Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dies aged 90

(Reuters) — Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died on Friday, his younger brother announced to the nation. He was 90. A towering figure of the second half of the 20th Century, Castro had been in poor health since an intestinal ailment nearly killed him in 2006. He formally ceded power to his younger brother two years later. Wearing a green military uniform, Cuba’s President Raul Castro appeared on state television to announce his brother’s death. “At 10.29 at night, the chief commander of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, died,” he said, without giving a cause of death. “Ever onward, to victory.” The streets were quiet in Havana, but some residents reacted with sadness to the news, while in Miami, where many exiles from the Communist government live, a large crowd waving Cuban flags cheered, danced and banged on pots and pans, a video on social media showed. “I am very upset. Whatever you want to say, he is public figure that the whole world respected and loved,” said Havana student Sariel Valdespino. Castro’s remains will be cremated, according to his wishes. His brother said details of his funeral would be given on Saturday. The bearded Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution and ruled Cuba for 49 years with a mix of charisma and iron will, creating a one-party state and becoming a central figure in the Cold War. He was demonized by the United States and its allies but admired by many leftists around the world, especially socialist revolutionaries in Latin America and Africa. “I lament the death of Fidel Castro Ruz, leader of the Cuban revolution and emblematic reference of the 20th Century,” Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Twitter. Transforming Cuba from a playground for rich Americans into a symbol of resistance to Washington, Castro outlasted nine U.S. presidents in power. He fended off a CIA-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 as well as countless assassination attempts. His alliance with Moscow helped trigger the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, a 13-day showdown with the United States that brought the world the closest it has been to nuclear war. Wearing green military fatigues and chomping on cigars for many of his years in power, Castro was famous for long, fist-pounding speeches filled with blistering rhetoric, often aimed at the United States. At home, he swept away capitalism and won support for bringing schools and hospitals to the poor. But he also created legions of enemies and critics, concentrated among Cuban exiles in Miami who fled his rule and saw him as a ruthless tyrant. In the end it was not the efforts of Washington and Cuban exiles nor the collapse of Soviet communism that ended his rule. Instead, illness forced him to cede power to his younger brother Raul Castro, provisionally in 2006 and definitively in 2008. Although Raul Castro always glorified his older brother, he has changed Cuba since taking over by introducing market-style economic reforms and agreeing with the United States in December 2014 to re-establish diplomatic ties and end decades of hostility. Six weeks later, Fidel Castro offered only lukewarm support for the deal, raising questions about whether he approved of ending hostilities with his longtime enemy. He lived to witness the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Cuba earlier this year, the first trip by a U.S. president to the island since 1928. Castro did not meet Obama, and days later wrote a scathing column condemning the U.S. president’s “honey-coated” words and reminding Cubans of the many U.S. efforts to overthrow and weaken the Communist government. In his final years, Fidel Castro no longer held leadership posts. He wrote newspaper commentaries on world affairs and occasionally met with foreign leaders but he lived in semi-seclusion. His death – which would once have thrown a question mark over Cuba’s future – seems unlikely to trigger a crisis as Raul Castro, 85, is firmly ensconced in power. Still, the passing of the man known to most Cubans as “El Comandante” – the commander – or simply “Fidel” leaves a huge void in the country he dominated for so long. It also underlines the generational change in Cuba’s communist leadership. Raul Castro vows to step down when his term ends in 2018 and the Communist Party has elevated younger leaders to its Politburo, including 56-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, who is first vice-president and the heir apparent. Others in their 50s include Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and economic reform czar Marino Murillo. The reforms have led to more private enterprise and the lifting of some restrictions on personal freedoms but they aim to strengthen Communist Party rule, not weaken it. “I don’t think Fidel’s passing is the big test. The big test is handing the revolution over to the next generation and that will happen when Raul steps down,” Cuba expert Phil Peters of the Lexington Institute in Virginia said before Castro’s death. REVOLUTIONARY ICON A Jesuit-educated lawyer, Fidel Castro led the revolution that ousted U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista on Jan 1, 1959. Aged 32, he quickly took control of Cuba and sought to transform it into an egalitarian society. His government improved the living conditions of the very poor, achieved health and literacy levels on a par with rich countries and rid Cuba of a powerful Mafia presence. But he also tolerated little dissent, jailed opponents, seized private businesses and monopolized the media. Castro’s opponents labeled him a dictator and hundreds of thousands fled the island. Many settled in Florida, influencing U.S. policy toward Cuba and plotting Castro’s demise. Some even trained in the Florida swamps for the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. But they could never dislodge him. Generations of Latin American leftists applauded Castro for his socialist policies and for thumbing his nose at the United States from its doorstep just 90 miles (145 km) from Florida. Castro claimed he survived or evaded hundreds of assassination attempts, including some conjured up by the CIA. In 1962, the United States imposed a damaging trade embargo that Castro blamed for most of Cuba’s ills, using it to his advantage to rally patriotic fury. Over the years, he expanded his influence by sending Cuban troops into far-away wars, including 350,000 to fight in Africa. They provided critical support to a left-wing government in Angola and contributed to the independence of Namibia in a war that helped end apartheid in South Africa. He also won friends by sending tens of thousands of Cuban doctors abroad to treat the poor and bringing young people from developing countries to train them as physicians ‘HISTORY WILL ABSOLVE ME’ Born on August 13, 1926 in Biran in eastern Cuba, Castro was the son of a Spanish immigrant who became a wealthy landowner. Angry at social conditions and Batista’s dictatorship, Fidel Castro launched his revolution on July 26, 1953, with a failed assault on the Moncada barracks in the eastern city of Santiago. – See more at:

posted by daniel tesfaye


ጎሠኛነት በባዶ ሜዳ (ፕሮፌሰር መስፍን ወልደ ማርያም)

በተለያዩ የኢትዮጵያ አንገብጋቢ ጉዳዮች ላይ ሁሉ የሚደረገው ውይይትና ክርክር እንደተጠናቀቀ ተቆትሮ የአማራና የኦሮሞ ጎሠኛነት ትልቁ አንገብጋቢ ጉዳይ እየሆነ ነው፤ (ስለኢትዮጵያ ለማያውቅ ሰው በኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ከጠሩና ከጸዱ አማራና ኦሮሞዎች በቀር በአገሪቱ ውስጥ ሌላ ሰው ያለ አይመስልም!) ጎሠኛነት ጉዳያችን ያልሆነው ኢትዮጵያውያን የዳር ተመልካች መሆኑ እየሰለቸን ነው፤ ምንም እንኳን አማራና ኦሮሞ የተባሎት ጎሣዎች በብዛት ከሁሉም ቢበልጡም ከሰማንያ በላይ የሚሆኑ ጎሣዎች እንደሌሉና በኢትዮጵያ ጉዳይ ላይ ቃል እንደሌላቸው ተደርጎ የሚጎነጎነው የሚስዮናውያንና የስለላ ድርጅቶች ታሪክ ለኢትዮጵያውያን ባዕድ ነው፡፡ ሌላው የሚያስደንቀውና ዓይን ያወጣው ነገር እነዚህ ኢትዮጵያን በጠዋቱ ለመቃረጥ እየተነታረኩ ያሉ በአማራና በኦሮሞ ጎሣዎች ስም መድረኩን የያዙት ሰዎች በውጭ አገር የሚኖሩ፣ እነሱ ሌሎች መንግሥታትን የሙጢኝ ብለው ከወላጆቻቸው ባህልና ታሪክ ጋር ማንም ዓይነት ግንኙነት የሌላቸው፣ ልጆቻቸውም ከኢትዮጵያ ጋር ምንም ዓይነት ግንኙነት የሌላቸው የውጭ አገር ሰዎች ናቸው፤ የሚናገሩትና የሚሰብኩት ግን በኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ላለነው፣ አገራችን ያፈራችውን ግፍና መከራ እየተቀበልን ለምንኖረው የነሱ ንትርክ፣ ውይይትና ክርክር ትርጉም የለውም፤ እዚያው በያገራቸው እየተነታረኩ ዕድሜያቸውን ጨርሰው መቀበሪያ ይፈልጉ፤ ሲመች ኢትዮጵያውያን ናቸው፤ ሳይመች የሌሎች አገሮች ዜጎች ናቸው፤ ሲመች የአንዱ ጎሣ አባል ናቸው፣ ሳይመች ሌላ ናቸው፤ እነሱ በምጽዋት እየኖሩ እዚህ በአገሩ ጦሙን እያደረ ስቃዩን የሚበላውን በጎሠኛነት መርዝ ናላውን ሊያዞሩት ይጥራሉ፡፡ የኢትዮጵያን ሕዝብ በጎሣ ለያይተው የሞተ ታሪክ እያስነሡ ከአሥራ አምስት ሺህና ከሃያ ሺህ ኪሎ ሜትር ርቀት አዛኝ ቅቤ አንጓች እየሆኑ ተነሥ-አለንልህ! እያሉ በአጉል ቀረርቶ ጉሮሮአቸው እስቲነቃ የሚጮሁ ሰዎች ቆም ብለው ቢያስቡ እኛና እነሱ ያለንበትን የአካል ርቀት ብቻ ሳይሆን በአስተሳሰበም በመንፈስም እጅግ መራራቃችንን በመገንዘብ አደብ መግዛት ይችሉ ነበሩ፤ የሥልጣን ጥም ያቅበዘበዛቸው ሰዎች የሚያስነሡት አቧራ በኢትዮጵያ የዘለቄታ መሠረታዊ ጉዳዮች ለመነጋገር እንዳይችሉ፣ እንዳይደማመጡና እንዳይተያዩ እያደረገ ነው፡፡ አገር-ቤት ያለነውን አላዋቂ ሞኞች ለማሳመን ስደተኞች በየቀኑ አዳዲስ ነገሮችን እያለሙ ያድራሉ፤ እኛ የምንኖረውን እንንገራችሁ ይሉናል፤ እኛ የምናስበውን እንምራችሁ ይሉናል፤ እኛ የሚሰማንን እንግለጽላችሁ ይሉናል፤ በአጭሩ እኛን የእነሱ አሻንጉሊቶች አድርገውናል፤ የእኛን መታፈን ከእነሱ ስድነት ጋር እያወዳደሩ፣ የእኛን የኑሮ ደሀነት ከእነሱ ምቾት ጋር እያስተያዩ፣ የእነሱን ቀረርቶ ከእኛ ዋይታ ጋር እያመዛዘኑ ያላግጡብናል፤ ይመጻደቁብናል፤ በስደት ቅዠት ያገኙትን ማንነት በእኛ ላይ ሊጭኑ ይዳዳቸዋል፡፡ ወላጆቹም እሱም የተወለደበትን አገር ትቶ በሰው አገር ስደተኛ የሆነ፣ የራሱን አገር መንግሥት መመሥረት አቀቶት የሌላ አገር መንግሥትን የሙጢኝ ያለ፣ ማንነቱን ለምቾትና ለሆዱ የለወጠ፣ የተወለደበትንና ያደገበትን ሃይማኖት በብስኩትና በሻይ የቀየረ፣ተጨንቆና ተጠቦ በማሰብ ከውስጡ ከራሱ ምንም ሳይወጣው ሌሎች ያሸከሙትን ጭነት ብቻ እያሳየ ተምሬለሁ የሚል፣ የመድረሻ-ቢስነቱ እውነት የፈጠረበትን የመንፈስ ክሳት በጭነቱ ለማድለብ በከንቱ የሚጥርና የሚሻክራን ስደት ለማለስለስ በሚያዳልጥ መንገድ ላይ መገላበጡ አያስደንቅም፤ እያዳለጠው ሲንከባለል የተነሣበትን ሲረሳና ታሪኩን ሲስት ሌሎች እሱ የካዳቸው ወንድሞቹና እኅቶቹ ከፊቱ በኩራት ቆመው የገባህበት ማጥ ውስጥ አንገባም ይሉታል፡፡ የአሊን፣ የጎበናን፣ የባልቻን፣ የሀብተ ጊዮርጊስን፣… ወገንነት ክዶና ንቆ ራቁቱን የቆመ፣ እንደእንስሳት ትውልድ ከዜሮ ለመጀመር በደመ-ነፍስ የሚንቀሳቀስ! ድንቁርናን እውቀት እያስመሰለ ሞኞችን የሚያታልል፣ ወዳጅ-ዘመድን ከጠላት ለመለየት የሚያስችለውን የተፈጥሮ ችሎታ የተነፈገ፣ አባቱን ሲወድ እናቱን የሚጠላ፣ እናቱን ሲወድ አባቱን የሚጠላ፣ ከወንድሙና ከእኅቱ ጋር የማይዛመድ ባሕር ላይ እንደወደቀ ቅጠል የነፋስ መጫወቻ ሆኖ የሚያሳዝን የማይታዘንለት ፍጡር፣ በጥገኛነት የገባበትን ማኅበረሰብ ማሰልቸቱ የማይገባው የኋሊት እየገሰገሰ ከፊት ቀድሞ ለመገኘት የሚመን የምኞት እስረኛ ነው፡፡ አሜሪካ፣ አውሮፓ፣ አውስትራልያ በጥገኛነት ታዝሎ፣ ከኢትዮጵያ ተገንጥሎ ከኢትዮጵያ ስለመገንጠል ይለፈልፋል! ተገንጥሎ የወጣ ከምን ይገነጠላል? ልዩ የነጻነት ታሪክ ባስተላለፉለት አባቶቹና እናቶቹ እየኮራ፣ በጎደለው እያፈረ፣ የአምባ-ገነኖችን ዱላ እየተቋቋመ በአገሩ ህልውና የወደፊት ተስፋውን እየወደቀና እየተነሣ የሚገነባው ኢትዮጵያዊ በፍርፋሪ የጠገቡ ጥገኞችን የሰለለ ጥሪ አዳምጦ የአባቶቹን ቤት አያፈርስም፤ አሳዳሪዎች ሲያኮርፉና ፍርፋሪው ሲቀንስ፣ ጊዜ ሲከፋና ጥቃት ሲደራረብ የወገን ድምጽ ይናፍቃል፤ ኩራት ራት የሚሆንበት ዘመን ይናፍቃል፡፡ –

posted by daniel tesfaye

ጎሠኛነት በባዶ ሜዳ (ፕሮፌሰር መስፍን ወልደ ማርያም)

Ethiopians face five years in jail for posting on Facebook as ‘state of emergency’ rules set in

The flow of opposition reports about unrest has already started to dwindle

(INDEPENDENT) — Ethiopians who post statuses on Facebook about the country’s growing political unrest could face up to five years in jail, as part of a series of measures under a “state of emergency” that grow more stringent by the day.

We are strong! Ethiopia strong! One Ethiopia strong!

The government has imposed the longest blanket ban on mobile internet services in the capital Addis Ababa since protests began a year ago, and access to messaging platforms like WhatsApp has been heavily restricted.

The measures are designed to stifle people’s ability to organise protests, amid calls for greater political freedoms and recognition from the ethnic Oromo and Amharic groups.

Access to foreign-based media has also been restricted, including Deutsche Welle and Voice of America, which both have popular Amharic stations. Two TV stations run from the US for the Ethiopian diaspora, ESAT and the Oromia Media Network, have been banned.

And the new rules even seek to ban people from carrying out certain gestures “without permission”. They include crossing arms above the head to form an “X”, a political symbol that has become synonymous with the Oromo struggle and featured at the Rio Olympics and Paralympics.

UK rights charities are particularly concerns that under the emergency rules, which are expected to be in place for the next six months, foreign diplomats will have their movements heavily restricted.

The government says diplomats are not allowed to travel more than 40km (25 miles) from the capital, Addis Ababa, without permission, and say it is for their own safety.

But the rights group Reprieve told The Independent there are serious concerns this could limit the access Britons have to consular services. They raised the case of one UK citizen, father-of-three Andy Tsege, who is on Ethiopia’s death row and held at a jail some way outside the capital.

“Andy’s family in London, who cannot contact him, are sick with worry,” said Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve. “Amid this crisis, it’s shocking that the UK continues to rely on Ethiopia’s vague, broken promises of regular consular access and a lawyer for Andy. Boris Johnson must urgently call for Andy to be returned home to his partner and kids in Britain.”

Ethiopia is a key strategic ally for the US and European countries in the fight against Somalia’s Islamist insurgency, al-Shabaab, and Addis Ababa is the home of the African Union.

The global importance of the country’s stability has meant Western governments turning a blind eye to its authoritarian leadership. In June, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front cut off nationwide access to social media – on the grounds of preventing exam result leaks.

The new ban on internet services has already made a noticeable impact on the flow of reports of unrest coming out of the country via on-the-ground activists.

Ethiopian state media reported that 1,000 protesters had been arrested in the central Oromia town of Sebeta since the state of emergency was declared on 8 October, and ahead of an investment conference in the town which began on Monday.

FBC said those detained were suspected of damaging property, but there was little in the way of opposition reports to give the other side of the story.

The emergency rules include a ban on using social media to contact “outside forces”, and Ethiopians risk jail if they communicate with any “anti-peace groups designated as terrorist”.

Finally, the rules stipulate a curfew of 6pm to 6am in which members of the public may not visit factories, farms and government institutions, which have come under attack in recent weeks.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Ethiopian government to ensure “the protection of fundamental human rights” during the state of emergency, and the president has announced some electoral reforms in order to try and reach out to protesters.

A Western diplomat told the AFP news agency those changes had not yet materialised, however. “This is a state of emergency and we expect repressive measures,” the diplomat said.

“But we also expect an opening of the political space for the opposition as stated by the president in front of the parliament. This is not what seems to be happening.”

posted by Daniel tesfaye

Ethiopia Human Rights Abuses Spark U.S. Congressional Action

U.S. Representatives push for legislation targeting Ethiopia after Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch document human rights abuses.

by J. David Thompson | Lima Charlie

A bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives has proposed legislation targeted at the government of Ethiopia, after Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch documented hundreds of cases of alleged human rights abuses. House Resolution 861, titled “Supporting respect for human rights and encouraging inclusive governance in Ethiopia,” was introduced by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Al Green (D-TX), Mike Coffman (R-CO), and Eliot Engel (D-NY).

Protesters chant slogans in Addis Ababa August 6, 2016.

“It is an abomination when any country tortures its own citizens,” said Rep. Smith, at a September 13th press conference on Capitol Hill. The human rights abuses, waged primarily against the Oromo and Amhara populations, have come to light despite Ethiopian authorities efforts preventing independent screeners from conducting transparent investigations.

The Resolution condemns the killing of peaceful protesters, the arrest and detention of students, journalists, and political leaders, and the stifling of political dissent under the guise of “counterterrorism.”

Ethiopia is a strategic ally of the United States. The country headquarters the 54 nation African Union, and, critical to U.S. interests, assists in counterterrorism efforts against al-Shabab, an Al-Qaeda aligned jihadi terrorist group based in Somalia. Ethiopia is also host to a staggering 750,000 refugees from the war torn region.

In a press statement Rep. Ellison said, “While Ethiopia is an important ally for the United States, continuing to let the Ethiopian government oppress its own people will only further destabilize the region. We must do all we can to ensure that the human rights of all Ethiopians are respected.” Rep. Smith added, “A valuable contributor to global peacekeeping missions, growing unrest in Ethiopia in reaction to human rights violations by the government threaten to destabilize a nation counted on to continue its role on the international scene”.

Resolutions, like the one proposed, tend to be more of an opinion that often do little in themselves because they lack the political leverage to prompt much action. They often fail to hold allied nations to a standard of conduct, as countries and international organizations are hesitant to regulate how other nations behave within their own borders.

The bill expressly calls on the government of Ethiopia to end the use of excessive force by security forces; hold security forces accountable after a full, credible, transparent investigation; release dissidents, activists, and journalists who have been imprisoned for exercising constitutional rights; respect freedom of assembly and freedom of the press; engage with citizens on development; allow the United Nations to conduct independent examinations; repeal certain proclamations limiting inclusive growth; and investigate shootings and a fire on September 3, that killed 23 people at a prison housing high-profile politicians.

Noteworthy, is that the bill also seeks to apply financial and other pressure towards the government, by calling for the Secretary of State to “conduct a review of security assistance to Ethiopia” and “improve transparency” with respect to such assistance, and to “improve oversight and accountability of United States assistance to Ethiopia”.

Oromo and Amhara protesters call for equitable rights, August 6, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Despite the good intention of the bill, critics highlight that it doesn’t go far enough. Henok Gabisa, a visiting Academic Fellow and faculty member at Washington and Lee University School of Law, stated in a personal interview:

“H.RES.861 is generally a good gesture from the United States Congress. It is very specific in a sense that it points out the consistent and constant patterns of corrosion of civil and economic liberties in the country. It also seems to give scrupulous attention to the marginalized groups who remain on the receiving end of the pain. That is really great. Nonetheless, owing to the mammoth financial aid transported to Ethiopian government by the U.S. under their bilateral security partnership, H. RES. 861 failed to deploy the political leverage of the [United States Government], and as a result it is nowhere nearer to fulfilling the goal it promises. In fact, Resolutions by merit are just declaratory statements or positions of a government. They may not be considered law in a positivist school of law. Yet again, H.RES.861 has no teeth to bite those who fail to comply the soft obligations it enumerated under the last sections 3-6.”

Experts give the bill a 32% chance of getting past the Foreign Affairs Committee and a 29% chance of being agreed to completely. Comparatively, from 2013-2015, 46% of simple resolutions made it past committee.

In a country of over 86 million, Oromos and Amharas constitute the two largest ethnic groups, combining for over 61% of the population. Yet, they are the most politically marginalized and economically disenfranchised. In 2015 Ethiopia’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, won every seat in parliament despite little ethnic diversity. The EPRDF has remained in power since the overthrow of Ethiopia’s military government in 1991.

Lima Charlie News, by J. David Thompson

J David Thompson (US Army) is a Juris Doctor candidate at Washington & Lee University School of Law focusing on International Human Rights Law. He is a Veterans in Global Leadership Fellow, and brings experience on human rights, international relations, strengthening civil society, refugee issues, interagency collaboration, and countering violent extremism. Prior to Washington & Lee, he served in the US Army as a Military Police officer and Special Operations Civil Affairs with multiple deployments to Afghanistan and one to Jordan—receiving a Bronze Star amongst other decorations. In Jordan, David worked at the US Embassy in countering violent extremism, strengthening civil society, and refugee response with other United States Government organizations, the United Nations, and various non-governmental organizations.

posted by daniel tesfaye

Ottawa should take the recent protests by Ethiopian Canadians seriously

Ottawa should take the recent protests by Ethiopian Canadians seriously

(— Last Tuesday, members of the Ethiopian community in Winnipeg called on Canada to sanction the North East African country. The protesters are angry about the regime’s violent crackdown in the Oromiya and Amhara regions of northern Ethiopia. Hundreds of peaceful protesters have been killed and many more jailed since unrest began over a land dispute 10 months ago.

As protesters called for sanctions in Winnipeg, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development Katrina Gould was in Addis Ababa. During a meeting with the Foreign Minister she was quoted saying, “Ethiopia has managed to be a sea of stability in a hostile region.”

Gould’s trip follows on the heels of Harjit Sajjan’s visit last month. According to an Ethiopian News Agency summary, the defence minister told Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn “Canada values Ethiopia’s contribution in trying to bring stability to Somalia and the South Sudan.”

In 2006, 50,000 Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia, which saw about 6,000 civilians killed and 300,000 flee the country. Washington prodded Addis Ababa into intervening and the U.S. literally fuelled the invasion, providing gasoline, arms and strategic guidance as well as launching air attacks.

The invasion and occupation led to the growth of al Shabab. Since the Ethiopia-U.S. invasion the group has waged a violent campaign against the foreign forces in the country and Somalia’s transitional government. During this period al Shabab has grown from being the relatively small youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union to the leading oppositional force in the country. It has also radicalized and has turned from being a national organization towards increasing ties to Al Qaeda.

The Stephen Harper Conservatives government’s public comments on Somalia broadly supported Ethiopian -U.S. actions. They made no criticism of U.S.  bombings and when prominent Somali-Canadian journalist Ali Iman Sharmarke was assassinated in Mogadishu in August 2007, then-Foreign  Minister Peter Mackay only condemned “the violence” in the country. He never mentioned that the assassins were pro-government militia members with ties to Ethiopian troops. The Conservatives backed a February 2007 UN Security Council resolution that called for an international force in Somalia. They also endorsed the Ethiopia-installed Somali government, which had operated in exile.

In what was perhaps the strongest signal of Canadian support for the outside intervention, Ottawa didn’t make its aid to Ethiopia contingent on withdrawing from Somalia. Instead they increased assistance to this strategic U.S. ally that borders Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. In 2009 Ethiopia was selected as a “country of focus” for Canadian aid and this status was reaffirmed in 2014. As one of the top donors, Canada has been spending over $100 million a year in the country.

Providing aid to Ethiopia has been controversial not only because of the invasion and occupation of its neighbor. An October 2010 Globe and Mail headline noted: “Ethiopia using Canadian aid as a political weapon, rights group says.” Human Rights Watch researcher Felix Horne claimed Ottawa contravened its Official Development Assistance Accountability Act by continuing to pump aid into Ethiopia despite its failure to meet international human-rights standards. In addition to arbitrary detentions, widespread torture and attacks on political opponents, the Ethiopian government systematically forced rural inhabitants off their land. This “villagization” program cut many off from food and health services.

Canadian aid to Ethiopia faced another challenge. In February 2012 the family of a Somali-Canadian businessman sued Harper’s Conservatives to prevent them from sending aid to Ethiopia until Bashir Makhtal was released from prison. In January 2007 Makhtal was “rendered” illegally from Kenya to Ethiopia, imprisoned without access to a lawyer or consular official for 18 months and then given a life sentence. The lawsuit was a last ditch effort by the Makhtal family to force Ottawa’s hand.

Ottawa should take the recent protests by Ethiopian Canadians seriously. It can start by reversing its near total silence about the recent repression, which included dozens of demonstrators shot dead three days before Sajjan’s visit. While severing aid to pressure a government is often fraught with complications, Canada’s current policy seems to be enabling Ethiopia’s repressive, interventionist policies.

“Canada’s aid to Ethiopia has been a failed experiment in turning brutal dictators into democrats,” Ethiopian-Canadian human-rights activist Yohannes Berhe told the Globe and Mail. Ottawa’s policy is “tantamount to encouraging one of the most repressive regimes in Africa.”

posted by daniel tesfaye

Qilinto fire: Eyewitness — “They were indiscriminately shooting at prisoners”

In a disturbing e-mail message received by Addis Standard, an eyewitness who said he was on guard the morning of Saturday Sep 3, says that armed prison guards were indiscriminately shooting at prisoners” most of whom were running “frantically to extinguish the fire” that broke at Ethiopia’s notorious prison ward known as Qilinto, in Aqaqi, on the outskirts south of the capital. The government has not released the extent of the fire, not the cause of it, but several social media accounts allege the death toll reaching above 20. Until this morning families of prisoners who want to know the safety of their loved ones are not allowed to pass the Tirunesh Beijing Hospital, located at about three km before the prison. Some families said the prison administration told them information on the safety and whereabouts of the prisoners will only be available on Wednesday this week. In the e-mail, the person who also attached his work ID but said he wishes to remain anonymous wrote many prisoners were “kept at gun point” from approaching the area where the fire was destroying parts of the prison in the “southern end of the ward.” “I have seen about five prisoners gunned down in the spot by armed security guards from two different towers during the first 20 minutes only,” the email said. It added: “unarmed guards at the gate, including myself, were told by the prison admiration to instruct family members who were already at the gate and who came to visit their loved ones to return back.” The maximum security prison is administered by the Addis Abeba Prison administration but since Saturday morning the “federal army has taken over the security and most of the prison guards, including myself, are not allowed inside since then.” The fire broke at around 8:10 AM in the morning and lasted a good “two hours” before the fire brigade from the Addis Abeba Fire and Emergency Prevention and Rescue Agency arrived at the scene. The state-affiliated news portal FBC reported that three firefighters were treated at a hospital for smoke related breathing problems while it maintained only one person was killed in the accident. However, in the email received by Addis Standard, the security guard revealed that he has helped “18 bodies being taken out of the prison in the late afternoon. As far as I know none of the dead were due to the fire. They all died of gunshot wounds.” Abusive prison Qilinto is known for the harsh treatment of its prisoners, many of who are prisoners of conscious including the prominent opposition leader Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), and 21 others with him facing charges of terrorism. It is also where Yonatan Tesfaye, the young senior opposition Blue Party member, and prominent rights activist is held. Recently Bekele Gerba and others with him were mobilizing activists from their cell by sending letters which were secretly smuggled out of the maximum security prison. One such letter called for peaceful resistance as part of the ongoing #AmharaProtests and #OromoProtests and asked supporters of the protests to shave their heads and wear black, to which supporters responded in numbers. Three days after the tragic incident exact figures of causalities (both death and injuries, as well as property damages) are still hard to come by. The prison itself is not accessible to anyone and is being guarded by heavily armed federal police officers who are also conducting rigorous searching of residents living nearby. Eyewitnesses say the remaining prisoners were taken on Saturday afternoon to Ziway prison, located some 200km south of the capital. However, due to the inaccessibility of the prison and unavailability of official information, Addis Standard is unable to verify both the e-mailed information and other eyewitness accounts. – See more at:

posted by daniel tesfaye

Ethiopian regime rejects UN call for investigation into killings of protesters

bleeding protester

ESAT News (August 12, 2016)

The Ethiopian regime on Thursday rejected a call by the UN Human Rights Commission that called for the regime to allow international observers to investigate the killing of hundreds of protesters over the weekend.

Getachew Reda, a government spokesman, told Al Jazeera on Thursday that the UN was entitled to its opinion but the government of Ethiopia was responsible for the safety of its own people.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission said on Wednesday that the regime in Ethiopia should allow international observers to probe into the killings of hundreds of peaceful protesters in the Amhara and Oromo regions.

“Allegations of excessive use of force across the Oromiya and Amhara regions must be investigated and that his office was in discussions with Ethiopian authorities,” Reuters quoted Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights as saying.

“The use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromiya and Amhara, the towns there of course would be a very serious concern for us,” Zeid told Reuters in an interview in Geneva.

Reda, however, told Al Jazeera that it was not necessary to send observers to specific parts of the country since the UN already had a massive presence in Ethiopia.

At least 200 people were shot and killed this weekend alone as regime security forces rained bullets on peaceful protesters in the Amhara and Oromo regions who called for regime change. Hundreds of people were also detained.

An estimated 700 people were killed in the Oromo region in the last 9 months of protest and tens of thousands have been detained.

posted by daniel tesfaye

አለም አቀፍ መገናኛ ብዙሃን በጎንደር የተካሄደውን ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ሽፋን ሰጡ

Augest 3,2016
ኢሳት ዜና ፣ — በስልጣን ላይ ያለው ገዢው የኢትዮጵያ መንግስት ከስልጣን እንዲወገድ የሚጠይቅ ከፍተኛ ህዝባዊ ተቃውሞ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ እሁድ በጎንደር ከተማ ተካሂዷል ሲሉ አለም አቀፍ መገናኛ ብዙሃን ሰኞ ዘገቡ። ቢቢሲ እና ኣዣንስ ፍራንስ ፕሬስ ሰልፉን ከዘገቡት ውስጥ ይጠቀሳሉ።
ነዋሪነታቸው በከተማዋ እና አካባቢዋ የሆነ በብዙ ሺዎች የሚቆጠር ህዝብ የተለያዩ መፈክሮችን በማስተጋባት በሃገሪቱ ኢፍትሃዊነት መንገሱን በተቃውሞ ሲያሰሙ መዋላቸውን አፍሪካ ኒውስ የተሰኘ መጽሄት አስነብቧል። gondar
ተገቢ ያልሆነ የሃብት ክፍፍል በሃገሪቱ መንገሱን እና የመንግስት አፈናና ቁጥጥር መባባሱን በቁጣ ሲገልጹ የዋሉት ሰልፈኞች ሰልፉ እንዳይካሄድ የተላለፈን ውሳኔ በመጣስ አደባባ መውጣታቸውን መጽሄዱ ሰልፈኞቹን ዋቢ በማድረግ በዘገባው አመልክቷል።
በመንግስት ላይ ያላቸውን የተለያዩ ተቃውሞዎች የገለጹት የጎንደር ከተማና አካባቢዋ ነዋሪዎች ለ25 አመት በስልጣን ላይ የቆየው የመንግስት ከስልጣን እንዲወገድ ጥያቄ ማቅረባቸውንም አለም አቀፍ ሚዲያዎች ዘግበዋል።
በአይነቱ የመጀመሪያው ነው የተባለው ይኸው የተቃውሞ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ግድያ በአስቸኳይ እንዲቆምና የአማራው ክልል ታሪካዊ የድንበር ወሰን እንዲከበር ጥያቄ ማቅረቡንም አዣንስ ፍራንስ ፕሬስ (AFP) ዘግቧል።
በጎንደር ከተማ ዕሁድ ሲካሄድ የዋለው ይኸው ህዝባዊ የተቃውሞ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ በክልሉና በተለያዩ አካባቢዎች ሲካሄድ የቆየን የተቃውሞ እንቅስቃሴ ተከትሎ መሆኑንም የዜና አውታሩ በዘገባው አስፍሯል።
የብሪታኒያው የማሰራጫ ኮርፖሬሽን (BBC) በብዙ ሺዎች የሚቆጠሩ የጎንደር ከተማ ነዋሪዎች ታይቶ በማይታወቅ መልኩ ከፍተኛ የተቃውሞ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ማካሄዳቸውን ባቀረበው ሰፊ ዘገባው አስነብቧል።
በክልሉ ከማንነት ጥያቄ ጋር በተያያዘ ተደጋጋሚ ተቃውሞዎች መካሄዳቸውን ያወሳው የዜና አውታሩ፣ በሰልፉ የታደሙ ሰዎች በኦሮሚያ ክልል ያሉ ተመሳሳይ ችግሮችንና በእስር ላይ ተዳርገው የሚገኙ የተለያዩ የማህበረሰብ ክፍል ተወካዮችን ጉዳት በማንሳት አጋርነታቸውን እንዲያሳዩ በቀረበው ሪፖርት አመልክቷል።
ኢንዲያን ኤክስፕረስ የተሰኘ የህንድ ጋዜጣ በበኩሉ በብዙ ሺ የሚቆጠሩ ኢትዮጵያውያን በሰሜን የአገሪቱ ክፍል ጎንደር ከተማ በአይነቱ ልዩና ታላቅ የሆነ ተቃውሞ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ማካሄዳቸውን ዘግቧል።
በተቃውሞ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ላይ የታደሙ ነዋሪዎች ከተለያዩ አጎራባች አካባቢዎች ያሉ በርካታ ሰዎች በእግርና በተሽከርካሪ በመሆን ከዋዜማው ጀምሮ ወደጎንደር ከተማ መግባት መጀመራቸውንንና የተቃውሞ ትዕይንቱን እንደተቀላቀሉ ከኢሳት ጋር ባደረጉት ቃለምልልስ አስረድተዋል።
“ወያኔ ከእንግዲህ አይገዛንም” ፣ “ወልቃይት አማራ ነው”፣ “በኦሮሚያ ክልል ያለው ግድያ ይቁም” ፣ “በመብታችን አንደራደርም” የሚሉ መፈክሮችን ሲያስተጋቡ የነበሩት ሰልፈኞች መንግስት በህዝቡ ላይ የሚያደርገውን አፈና እንዲያበቃ አሳስበዋል።
የመንግስት የጸጥታ ሃይሎች እሁድ ማለዳ በተለያዩ የከተማዋ ዋና ዋና ስፍራዎች ቀድመው በመገኘት የተቃውሞ ሰልፉን ለማደናቀፍ ጥረት ቢያደርጉም ህዝቡ አካባቢውን በሙሉ ተቆጣጥሮ መዋሉን እማኞች አክለው አስታውቀዋል።
posted by daniel tesfaye

Why is the EU funding Ethiopia’s repression of land rights defenders?

Opponents of the Ethiopian government’s policies have faced violence, but the EU has continued to provide funding for its commercial land deal projects

EU funding Ethiopia's repression

by Nyikaw Ochalla, Anywaa Survival Organisation

On Friday, the EU and German government announced the agreement of providing the Government of Ethiopia with 3.8 Million euro for a project to facilitate large-scale commercial land deals amid wide spread human rights abuses and brutal repression of its opponents. The EU and German government state that the project will “support responsible agricultural investment in Ethiopia” and establish “mechanisms to facilitate productive investments in agriculture by national and international private investors.”

The launch of the 3.8 Million Euro project to “support agricultural investments in Ethiopia” comes exactly one year and four months after the government arrested seven community activists to block their participation in a workshop on food and land issues in Nairobi, Kenya. Three of these activists continue to languish in an Ethiopian jail, under the spurious charge of “terrorism”.

Ethiopia is among African countries promoting large-scale commercial agricultural investments that deny the right of the affected communities for active involvement and free, prior and informed consent. In past few years, the government policy has received strong criticism from journalists and activists leading to the government suspending the implementation of its land deal policy in March 2016.

Despite great concerns for its human rights records against Ethiopian food, land rights and human rights defenders and journalists, Ethiopian government remains to be strongly supported by major donor countries and institutions. The World Bank that funded the Ethiopian controversial villagisation programme and facilitated major development projects in the country has been heavily criticised for ignoring the arrest of food and land rights activists Pastor Omot Agwa Okwoy who was World Bank Inspection Panel translator in 2014, Ashinie Astin and Jemal Oumar for their effort to attend a food security workshop in Nairobi in March 2015.

The three activists remain behind bars, charged under Ethiopian controversial counter-terrorism law. The government persecution has failed to present any evidence to support the counter-terrorism charges brought against them. They were denied legal representation and detained without charges for six months.

The three activists are scheduled to appear again in court this Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The organisations listed below, as well as the EU Addis delegation, have been closely following the case. The organisations are Anywaa Survival Organisation, GRAIN, Oakland Institute, Bread for All, etc.

In recent years, numerous opponents of the Ethiopian government’s land policies have been arrested, beaten and even killed, while many communities have been forcefully evicted from their lands to make way for large scale agricultural projects.

There can be no responsible investment in large-scale agricultural projects when communities do not have the right to freely express and assert their opposition to projects affecting their lands.

The announcement by the EU and German government, who not only are well aware of the Ethiopian government’s repression of opponents to its land policies but also have been following up the court hearings, are sending a message that the lives of Ethiopians can be sacrificed for the profits of their corporations.

Nykiaw Ochalla is a director and founder of Anywaa Survival Organisation-ASO, an organisation that believes in social justice and environment friendly sustainable development without prejudice; active participation of indigenous people in decision making processes that affected their livelihoods and their full enjoyment of development projects benefits implemented on their territories

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation News

posted by daniel tesfaye

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