This income came from the export of 7878.3 kg of gold, 20,126.3 kg of gemstones and 32.95 tons of tantalum…. MIDROC Gold is the only company that is engaged in large-scale gold mining.” Other reports indicate the “export of minerals has become Ethiopia’s second largest foreign currency earner, contributing over 23 percent of overall export earnings.”

The fact of the matter is that no one, except those who hold the key to the lockbox of the mining revenues, know the actual amount of revenue generated by the mining sector. The regime claims it has no independent way of verifying mining revenues and must rely on information reported by the companies. How convenient! The fact of the matter is that principal beneficiaries of the mining sector revenues are the wealthy oligarchs and  the businesses fronting for the oligarchs and other enterprises owned by the “Tigray People’s Liberation Front”.  No one knows the depth and breadth of corruption taking place in the sale of mineral licenses and siphoning of mining revenues. There is credible anecdotal eyewitness testimony alleging that hundreds of pounds of gold are regularly spirited out of the country without inspection by plane from airstrips close to the gold mines. It is this brazen mining scam that the regime audaciously seeks to enshrine and consecrate  with EITI imprimatur!

Why EITI must reject the regime’s candidacy application?

In its 2011 Rules, EITI made it clear that civil society freedom and participation is a cornerstone of its candidacy and membership criteria. To be eligible, the regime in Ethiopia “must take effective actions to remove obstacles affecting civil society participation”. It must respect the “the fundamental rights of civil society and company representatives substantively engaged in EITI.”  The regime “must ensure there are no obstacles to civil society and company participation in the process” and guarantee that “ there is an enabling framework for civil society organizations and companies, with regard to relevant laws, regulations, and administrative rules as well as actual practice in implementation of the EITI.”

Moreover, the regime “must refrain from actions which result in narrowing or restricting public debate in relation to the implementation of the EITI”  and ensure that “ civil society and company representatives can speak freely on transparency and natural resource governance issues”. The regime must guarantee that civil society groups that participate as members of the multi-stakeholder group “must be operational, and, in policy terms, independent of government and/or companies” and “should be able to operate freely without restraint or coercion, including by liaising with their constituency groups.”  EITI emphatically requires that “civil society groups, companies and their representatives must be free to express opinions about the EITI without restraint, coercion or reprisal” and that “civil society groups involved in the EITI must be free to engage in wider public debates on the EITI.”

Civil society institutions have been decimated by the regime in Ethiopia

The regime’s 2009 charities and societies law (Charities and Societies Proclamation No. 621/2009)  has been weaponized to completely decimate civil society organizations in Ethiopia. In February 2008, I critically reviewed the draft of the proclamation in a long commentary titled, “Probing the Feared CSO Draft Law.” I listed 10 compelling reasons why it should discarded. I argued the proclamation is a preemptive legal strike aimed at neutralizing and abolishing civil society institutions so that they will not pose a threat to the regime by promoting democratic practices. The proclamation facilitated arbitrary and capricious  regulation of civil society institutions by granting unbounded discretionary quasi-judicial  power to the director to the regulatory agency of the NGOs without normal judicial review. The proclamation is extremely intrusive in the affairs of civil society, micromanages them and imposes unreasonable and extremely burdensome financial accountability requirements, which the regime itself does not practice. It is punitive and has a chilling effect on civil society membership and participation. Ultimately, I argued the proclamation is manifestly unconstitutional, mean-spirited and discriminatory. Human Rights Watch commenting on the draft warned that “the intended and actual result of this law would be to make it nearly impossible for any civil society organization to carry out work the government does not approve of.” As I have often said, preaching constitutional law, due process and accountability to the regime in power in Ethiopia is like preaching Scripture to a gathering of deaf-mute and blind Heathen or pouring water over a slab of granite. The draft proclamation became “law” in 2009.

In February 2010, U.S. Undersecretary of State Maria Otero raised serious concerns with the late Meles Zenawi over the Proclamation asserting that the law  “threatened the role of civil society” in Ethiopia. Meles ignored her concerns. However, the proclamation soon laid waste to civil society institutions in Ethiopia. According to one report, “the number of CSOs in Ethiopia has been reduced from about 4600 to about 1400 in a period of three months in early 2010.  Staff members have been reduced by 90% or more among many of those organizations that survive according to my informants.” Simply stated, the Proclamation wiped out 70 percent of the CSOs in Ethiopia in three months! In the same month, the regime froze the assets of Ethiopia’s Human Rights Council, Ethiopia’s oldest human rights organization, and the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, effectively incapacitating these two vital institutions; indeed for all intents and purposes outlawing them.

In October  2012, the regime announced  closing down 10 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) under the Proclamation and threatened to revoke the licenses of dozens of other organizations for alleged misconduct. The regime also announced that 17 other organizations were under active investigation. The regime further alleged  400 organizations were operating in violation of the Proclamation and affirmed that appropriate action would taken against them. In November 2012, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, a German NGO which promotes democracy and human rights, packed up and left in protest against restrictions on its activities.

In February 2013, the regime banned  three NGOs including  One Euro, the Islamic Cultural and Research Centre, and the Gohe Child, Youth and Women Development Organisation accusing them of conducting “illegal religious activities”.  In 2013, “out of  29 charities funded by US Agency for International Development, 27 can’t comply” with the Proclamation. In 2013, Human Rights Watch reported, “Ethiopia’s CSO law is one of the most draconian laws regulating nongovernmental activity in the world… Space for civil society, press freedom, and peaceful protest in Ethiopia has continued to shrink since 2010.”

The 2014 Bertelsmann Transformation Index reported, “The media and civil society organizations have been stymied by oppressive laws; trade unions and professional associations too have been forced either to toe the government line or, like the teachers’ union, be dissolved.” What is truly ironic is the fact that the majority of the current civil society stakeholders in EITI including Global Witness, Open Society Revenue Watch Institute, Transparency International  among others would not be allowed to operate in Ethiopia today!  Yet, the regime cynically and hypocritically seeks to join them and demonstrate to the world that it is committed to the free operation of civil society institutions.

Mockery of the EITI Protocol: The con game of the regime in Ethiopia must be stopped

The proffered candidacy application of the regime in Ethiopia makes a mockery of the EITI and its protocols. The regime knowing full well that it completely disregards EITI’s core value of respect for and protection of civil society organizations has nonetheless shamelessly applied for admission. The very act of submitting the candidacy application must be seen for what it is — an insult to the intelligence of EITI members and EITI as an institution, an affront to EITI values and a mockery of EITI members who have worked so hard for over a decade to bring about transparency and accountability in countries spinning in a vortex of corruption.

The bird-brained scheme of the regime to slide unnoticed into the EITI community by hoodwinking, duping and pulling the wool over the eyes of EITI’s Board reminds me of the old adage about the wolf in sheep’s clothing; better yet the proverbial pious Ethiopian wolf masquerading as a saint and praying among sheep. The regime wants to join the EITI in an attempt to mask its true nature to international investors– wolfish, predatory, rapacious, venal, corrupt, profiteering and devoid of any ethical sensibilities.

The whole idea in the EITI protocol is transparency and accountability. If the regime is unwilling to accept responsibility for its ongoing decimation of civil society institutions in Ethiopia, how can it reasonably expect to be a member of an organization whose sole purpose is transparency and accountability? A pious wolf praying among sheep? Which EITI country would not feel unsullied or willingly keep company with such an odious candidate?

Before the regime’s application for EITI candidacy is considered, it must first demonstrate its own EITI – Ethiopia  Institutional Transparency and Integrity by repealing the current proclamation and by enacting a civil society law that is civil, civic-minded and civilized.

The con game of the regime in Ethiopia to flimflam the EITI and sneak into that organization to gain undeserved international respectability must be exposed and stopped!

posted by Daniel tesfaye

የባህር ዳር ህዝብ ሆ ብሎ ወጣ!! ህዝቡ “ከባዶ ጭንቅላት… ባዶ እግር ይሻላል፡፡” አለ

February 23, 2014

(ዜና ጥንቅር ዳዊት ከበደ ወየሳ)

የተቃውሞ ሰልፉ መነሻ የብአዴኑ ምክትል ሊቀመንበር አለምነው መኮንን የአማራውን ህዝብ በመናቅ እና በመሳደብ የተናገሩት ቃል ነው:: አማራውን… “በባዶ እግሩ እየሄደ ሌላውን ይንቃል” ካሉ በኋላ ለአማራው የሚቆረቆሩትን ደግሞ “ለሃጫቸውን…” እና የመሳሰሉትን እዚህ ላይ ለመጻፍ የምንጸየፋቸውን ቃላቶች ጭምር በመጠቀም አሽሙር አይሉት ስድብ ሰንዝረዋል:: ነገሩ ከአንድ የአማራን ህዝብ እወክላለሁ ወይም እመራለሁ ከሚል ሰው የሚጠበቅ ባለመሆኑ ብዙዎችን አሳዝኗል፣ አናዷልም::

በመሆኑም የአንድነት እና የመኢአድ ፓርቲዎች በጥምረት ሆነው በባህር ዳር ከተማ የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ ለማድረግ ወሰኑ:: ምክትሉ ሊቀመንበሩ ከሰልፉ በፊት እንደበፊቱ በት እቢት ተወጥረው ሳይሆን ረጋ ብለው ምን ለማለት እንደፈለጉ ቢያስረዱም ህዝቡ ግን ተቃውሞውን ቀጠለበት:: ለነገሩ በዚህ አጋጣሚ ሌሎች የሚነሱ የህዝብ ብሶቶች እንዳይነሱ በመስጋት የክልሉ አስተዳዳሪዎች አንዳንድ እንቅፋቶችን ለመፍጠር መሞከራቸው አልቀረም:: እርግጥ ነው… ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎቹ የተቃውሞ ሰልፉን ለማድረግ ሲዘጋጁ ብዙ እክል ገጥሟቸው ነበር:: ከተማ ውስጥ በራሪ ወረቀት መስጠት እና ቅስቀሳ ማድረግ ጭምር ተክልክለዋል:: ሆኖም ህዝቡ ራሱ ከልካዮቹን በመቃወሙ የፖሊሶቹ እገታ እና ጫና በረድ አለ:: ተቃዋሚዎቹ በባዶ እግር መሄድ ማለት ምንም ማለት እንዳልሆነ ለማሳየት ቅስቀሳ ሲያደርጉም ሆነ ዛሬ በሰላማዊ ሰልፉ ላይ… ጫማቸውን አውልቀው በባዶ እግራቸው ነበር የታዩት::

bahrdar demo13 2232014

ዛሬ እሁድ… እ.ኢ.አ የካቲት 16, 2006 ባህር ዳር ቀበሌ 12፣ ግሽ አባይ በሚገኘው የአንድነት ፓርቲ ጽ/ቤት አካባቢ ሰልፉ ሲጀመር የተለያዩ መፈክሮች እየተደመጡ ነው፡፡ በሰልፉ የፊት ረድፍ ላይ የፓርቲው ሊቀ መንበር ኢንጂነር ግዛቸው፣ ዶ/ር ኃይሉ አርአያ እና ሌሎችም አመራሮች ከህዝቡ ጋር ሆነው ታይተዋል:: ከግሽ አባይ የተነሳው ሰልፈኛ ጉዞውን በባህር ዳር ጎዳናዎች ላይ ማድረግ ሲጀምር ሌሎች በሺህ የሚቆጠሩ የከተማው ነዋሪዎች ሰልፈኛውን ተቀላቅለዋል:: የኢትዮጵያ ሰንደቅ አላማ የያዙ ወጣቶች ከፊት ሆነው መፈክር በማሰማት ከተማዋን ከጠዋት እንቅልፏ አባነኗት:: የባህር ዳሩን የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ የአንድነት ፕሬዝዳንት ኢ/ር ግዛቸው ሽፈራው፣ የመኢአድ ፕሬዝዳንት አቶ አበባው መሃሪ፣ የትብብር ለዴሞክራሲ ሰብሳቢ አቶ ግርማ በቀለ እንዲሁም የአንድነት ፓርቲ ብሄራዊ ምክር ቤት አባል የሆኑት አንጋፋው ፖለቲከኛ ዶ/ር ኃይሉ አርአያ ከፊት በመምራት ላይ ይገኙ ነበር:: bahrdar demo7 2232014

ከባህር ዳር በደረሰን ዘገባ መሰረት… ህጻናት ልጆቻቸውን በጀርባቸው ያዘሉ፣ በዊልቼይር የሚሄዱ፣ አዛውንቶች፣ ወጣቶች በአንድነት ሆነው በባህርዳር ከተማ የተቃውሞ ድምጻቸውን አሰምተዋል፡፡ bahrdar demo9 2232014 ሰልፉ ከመጠናቀቁ በፊት ቁጥራቸው 15 ሺህ ያህል ሰዎች እንደነበሩ ነው ከስፍራው የተዘገበው:: በወቅቱ ከተያዙት መፈክሮች የተወሰኑት… “የመሬት ቅርምቱ ያብቃ!” “ህዝብን ከርስቱ ማፈናቀል ይቁም” “ገበሬው በገዛ መሬቱ ስደተኛ አይሆንም” “የህዝብን ክብር የደፈሩት አቶ አለምነው ለፍርድ ይቅረቡ” “ከባዶ ጭንቅላት ባዶ እግር ይሻላል” “ህዝብን እየሰደቡ መግዛት አይቻልም” “ድል የህዝብ ነው” “አቶ አለምነው የሰደቡት የአማራን ህዝብ ብቻ አይደለም” “ብአዴን /ኢህአዴግ የአማራን ህዝብ የመምራት የሞራል ልእልና የለውም”

ከስፍራው ሁኔታውን እየተከታተለ በቀጥታ ሲዘግብ የነበረው ነብዩ ሃይሉ እንደገለጸው ከሆነ… በሰልፉ ላይ አቶ አለምነው በአማራ ህዝብ ላይ የተናገሩት የጥላቻ ንግግር ለሰልፈኛው ተለቆ ህዝቡ ንግግሩን በቁጭት በብአዴን ላይ ተቃውሞውን እያሰማ ነው፡፡ “ክብራችንን የደፈሩት የብአዴን አባላት ለፍርድ ይቅረቡ” “ነፃነታችን በእጃችን ነው” “ከባዶ ጭንቅላት ባዶ እግር ይሻላል፡፡” “ብአዴን የአማራን ህዝብ ለመምራት የሞራል ልዕልና የለውም” “መተማ የኛ ነው፣ ቋራ የኛ ነው” በሰልፉ ላይ ከተስተጋቡ መፈክሮች መሀከል ይገኝበታል፡፡ ሰልፉ በህዝብ እንደታጀበ ቀጥሏል፡፡

በመጨረሻም የየፓርቲዎቹ ተጠሪዎች ለህዝቡ ንግግር አድርገዋል:: አቶ አበባው መሃሪ 1-አቶ አለምነው መኮንን በህግ እንዲጠየቅ 2- ብአዴን የአማራ ህዝባ ወኪል ነኝ ማለቱን እንዲያቆም 3-አቶ አለምነው መኮንን የአማራን ህዝብ ይቅርታ እንዲጠይቁ አሳስበዋል፡፡
የትብብር ለዴሞክራሲ ሰብሳቢ አቶ ግርማ በቀለ በንግግራቸው… የአቶ አለምነው እንዲህ እንዲናገሩ ያደረገውን አንባገነን ስርአት እንቀይር እንስራ ብለዋል፡፡

 

የሰላማዊ ሰልፉን የመዝጊያ ንግግር ያደረጉት የአንድነት ለዴሞክራሲና ለፍትህ ፓርቲ ፕሬዘዳንት ኢንጂነር ግዛቸው ሽፈራው ናቸው፡፡ ኢንጂነሩ የመግቢያ ንግግራቸውን የከፈቱት ‹‹በዛሬው እለት እጅግ ደስ ካሰኙኝ መፈክሮች ከባዶ ጭንቅላት ባዶ እግር ይሻላል የሚለው ነው በማለት ነበር፡፡ ኢ/ር ግዛቸው ሽፈራው በንግግራቸው መጨረሻ ላይ አቶ አለምነው ይቅርታ ካልጠየቀና በህግ ፊት ካልቀረበ አንድነት በድጋሚ በባህርዳር የተቃውሞ ሰልፍ እንደሚጠራ አሳውቀዋል፡፡

አሁን ሰልፉ ተጠናቆ ህዝቡ በሰላም እንደወጣ፣ በሰላም ወደ ቤቱ እየተመለሰ ነው:: የሰላማዊ ሰልፉ በሰላም መጠናቀቅ የህዝቡን ጨዋነትና የአመራሩን ብስለት ያሳያል:: እርግጥ ነው… ሰላማዊ ሰልፉ ተጠናቆ ህዝቡ በሰላም ወደቤቱ ቢያመራም… ባህር ዳር ላይ የተለኮሰው የመነቃቃት ስሜት ግን በቀላሉ የሚበርድ አይመስልም:: እኛም መልካሙን ሁሉ እየተመኘን ዘገባችንን እዚህ ላይ አጠናቀናል::

ምስጋና: ሙሉውን ዘገባ ለማድረግ የቻልነው በተለይ ነብዩ ሃይሉ፣ ዳዊት ሰለሞን እና እስከዳር አለሙ ሁኔታውን እየተከታተሉ ከሚያቀርቡት የፎቶ እና የጽሁፍ መረጃ ተነስተን ነው:: በመሆኑም በኢ.ኤም.ኤፍ እና በአንባቢዎቻችን ስም ከልብ እናመሰግናችኋለን::

posted by Daniel tesfaye

Hailemariam Desalegn’s Confused Statements

February 23, 2014

On February 10, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia gave reporters access and conducted a press conference. The statements of Hailemariam are fraught with inconsistencies and telling that there is a serious leadership vacuum and lack of direction in Ethiopia. The statements lack principle, direction and strategy. The messages are inconsistent and contradictory to previous statements.Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia gave reporters access

On an interview with Africa Confidential January edition, when asked what’s your Eritrea policy? PM Hailemariam Desalegn said,

“Our Eritrea policy is very clear. These two peoples are very friendly; the normalizing of relations, also with the governments, should come as soon as possible. We have accepted unconditionally the rulings [on the border] and so this has to implemented but with a discussion because the implementation process needs something on the ground since it is a colonial rather than a people’s boundary.” Emphasis added.

For a while, Ethiopians have been expressing anger and concern about the border issue between Ethiopia and Sudan claiming that the minority TPLF regime has unlawfully ceded huge chunks of Ethiopian territories to Sudan. The tenet of their argument is that the signatures of Meles Zenawi and Hailemariam Desaleng are unlawful, null and void based on Article 55(12) of Ethiopian constitution which demands accountability and ratification by parliament. On a recent article, “Save Ethiopia From Chopping Block”,  Dr.Alemayehu G. Mariam wrote,

“It is important to understand and underscore the fact that the “agreement” Meles and Bashir “signed”, by Meles’ own description  and admission, has nothing to do with the so-called Gwen line of 1902 (“Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1902” setting the “frontier between the Sudan and Ethiopia”). It also has nothing to do with any other agreements drafted or concluded by the imperial government prior to 1974, or the Derg regime between 1975 and 1991 for border demarcation or settlement. Meles’ “agreement”, by his own admission, deals exclusively with border matters and related issues beginning in 1996, when presumably the occupation of Sudanese land by Ethiopians took place under Meles’ personal watch.”

Citing Wikileaks, Dr. Al Mariam writes,

“Former TPLF Central Committee member and former Defense Minister Seeye Abraha told” American embassy officials in Addis Ababa that in a move to deal with “on-going tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan”, Meles had turned over land to the Sudan “which has cost the Amhara region a large chunk of territory” and that Meles’ regime had tried to “sweep the issue under the rug.”

It is unlikely that the views and efforts of the people of Ethiopia will ever see the daylight vis-à-vis the border agreements that Meles Zenawi or Hailemariam Desalegn signed or concluded since there is no question on the legitimacy of their positions by the international community. International agreements they signed will undoubtedly stand.

In response to those concerns Hailemariam responded,

“The historical border agreement between the two nations dates back to the time of Emperor Menelik II when the Sudan was under the protectorate of the British Empire. There should not be any confusion on the issue since the agreement that was signed then was evaluated and accepted by successive regimes that came after Menelik’s. The border agreements has been accepted and endorsed by the regimes and that there could not be any new matter that his administration has to deal with. “All that is left is to implement the already demarcated and delimited border agreement. So, there are no issues with the agreement: it is binding; the only thing left is to put posts on these borders.”

Hailemariam claims that Ethiopia is committed to regional peace. Why then is his regime illegally occupying internationally delimitated border with Eritrea? Why the doublespeak? The inconsistencies however are not limited to the border issues. Hailemariam’s positions and actions in Somalia and his view of Uganda’s role on the current conflict on SS are contradictory and dangerous for regional stability and progress. When he addressed Ugandan forces in SS, citing that the problem is political, Hailemariam said,

“We believe that all forces that were “invited” by different forces in that country have to withdraw phase by phase.”

The irony, on the same press conference, while addressing Somalia, Hailemariam claiming to have bilateral agreement with the government in Somalia tried to legitimize the presence of Ethiopian forces in Somalia. He said Ethiopia is in Somalia as AMISOM “based on the “request” of the Somali government.”

Ugandan forces are in S. Sudan based on the “invitation” of the legitimate government of S. Sudan. Why then is Hailemariam seeking or talking political solution for the civil war in South Sudan while interfering in Somalia militarily? Why not political solution in Somalia? Assuming that the government in Somalia is independent and free to request assistance freely as a nation, why deny the same right to the government in South Sudan? Hardly anyone believes that Ethiopian forces are welcome by the people of Somalia. AMISOM or not, Ethiopian forces are not welcome. To the contrary Ethiopia’s incursion into Somalia was not received well.

On a recent interview with the VOA, former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn said that it is a “mistake” for Ethiopian troops to join the AMISOM force in Somalia.

Peace, security, terrorism and Al Shabab are justifications for Hailemariam to return into Somalia. The reality, however, Ethiopia’s incursions into Somalia is impediment to peace and source of great instability.

Ambassador Shinn continued, Ethiopian move could allow al-Shabab to use it as a “rallying cry to recruit new members.”

Moreover, Hailmariam’s positions are contradictory and self-serving as it regards to IGAD’s role on the current conflicts in the region. Hailemariam evoked IGAD and AU to make a case against the presence of Ugandan troops in South Sudan and ignored the role of IGAD in Somalia. Uganda is in South Sudan based on the request of the sitting government of Salva Kiir Miardet, just like Ethiopia is in Somalia based on claims of a request. Why then Hailemariam undermining IGAD’s role in Somalia?

Hailemariam Desalegn’s Compromised Stature     

By all standards Hailemariam Desalegn is on a tenuous position on many levels for many reasons.

Firstly, he is not from the region of the minority clique ruling the country. Many consider Hailemariam as a figurehead. On the 17 Feb, The Telegraph’s reporter David Blair on his report, “Ethiopian Airlines hijacking: Why co-pilot might have taken extreme steps to leave” wrote,

“Two key “push factors” lie behind this outflow: repression and poverty. Ethiopia is a de facto one-party state, dominated by small autocratic elite. Under the previous Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, elections were shamelessly rigged and the opposition simply closed down. Many Ethiopians believed that Meles favored his own Tigray-Tigrinya ethnic group, who comprise less than seven per cent of the population, for the most powerful and privileged positions in the land.”

Hence, PM Haileriam Desalegn is considered a transitional figurehead until the election of 2015 and likely to be replaced by another member of the TPLF to pursue Zenawi’s agendas.

Secondly, Hailemariam inherited a country with a diminished regional and international influence for many reasons: A) The US has accomplished much of what it intended in Somalia hence the role required from Ethiopia is diminished. B) George Bush’s Somalia war on terror agenda, which the minority regime exploited extensively seems to have shifted slightly as the government in Somalia is recognized by the international community.

Thirdly, the countries in the region have opposing positions and interests on many areas as recent developments in S. Sudan exposed. Additionally,  these countries have demonstrated ability to compete with Ethiopia on many fronts denying Ethiopia the anchor-state-status it enjoyed unchallenged for a while thus minimized Ethiopia’s exclusive role in that regard.

Fourth, International actors such as China and Russia are playing significant roles to influence events and outcomes to favor their geostrategic interests. To be effective, China and Russia need to include all and play a balanced hand with all the nations in the region further diluting Ethiopia’s once dominant role.

Hailemariam’s Diminished Regional Roles 

One of the strongest suits of Meles Zenawi was the fact that he managed to co-opt influence from the regional actors using any means necessary. That level of influence died with Meles for many reasons:

  • The power transition took a long time to materialize. Between the times Meles was rumored sick, his death and the time it took to complete the transition creating vacuum.
  • The transition was manipulated to appease US interests while the real power remained on the hands of few Tigrayans led by the then Information Minister Bereket Simon who is considered the power controlling Hailemariam.
  • The regional actors are focusing on their own interests. One good example of this is the current conflict in S. Sudan and how it will likely affect the dynamics of the relations between South Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia regarding the Nile. Hailemariam is forced to wager Ethiopia’s interests regarding the Nile in order to pursue US agendas in South Sudan. No consensus on South Sudan could lead to lack of consensus on issues of mutual importance including the Nile. Meles Zenawi was able to garner consensus and support for Ethiopia’s positions on the Nile which is hard for Hailemariam to replicate.

Furthermore, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda have mutual interests independent from Ethiopia because all these countries depend on port of Mombasa in Kenya for their imports. This gives Kenya leverage and importance that Hailameariam cannot match.

Moreover, initially, with the help of the US, the regime was able to create alliances with countries in the region specifically to encircle and suffocate Eritrea to submission. At this stage, while Hailemariam desperately tries to pretend that Eritrea is isolated; the reality is Eritrea has turned the table. Eritrea has relations with Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, South Sudan and Egypt. At the current stage Hailemariam has no relation with Eritrea, Egypt, opposing positions with Uganda and South Sudan and Kenya has more interest independent from Ethiopia. In effect, Ethiopia is encircled further diminishing Hailmariam’s roles.

  • Shifting US foreign policy. Recent statements by former US diplomats regarding Eritrea stirred frantic reaction. The TPLF went on a full-fledged PR campaign to attack the issues and the personalities demonstrating fear the minority regime has of losing its status that it depends on for its very survival. On a piece about Zenawi’s legacy “Ethiopia: Revelation of Zenawi’s vision for Tigray,” Robele Ababya wrote,

“When asked, in the aftermath of the 2005 election, what legal authority he had to by-pass the Parliament and declare a state of emergency, Zenawi responded by saying that, after all, the donors did not object to the action he took. His response is solid proof, among others, that the monstrous killer was subservient to the interests of the donors at the expense of the vital interests of poor Ethiopia.”

Without US support the regime cannot survive. Hence fighting to maintain the “special-relation” status with the US is a question of survival. That however is beyond the control of the US as more African nations are looking for partnership with China, Russia, India, Brazil and other countries that are more focused on economic issues that Africa desperately need. This diminished US control of African agendas further diminishing Hailemariam’s role in the region that the late Zenawi enjoyed unchallenged.

Hailemariam Desalegn Lame Duck Personified

In the US, a president is generally considered a lame duck at the end of his tenure or when a successor is elected. What that generally means is, during that phase, if the president is not popular his/her influence could not translate into furthering his/her agendas and naturally no coattails. In reality, however, the president’s power is intact to the point that he/she can even wage wars.

In Hailemariam’s case, however, he is a lame duck in the truest sense because in Ethiopia, power is on the hands of the few repressive Tigrayans that are vying for time until the next election. “Ethiopia is a de facto one-party state, dominated by a small autocratic elite” controlling Hailmariam’s actions and public statements.

In addition, Hailemariam has no constituency inside Ethiopia or the Diaspora. Support for Hailemariam is virtually nonexistent.

Conclusion

The situation in Ethiopia is unsustainable. Ethiopia is under extreme internal and external pressures that will ultimately explode abruptly. As demonstrated above, to further the interests of the super powers, the regime suppressed the people and took unnecessary antagonistic positions by becoming a pseudo-hegemon of the region.   

What the press conference demonstrated is that PM Hailemariam Desalegn tried to address concerns of many stakeholders and failed. He tried to address the concerns of the people of Tigray, US interests, Somalia and regional actors. He tried to address Eritrea in a manner that satisfied TPLF and all Ethiopians and failed.

Ethiopia is on a holding pattern bracing for change on the upcoming election. The questions are many. There exists no political party to challenge the TPLF. What does the US want in this transition? Can the TPLF bring a successor from Tigray and continue the “legacy” of Meles? How would the US react to that?

In the absence of clear leadership direction these questions take on a new meaning enlarging the gap between all the publics. That means PM Hailemariam Desalegn will have to await his fate to be decided by the TPLF as the rest of Ethiopia.by Amanuel Biedemariam

posted by Daniel tesfaye

የመከላከያ ተቋም ተግባር አገርን መጠበቅ ነዉ ወይስ አገርን መዝረፍ?

26351fb59e29fb0a1375427042February 22, 2014
የአዉሮፓ ቅኝ ገዢዎች አፍሪካን ሲቀራመቱ ባህር ተሻግረዉ በመጡ የነጭ ባዕዳን ኃይሎች መገዛትን መርጦ የአዉሮፓን ወራሪዎች በሰላም በሩን ከፍቶ ወደ አገሩ ያስገባ እንድም የአፍሪካ አገር አልነበረም፤ የኋላ ኋላ ተሸንፈዉ በቅኝ አገዛዝ ቀንበር ስር ቢወድቁም ሁሉም የአፍሪካ አገሮች እንደ አቅማቸዉ ከወራሪ ኃይሎች ጋር ተፋልመዋል። በአንድ ወቅት የቅርብ ጎረቤቶቻችንን ጨምሮ ብዙዎቹ የአፍሪካ አገሮች በወራሪ ኃይሎች ተሸንፈዉ የቅኝ ገዢዎች ቀንበር ጀርባቸዉ ላይ ሲጫን አገራችን ኢትዮጵያ ብቻዋን የአለም ጥቁር ህዝቦች የነፃነት ተምሳሌት ሆና የኖረችዉ ጣሊያኖች፤ እንንግሊዞችና ፈረንሳዮች ከሌሎች የአፍሪካ አገሮች ለይተዉ ስለወደዷት ወይም ስላከበሯት አይደለም። ይልቁንም ነፃነታችንና የግዛት አንድነታችን ተከብሮ የኖረዉ ኢትዮጵያ እናት አገሩ በጠላት ስትደፈር ከሚያይ ምትክ የሌላት ህይወቱ ብታልፍ ደስ የሚለዉ የኩሩና የጀግና ህዝብ አገር በመሆኗ ነዉ። የሚገርመዉ ይህ ኩሩና ጀግና ህዝብ ጣሊያንን የመሰለ በዘመናዊ መሳሪያ የታጀበ ኃይል ዉርደቱን ተከናንቦ ወደመጣበት እንዲመለስ ሲያስገድድ እንደ ዛሬዉ የተደራጀ ዘመናዊ የመከላከያ ሰራዊት አልነበረዉም። ዛሬ አራት ኪሎና ስድስት ኪሎ ላይ የተተከሉት ሁለቱ ታሪካዊ ሀዉልቶቻችን የሚነግሩንም ይሀንኑ የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ በዘመናዊ መልክ የተደራጀ ሠራዊት ሳይኖረዉ የጎበዝ አለቃ እየመረጠ በጣሊያን ፋሺስቶች ላይ የተጎናጸፈዉን አኩሪ ድል ነዉ።

ኢትዮጵያ ዉስጥ ዘመናዊና የተደራጀ መከላከያ ሠራዊት ጥንስስ የተጣለዉ በዳግማዊ ሚኒልክ ዘመነ መንግስት ሲሆን እሱም ቢሆን ከአድዋ ድል በኋላ ቆይቶ የመጣ ክስተት ነዉ። በአፄ ኃ/ሥላሤና በደርግ ዘመነ መንግስት ኢትዮጵያ ለአንድ ፓርቲና ይህ ፓርቲ እወክለዋለሁ ለሚለዉ ህዝብ ብቻ ሳይሆን ሙያዊ ብቃት የነበረዉ፤ሙያዉን የሚያከብርና ለአገሩና ለወገኑ ታማኝ የሆነ የመከላከያ ሠራዊት ነበራት። የወያኔ ዘረኞች አዲስ አበባን ሲቆጣጠሩ የመጀመሪያ ኢላማቸዉ አድርገዉ ካወደሟቸዉ ዋና ዋና የአገራቸን ተቋሞች ዉስጥ የመጀመሪያዉ ይሄዉ የአገርና የህዝብ ደጀን የነበረዉ ተቋም ነበር። ዛሬ ኢትዮጵያ ዉስጥ የአገር መከላከያ ሠራዊት እየተባለ የሚጠራዉ ተቋም ለጎጠኞች ጥቅምና የስልጣን መራዘም የቆመ፤ በዘረኝነት የተካፋፈለ፤ ይህ ነዉ ተብሎ የሚጠቀስ ሙያዊ ብቃት የሌለዉና የወገንና የአገር ፍቅር እንዳይኖረዉ ተደርጎ የተደራጀ ሰራዊት ነዉ። ይህንን ሠራዊት የኢትዮጵያ መከላከያ ሠራዊት ሳይሆን የወያኔ ሠራዊት እያልን የምንጠራዉም በዚሁ ምክንያት ነዉ።

ዛሬ ሙሉ በሙሉ በወያኔ ዘረኞች ቁጥጥር ስር የወደቀዉ የአገር መከላከያ ተቋም የሚታማዉ በዘረኝነት፤ በሙያ ብቃት ማነስና የአንድ ፓርቲ ጥቅም አስከባሪ በመሆኑ ብቻ አይደለም፤ ተቋሙ ከእነዚህ ዋና ዋና ጉድለቶቹ በተጨማሪ በቀድሞዉ የኢትዮጵያ መከላከያ ተቋም ላይ በፍጹም ያልታዩ ሌሎች ትላልቅ ጉድለቶች አሉበት። ከእነዚህ ጉድለቶች ዉስጥ አንዱ የወያኔ የመከላከያ ተቋም ህገ መንግስቱ ከሰጠዉ ኃላፊነት ዉጭ በንግድና በንብረት ይዞታ ላይ ላይ መሰማራቱ ሲሆን ሁለተኛዉ ደግሞ ከዚህ ፀባዩ ጋር ተያይዞ በመከላከያ ሠራዊት ተቋም ዉስጥ ከላይ እስከታች የሰፈነዉ ቅጥ ያጣ ሙሰኝነት ነዉ። ዛሬ የወያኔን የመከላከያ ተቋም፤ የህወሀትን ፓርቲና ኤፎርት በሚል ምህጻረቃል የሚታወቀዉን የወያኔን የገንዝብ ማምረቻ ድርጅት ነጣጥለን ወይም አንዱን ከሌላዉ ለይተን ማየት የማንችልበት ደረጃ ላይ ደርሰናል።

በላፈዉ አመት ወያኔ እራሱ ያቋቋመዉ ፀረ ሙስና ኮሚሺን የገንዘብ ዝርፊያን፤የንብረት መባከንንና መዝረክረክን አስመልክቶ ለፓርላማዉ ባቀረበዉ ሪፖርት ላይ ከጠቀሳቸዉ መንግስታዊ ተቋሞች ዉስጥ ቀዳሚዉን ደረጃ የያዘዉ የመከላከያ ተቋም ነዉ። ሆኖም ፓርላማዉም ሆነ የወያኔ አገዛዝ ለዚህ ሪፖርት የሰጡት ምላሽ የመከላከያና የደህንነት ተቋሞች ከአሁን በኋላ ያሻቸዉን ያክል ገንዝብ ቢዘርፉ የሂሳብ መዝገባቸዉ “ለአገር ደህንነት” ሲባል በኦዲት ኮሚሺን አይመረመርም የሚል ምላሽ ነበር። እንግዲህ ይህ በሙሰኝነት የተጨማለቀ፤ ለህግ የማይገዛና መጠበቅና መንከባከብ የሚገባዉን የአገር ኃብትና ንብረት የሚዘርፍ ተቋም ነዉ ባለፈዉ ሳምንት “የመከላከያ ቀን” ተብሎ አመታዊ በዐል የተከበረለት።

መናገሻ ከተማችን አዲስ አበባ ዉስጥ በየቦታዉ የሚታዩትን ሰማይ ጠቀስ ህንፃዎች ሰርተዉ የሚያከራዩት የወር ደሞዛቸዉ ከ2500 ብር የማይበልጥ መከላከያ ሠራዊት ዉስጥ የተሰገሰጉ የወያኔ ጄኔራሎች ናቸዉ፤ኢትዮጵያ ዉስጥ ትርፋማ በሆኑ ቦታዎች ሁሉ ትላልቅ ሆቴሎች፤ የአገልግሎት ተቋሞችና የንግድ ድርጅቶች ከፍተዉ ቁጥር ስፍር የሌለዉ ኃብት የሚያጋብሱት የወያኔ ጄኔራሎች ናቸዉ፤ ድሃዉና የወያኔ ዘረኝነት ሰለባ የሆነዉ ኢትዮጵያ ሰራዊት ለተመድ ተልዕኮ በተሰማራባቸዉ ቦታዎች ሁሉ ተመድ የሚከፍለዉን የቀን አበል ኪሳቸዉ ዉስጥ እየከተቱ ሚሊዮነሮች የሆኑትና በየዉጭ አገሩ ዉድ መኖሪያ ቤቶችንና የንግድ ተቋሞችን የሚገዙት የወያኔ ጄኔራሎች ናቸዉ። የወያኔ መከላከያ ተቋም ጉድ በዚህ ብቻ አያበቃም፤ ይህንን ወንጀለኛ ተቋም ቃላት እየደረደሩ ለመግለጽ ከመሞከር ይልቅ በጥቅሉ ወያኔ የኢትዮጵያን ህዝብ ኃብትና ንብረት እንዳሻዉ መዝረፍ እንዲችል የኃይል ሽፋን የሚሰጥ ተቋም ነዉ ማለት የሚበቃ ይመስለናል።

ወያኔና ስር የሰደደዉ ዘረኛ ስርዐቱ ከኢትዮጵያ ምድር ላይ እስካልተነቀሉ ድረስ ወያኔ ዝርፊያዉን የወያኔ መከላከያ ተቋምም የወያኔንና የደገፊዎቹን ዝርፊያ በመሳሪያ ማጀቡ አይቆምም። የወያኔን ዝርፊያ ለማስቆምና አገራችንን ከተጋረጠባት አሳሳቢ አደጋ ለመታደግ ብቸኛዉ መንገድ ወያኔን ከሥልጣን ማስወገድ ብቻ ነዉ። ግንቦት 7 የፍትህ፤የነፃነትና የዲሞክራሲ ንቅናቄ የጀመረዉ ህዝባዊ ትግል እንደ አገር መከላያከያ አይነቶቹ ቁልፍ የአገር ተቋሞች በሚሰሯቸዉ ስራዎች ሁሉ የአገርንና የህዝብን ጥቅም እንዲያስጠብቁ ለማድረግ ነዉ። የግንቦት 7 ትግል አላማ የመከላከያ፤ የደህንነት፤ የፖሊስና የፍትህ ተቋሞች የአንድ ፓርቲ ጥቅም ማስከበሪያ መሳሪያዎች መሆናቸዉ አብቅቶ የአገርና የህዝብ አለኝታ እንዲሆኑ ነዉ፤ ሆኖም ይህንን ቅዱስ አላማ ወያኔ በስልጣን ላይ እስካለ ድረስ ተግባራዊ ማድረግ ስለማይቻል ነፃነት፤ ፍትህ፤ዲሞክራሲ፤ ሠላምና እኩልነት የናፈቀዉ ኢትዮጵያዊ ሁሉ ወያኔን በፍጥነት እናስወግድ ከሚለዉ የአገር አድን አላማ ጎን እንዲሰለፍ ግንቦት 7 የትግል ጥሪዉን ያስተላልፋል።

ድል ለኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ!!
posted by Daniel tesfaye

The circus of a Staged Press Conference of a bogus Prime Minster of Ethiopia

February 22, 2014

There is no glory conspiring with tyranny to be an accessory to crimes against The People. Therefore, if we as Ethiopians claim to love our people and country deserves democracy and freedom from rotten structure and foundation of tyranny look nowhere for an answer but in each one of us. Being an instrument of tyranny is worse than tyranny itself. 

There is no lookalike democracy or freedom as the rogue regime’s apologist who want us to believe the existence of the rule of law for all by a government of the people. If anyone tells you otherwise you are a sucker being used as Weapon-of-Mass-Destruction on your own people.  Ask not what is in it for me but ask what it is in for my people. For ‘me’ can make you a butler of  tyranny or the choice for your people will set you free.

by Teshome Demalke February 18, 2014

No one knows why dictators believe their own lies. They aren’t that stupid to believe the public will buy their lies. It could be The latest circus of the staged Press Conference in Addis Abababecause the people surrounding them tell them they are the best thing …ever lived or fear them to say what they want to hear. Obviously, those milking the public have good reason to tell them anything to suck on the cash cow.

No one also knows why pseudo journalist-reporters lie to themselves either. They aren’t that stupid to believe the public buy their lies either. It must be because they are catering to audiences that want to hear whatever they do is legitimate enough to keep sucking more of the cash cow.

The marriage of convenience between tyranny and the pseudo journalist-Media is a perfect environment for deceptions, atrocities and corruptions. Time-and-time again tyranny cohabit willingly corruptible individuals to setup lookalike professional institutions purely to legitimize its misrule and corruption.

The latest circus of the staged Press Conference between the bogus Prime Minster and a collection of handpicked pseudo reporters-journalist was to calm down the public that is ready to say enough of ethnic tyranny. To many surprise the bogus PM publicly confesses he isn’t the one in charge of the government but a collection of shadowy group he refer as ‘my party’. Striped of his power except to show up on TV to read the script he confirmed the public’s suspension the Constitution the regime flaunt is a sham concocted by the rogue group.

The figurehead PM didn’t say who the ‘collective’ leaders may be but hinted the ghost of late Prime Minister or as he referred him ‘The Great Leader’ is among them. He said ‘If my party asked me I will serve as a shoeshine boy or district administrator I will do so’. He didn’t even have the basic decency to refrain comparing his sorry gang with the US Administration that pays most of his salary.

More troubling was the half-a-dozen clowns posed as journalist-reporters asking preapproved questions in the mock Press Conference to fool the public.  Listening to their queries designed to cover up the chaos in the rogue group says more to the sorry State of Media in Ethiopia under TPLF’s operatives.

Some of the ‘reporters’ questions were so lame it sound elementary class exchange. A few were targeting the Diaspora community that is increasingly worrying the rogue group. Others were attempting to calm down the population from rising up to uproot their favorite regime. At least one targeted the local business community that is fleeing as fast as they can dissolve their stolen assets. In all, none seems to be concerned to the public but to extend the life of the rogue regime.

Another interesting development in the circus Press Conference was none of the ‘reporters’ identified themselves and the outfit they represent with the exception of the lone ranger-reporter Beniyam Kebde of Ethiopia First. The Canadian citizen runs a propaganda/tabloid website primarily to undermine the oppositions in Diaspora on behalf of the rogue regime.

Though no one knows when and how the lone ranger-reporter of EthiopiaFirst arrived in Addis Ababa for the mock Press Conference, his shuttling back-and-forth across the world to fend for the regime is the only known job he had in the last two decades. Yet, after 23 years of his favorite ‘Developmental’ regime in charge he still talks about carrying container in search of water for his vacation dwelling in the Capital city. Noting seems to sway him to abandon the rogue regime for the obvious reason. But, one of his questions unintentionally reveled more than what he wanted to plug-in to covey the regime is legitimately elected party by asking the bogus PM; ‘are you not concerned your party could be punished in the next election like it happened in 1997?’ All we can say about the sorry ‘journalist’ is; how is it someone that lived most of his adult life in the Free World (Canada) couldn’t learn the basics working of democracy and journalism ethics nor have little decency to be vacant insulting the people’s intelligence? It speaks volumes what our people up against with our dysfunctional contemporary elites.

On separate development, the hijacking of the Ethiopian Airline flight to Rome by the young and brave Co-Pilot got lots of international Media coverage–reporting political repression motivated the hijacker. The Pilot’s radio communication with the ground crew in Geneva Airport where he diverted the plane also conformed he was seeking asylum from the government of Ethiopia. But yet, beyond the usual contradicting statement coming out of the ruling regime of Ethiopia an Associated Press’s report titled “Hailemedhin Abera: Ethiopia Pilot Was Distraught Over Death in Family” came out of nowhere questioning the mental status of the Pilot..

Elias Meseret Correspondence of Associated PressThe writer of the report, Elias Meseret (pictured), an Ethiopian national is identified as the Residence Correspondence of Associated Press in Addis Ababa, and a graduate of Mekelle University in LLB Degree in Law and General Law study in 2007, according to his LinkedIn profile. In the heat the reporter the AP correspondent looking for the motive of the hijacker found the death of his uncle a reason to hijack an Airline.    But, what he failed in his professional duty was searching for an answer from top down—starting from the management of the Airline and the working condition of the crews that forced many more pilots and ground crew to flee the country seeking asylum or to work elsewhere.  Nor, he cared less to let the public know why the government owned Airline that generate millions of dollars foreign exchange to the country  fail under the control of Tigrian People Liberation Front (TPLF), the dominate party in the ruling collation government.

There is no explanation how the world known Press Agency managed to hire a Correspondent with little or no education and experience in journalism.

Moreover, some Ethiopian ‘Media’, including Tadia Magazine and EthioMedia went along to feature the unsubstantiated report of Mesert over half dozen creditable international Media’s reports that originated on the plane and on ground in Geneva.

Likewise, Social Medias that are scrambling to undermine the Co-pilot in the aftermath of the hijacking are coming from usual places.  From all possibilities of the pilots’ decisions to take such bold move, the so called Medias that undermine the Pilot reinforce the propaganda machines are determined to sustain rogue group’s rule by all means necessary.

Here, it important to remind all apologists of the regime masquerading as journalist-reporters, businesspeople, experts of one thing or another; boogying with or around ethnic tyranny for whatever reason is the one and only thing that kept the predator regime alive on the expenses of the people.  It is also important to remind every journalist-Medias’ water down report or propaganda against public interest will have consequences in the future.

Tamerat W/Giorgis, (pictured), the owner and Editor-in-Chief of the Business Weekly Addis Fortune. Coming back to main topic, with all preparation of the mock Press Conference, it didn’t help the sorry PM to dodge the main question. He was as confused as ever so the reports that weren’t allowed to ask follow-up questions.  The reporter that ask the question-of-all-questions; ‘who is in charge of the government?’ in the English language what appears to targete the diaspora audience was identified as Tamerat W/Giorgis, (pictured), the owner and Editor-in-Chief of the Business Weekly Addis Fortune. He is also a contributor of on Dehai Eritrea, according Zoom Info.

Surprisingly no additional information is found on the cyberspace including the Social Media on such public person as the owner and Chief Editor of the largest Businesses Weekly in Ethiopia.

As expected ‘Addis Fortune’s ‘editor’ that exposed the conspiracy of the regime by asking the right question didn’t say a word about the confession of the bogus PM on his own ‘Media’. Nor he asked who is in charge of the economy, the Media, the Military …? So much for  the ‘largest Business Weekly’ in the nation.

The public reaction to the mock Press Conference was —‘here we go again’. But, an  individual by the name MeKonnen H. Birru, (PhD) that appeared to have too much faith in the sorry PM and the establishment summed up his disgust in an article titled  PM Hailemariam: A Cocktail of Arrogance, Ignorance, and Incompetence’. He said;

Mr. Hailemariam is a highly educated man. He has a graduate degree in sanitation engineering. He was President of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR) for five years; then served as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ethiopia for almost two years. More than that, many claim and witness, including Mr. Hailemariam, that the man is a devout Christian with uncorrupt and respectful solid Christian background. So, how such a strong, educated, dedicated, uncorrupt, and ethical personality becomes full of lies or mistakes? Some say he is a strong Christian with weakness in telling the truth. Is there such personality? If so, can we categorize him as a person with multiple personality? One  who plays tricky political games, entertain lies, enjoy purposeful mistakes, and disregard the truth while another of him regrets, confesses, cries, talks smooth, and believes Christ?….”

What isn’t clear was how the author’s high expectation on the integrity of the election process that brought the bogus PM came about when he said;

“The people of Ethiopia elected the house of representative and the house elected you…. We already know that you are not in control but at least you could have said it differently and act like better; however, you couldn’t do it because you are too ignorant to figure out that.  Let me give you a simple example since you may find this concept hard to understand…. Ato Girma, the one who always sit on your far left, is elected by his constituent to serve as a member of parliament. No one, not any committee, but his constituents have the right to take him out…either to make him a local leader or unemployed. That is unequivocally true! But this democratic truth doesn’t work in your case according to your own statement. Don’t you respect your constituent when you say ‘my party can send me anywhere to serve…?’ If you know, your bosses are not those unknown committee members (TPLF?) but the people that elected you…your people!.”

Whatever faith the author has about election and House of Representation of the rogue regime is hard to comprehend but, he seems to loss the forest for the tree. The truth is, there is no Constitution, election, representation…but a hoax of TPLF as the bogus PM confessed in public. Why make something out of noting of the seating duck House of Representatives is another twist infecting our contemporaries elites from addressing the fundamental problem of representation.

Why is it so hard to face the facts the collections of clowns TPLF assembled as officials, representatives or front institution it setup are worthless?.

If truth must be told; as it always should, the worst enemies of the people of Ethiopia are those that cover-up for the Ethnic Apartheid Regime. Thus, if telling the truth is a crime in the eye of the rogue regime’s warlords, stooges and apologist we are all guilty as charged–as many of the innocent Ethiopians in jails and the rest of Ethiopians are paying the ultimate price of tyranny.

Like it or not, the fight between the people of Ethiopia and the ethnic Apartheid regime and its apologist will go on until TPLF/Woyane tyranny is uprooted for good. What are in the way are the clowns dressed up as journalist, civic and business organization…that cover-up the crimes of the regime.

I don’t know about you my people, but if you are over 18 years old ‘adult’ and claim to be sane enough to cover up for the Apartheid regime you are as guilty as the warlords of the regime. ‘I didn’t know’ isn’t acceptable under any law, nor will it be sufficient defense to escape from your responsibility.

All Ethiopians must also abandon the why… questions that is already answered many times over and ask the what questions that would end tyranny for good. Dwelling on the why question is consuming too much time and resources and became an excuse not to go the next step of uprooting tyranny.

Civic organizations, advocacy group and Media institutions must not forget their role of keeping track of all transgressions against the people of Ethiopia starting with 100s of TPLF/Woyane’s top conspirators within the power structure.  They need to record their conspiracy and the whereabouts of their possession to expose the details that have been under the shadow for over two decades.  These details are crucial for the immediate present and following the collapse of the regime that is inevitable.  Others that conspire against the people in the name of one thing or another must be accountable for their action and inaction starting from political parties, civic societies and Medias.

Special attention must be given to the dozen of individuals that run pseudo Medias to divert the public attention and cover-up the crimes of the rogue regime starting with Medias present at the mock Press Conference. After all, what good a staged Press Conference do besides diversion and insulting the public intelligence?

My fellow Ethiopians, like every tyranny the current regime’s top brass are flashing and flicking looking for a contingency to find a soft landing for the days when they are away from the decaying structure preparing to run away in mass.  Ethiopians Collectively Need to Make Sure They Do Not Have a Hiding Place.  The record keeping and exposes are critical and crucial to make sure the top brasses find their day in a legitimate court system better in our Ethiopia but anywhere else in the World.  Time is UP!!

There is no glory conspiring with tyranny to be an accessory to crimes against The People. Therefore, if we as Ethiopians claim to love our people and country deserve democracy and freedom from rotten structure and foundation of tyranny look nowhere for an answer but in each one of us. Being an instrument of tyranny is worse than tyranny itself.

There is no lookalike democracy or freedom as the rogue regime’s apologist wanted us to believe but, the presence of the rule of law for all by a government of the people. If anyone tells you otherwise and believe it you are a sucker being used as Weapon-of-Mass-Destruction on your own people.  Ask not what is in it for me but ask what it is in for my people. For ‘me’ can make you a butler of tyranny or the choice for your people will set you free.

The article is dedicated to Ethiopian journalists that suffer in jail and in exile because they said what is in it for my people while their colleague choose to sell the profession for ethnic tyranny

posted by Daniel tesfaye

Ethiopia’s Governing Party is Rotten to the Core (Aklog Birara, PhD)

February 21, 2014

by Aklog Birara, PhD Commentary

The fundamental premise of this commentary is that only genuine commitment to FREEDOM and human rights of all citizens would assure Ethiopians sustainable and equitable growth and improvements in their lives. In turn, it is the institutionalization of these norms through free and fair elections that will establish a firm foundation for lasting peace and national reconciliation–singularly the most critical governance gaps in Ethiopia. Sadly, evolution toward this people-centered governance that I believe is essential for all Ethiopians is nowhere in sight if left to the governing party. The core group of this party believes that it can do no wrong. Instead of reform, the ruling party has gone haywire strengthening its spy network using the latest Internet technology to suppress any form of dissent and challenge. Revelations in the Washington Post that individuals in the US and the UK have filed suits against the Ethiopian government’s breach of domestic and international laws by spying and snooping on American, UK citizens and other citizens of Ethiopian origin says it all. Simply put, each member of the Diaspora is subjected to violation of her/his rights regardless of ethnicity, religious, age, gender and social status. This extension is an affront to civilized behavior and to our humanity. The post Meles TPLF/EPRDF is unable to reform itself willingly. This is because the rest of us are divided, fractured and spend as much time demeaning one another as we do blasting the ruling party. Why is this so important?

In this century, we see everywhere that durable peace and stability can only be imposed from the top down by force only temporarily. Elections can be manipulated and bought as was the case in 2007 only temporarily. The people of Syria are paying a huge price, including their lives and livelihood because they want freedom and democracy. The people of Ukraine are fighting their own government for the same thing. Stifling peaceful dissent for justice is universal and has no boundaries no matter how harsh people are treated.

We know that repressive governance has not bought the TPLF/EPRDF public confidence and or trust. In fact, it has alienated it from the vast majority totally. “Double digit” growth can occur but the benefits rarely trickle down; the beneficiaries are few. It is primarily those who run the state and or are aligned to the state. The governing party recruits members literally by paying them. It has no assurance that the 5 million members will sell their hearts and souls in the event a better alternative appears in the political theater. This was the case in 2005. Ordinary Ethiopians know all of these and more. They live with a dysfunctional government each and every day and are paying a huge price for it. This puts the burden of genuine democratic reform on the opposition and on civil society. Simply put, the opposition must stop a political tradition of brinkmanship, bickering and hair splitting. It must close ranks, set aside minor differences and agree on a unity of purpose to unseat the governing party and save the country from an impending social and political catastrophe. The next election is around the corner but work has not been done. What makes me think that conditions are ripe? The indicators are everywhere for anyone to see. But, this takes courage and commitment from civic, religious and political leaders whether at home or abroad. Creating an organization today and collapsing it the next day is not the answer. Worshipping one’s organization above country and above the Ethiopian people and demeaning others is not the answer. Seeking political power without a country or without the backing of the population is not the answer. The acid test of wise leadership and democratic-leaning change is the capacity to subordinate one’s private interest, ego and ambition to the common good. A country of 94 million people deserves wise and people-centered political, civic and religious leaders. Opposing the ruling party by itself is not enough. Offering a promising alternative is what the Ethiopian people are demanding.

I decided to write this commentary instead of the more academic and seemingly mundane continuation on the Dynamics of Conflict connected to the Doha Conference for a reason. Each of us who care about the country and the dire situation Ethiopians face today must speak up and encourage opposition groups and civil society including those in the Diaspora to show courage and change now not tomorrow. They need to agree on a unity of purpose or they will remain irrelevant regardless of how often and how fast they talk. All indicators are on their side. The Ethiopian state is rotting under the weight of a single party bureaucracy that is self-serving, repressive, exploitative,Ethiopia's Hailemariam Desalegn divisive, corrupt and immune to any form of criticism and reform. Fortunately for the vast majority of Ethiopians who have not benefitted from “double digit growth for a decade,” and for the divided and inept opposition, 2014 has not started as a good year for the governing party. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that, given the high level of public appetite for representative and accountable government, a strong national opposition or opposition parties and civil society with substantially better and all inclusive organization, wise leadership and more promising policy alternatives will win in a landslide. The objective conditions are ripe for change. Below are a sample of globally recognized reasons.

Country Risk for Investors

The Economist’s Intelligence Survey on country risks identified Ethiopia as one of the riskiest in the world, with a rating of 3 out of 4. It means that the country suffers from poor fiscal and monetary policies…heavy borrowing and deficit financing, massive credit allocation with insignificant or no collateral, low taxes and domestic saving, an unbelievable level of illicit capital outflow. As a recent article by Al-Jazeera showed, Ethiopia demonstrates a semblance of glitzy growth without equitable and fair distribution of incomes and wealth and without a foundation of sustainability. Staples are out of rich for ordinary Ethiopians. Close to “90 percent of the population is poor” and most are destitute. Employment opportunities for youth and females have not kept pace with the workforce. Ethiopia needs to generate at least two million jobs a year for several decades. Otherwise, the educated will continue to leave in droves depriving the country of productive and creative human capital. The value or purchasing power of the Birr has been reduced several times. An anonymous article in Amharic says it all. “ሲስቅ እንዳልነበር በደስታ እስከ ዛሬ፤ ዋጋው ቢወርድበት የሱ ምንዛሬ፤ ሳንቲም ሆኖ መጣ ሊቀድ የእኛን ሱሪ.” የዝምባብዌን ሁኔታ ያስታውሰኛል። የዜጎች የመኖር አቅም ተንዷል። ስደት የወጣቱ ትውልድ እጣ ሆኗል።

Here is the bottom line. Ethiopia is one of the poorest and least developed countries on the planet, with a per capita income of $390 per annum. I have argued in previous articles that it is development outlier. Yet, it has a few millionaires whose wealth is morally and ethically questionable. Income inequality is alarming. The rich and superrich should know that they live in glass houses. Growth is basically narrow with high incomes and wealth for a few. One observer notes that “Apart from a few tax havens, there is no country in Africa that has attained a high standard of living on the basis of services (commodity exports, my addition) alone.” This is true for Ethiopia where the rich and super rich consume what they do not produce and call this miraculous growth. Investors cannot invest their capital in productive areas unless and until nationals are in a position to buy and consume. A policy bias in favor of exporting commodities without an assurance of food security does not change the structure of the economy no matter how fast and how high the “growth story” is propagated. The country won’t achieve food security no matter how much land is taken away from indigenous people to make room for state and foreign owned sugar plantations. Smallholders including indigenous communities must be empowered to be owners and producers. The current growth model shows that, whether foreign or domestic, investors focus on speculative and quick return areas rather than on sectors and sub-sectors that strengthen domestic productive capacities, national ownership of assets, job creation and sustainable boost of the Ethiopian middle class.

Food Insecurity

The ruling party has failed in making Ethiopia food self-sufficient. The country is more food insecure today than at any time after the current regime took power or comparatively speaking before. The UN Food Program states that 14 million Ethiopians continue to depend on international food aid. Oxfam and a special broadcast by a major American television network showed emaciated children and mothers emanating in the Ogaden afflicted by a hidden famine that the governing party denies. There are ominous signs that famine will spread to other parts of the country. This recurring phenomenon has been contained and or eliminated in many countries including India and China. Wolfgang Fengler a leading specialist at the World Bank, put the policy issue clearly. “This famine crisis in Ethiopia is man-made” and should have been addressed by the ruling-party within its Agriculture Development-led Industrialization framework. It has essentially abandoned this strategy in favor FDI in large-scale commercial agriculture. This latest strategy has created social, political and environmental havoc.

Bribery and corruption

No matter how one looks at it, the vast majority of Ethiopians are sickened by a state that is rotten to the core. State institutions are corrupt. The World Bank funded two studies, the latest in collaboration with DIFID of Britain, CIDA of Canada and the Netherlands; and another last year conducted by Kilimanjaro International. Both studies reveal the depth and breadth of unprecedented state condoned and at best ignored bribery, kickbacks and corruption. This institutional culture is bleeding Ethiopians. Three hundred fifty foreign investors were surveyed and reported that almost all state institutions: revenue and customs, water, sewage, telecommunication, electric power, licensing and procurement, judges, courts, police, foreign exchange authorities, municipalities, land and building licensing agencies, infrastructure construction suppliers and contractors etc. etc. are involved in corruption. You ask a simple question and offer an answer. Who is above board and above blame? None in government. Who then provides basic services to Ethiopians whether they live in urban or rural areas? It is hard to find an official above reproach. Who has integrity and ethnical value that goes beyond serving oneself, families, friends and those who cater to the governing party? It is each for herself of himself. What is the cost of all this to the society? It is not only billions of Birr; it is also moral decay. How can ordinary people afford to live under a state as rotten to the core as this? The vast majority are unable to eat three meals a day.

The latest World Bank draft report on corruption notes, “These employees ca get paid a maximum bribe of 20 to 30,000 Birr per incident.” It notes further that “Petty corruptions exist in every office” and ranges from “5,000 to 7,000 Birr” per transaction. This investigative report reveals what Ethiopians know from their life experience and have been complaining about for two decades. The fact that foreign investors complained has forced donors to conduct studies. They could have as easily and cost effectively surveyed Ethiopians who pay bribes to acquire basic services such as water, sewage, electricity and telecommunications. Government employees do not accept the fundamental administrative principle that they are paid salaries to serve the public. They do not have a model at the top of government of the decision-making who abides by the rule of law. Services are erratic and depend on power, connections, wealth and the capacity to pay bribes. This is why I suggest that the system is rotten to the core and cannot be cured without radical reform and accountable government.

Personal safety and insecurity

Whatever reasons drove us out of Ethiopia, there is one inescapable fact, we are all refugees either by choice or forced by those who rule the country. The statistics are staggering. Between 1990 and 2006, out of 3,700 Ethiopia-trained medical doctors, 3,000 left the country by choice. These are largely economic refugees as are all migrants to the Middle East, North Africa, Sudan and the rest. Others leave because of political, religious and other triggers. All journalists and many human rights advocates, academics, former government officials, spiritual leaders etc. left because of their independent views or because they did not subscribe to the dictates of the ruling party. Whatever the cause, Ethiopian society has lost and is losing fundamental assets, values, traditions, history, mores and experiences that distinguish the country from the rest of the world. One cannot buy or restore these critical assets and values once they are gone. The overarching reason for this continuing exodus or Brain-Drain is repressive governance and the stifling of freedom.

People must have freedom to debate, to vote and to negotiate. Cruel and repressive governance teaches us that enduring peace emanates solely from a just, inclusive and participatory government and state. The acid test in Ethiopia’s case today is whether or not the government is confident and bold enough to open-up social, economic, political and cultural space for everyone. I say this because the TPLF/EPRDF has outlived its value and legitimacy to govern the second most populous country in Africa and potentially one of the most prosperous. Ultimately, muzzling the entire society and stifling peaceful dissent is hugely risky for the country. In its 2014 assessment of freedom, the Committee to Protect Journalists says, “A year after the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn succeeded in preserving the repressive climate in Ethiopia. The country faced international condemnation over imprisonment of award-winning journalists Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu and Woubshet Taye, who were serving heavy terms on vague terrorism charges. Authorities continued to crack down on online press by increasing “technological capacity to filter, block, and monitor Internet and Mobile communication.” Similarly, Freedom House has repeatedly noted that Ethiopia is one of the “unfreest or least free countries” in the world, in terms of personal safety and security and in terms of private ownership of assets.

On the surface, Ethiopia has the appearance of peace and stability. However, social, religious and political fissures are everywhere to see. The ruling party uses diversity as a wedge rather than as an asset. Evidence shows that government has not tapped fully into the country’s immense diversity, natural resources, strategic location as a hub of the African continent and as a bridge to North Africa and the Middle East. It has not offered its youthful population—64 percent under 24—employment opportunity. It has not harnessed modern information technology that is transforming poor societies to tackle poverty, boosting the middle class and increasing incomes (Bangladesh, Kenya) etc. etc. The Ethiopian government is one of the few anywhere in the world to retain state control of the telecommunication sector, a cash cow that generates $300 million per year. “The absence of competition has seen a country of 94 million lag badly behind the rest of the continent in an industry that has generally burgeoned alongside economic growth…with mobile phone penetration of 70 percent in SSA compared to a paltry 2.5 percent in Ethiopia; internet access of 40 percent in Kenya.”

Modern IT opens windows for private enterprise and employment. It enhances freedom and facilitates knowledge transfer. It serves as an essential tool for youth to better themselves. It is at the heart of the quest for choice and freedom from poverty and oppression. Government unwillingness to give space, be all inclusive and unleash the creative potential of the country’s youth and harness the peace, gender (females) and information technology dividend, including freedom of expression, have diminished national social cohesion and deterred productivity and the emergence of a robust national private sector.

Africa Business quotes Guang Z Chen, World Bank Country Director, Ethiopia, who asked the Ethiopian government “to allow the private sector to play a bigger role in the economy.” Chen says, “For the country to continue to grow I strongly I believe industry has to take a much bigger role because there is no other country that I am aware of, aside from resource-rich countries, that can grow to middle income status with still 50 percent of GDP on agriculture.” Those with talent and experience leave the country in droves. The ruling party substitutes Ethiopians by inviting foreign investors, technical and professional staff and by staffing key posts with political cadres. The private sector suffers from lack of access to credit, foreign exchange, land, licenses and permits. Procurement of goods and services is not transparent or competitive. “Making credit available for the private sector is certainly one area the government can do more. The trend that worries us is that while the public investment (the biggest source of bribery, favoritism and corruption) as a share of GDP is increasing, the private sector as a share of GDP is decreasing” as are savings. Illicit outflow of scarce capital continues unabated, reducing capital resources.

By all measurements, the government fails to empower and unleash Ethiopia’s productive potential. It counters national cohesion and integration by pitying ethnic, political and religious groups against one another. This is the opposite of global trends. For example, Ghana outlawed ethnic political formation. Most Ghanaians trust their government officials; and have freedom to change their leaders through free and fair elections. Ethiopians do not trust their government. A 2010 Gallop Poll shows that trust in government and its institutions is among the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa. Those with wealth are leaving the country in droves and voting against the government by not investing in their homeland. Only faith institutions such as Christianity and Islam garner trust and confidence. The governing party has tried to politicize them; both faiths are under constant harassment and threat.

Change must come from within

Ethiopia is one of the few countries in the world where social change has always come from within. The 1974 Revolution was a result of the Ethiopian Student’s Movement that galvanized the entire society. It was national and not ethnic or religious. It was transformative but not well designed, planned or executed. In this sense, the country has gone backwards: from a national to that of an ethnic political and social order. This entails risks and unintended consequences. Observers within and outside Ethiopia agree that the Socialist Military Dictatorship that toppled the Haile Selassie government in 1974 and ruled the country with an iron-fist for 17 years was among the most oppressive. Its leaders, leftist groups with different ideologies and motives, foreign sponsors, ethnic-based liberation movements, supporters of the defunct Imperial system and others turned the country into a blood bath. Most of those killed were patriots, social democrats, leftists and other change agents. Hundreds of thousands of young people were murdered; and hundreds of thousands fled. This period triggered the first wave of human capital flight at a massive scale. A trend was established. Before then, Ethiopians sent overseas for further education returned home. Today, an estimated 5.5 million Ethiopians—almost all with high school education and 1/3rd with college education–live and work in the two Sudans, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and numerous Sub-Saharan African countries. Ninety one percent of domestic workers in the GCC are Ethiopian females aged 20-30. In 2009, 42,000 Ethiopians, most of them young, left through Yemen; 80 percent of Ethiopia-trained physicians leave the country each year, etc.

Shouldn’t donors care for the rule of law or representative government?

While donors praise Ethiopia’s remarkable growth, albeit from a low base, human rights groups and unattached development experts question social benefits. “Meles engineered one party rule in effect for the TPLF and his Tigray inner circle, with complicity of other ethnic elites that were coopted into the ruling alliance….Ethiopia’s much praised economic development is not as robust or cost-free ….as the international community believes…The system was entirely dependent on central authority or command and control.” It will be impossible to receive aid without showing some growth. Education opportunities have expanded. The number of colleges and universities has increased. Roads, bridges, hydroelectric dams, etc. have been built. Equally, it will be unthinkable to siphon-off capital unless there is something to siphon.

Sharp criticism of “Ethiopia’s renaissance” is buffeted by others. Following the death of Prime Meles in August 2012, Halvorssen and Gladstein of Forbes critiqued donors and the Ethiopian government’s Anti-Terrorist Law. “Those in the West heaping praise on Zenawi—all living in societies that suffered so much to achieve individual liberty are engaging in dramatic hypocrisy.” In a 2009 UK Department of International Development sponsored study of Ethiopia’s growth Stefan Dercon and Ruth Vargas suggested that “The magnitude of this growth and the fact that it has been achieved with little change in input use suggests something is not right with the data on agriculture.” In 2012, the IMF questioned Ethiopia’s growth sustainability. “The sustainability of Ethiopia’s growth model over the medium term is uncertain, given the constraints on private sector development, the absence of savings incentives, lack of financial reform, etc.” Despite these policy and structural limitations, the government argues that export-driven growth is possible without a robust domestic private sector. Critics argue that mega projects (hydro) to export and generate foreign exchange do not respond to the real need of improving smallholder agricultural productivity, domestic agriculture-based industrialization and employment generation. The counter view is that such state and party-led growth cannot create sustainability without competition and participation.

If we accept the thesis that Ethiopia’s development story is not “as robust and cost free” as the government and donors claim, what is root cause of the flawed policy? It is lack of freedom and predictability that private property is protected by law and cannot be affected by political decisions. Private sector development is virtually impossible without a favorable investment regulatory system that levels the playing field. The rule of law and the judicial system must be above the party, sacrosanct and predictable. In 2013, the country ranked “49.4 percent, making its economy the 146th, among the least free in the world. It has gone down by 2.6 %; lower in 6 of 10 indices: trade, workers’ rights, financial movement, investment, etc.” It ranks 32nd out of 46 African countries. “Regulatory efficiency remains weak, creating an unfavorable climate for entreprunial activity…The foundations of economic freedom are quite fragile, particularly because of pervasive corruption and a deficient judicial system…Corruption further undermines the foundation of economic freedom” for the Ethiopian private sector. It goes without saying that such an environment operates in the “dark” and limits productivity and efficiency severely. Both the country and consumers suffer.

Human Rights Watch has done more than any human rights organization to show the flaws in the nexus between of massive aid inflow on the one hand, discrimination, nepotism, corruption and repression on the other. “Development aid flows through, and supports a virtual one-party state with a deplorable human rights record. Government practices include jailing and silencing critics and media, enacting laws to undermine human rights activity, and hobbling the political system. Aid is routinely used to punish opponents and reward supporters. Massive amounts of money is siphoned-off for private gain. The effect of this on the population is substantial. “The Ethiopian population pays a heavy price for this approach in development.” The 2005 elections that the opposition won and then lost through a political decision is a prime example. Similarly, in 2010, “the EPRDF won 99.6 percent of parliamentary seats,” making a mockery of the electoral process. Competition was not allowed.

TPLF/EPRDF Members Need to Air their Voices

Hope among Ethiopians that the ruling party would be open to reform has evaporated. “Ethiopian authorities have subjected political detainees to torture and other ill-treatment at the main detention center in Addis Ababa.” In a 70 page report, Human Rights Watch “documents serious human rights abuses, unlawful interrogation tactics…beatings, torture and coerced confessions.” The court system caters to the party alone. “Ethiopia’s courts are politicized and lack independence.” Their role is to serve the ruling party and not to administer justice. “Beatings, torture and coerced confession are no way to deal with journalists or the political opposition—Ethiopia’s Constitution and international legal commitments require officials to protect all detainees from mistreatment….Real change demands action from the highest levels of government against those responsible to root out the underlying culture of impunity.” This impunity is expansive. Bribery, ethnic-based nepotism, high corruption and illicit outflow of funds stem from the system itself. High officials and top military officers operate above the law and all are vested in the system that enriches them.

Top officials of the governing party do not see anything wrong with their manipulation of the Constitution and with violation of human rights contained in international agreements. Following the aftermath of the 2005 elections in which 200 young and innocent Ethiopians were massacred, Ana Gomes, member of the European Parliament and Head of the EU Election Team to Ethiopia saw the danger of impunity as a political culture. She concluded, “As long as the Meles regime is in power, I will never believe in an election in Ethiopia.” Meles is gone but his legacy remains intact. Measured in terms of freedom, human rights, transparency, fair and open political and economic competition and rampant and systemic corruption, the country is worse off than it was in 2005 and 2010. To his credit, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn is fully cognizant of the dangers the country faces in one area of poor-governance, namely, corruption. A few high officials have been arrested. However, corruption is systemic. Those at the top of the corruption culture are protected by a system that feeds their wealth. The development strategy of relentless public investment offers a window of opportunity for theft, graft, kickbacks, corruption and illicit outflow through procurement, customs etc. The system is infected from the top down. It will not stop until and unless the system is overhauled radically.

Radical reform means political reform; a modern monitoring system; and the establishment of an independent oversight consisting of civil society and prominent individuals with impeccable integrity. Transparency International, UNDP and Global Financial Integrity provided documentary evidence showing systemic corruption that requires real commitment to hold corrupt officials at the top and private individuals accountable, including freezing their assets. “The people of Ethiopia are being bled dry. No matter how hard they try to fight their way out of absolute destitution and poverty, they will be swimming against the current of illicit capital leakage.”

Ethiopia faces intractable vulnerabilities and risks

The hurdle Ethiopia faces on the economic front is equally prevalent on the human rights front. “Rather than working to build a development strategy grounded in human rights, the Ethiopian government is attempting to hoodwink its human rights record, leaving unmentioned its Villagization Program and the Anti-Terrorist Proclamation—both used by the government as significant justification for forced resettlement, arbitrary detention, and politically motivated arrests. Tools used in implementing projects reinforce violation of human rights and the uprooting of indigenous people from their lands,” all in the name of development “without freedom.” The lack of people-centered development contributes directly to the prevailing phenomenon of growth for the few and gaping inequity that will feed into and cause social unrest similar to Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Syria and rest. Here is the good news, Ethiopian society has overcome its veil of fear imposed by the system. Opposition groups, spiritual leaders and others are openly critical of the government. Peaceful protests are common. Some of the party’s hard core supporters are critical of corruption and open favoritism in hiring and licensing. On February 8, 2014, Binyam Kebede, an ardent interlocutor of the ruling party offered blunt critique of the disaster the party and society are facing. In “ኢህአዴግ ክብደት ካልቀነሰ ለህይወቱ ያሰጋዋል።” His central argument is that the ruling party has literally stopped serving the public. On the contrary, the party has “imposed a burdensome and crushing bureaucracy on citizens extracting rent, demanding bribes and not providing basic services….It has morphed and does not listen to its own electorate….There is a dark and ominous distance between the ruling party and the public.” This cadre is saying what dissidents and opposition parties have been saying for years.

Think tanks such as Human Rights Watch and Oakland Institute do not see sustainable development unless human rights and freedoms are protected by law and enforced by the government. The genie of corruption and fear is out of the box and the quest for freedom is unstoppable. The option is not more repression. It is opening-up political and social space sooner than later. In sum, “No Human Rights=No Development and no stability.”

To be continued…

Continuation to be posted on March 10, 2014

posted by Daniel tesfaye

American Sues Ethiopian Government for Spyware Infection

February 20, 2014

Months of Electronic Espionage Put American Citizen and Family at Risk

Kidane v. Ethiopia

An American citizen living in Maryland has sued the Ethiopian government for infecting his computer with secret spyware, wiretapping his private Skype calls, and monitoring his entire family’s every use of the computer for a period of months.  EFF is representing the plaintiff in this case, who has asked the court to allow him to use the pseudonym Mr. Kidane – which he uses within the Ethiopian community – in order to protect the safety and wellbeing of his family both in the United States and in Ethiopia.

What is this case about?

EFF has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, DC alleging that the government of Ethiopia, using notorious surveillance malware known as FinSpy, illegally wiretapped and invaded the privacy of our client, a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil.  Essentially, the malware took over our client’s computer and secretly sent copies of his activities, including Skype calls, web searches and indications of websites visited other activity, to the Ethiopian government.

Who does EFF represent in this case?

Our client in this case is an American citizen living in the U.S.  We are not revealing his name, and he is seeking to participate under a pseudonym in order to protect his family both in the United States and in Ethiopia. Sadly the Ethiopian government has a bad record of mistreating the family members of people who oppose it.  We have asked the court for permission to refer to him only by the pseudonym he uses in the Ethiopian community: Kidane.

Mr. Kidane was born in Ethiopia and lived his early life there. He came to the United States more than 20 years ago, sought asylum here, and is now U.S. citizen. He lives in Maryland. He is married with 2 children.

How is this different from an ordinary wiretapping case?

It’s not really different at all. This is a straightforward case challenging the wiretapping and invasion of privacy of an American citizen at his home in suburban Maryland.  Installing malware that intercepts someone else’s communications illegal in the U.S. and in most other countries of the world.  The only difference between this an ordinary domestic wiretapping case is that the wiretapping was conducted by the government of Ethiopia.  Wiretapping is a serious civil and criminal offense and a foreign country is not exempt from U.S. laws when it operates in the U.S. and attacks U.S. citizens.

Why is this case important?

This case is important because it demonstrates that state-sponsored malware infections and can indeed are occurring in the U.S. against U.S. citizens. It seeks to demonstrate that warrantless wiretapping is illegal and can be the basis of a lawsuit in the United States, regardless of who engages in it.

How did the defendant’s computer become infected with FinSpy?

Mr. Kidane’s computer became compromised after he opened an email containing an infected Word document attachment sent by agents of the Ethiopian government and forwarded to him. After the attachment was opened, FinSpy was surreptitiously downloaded onto his computer from a server located at an Ethiopian IP adddress.  FinSpy then took complete control over his computer and began recording some, possibly all, of the activities undertaken by users of the computer, including both Mr. Kidane and members of his family.  It then sent copies of those activities, including Skype calls, to a command and control server located in Ethiopia and controlled by the government.

What are the surveillance capabilities of FinSpy?

Publicly available information about FinSpy confirms that it can do all of the things that occurred on Mr. Kidane’s computer.  FinSpy includes a number of features that the government operator may install on infected devices to facilitate different types of monitoring and the acquisition of different types of data.  For example, FinSpy includes a feature for extracting saved passwords from more than 20 different web browsers, e-mail programs, and chat programs, and capturing these passwords as the user types them in.

FinSpy can also record Internet telephone calls, text messages, and file transfers transmitted through Skype, record every keystroke on the computer, and take a picture of the contents displayed on a computer’s screen.  It can even covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone even when no Skype calls are taking place.

What did FinSpy record in our plaintiff’s case?

At a minimum, we know that between late October 2012 and March 2013 the FinSpy software  installed on Mr. Kidane’s computer made secret audio recordings of dozens of Mr. Kidane’s Skype internet phone calls, recorded portions or complete copies of a number of emails sent by Mr. Kidane, and recorded a web search related to the history of sports medicine, conducted by Mr. Kidane’s son for his middle school history class.

How do we know that our plaintiff’s FinSpy infection was controlled from Ethiopia?

The copy of FinSpy discovered in the Word documents on Mr. Kidane’s computer contained a configuration file specifying the FinSpy command and control server to which the infected computer would exfiltrate data with a single Internet Protocol (“IP”) address: 213.55.99.74.

The 213.55.99.74 IP address is part of a block of addresses registered to Ethiopia’s state-owned telecommunications company – Ethio Telecom – which indicates the relay is located inside Ethiopia, and also indicates that its operator is a customer or subscriber with Ethio Telecom.

Researchers have conducted several scans of various ranges of internet address numbers.  The existence of the FinSpy command and control server located at 213.55.99.74 was first disclosed on August 8, 2012 in a research blog post appearing on the website of Rapid7, a security firm.

Subsequent scans conducted by CitizenLab detected that the same address was a FinSpy command and control server.  These results were publicized on August 29, 2012, and March 13, 2013.  In both cases, the command and control server was still operational at the time of publication.  The March 13, 2013 CitizenLab publication also reported on the discovery of a FinSpy executable disguised as an image of Ethiopian opposition leaders, which contained a configuration file containing the address of the Ethiopian command and control server.

What company is behind the FinSpy surveillance software?

FinSpy is part of the FinFisher line of “IT Intrusion” products developed and marketed by Gamma International, Ltd, a United Kingdom-based company, now known as FinFisher GmbH.  Gamma produces FinSpy spyware for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers, as well as iPhone, Android, Nokia/Symbian, Windows Phone, and Blackberry mobile devices. FinFisher claims that this product is only sold to governments.

How do we know the Ethiopian government was operating the FinSpy command and control server responsible for our plaintiff’s infection?

Gamma specifically asserts that “FinFisher solutions are sold to governmental agencies only.”

Who uncovered the evidence that FinSpy was being used to spy on democratic activists?

The use of FinSpy technology by governments to spy on human rights and democracy activists around the world has been investigated by CitizenLab, an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, Canada. CitizenLab focuses on advanced research and development at the intersection of digital media, global security, and human rights.

On March 13, 2013, the CitizenLab released a report on the proliferation of FinSpy called You Only Click Twice.  The report included a section describing Ethiopia’s use of FinSpy, and included identifying details of a FinSpy Master server in Ethiopia.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation

posted by Daniel tesfaye

“Co-pilot hijacked plane to expose brutal rule in Ethiopia” – Cousin

February 19, 2014

by Abraha Belai, Ethiomedia.com

SEATTLE – Amid a flurry of government propaganda to label the hijacker of an Ethiopian Airlines plane as mental patient, a family member of the co-pilot says her cousin was an activist who has been resentful of the stifling political repression in Ethiopia.Ethiopian Airlines plane hijacker

Speaking to the Ethiopian Satellite TV (ESAT) by phone on Wednesday, a female cousin of co-pilot Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn, who landed the passenger airliner in Geneva early on Monday and sought asylum there, said the measure was politically motivated, and not any other reason.

“He was living a comfortable life, and was a frequent traveler to the US and Europe. If he had the desire to live in the West, he had plenty of chances. But he was an activist who very much resented the gross human rights violations that the government is committing in the country,” she said.

The woman, who didn’t reveal her identity for fear of political retribution, said 31-year-old Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn and she would call each other frequently, and the co-pilot was very much opposed to the government because of lack of freedom, including harassing airlines employees to be members of the ruling party or lose their jobs.

“Many of his friends have been fired because they failed to toe the party lines,” she said, adding he was also resentful of the brutal measures the ruling party was taking against the Amhara in particular and the entire Ethiopian people in general.

Asked whether she is in contact with family members in Addis, she said the phone lines were blocked with all family members but one. “My uncle is virtually under house arrest as others are under surveillance. We have also learned that Airlines officials have come under fire, being threatened to reveal how come they kept dissidents in the business.”

Though in police custody in Geneva, the woman said several calls to her cousin were never answered.

“The government in Addis will definitely push the Swiss government to extradite my cousin. If they succeed, there is no doubt that they will cut him to pieces as he would expose their crimes if left free. All Ethiopians should rally to block any extradition attempts,” the woman said.

The pro-democracy Ethiopian Diaspora is considering to hire lawyers to defend the rights of the co-pilot, who is now hailed as a human rights champion among Ethiopian activists both at home and abroad.

posted by Daniel tesfaye

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