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Ethiopianism ኢትዮጵያኒዝም

Mugabe’s end opens the debate on Ethiopian dictator Mengistu future in Zimbabwe?

The speaker of Parliament  of Zimbabwe read out a letter in which Mr. Mugabe said he was stepping down “with immediate effect” for “the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe and the need for a peaceful transfer of power.” Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980  for 37 years with iron  fist.

Ethiopia’s former Dictator  Mengistu Haile Mariam, sentenced to death by his country’s supreme court, had been  in Zimbabwe under the protection of  ex President Robert Mugabe’s government since 1991.   Since , there had been no formal request regarding Mengistu from the Ethiopian government for his repatriation,  Should he be deported or will he continue as has lived a life of comfortable exile in Zimbabwe protected by the new coming President Zanu PF against the wishes of Ethiopian people?

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, whose leader Morgan Tsvangirai said  in the past “dictators like Mengistu were not welcome” will he push his deportation to Ethiopia or to ICC?

Mingistu had  gunned down along with 60 other members of the Ethiopian royal family, ministers and generals of the late Emperor Haile Selassie and buried in a mass grave. And later killed the Emperor and buried him under his palace. In his Red Terror of 1980’s massacred over 80’000 innocent students.

Prof. Muse

“Politically Incorrect”: Gamella Refugee Riots, South Sudan and the Anti-China Plot

The fantasy of liberal ‘political correctness’ was shattered this week when a raging mob of South Sudanese refugees rioted in the western Ethiopian region of Gambella and killed at least 14 people.
The rampage was sparked by a road accident in which an NGO vehicle crashed into and killed two young girls. The victims were Nuer and the car was driven by what some have termed a “highlander”, or an individual from the central mountainous regions around which the Ethiopian state historically crystallized, and this caused the majority-Nuer South Sudanese refugees to explode into an orgy of violence and carry out their killings. While the official death toll is slightly over a dozen people, another report cautions that it “could rise further since the refugees chased the victims to the forest, where they mutilated the bodies”. 41 refugees have since been arrested, but it’s unclear whether any more murder suspects still remain at large.
Breaking The Narrative
None of this was ever supposed to happen, well, according to Western Liberals and Cultural Marxists at least. In their ‘picture-perfect’ view of the world, only “racists”, “fascists”, and “white supremacists” would ever dare allege that overwhelming refugee influxes could destabilize host countries, but lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened in Ethiopia’s Gambella region. The western area of the country is hosting 270,000 mostly-Nuer South Sudanese refugees, despite only having an indigenous population of about 300,000. This has contributed to Ethiopia becoming the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, and it also means that there are almost more refugees in Gambella than there are locals. Seeing as how most South Sudanese refugees are Nuer, this has destabilized the already tense ethnic balance in this part of Ethiopia and can be said to have demographically reengineered it to a large degree. Under such pressure, it’s little wonder that all that it took was a small-scale vehicular accident to put the region on the edge of civil war.
Political Sabotage
Not even a week prior to the refugee riots, South Sudanese rebels invaded Gambella, killed over 200 people, and kidnapped around 100 children, prompting the Ethiopian military to stage a cross-border operation in attempting to free them. This incident shook regional stability and showed that South Sudan’s conflict was increasingly spilling over the Ethiopian border, and no longer just in humanitarian terms, but militant ones, too. The timing of both of these attacks – the rebel and refugee ones – appears to have coincided with South Sudanese Vice-President Riek Machar’sreturn to the capital of Juba in order to implement the peace process that was agreed to in August. Tellingly, Machar, an ethnic Nuer, was in Gambella at this time en route to returning to his home country from the talks in Addis Ababa, and the Nuer refugee riots and preceding rebel raid might have been timed to sabotage his return at the last minute.
The Anti-China Plot
To expand on that idea, it actually makes sense if considered from a global strategic standpoint. South Sudan’s civil war has served the tangential purpose of unleashing a couple hundred thousand “Weapons of Mass Migration” against Ethiopia, which itself is a very ethnically diverse and demographically fragile state. In a sense, South Sudan’s post-independence destabilization can be seen as also achieving the goal of putting long-term asymmetrical pressure on Ethiopia through the planting of hundreds of thousands of identity-conflict “time bombs”, which is essentially what some of the Nuer refugees are regretfully beginning to function as. The reason that Ethiopia is being targeted with such uncouth weapons of war is because of its pivotal role in China’s global One Belt One Road network, particularly through the Chinese-built Djibouti-Ethiopia Railroad and the Chinese-financed LAPSSET Corridor from Kenya’s Lamu port to Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa. Taken together, these two access routes will allow Ethiopia to unleash its full economic potential and become one of China’s closest multipolar allies, provided of course that a series of internal crises doesn’t offset that first.
Hybrid Warfare
For these reasons, the US would like to stir up identity conflict within the diverse state in order to incite another civil war there, but this time one which would result in the fragmented Identity Federalism of the country or its formal dissolution into a scattering of tribal- and ethnic-based states. The grand strategic purpose of China’s ambitious multipolar transnational connective infrastructure projects would thus neutralized in comparison to their original intent, fully in line with the “Law Of Hybrid War” which states that the US is seeking to provoke such identity conflicts for these very same purposes. In response to this Hybrid War threat, the Ethiopian government has tried hard to foster a strong sense of civilizational patriotism in order to unite its disparate ethnic and regional identity groups, but the threat remains that local differences could still be exploited by foreign factors in order to spark an uncontrollable conflagration of chaos.
Setting The Stage
The author wrote about the latest attempt to use identity conflict as a trigger for a nationwide crisis at the end of last year when the Oromo, the largest ethnic plurality in the country, staged a series of high-profile riots in response to the government’s controversial use of eminent domain. Prior to that, the author also wrote two related pieces, one for Katehon and the other for The Saker, about how the GCC is planning to use Eritrea as a launching pad for anti-Ethiopian activity in the future, predictably through the provocation of internal identity conflict. The former article specifically warned that the “current tribal violence in South Sudan (could) motivate a spillover effect into the neighboring Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (home to 45 different ethnic groups) or Gambella Region that ‘naturally’ creates the state-fragmenting process”, and as fate would have it, part of that forecast has already come true with the South Sudanese refugee rampage in Gambella and the preceding cross-border kidnapping raid. Although the situation presently appears to be under control, it can’t be certain that a repeat of either of these two conflict triggers will occur, especially considering that the nearly 300,000 refugees in Gambella could once more fall victim to manipulative crowd control techniques in turning them into “Weapons of Mass Migration” for indirect use against China.
Concluding Thoughts
To wrap up the article, it’s important to return back to its title and speak about how the weaponization of South Sudanese refugees against Ethiopia disproves one of the foundational tenets of modern-day “political correctness”. It would never be countenanced by Western Liberals and Cultural Marxists, let alone admitted after the fact of its provable occurrence, that refugees could be used to destabilize their host country, let alone when the evidence of this happening is of African-on-African aggression. The post-modern employment of “Weapons of Mass Migration” is a very real phenomenon that the author investigated in a twopart series earlier in the year, but in this specific context, it’s being leveraged against China’s New Silk Road interests in the Horn of Africa.
The “political incorrectness” of what happened in Gambella doesn’t take away from the destabilization that it caused, and ignoring the on-the-ground facts in favor of maintaining ideological “clarity” and “consistency” results in nothing more than the creation of an imagined reality that’s completely divorced from actual events. Moreover, denying that “Weapons of Mass Migration” exist actually ‘legitimizes’ “Israel” and enables the use of such unconventional strategies against other multipolar countries as well. Therefore, it must be underscored that the sooner that observers come to recognize the use of this enhanced form of post-modern weaponry, whether waged indirectly against Russia by using Arab refugees in Europe or against China through the utilization of South Sudanese ones in Ethiopia, the sooner that they can collectively put their energy together in exposing other similar such plots and devising appropriate countermeasures in responding to them.

The original source of this article is Global Research
Copyright © Andrew Korybko, Global Research, 2016

Radio tamazuj claims South Sudan’s government on Gabella raid

Yau Yau says Baba Medan armed Gambella massacre attackers The former head of the SSDM/A-Cobra Faction David Yau Yau said the militia responsible for the Gambella massacre came from Lekuangole county of the proposed Boma state and were armed by appointed governor Baba Medan.

A deadly cross-border raid from South Sudan into Ethiopia’s western Gambella Region last Friday has left scores dead and prompted the Ethiopian government to declare two days of national mourning. Officially, the Ethiopian government says 13 villages were attacked, leaving 182 civilians dead along with 60 attackers.

Ethiopian authorities have blamed the attack on Murle gunmen and reported that the victims were Ethiopians belonging to the Nuer tribe, which straddles the border with South Sudan and is one of that country’s two largest tribes.

News reports have described the raid as ethnic fighting and as a cattle raid –– but it also represents a spillover of South Sudan’s broader crisis into Ethiopia. Radio Tamazuj today takes a look at some questions that remain outstanding after the raid:

1. Where did the attackers come from?

Villages affected by the raid are located in the Nuer-inhabited districts of Jikaw and Lare of the Gambella Region. This area does not directly border the Murle; in order to reach it from Murle territory, raiders would need to have passed through other Nuer or Anyuak districts of Gambella Region, possibly making use of passage through part of the Gambela National Park to ease the journey unnoticed.

Murle raiders are unlikely to have crossed the South Sudanese border directly from the west or north because to do so would have required them to have crossed through the Nuer-inhabited Akobo and Ulang counties, where they would not have been welcomed and potentially could have been resisted by the well-armed SPLA-IO.

The Anyuak and Nuer districts of Gambella, on the other hand, were reportedly less secure because Ethiopia’s government had recently withdrawn regional special police owing to inter-communal tensions within these forces in February. “No Ethiopian military or Federal Police have filled this vacuum,” reported one journalist account.

It is unclear where exactly the raiders crossed into Ethiopia, but according to a South Sudanese official from eastern Jonglei who is familiar with territory on both sides of the border, they would have had trouble crossing through Pochalla South because of conflict among Anyuak in that area. He said they could have crossed via Likuangole, the home area of the new Boma State governor Baba Medan. If this is true, it would mean that the raiders most likely crossed the Akobo River into Ethiopia somewhere between Pochalla town and Akobo town, an area lying closest to the Murle of Likuangole.

A good deal of planning and reconnaissance would have been necessary for a large group of attackers to make a journey of this kind through wilderness and crossing territory of at least two tribes to reach their target.

2. Who gave the attackers their weapons?

The raiders in the recent Gambella attack were armed with Kalashnikov rifles of good quality with plentiful ammunition. They also wore military-style uniforms and many were seen to have the same model of plastic white shoe. Pastoralist communities in South Sudan are known to commonly position such munitions, and uniforms are also not hard to come by, but the scale of this attack indicates that these attackers were unusually well-armed. Ammunition is frequently in short supply among community militias in South Sudan, so reports of plentiful ammunition are significant.

Hallelujah Lulie, an analyst with the Institute for Security Studies in Addis Ababa, told the Washington Post cattle rustling and kidnapping have long been common in the region but never on such a scale. “It is the magnitude of the attack we are still trying to understand. We still don’t have the full picture,” he said.

The provenance of the weapons used in the Gambella attack has not yet been determined. Some armed groups in South Sudan have secured weapons by capturing them from government forces, some have been supplied by outside actors, while others rely on weapons left over from previous conflicts. Additionally, a recent report by the UN Panel of Experts on South Sudan points to a central role by certain security services in South Sudan in encouraging rather than curbing illicit flows of arms to civilians.

An attack on Pibor in February by armed gunmen from Likuangole, the home area of Boma State Governor Baba Medan, points to the possibility that this group has been recently rearmed. Supporters of the Cobra Faction, another armed group in the area, blame Baba’s militia for recent instability in the Pibor area and perceive him as a puppet of the Juba government whose support base among the Murle is limited to his home area of Likuangole only.

3. Are we sure the attackers were ‘Murle tribesmen’?

Most witness reports identify the attackers in the Gambella raid as Murle tribesmen. Distinctive Murle scarification seen on attackers slain in the raid corroborates these witness reports.

However, the Murle are not a single entity – there are several ethnic sub-divisions – and members of the tribe are serving in several different armed groups.

Meanwhile, some survivors also reported seeing corpses with the scarification unique to the ethnic Dinka among the slain attackers, according to at least two reports from journalists who interviewed survivors. If the survivor accounts are true and not rumor, this would be unusual because Murle and Dinka tribesmen have never been known to raid together, and because the Dinka do not share any border with Gambella. The New York Times reportedthat victims who related this “expressed surprise” at seeing gunmen from the two tribes together.

However, no photographs have been published to corroborate these reports.

4. How may people were killed and wounded in the attack?

The official civilian death toll from the Ethiopian government appears to be 182. In an address on Sunday, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said 208 “mothers and children” were killed by Murle tribesman. However, the Ethiopia’s foreign affairs ministryclarified online that the 208 figure included those killed “last month,” and that 182 died remained the death toll for the April 15 attack. Ethiopia’s state media refers to 182 dead as it begins two days national mourning on Wednesday. The New York Times also initially quoted a “security affairs officer with the regional government,” Othow Okoth, with an estimate of 182 victims killed.

The Ethiopian government also claims its forces killed about 60 of the attackers, who abducted 102 children and over 2000 cattle.

The Gambella hospital received 80 wounded in the two days following the attack. Although wounded casualties typically outnumber those killed, this particular attack could prove an exception. Survivor accounts tell of surrounded villages, significantly outgunned, with attackers chasing villagers into the bush. In addition, the wide and remote area of the attack likely posed challenges for locating all the wounded.

5. Who is governing the area from which the attack was launched?

Until December last year, the homeland of the Murle tribe was governed by the Greater Pibor Area Administration under the terms of a 2013 peace deal between the national government and the Cobra Faction, an armed group of predominantly ethnic Murle led by David Yau Yau. The peace deal gave the Cobra Faction control of the Greater Pibor Area Administration and made the group’s leader the chief administrator of the area, a position equivalent by protocol to that of governor.

President Salva Kiir in a set of decrees in December 2015 removed Yau Yau, renamed the Greater Pibor Administrative Area ‘Boma State,’ effectively dissolved the entire existing administration of David Yau Yau, and appointed Baba Medan as governor of the newly designated state. Baba is a Murle but he was not a Cobra Faction member. Until his appointment, he had also been making his home in Bor, homeland of the Dinka Bor, not in Pibor. Some members of the Cobra Faction rejected the appointment of Baba as governor, considering it an abrogation of the peace deal, but Yau Yau accepted his removal and said he would wait for appointment to another position in the government.

This situation ultimately led to violence between Cobra Faction soldiers and Baba Medan’s supporters in Pibor in February this year, leading to the looting of the new state capital Pibor. Partly because of this, the new governor has yet to establish his administration in Pibor, and the area remains unstable. Thousands of people have fled from the town into the bush, many relief services have been suspended, and the area is suffering widespread hunger. “The area of Boma State is suffering from a government vacuum,” said Yau Yau in an interview with Radio Tamazuj on Monday.

With instability in Pibor and a dysfunctional government, areas bordering the Murle near to Ethiopia have also recently seen increased conflict. Jie and Murle communities in the Jebel Boma area of eastern Boma State clashed within the last week, leaving at least five people dead and thousands displaced, a local official told Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in the Pochalla area to the north of Boma, and also bordering Ethiopia, the army’s military intelligence is reported to have taken a heavy hand in the affairs of the local government, arresting virtually the entire county administration last week. The attackers would have likely passed through Pochalla county to cross into Ethiopia.

Altogether, the security vacuum on both sides of the border presented an opportunity to a well-armed and well-organized group, and local insecurity driven by political power struggles has likely further militarized groups recently on the ground.

6. What was the motive for the raid?

Attackers took plunder in the form of cattle and abducted children and women, according to news reports. Promise of reward of this kind could have been enough to motivate rank-and-file fighters to take up arms and risk their lives on such a long-distance raid. But survivors also wonder at the brutality of the attack. “If they had come just to take our livestock, why all the killing?” Asked Bol Chuol, 26, whose child was kidnapped in the attack. “They kept following people and killing them even after they had all the cattle,” he added, as quoted by The New York Times.

“These kinds of raids have happened before, but never in so many villages like this,” said Gatbel Guek, 26, who suffered a fracture when a bullet hit his left arm.

The attack primarily targeted the Gajaak, a sub-group of the Jikany Nuer. The Jikany Nuer do not border the Murle. Raids between the Murle and neighboring Lou Nuer, however, are common and frequently very violent.

Ethiopian officials have denied that the attackers were connected to the South Sudanese government and have also downplayed the timing of the attack, which coincided with the planned travel of SPLM-IO Chairman Riek Machar to Gambella en route to Juba. Yesterday, however, SPLM-IO spokesman Mabior Garang said in a press statement that the security situation in the Gambella Region was “suspicious,” without elaborating further.

Pagak, the base of SPLM-IO, sits on the border with the Lare district, although it is not clear how close the attackers came to the Pagak area. Machar was to travel by road from Pagak through Lare district to Gambella to fly to Juba.

Victims of the raid openly wondered “whether South Sudan’s government had sanctioned the killings,” according to the New York Times report, pointing to a political motive for the targeting of the Gambella Region. On the other hand, the vulnerability of the villages may have been reason enough for raiders from an impoverished area whose other neighbors are too well-armed to carry out attacks without fear of serious reprisals.

Survivors reported that some local militia from the targeted communities fought back, killing some of the attackers, but that the defenders were outgunned, since Ethiopian authorities don’t generally allow citizens to have weapons. A journalist who interviewed survivors also reported that some regional police and military guarding a road construction project nearby responded to the attack, but that there was no large-scale response operation in response to the attack.

7. What will happen if Ethiopia pursues the attackers?

Ethiopia’s government has vowed to pursue the attackers into South Sudan if necessary, possibly as part of a joint operation with South Sudan’s army. But this raises questions about whether and how the pursuers would be able to identify the actual perpetrators rather than targeting the Murle tribe indiscriminately for reprisals. Operating on unfamiliar ground, the Ethiopian military would be potentially vulnerable to false tip-offs and manipulation, dragging it into local conflict dynamics and score settling between national actors, especially if joint operations with the SPLA target ex-Cobra factions or other opponents of the Juba-appointed Governor Baba Medan.

The area is already heavily conflict-affected, with poor roads and communications infrastructure, magnifying the difficulty of working with civilian populations to identify the perpetrators of the Gambella raid. In previous conflicts with the Lou Nuer tribe of Jonglei and during the Cobra Faction war with the SPLA, Murle civilians fled from towns into rural areas, wilderness and swamps, avoiding contact with the military. Many are still displaced as a result of recent conflict in the area.

Map (above): Map of Gambella Region of Ethiopia including the Lare and Jikaw districts where attacks took place. 

Map (below): Approximate territories of the Murle, Anyuak and Nuer in areas near to Ethiopia.

119th Victory of Adwa March 1, 1896 against Colonialism

The battle of Adwa the 1st of March,  1896 a great victory and pride for Africans at home and Diaspora. The victory assured that Ethiopia successfully resisted European colonization.

A prehistoric stale in the birth place of Menelik II

Italy the late comer to the scramble for Africa in the late 19th century   was allocated to Ethiopia but just needed to take control. The Italians and the rest of the European powers present at the Berlin Conference 1885 wrongly assumed that Ethiopia was made up of rival tribes fighting one another and thought it would be a quick promenade for their 20,000 strong highly trained invasion forces. They never thought  what they call “tribal back word sa

vages” could be united raising a much larger patriotic people’s army to defend their country and even to

Map of the Battle of Adowa, between the forces of General Oreste Baratieri, Italian governor of Eritrea and Menelik II, Emperor of Ethiopia.

win an all out war.

 

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The main cause of the Battle being the European colonial ambition it manifested through the deferent treaty the colonial powers used to cheat the Africans. This was highly manifested by Italo Ethiopian Treaty known as the Wechale Treaty.   The colonial manipulation started when Menelik II came to the throne in 1889 the Italians thought that he would surrender sovereignty to them since they had been supplying him with ammunitions. They succeeded to manipulate the king on  May 2, 1889, to make him  sign  the Treaty  of Uccialli in the province of Wello, with which Menelik accorded for the  Italians some land in Tigre to the already concession he has made by letting them to take Eritrea. In this famous once sided treaty, they   tricked Menelik by having two different versions- one in Italian and other in Amharic. The secret of the Italian plan was manifested on   article 17 which read in one in Amharic and other in Italian.   Thus the Italian version read: –

The Emperor consents to use the Italian government for all the business he does with all the other Powers or Governments“.
The Amharic version reads:-
The Emperor has the option to communicate with the help of the Italian government for all matters that he wants with the kings of Europe.”

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When Menelik realized that he had been cheated he immediately rejected the treaty and refused all further offers of gifts from the Italians. Turkey, Russia and France stood to the Ethiopian version of the story.  Finally Menelik decided to confront the advancing Italian Army which has already occupied Tigre Provence without his contentment.

As a result in September of 1895, Menelik, King of Kings of Ethiopia mobilized the population of Ethiopia to arms. Over 100,000 Ethiopians gathered under his rank to liberate his occupy province by the Italian forces.

 

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“God, in his bounty, has struck down my enemies and enlarged my empire and preserved me to this day. I have reigned by the grace of God….Enemies have come who would ruin our country and change our religion. They have passed beyond the sea which God gave us as our frontier….These enemies have advanced, burrowing into the country like moles. With God’s help I will get rid of them.”

Menelik divided his Army under three leaders

  1. Emperor Menelik II, The King of Kings of Ethiopia
  2. Empress Taytu Betul, The Wife of Menlik II
  3. Negus Tekle Haymanot Tessemma ,
  4. Ras Welle Betul ;
  5. RasMengesha Atikem ;
  6. Ras Mengesha Yohannes ;
  7. Ras Alula Engida ;
  8. Ras Mikael of Wollo;
  9. Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael;
  10. FitawrariGebeyyehu,

 

On the night of 29 February and the early morning of 1 March three Italian brigades advanced separately towards Adwa over narrow mountain tracks, while a fourth remained camped.  The Italiano Forces were led by:-

  1. General Oreste Baratieri ;
  2. Brgdaire Matteo Albertone,
  3. Giuseppe Arimondi,
  4. Giuseppe Ellena  and
  5. Vittorio Dabormida.
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These invading Italian forces were made up of 18,000 infantry and 56 artillery guns, and with many thousands of   Eritrean militias were prepared to fight against Menelik II on the battle field.

At 6:00 on the 1st of March 1896 the Italian Gen.  Albertone used the Eritrean askari peasant fighters to face their brother Ethiopian as is always the game to make the enemy to kill one another at a place called Kidane Meret. This was the hill where the Ethiopians had managed to set up their mountain out front.  On the hill side though outnumbered by the Eritrean askaris, the Ethiopian fighters were able to hold their position for two hours which they broke the rank of the Italians and able to capture General Albertone’s.  At such heroic fight the Italian and their remaining askaris dispersed leaving the wounded and the dead.  Seeing the capture of the Albertone Gen  Arimondi’s brigade joined the fight at the last minute and start punching the Ethiopians to liberate the captured Italians. The Ethiopians fought courageously  and battled the colonizers three  hours while Menelik himself joined the combat with his  25,000 strong  Shewans people’s army and  broke their back bones once for good. Brigadier Dabormida now made a fatal error as he retreated from Menelik’s push, he was cornered  into a narrow hill where he  was ransacked  by Ras Mikael ‘s Oromo Army . They wiped him  out, his body was never recovered. The last blow came at noon the next day   when Negus Tekle Haymonot led his  Gojjam forces  break the back bone of  the remaining  Italian brigade.  This happened when Negus  was attacked by the last of the invading army which he  destroyed and by one o’clock the battle was finished with victory to the African Army.

The battle was bloody over 8,000 Italians died and 1500 wounded many captured fighting hard to save the pride of European colonizers, but  with no avail. Almost the same amount of Ethiopians perished in this decisive war of history in the African heartland after the war of the Zulu in South Africa  and Mhadist victory against the Britons in Khartoum led by Mahadi.

“In Ethiopia, the military genius of Menelik II was in the best tradition of Piankhi, the great ruler of ancient Egypt and Nubia or ancient Ethiopia, who drove out the Italians in 1896 and maintained the liberties of that ancient free empire of Black men.” Huggins and Jackson analyzed the victory not only in terms of its significance to the postcolonial African world, but also in terms of its linkage to the tradition of ancient African glories and victories.  An Introduction to African Civilizations, Huggins and Jackson write

 

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Ethiopia in Arms way in Isreal

BY MITCH GINSBURG

original title – Mixed results for army’s Ethiopian integration program

IDF tells Knesset committee incarceration rates were down but that dishonorable discharge figures are rising.

The incarceration rate of Israeli soldiers of Ethiopian heritage has dropped considerably during the first half of 2014 as opposed to the same period in 2013, the army told a Knesset oversight committee on Sunday

The overall figures, however, are still troubling, the army conceded, with the community still severely over-represented in army prisons and the dishonorable discharge rate hovering at 22.8 percent for men and 10.6% for women – both figures that have risen slightly over recent years and which are well above the national averages of 16.5% and 7.5% respectively.
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“Although the figures do show a slight improvement, the gaps are still large and in certain realms there has even been a regression,” said MK Omer Bar-Lev (Labor), a colonel in the IDF reserves and the chair of the subcommittee of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that heard the IDF report on Sunday. The committee is closely monitoring the army’s progress in integrating the Ethiopian community successfully into its ranks.

Motivation to serve in the IDF is high among the 130,000 or so Israelis of Ethiopian heritage, IDF data indicated, with 89% of teenage boys and 57% of teenage girls joining the army.
———–

The discrepancy between the desire to serve at the onset and the service record upon discharge has spurred the army into action. Early in 2013, the army’s first female major general, the recently retired commander of the IDF’s Manpower Division, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, set aside funds, despite across-the-board cuts in the army’s budget, for the establishment of a department devoted solely to the advancement of soldiers of Ethiopian heritage.

The army now runs a 24-hour call center in Hebrew and Amharic for soldiers, pre-draft teens and parents. It streamlined the process of requesting financial aid by requiring only the recommendation of an officer and an NCO, and not the bevy of bank statements required of other soldiers requesting assistance. It mandated yearly home visits by direct commanders, beginning no later than eight weeks after a soldier’s draft date. And, among a score of other measures, it launched a pre-army program solely for Israelis of Ethiopian heritage, AMIR, and began administering an alternative set of evaluation tests which gauge cognitive capacity rather than aptitude.

Maj. Hila Halpern, the commander of the new department, told the MKs that the new testing method had proven effective, enabling the army to post soldiers from the community to more challenging and interesting positions in the Air Force and the Intelligence Corps, among other units, and led to the corresponding drop in the incarceration rate, which fell over the past year from 10.8% to 9.1% – though the reduced figure is still more than double the community’s representation in the army at large.

The incarceration rate of Israeli soldiers of Ethiopian heritage has dropped considerably during the first half of 2014 as opposed to the same period in 2013, the army told a Knesset oversight committee on Sunday.

The overall figures, however, are still troubling, the army conceded, with the community still severely over-represented in army prisons and the dishonorable discharge rate hovering at 22.8 percent for men and 10.6% for women – both figures that have risen slightly over recent years and which are well above the national averages of 16.5% and 7.5% respectively.

“Although the figures do show a slight improvement, the gaps are still large and in certain realms there has even been a regression,” said MK Omer Bar-Lev (Labor), a colonel in the IDF reserves and the chair of the subcommittee of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that heard the IDF report on Sunday. The committee is closely monitoring the army’s progress in integrating the Ethiopian community successfully into its ranks.

Motivation to serve in the IDF is high among the 130,000 or so Israelis of Ethiopian heritage, IDF data indicated, with 89% of teenage boys and 57% of teenage girls joining the army.

The discrepancy between the desire to serve at the onset and the service record upon discharge has spurred the army into action. Early in 2013, the army’s first female major general, the recently retired commander of the IDF’s Manpower Division, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, set aside funds, despite across-the-board cuts in the army’s budget, for the establishment of a department devoted solely to the advancement of soldiers of Ethiopian heritage.

The army now runs a 24-hour call center in Hebrew and Amharic for soldiers, pre-draft teens and parents. It streamlined the process of requesting financial aid by requiring only the recommendation of an officer and an NCO, and not the bevy of bank statements required of other soldiers requesting assistance. It mandated yearly home visits by direct commanders, beginning no later than eight weeks after a soldier’s draft date. And, among a score of other measures, it launched a pre-army program solely for Israelis of Ethiopian heritage, AMIR, and began administering an alternative set of evaluation tests which gauge cognitive capacity rather than aptitude.

Maj. Hila Halpern, the commander of the new department, told the MKs that the new testing method had proven effective, enabling the army to post soldiers from the community to more challenging and interesting positions in the Air Force and the Intelligence Corps, among other units, and led to the corresponding drop in the incarceration rate, which fell over the past year from 10.8% to 9.1% – though the reduced figure is still more than double the community’s representation in the army at large.

Bar-Lev scolded the army at the outset for sending him a copy of the new figures “eight and a half minutes” before the start of the session, and insisted that the drop in the number of male officers and the rise in the number dishonorable discharges suggested the army was taking credit for the improvements but deeming as inexplicable the setbacks. “You keep finding the coin under the beam of the flashlight,” he said.

There are currently 10 times more soldiers of Ethiopian heritage being dishonorably discharged than attending officers’ training school, he added.

MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima) asked Halpern what had become of the committee’s earlier recommendation to change the way soldiers from the community are put on trial, with an emphasis on higher-ranking officers meting out justice. “That is the sort of change we are looking for,” said Hasson, a former deputy head of the Shin Bet. Halpern replied that the army was still weighing the matter.

Ziva Mekonen Degu, the executive director of the Israel Association for Ethiopian Jews, lamented the army’s “segregationist” approach, adding that the solution to the problem can’t be based on skin color alone.

MK Penina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid) told The Times of Israel in May that the Amir course, which is solely for members of the community, “is an embarrassment and a disgrace and a certificate of poverty.” Can you imagine this happening in the US Army, she asked, “a course only for African-Americans?”

Seated at the head of the committee’s large oval table, Bar-Lev ignored the charges of segregation and instead asked the army to prepare a plan for the successful re-entry of the soldiers into the civilian world. “In the end, most of the years that these young men and women serve the state are after their discharge,” he said, adding that bridging the gaps for these teens “is a social and security imperative of the first order.”

 

US’s racial bar surfaced in Ferguson war front – “My Hands are up”

Police attempt to control demonstrators protesting the killing of teenager Michael Brown on August 18, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images

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It reminds   us  Baghdad war zone when American police attacks it own citizen with highly mechanized force.  The racial conflict that founds its root in African triangle slave trade seems slow down after the sacrifice of Martin Luther King Jr. in 60’s. US sleeping racial bar seemingly dead when Obama came to power  surfaced   in Ferguson “My Hands are up”Today the racial bar in the US is more alive than ever seen from the war front at Ferguson.

 It reminds   us  Baghdad war zone when American police attacks it own citizen with highly mechanized force.  The racial conflict that founds its root in African triangle slave trade seems slow down after the sacrifice of Martin Luther King Jr. in 60’s. US sleeping racial bar seemingly dead when Obama came to power, but today  surfaced   in Ferguson with a slogan  “My Hands are up”. Today the racial bar in the US is more alive than ever seen from the war front at Ferguson. The problems began on Saturday 9th August when Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African American, was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson. For a week few details about the incident were made public, creating a cauldron of rumors and fury. We now know that Wilson shot Brown six times , including twice in the head. The question of why Brown was shot remains unanswered. Maybe it was in relation to the theft of a box of cigars, or maybe not. The police force has obfuscated in its responses  during press conferences, leaving the people of Ferguson confused.

“Ferguson is not just about systemic racism — it’s about class warfare and how America’s poor are held back,” says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Will the recent rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, be a tipping point in the struggle against racial injustice, or will it be a minor footnote in some future grad student’s thesis on Civil Unrest in the Early Twenty-First Century?

The lack of clarity over what happened appears to have been a key source of anger but the tensions have been stoked further by the highly militarized police presence. When we think of a militarized police in Europe , guns, batons and body armour come to mind. In America, a militarised police presence means ex-Pentagon military-grade equipment doled out to local police forces.

 

US still giving aid money to Africa’s dictators

By Lorenzo Piccio04 August 2014


Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and U.S. President Barack Obama converse at the G-8 summit in Northern Ireland. While Addis Ababa remains one of the largest U.S. aid recipients in sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. aid flows to Ethiopia have fallen sharply over the course of the Obama administration. Photo by:  Pete Souza 

Five years ago, during his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as U.S. president, Barack Obama memorably told Ghana’s parliament that “Africa does not need strong men. It needs strong institutions.” And months before his re-election, Obama stressed strengthening democratic institutions as one of four pillars of his administration’s sub-Saharan Africa strategy .

“Our message to those who would derail the democratic process is clear and unequivocal: the United States will not stand idly by when actors threaten legitimately elected governments or manipulate the fairness and integrity of democratic processes,” Obama said in the strategy.

Obama’s strident and lofty rhetoric on democracy in Africa may make for odd bedfellows this week as 50 African heads of state gather in Washington for the first-ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

While sub-Saharan Africa as a whole has made marked progress toward democracy and institution building since the 1990s, more than a dozen of the African leaders expected in Washington can aptly be called strongmen — President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda included.

Freedom House classified 20 of 49 sub-Saharan countries as “not free” in its  2014 Freedom in the World index , the think tank’s annual assessment of political rights and civil liberties around the world. Nineteen countries were classified as “partly free,” while only 10 were classified as “free.”

Fiscal 2015 U.S. aid to countries rated “partly free” and “not free” by Freedom House. View larger version .

As the graphic above shows, the United States is a significant donor to 28 of those 39 “partly free” or “not free” countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, of the 10 largest U.S. aid recipients in sub-Saharan Africa, only one is rated “free” by Freedom House: South Africa, which is seeing asharp decline in funding under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Like administrations before it, the Obama White House has come under fire from some quarters for keeping the aid tap on in countries that routinely trample upon human rights and civil liberties. These advocates argue  that the steady flow of U.S. aid money to Africa’s autocrats only prolongs their hold on power.

The prevailing bipartisan view, however, is that it would be foolhardy for the U.S. aid program to tie U.S. foreign aid flows entirely to democracy and human rights considerations. U.S. foreign aid is regarded by many in Washington as a key tool in the U.S. democracy and human rights promotion toolbox — one that can be used to promote and encourage reform not only within the government but also in civil society. Funding civil society groups directly is a strategy routinely employed to avoid giving money to these strongmen.

At the same time, it’s not clear whether the administration or Congress is willing to take the strategic blowback should the United States cut aid to some of its key African partners that happen to have strongmen at the helm.

“The question is how and when to promote democracy when the U.S. has multiple competing national interests. It’s easy to talk about democracy, but what do you do when an ally shows authoritarian tendencies?” said Todd Moss, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development who was deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Bush State Department.

Jennifer Cooke, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies echoed this sentiment.

“The conundrum is in those countries that are authoritarian but which the U.S. regards as important security partners,” said Cooke, who cited Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda as examples.

Below, Devex examines U.S. aid engagement with four authoritarian regimes that are also among the largest recipients of U.S. aid in sub-Saharan Africa: Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Ethiopia. In particular, we looked at three key questions that shed light on the administration’s approach to these regimes:

1. To what extent is the Obama administration’s aid engagement tied to progress on democracy and human rights?

2. Is the administration robustly supporting democracy and governance aid programming?

3. Is aid being channeled directly through the government or through nongovernmental channels?

(A previous Devex analysis found that democracy and governance accounted for roughly 5 percent of the Obama administration’s aid spending in sub-saharan Africa.)

Uganda

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East Africa’s longest-serving ruler, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for nearly three decades.

Freedom House rates Uganda as “partly free” in its latest assessment, citing Museveni’s increasingly repressive style of leadership. Critics charge  that since abolishing term limits in 2005, Museveni’s “constitutional dictatorship” has persecuted dissidents and militarized the country’s civil institutions. Uganda’s human rights record has deteriorated even further following its passage of a highly controversial law — annulled Friday — that criminalized homosexuality.

Averaging nearly $470 million over the course of the Obama administration, U.S. aid spending in Uganda had been slated to remain fairly steady in the administration’s fiscal 2015 budget request. Signaling a change in direction, however, the White House  announced  in June plans to discontinue or redirect funds for “certain additional programs” involving Ugandan government institutions such as the Ugandan Police Force, Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute. It remains to be seen whether the Ugandan constitutional court’s annulment of the anti-homosexuality law will prompt the administration to reevaluate its decision.

Devex analysis reveals, however, that only 1 percent of USAID local spending in Uganda flows through the Ugandan government — reason to believe that the impact of the announcement on the Ugandan government may be minimal.

In contrast to many other major donors to the East African country, the United States has historically refrained from channeling budget support to Kampala, which helps explain whyUSAID did not suspend aid to Uganda in the wake of a high-profile aid embezzlement scandal back in 2012.

The vast majority of U.S. aid spending in Uganda is coursed through PEPFAR. While USAID’scountry strategy for Uganda elevated democracy and governance as one of three key objectives for the agency’s programming in the East African country, the sector will account for only 1 percent of U.S. aid spending in fiscal 2015, which is down from 2 percent in 2010. In the run-up to Uganda’s next national election in 2016, however, the Obama administration has revealed plans to bolster its support for political parties and civil society.

Zimbabwe

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After a period of power sharing with the opposition, Zimbabwe’s longtime president Robert Mugabe is once again firmly in control in Harare; Mugabe won a seventh term in office in last July’s widely disputed election. Freedom House assessed Zimbabwe as “not free,” citing restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, state-sponsored political violence, as well as serious irregularities in the July 2013 election. At the helm of one of Africa’s most repressive regimes, Mugabe has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980.

Early on in his administration, Obama had pledged $73 million in fresh assistance to Zimbabwe — an olive branch to the then months-old power-sharing government. That same year, USAID also reinitiated programming in agriculture and economic growth, which had been on hold for much of the decade. USAID Zimbabwe had redirected the vast majority of its resources toward humanitarian programming in the aftermath of Mugabe’s systematic expropriation of white-owned farms in the early 2000s.

Until recently, the Obama administration had also begun to channel aid to select ministries aligned with the opposition and its leader, then-Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai — further evidence of a thaw in aid relations between the United States and Zimbabwe. According to Cooke, U.S. assistance to the public sector in Zimbabwe has been largely limited to health, particularly HIV prevention and treatment, as well as education.

Now that Mugabe has tightened his grip on power once more, the Obama administration, by most accounts, appears to have pulled back on the U.S. aid program’s reengagement with Harare. Very little of the administration’s robust $159 million aid budget for Zimbabwe in fiscal 2015 — which is on a par with recent levels — will likely be channeled through the central government. But the administration has left the door open to continued aid engagement with reform-minded institutions, including the parliament.

Strikingly, the share of U.S. aid to Zimbabwe directed to democracy, human rights and governance is on course to decline even further to just 7 percent in fiscal 2015, compared with 12 percent in fiscal 2010. According to the Obama administration, its programming in the sector will now be focused on safeguarding democratic gains made during the power-sharing period, including the new constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by Zimbabweans in a March 2013 referendum.

Rwanda

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Since assuming the presidency in 2000, Paul Kagame has presided over Rwanda’s rapid development progress — no small feat for a small, landlocked country devastated by genocide only two decades ago. At the same time, the African strongman has come under intense criticism from human rights groups for his authoritarian — some would say, repressive — style of leadership. Freedom House assessed Rwanda as “not free,” citing the country’s flawed electoral process and the Kagame regime’s targeting of human rights organizations.

Despite persistent questions over Kigali’s human rights record, Rwanda has emerged as adarling of Western donors — including its single-largest bilateral donor, the United States — during the past decade. Over the course of the Obama administration, however, U.S. aid flows to Rwanda have declined noticeably — proof perhaps that Kigali’s standing in the U.S. aid portfolio may not be quite where it used to be.

The administration has requested $171 million in foreign aid to Rwanda in fiscal 2015, which is nearly a fifth below fiscal 2010 levels. These cuts appear to have been driven in part by the Obama administration’s reservations over the Kagame regime’s commitment to democracy and human rights. Most notably, in October of last year, the Obama administration announced plans to restrict aid to Uganda’s military over its support for a Congolese rebel group believed to be using child soldiers.

Military aid, however, accounts for only a small portion of U.S. aid to Rwanda, which, much like in Uganda, is mostly in support of PEPFAR programming managed by nongovernmental organizations. Only 3 percent of the administration’s fiscal 2015 aid request for Rwanda has been allocated for democracy, human rights and governance, which is unchanged from fiscal 2010 levels.

Ethiopia

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Since taking office upon the death of the Ethiopian strongman Meles Zenawi two years ago, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has, by most accounts, governed the one-party state with the same iron fist. Freedom House assessed Ethiopia as “not free,” citing the Desalegn government’s harassment and imprisonment of political opponents. Just last month, Addis Ababa came under fire from human rights groups — and lawmakers in Washington — for its detention of Ethiopian opposition leader Andargachew Tsige.

While Addis Ababa remains one of the largest U.S. aid recipients in sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. aid flows to Ethiopia have fallen sharply over the course of the Obama administration. The administration has requested $483 million in foreign aid to Ethiopia in fiscal 2015, down by almost half since fiscal 2010. The vast majority of U.S. aid spending in Ethiopia is channeled toward PEPFAR. U.S. aid officials have said that the budget slashes are part of an effort to transfer PEPFAR resources to countries with higher HIV prevalence.

The Obama administration, on the other hand, is poised to ramp up loans, credits and guarantees for the country’s energy sector. The administration has named Ethiopia as one of six focus countries for its $7 billion Power Africa initiative. With the backing of Power Africa, the Ethiopian government and Reykjavik Geothermal, a U.S.-Icelandic private developer, recently signed a landmark deal to construct a 1,000-megawatt geothermal plant in Corbetti Caldera valued at $4 billion.

Despite the USAID country strategy for Ethiopia’s assertion that democracy and governance is the one sector that has “demonstrably deteriorated,” programming in this area will garner less than 1 percent of U.S. aid spending in Ethiopia in fiscal 2015, which is flat from fiscal 2010. At the same time, there has been little to no indication from the administration that the PEPFAR budget slashes are tied to U.S. concerns over Ethiopia’s democracy and human rights record.

Strikingly, USAID channels roughly a third of its local spending through governmental channels — a share that’s higher than all but five of the agency’s bilateral missions in sub-Saharan Africa. Ethiopia’s harsh NGO laws, which is one of the most restrictive in the world, likely helps explain USAID’s reluctance to channel more funding through nongovernmental organizations.

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Caribbeans Demande Europeans for Reparation for slavery & Ethiopia and Ghana for citzenship

 

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 ‘Our aim is to open a dialogue with European states’• Wide range of support sought from former slaving countries

Heads of state of 15 Caribbean nations will gather in St Vincent on Monday to unveil a plan demanding reparations from Europe for the enduring suffering inflicted by the Atlantic slave trade.

Sir Hilary Beckles, who chairs the reparations task force charged with framing the 10 demands, said the plan would set out areas of dialogue with former slave-trading nations including the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. He dismissed claims that the Caribbean nations were attempting to extract vast sums from European taxpayers, insisting that money was not the main objective.

“The British media has been obsessed with suggesting that we expect billions of dollars to be extracted from European states,” he said. “Contrary to the British media, we are not exclusively concerned with financial transactions, we are concerned more with justice for the people who continue to suffer harm at so many levels of social life.”

Beckles also tried to assuage fears that “this is opening up a can of worms leading to litigation”. “That is not our aim at all,” he said. “Our aim is to open up a dialogue with European states.”

The 10-point plan will be unveiled on Monday at the heads of government meeting of Caricom, the regional political and economic body. Given the head of steam behind the reparations movement in the Caribbean, the blueprint is expected to be approved. It will then go forward for discussion with European governments.

The claims are being channeled through the United Nations convention on the elimination of racial discrimination, and processed with the help of the London law firm Leigh Day.

Among the demands made on European former slave trade nations are that they:

• provide diplomatic help to persuade countries such as Ghana and Ethiopia to offer citizenship to the children of people from the Caribbean who “return” to Africa. Some 30,000 have made such a journey to Africa and have been offered generous settlement packages, but lack of citizenship rights for their children is causing difficulties;

• devise a development strategy to help improve the lives of poor communities in the Caribbean still devastated by the after-effects of slavery;

• 3 support cultural exchanges between the Caribbean and west Africa to help Caribbean people of African descent rebuild their sense of history and identity;

•   back literacy drives designed to improve education levels that are still dire in many Caribbean communities;

•  provide medical assistance to the region that is struggling from high levels of chronic diseases such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes that the Caricom reparations commission links to the fallout from slavery.

One of the most important, and most contentious, demands will be for European countries to issue an unqualified apology for what they did in shipping millions of men, women and children from Africa to the Caribbean and America in the 17th and 18th centuries. Beckles was scathing of European leaders who have issued statements of regret about slavery, including Tony Blair who in 2007, as UK prime minister, said the slave trade was a matter of “deep sorrow and regret” .

“It was disgraceful to speak of regret rather than to apologise,” Beckles said. “That was a disrespectful act on Blair’s part as it implied that nothing can be done about it – ‘Take our expression of regret and go away’.”

The most positive response from any of the relevant European governments has come so far from Sweden, which said it has “respect for the process” on reparations emerging from the Caribbean. But the UK government has expressed scepticism, with the Foreign Office  “we do not see reparations as the answer. Instead, we should concentrate on identifying ways forward.”

For Beckles, a historian who is pro-vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies in Barbados, the reparations issue is personal. His great-great-grandparents were slaves on the Barbadian plantation owned by ancestors of the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

Beckles’s great-great-grandmother was herself a Cumberbatch.

Cumberbatch, who plays a plantation owner in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave, has said he took on a previous role as the abolitionist William Pitt the Younger as a “sort of apology” for his family’s involvement in the trade.

12yearsaslave-diaalnews.com

Beckles said that 12 Years A Slave, which was directed by Steve McQueen, a Briton of Grenadian descent, and starred Chiwetel Ejiofor, a Briton of Nigerian descent, had made a “very important step in the right direction” in its unstinting portrayal of the brutality of slavery. He said he would like to see a similar treatment of the subject from the perspective of Britain rather than America.

“America has made efforts to reflect on their own history, but Britain has made no such effort to do so. If the British public were shown slavery in their own society seen through the eyes of the enslaved, they would get a much better understanding,” he sai

Ethiopian Regime Repression

by GRAHAM PEEBLES

They speak of democracy, but act violently to suppress dissenting voices and control the people through the inculcation of fear: they ignore human rights and trample on the people, they are a tyrannical wolf in democratic sheep’s clothing, causing suffering and misery to thousands of people throughout Ethiopia. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government repeatedly scoffs at international law and consistently acts in violation of their own Federal constitution – a liberal document written by the regime to please and deceive their foreign supporters. They have enacted laws of repression: the widely condemned Charities and Societies (ATD) law (CSO law) and the Anti Terrorism Declaration, which is the main tool of political control, together with
The ‘Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation’ they form a formidable unjust arsenal of government control. Freedom of the media (which is largely ‘state-owned’) is denied and political dissent is all but outlawed.

Against this repressive backdrop, the Semayawi (Blue) party, a new opposition group, organized peaceful protests on the 2nd June in Addis Ababa. Ten thousand or so people marched through the capital demanding the release of political prisoners, “respect for the constitution” and Justice! Justice! Justice! It was (Reuters 2/06/2013 reported), an “anti-Government procession…. the first large-scale protest since a disputed 2005 election ended in street violence that killed 200 people”, a ‘disputed election’ result that was discredited totally by European Union observers and denounced by opposition groups and large swathes of the population.

The Chairman of the Semayawi Party, Yilekal Getachew, told Reuters, “We have repeatedly asked the government to release political leaders, journalists and those who asked the government not to intervene in religious affairs”. In keeping with the recent worldwide movement for freedom and social justice, he stated that, “if these questions are not resolved and no progress is made in the next three months, we will organize more protests. It is the beginning of our struggle”. To the disappointment of many and the surprise of nobody, the government has made no attempt to ‘resolve’ the questions raised, and true to their word a second demonstration was planned for 1st September in Addis Ababa. In the event, as the BBC report, around “100 members of Ethiopia’s opposition Semayawi (Blue) party were arrested and some badly beaten”, and “equipment such as sound systems were confiscated”, ahead of the planned rally, which was banned by the EPRDF. Government justification formed, and a cock and bull story was duly constructed with Communication Minister Shimeles Kemal stating “the venue [for Semayawi’s event) had already been booked by a pro-government group condemning religious extremism”.

Non-interference in religious affairs is one of the key demands of the Semayawi party, a demand based upon the constitutional commitment of religious independence from the State, which Muslim groups claim the government has violated. Enraged by government interference in all matters religious, the Muslim community have organised regular small-scale protests and sit-ins in the capital for the last two years. In early August, Reuters 8/08/2013 reported “Demonstrators chanted “Allahu Akbar” and hoisted banners that read “respect the constitution”, referring to allegations that the government has tried to influence the highest Muslim affairs body, the Ethiopia Islamic Affairs Supreme Council”. Around 40% of Ethiopia’s population (around 85 million) are Muslim, for generations they have lived amicably with their Orthodox Christians neighbours, who make up the majority in the country; they are moderate in their beliefs and peaceful in their ways. The EPRDF in contrast are violent, intolerant and ideologically driven; ‘Revolutionary Democracy’ being the particular tune to which the democratic dictatorship hums and drums its partisan rule.

“Name-Calling”

The government’s response to the peaceful demonstrations, has unsurprisingly been intolerant and dismissive; their comments inflammatory and predictable, stating Mail@Guardian 14/07/2013 record, “most of these demonstrators are Islamic extremists”, and showing their own ‘extreme’ tendencies, authoritively declaring that “the protesters aimed to set up an Islamic state in the country and were bankrolled and guided by “extremists” [this time] overseas”. Duplicitous nonsense, which serves to distract attention from the underlying issues being raised and the imperative (and legal requirement) for the government to act in accordance with its own constitution.

Along with such disingenuous comments the regime has responded to the protests in a repressive manner; imprisoning Muslims calling for justice, causing Amnesty International 8/08/2013 to be “extremely concerned at reports coming out of Ethiopia… of further widespread arrests of Muslim protesters”, Amnesty demand that the “on-going repressive crackdown on freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest has to end now”. Despite the fact that the protests have been peaceful and good-natured the regime has consistently described the protesters as violent terrorists, in February the ‘Holy War Movement’ was shown on State Television, it presented protestors and those arrested (including journalists), as terrorists. And in a clear violation of people’s constitutional right to protest, the regime has threatened to take firm action against further protests.

Whilst the majority of actions during the last two years have been without incident, protests in Kofele in the Oromia region on 8th August ended in “the deaths of an unconfirmed number”, there have also been reports of large numbers of people being arrested in Kofele and Addis Ababa, including two journalists. Following the Kofele deaths Amnesty called for “an immediate, independent and impartial investigation into the events in Kofele, as well as into the four incidents last year which resulted in the deaths and injuries of protestors”. Legitimate demands which the regime has duly ignored.

The EPRDF does not tolerate any independent media coverage within the country and indeed does all it can to control the flow of information out of Ethiopia and restrict totally dissenting voices. And they don’t care who the journalist is working for, key allies or diaspora media; In October 2012 a reporter from the Voice of America (VOA) covering a protest in Anwar Mosque in Addis was arrested and told to erase her recorded interviews, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report. This was not the first time a VOA journalist had been detained. “They are criminalizing journalism,” said Martin Schibbye a Swedish freelance journalist who was jailed [in 2011] along with a colleague for more than 14 months in Ethiopia”, for entering the Ogaden region. A heavily militarized area where wide ranging human rights violations constituting crimes against humanity are taking place, which has been hidden from the International media and aid organisations since 2007. Fearing imprisonment, many journalists have left Ethiopia, CPJ report that in 2012, along with Eritrea, it was were Africa’s ‘top jailer’ of journalists”, coming in eighth worldwide.

Unjust Laws of Control

In July last year, hundreds of protesting Muslims peacefully demanding that the government stop interfering in their religious affairs and allow them to vote freely for representatives on the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (EIASC). Most were released, but 29 members of the protest committee were charged on 29th October under the universally criticized Anti Terrorist Declaration (ATD), accused of “intending to advance a political, religious or ideological cause” by force, and the “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of terrorist acts.” Their arrest has been slammed by human rights groups as well as the United States Commission on religious Freedom, who “are deeply concerned that Ethiopia’s government is seeking to silence peaceful religious freedom proponents by detaining and trying them in secret under trumped-up terrorism charges.  They should be released now and their trials halted”. The men claim to have been “tortured and experienced other ill-treatment in detention”.

The ambiguous ATD was introduced in 2009 and has been used by the Ethiopian government, “to severely restrict basic rights of freedom of expression, association, and assembly”, Human Rights Watch (HRW) state. It violates dues process, which like a raft of other internationally recognized and legally binding rights, is enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution. The legislation cause outrage amongst human rights groups and the right minded when it was proposed. HRW (30/06/2009) said of the draft law, (which un-amended found its way onto the statute books) that it would “permit the government to repress a wide range of internationally protected freedoms”, – precisely the reason for it’s introduction, and it provides “the Ethiopian government with a potent instrument to crack down on political dissent, including peaceful political demonstrations and public criticisms of government policy”.

The unjust law allows for long-tem imprisonment and the death penalty for so called crimes that meet some EPRDF definition of terrorism, and denies in some cases a defendants right to be presumed innocent – the bedrock of the international judicial system. Torture is used without restraint by the military and police, under the ATD evidence obtained whilst a prisoner is being beaten, hanged, whipped or drowned is admissible in court, this criminal act contravenes Article 15 of the United Nations Convention against Torture (ratified by Ethiopia in 1994), which ‘requires that any statement made as a result of torture is inadmissible as evidence’. Terrorism is indeed an issue of grave concern in Ethiopia, it is not rooted in the Muslim community, the media, the Blue Party or the Universities, it is State Terrorism that stalks this land, that kills and falsely imprisons, tortures and rapes the innocent, it is the EPRDF; the rebel group that ousted a communist dictator in 1991 only to take up his tyrannical mantle, who manipulate the law to serve their repressive rule and who violates a plethora of human rights, consistently and with impunity. Ethiopia’s donors and international friends, (primarily America and Britain) have other, larger fish on their minds, and even though they give the country over a third of its federal budget they seem unconcerned by the criminality being committed, much of which is taking place under the cloak of development. Violent rule however is a storm that is imploding throughout the world, the people, who have suffered long enough, sense their collective strength and are awakening.

Need for Unity

Although completely contrary to the EPRDF’s pledge of Federal Federalism, divide and rule is the effective methodology of division employed by the regime. In a country with dozens of tribal groups, various ethnicities and different religious beliefs (Islam and Christianity), unity is the key to any popular social revolution, much needed and ardently longed for by millions throughout the land. We are witnessing a worldwide protest movement for change; age-old values of freedom, equality and social justice, brotherhood and peace are the clarion call of many marching and protesting. And so it is in Ethiopia, the Blue party and other opposition groups, the Muslim community and the students on the streets demanding Justice! Justice! Jusitce! are in harmony with the rhythm of the times. Out of step and blind to the needs of the people and their rightful demands, the ruling party acts with violence to drown out their voices and suppress their rights: in Addis Ababa, where thousands marched in June, in Oromia and the Ogaden, where the people seek autonomy, in Amhara, where thousands have been displaced, in Gambella and the Lower Omo Valley, where native people are being driven off their ancestral land into state created villages, women raped and men beaten.

Unity is the song of the day, rich with diversity united in intent, the collective will of the people of Ethiopia and indeed throughout the world is an unstoppable force for change. All steps need to be taken to remove the obstacle to the realization of unity throughout the country, ethnic prejudices and tribal differences; all need to be laid aside. The Ethiopian regime may succeed in subduing the movement for change that is simmering throughout the country, however with sustained unified action, peacefully undertaken and relentlessly expressed, freedom and social justice, longed for by millions throughout the country, will surely come.

Graham Peebles is director of the Create Trust. He can be reached at: graham@thecreatetrust.org

AMAN THE ETHIOPIAN ELITE A RARE RUNNER

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1MohammedAMANETHETH1:43.31 SB
2Nick SYMMONDSUSAUSA1:43.55 SB
3AyanlehSOULEIMANDJIDJI1:43.76

View the full results for Men’s 800 Metres Final

History, of sorts, was made when Mohammed Aman became the first Ethiopian to win a world outdoor 800m title as he kicked hard coming off the final bend to snatch the gold medal on Tuesday night (13).The spectacular victory in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium supersedes his 2012 World indoor 800m title and came against a terrific field. To make the result even sweeter his winning time of 1:43.31 is his fastest of the season.Until now his countrymen have dominated 5000m, 10,000m and Marathon podiums but Aman, a sprinter turned middle distance star, has ignited a new flame of belief amongst the youth of his country.Still, only 19 years of age and the youngest man to win a medal in his event, let alone a gold, Aman understands the significance of his accomplishment.“Ethiopians are known for marathons and for long distance and now middle distances so I am very happy,” said Aman, who learned English in high school and practices by watching movies and reading.“Anything is possible. I train in Ethiopia and also I have a good Ethiopian coach (Negusse Gechamo). I train in Entoto, Sendafa and also around Addis. I train with the national team. There are many national team members in Addis.”The race itself was exemplary championship running as Aman escaped from a box created by the two Americans, Duane Soloman and Nick Symmonds, and ran down the latter to steal the gold medal in the last 20 metres.Asked if he was confident or nervous coming into the final, the native of Assela, a small town south east of Addis Ababa, which is coincidently is Haile Gebrselassie’s home town, he smiled.“I don’t know. I had the confidence, I won four Diamond League races and so I am very confident,” he admits. “But it’s the World Championships so there’s a bit more stress. It’s a championship, you have to be careful to win this one.

“The truth is I didn’t think too much about the race last night.  I slept. My coach called me and said: ‘what are you doing? ’ I didn’t think about the race, I just focused on getting rest.”

This is the man who inflicted two rare defeats upon the mighty David Rudisha, the only ones he suffered in 2011 and 2012, who is resting a knee injury, beating the Kenyan World record holder in Zurich last year and in Milan the year before.

Unfortunately for the teenage Ethiopian, the absence of the world record holder and Olympic champion has been noticed by some aficionados who erroneously believe that his gold medal has been somewhat devalued.

Moments after the semi-finals in Moscow, Aman responded to these comments.

“I am very sad for him because injuries are very hard on athletes,” he said. “I am very sorry for him, but I don’t do sport for Rudisha, though, I do it for me. I didn’t say that because Rudisha is not involved, that the gold is for me. I didn’t say that because there are some very strong athletes here.”

 

Aman will have to wait until Thursday to gets his hands on his prize. Moscow 2013 organisers have scheduled his awards ceremony then because there is no evening session on Wednesday.

The impending celebration will also have to wait as he plans to wrap up his 2013 Diamond Race title in Brussels on 6 September before heading home.

“After Brussels I will go directly to see my mum,” he said with a huge smile.

“She saw me run in Daegu and then London. She expects me to win and I didn’t. Now it is my time so I will go directly to my mum and see my family and celebrate there. My mum, my dad and also other Ethiopians we have traditional ways to celebrate with a party.”

Aman has a firm grip on the Diamond Race. Victory in Brussels would cap off one brilliant season for a history making Ethiopian, and perhaps make it an even bigger party in Assela early next month when he finally returns home.

Paul Gains for the IAAF

“Ethiopia a donor darling of the west is the worst Journalist jailer”, Africa’s media voices need wider support

Ethiopian police stop journalists taking pictures in Addis Ababa

Heavy handed … Ethiopian police stop journalists taking pictures in Addis Ababa Photograph: Karel Prinsloo/AP

“I am jailed, with around 200 other inmates, in a wide hall that looks like a warehouse. For all of us, there are only three toilets. Most of the inmates sleep on the floor, which has never been swept. About 1,000 prisoners share the small open space here at Kaliti Prison. One can guess our fate if a communicable disease breaks out.”

So began a powerful polemic published in the New York Times last month by Eskinder Nega, one of Ethiopia‘s best-known journalists. Last year, under sweeping anti-terror laws used to silence critics of a repressive regime, he was given an 18-year sentence for daring to write about the Arab Spring and suggesting something similar could happen in his own country without reform.

Nega has been imprisoned nine times for his journalism. His wife has also been locked up, forced to give birth to their son behind bars. Their case highlights how Ethiopia might be a donor darling of the west, but it is run by a ruthless government that does not tolerate dissent. Journalists are routinely jailed, while dozens more fled the country and scores of papers have been shut down – 72 over the past two decades, according to one estimate.

Nega’s courage and incarceration highlight the dangers of journalism in parts of Africa, where in too many places dubious laws, deadly violence and direct intimidation are used to stop investigations and stifle criticism. In countries such as Somalia and Zimbabwe, dedicated reporters doing their job risk their lives and liberty daily; last month, I worked with a journalist in Harare who constantly checked his car mirrors for security squads.

You might expect the continent’s media owners and managers to take a strong stand in defence of media freedom. Instead, they have decided to hold their flagship annual convention – the largest such gathering in Africa – in Addis Ababa, just a few miles down the road from where journalists languish in jail.

The African Media Initiative (AMI) – which has been handed British aid in the past – naively calls this constructive engagement, ignoring the reality of a one-party regime renowned for its rigidity.

The AMI brushed aside complaints from exiled Ethiopian journalists. Zerihun Tesfaye, one of eight staff on a paper forced to flee overnight after threats from security forces, told me the decision insulted all those fighting tyranny by rewarding a country where independent journalism is equated with terrorism. He is right.

The AMI also ignored concerns from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which held meetings with organisers after complaining about the Ethiopian regime’s “iron grip on the media and hostile rhetoric against press freedom“.

The obstinacy of an organisation claiming a mission to empower citizens to hold governments to account is tragic; the event is even called, with no obvious sense of irony, Media and the African Renaissance. Not only does its complicity with such an authoritarian state betray those working for their publications, websites and stations. It also fails a continent in which both professional and citizen journalism is playing an increasingly crucial role in civil society despite cash restraints and often-challenging circumstances.

Many parts of Africa remain a difficult place to be a journalist, whether for financial, legal or security reasons. It is easy to list the bad examples: Nigeria, where the authorities continue to use coercion against reporters, responsible for more than 90 cases of assault and intimidation last year alone. Eritrea, the most censored country in the world, with close to 30 editors and journalists held in secret prisons. Or supposedly-democratic Zambia, where independent websites are being blocked and their staff harassed.

But there are also little-heralded causes for optimism, and not just in nations such as Mali, Niger and Senegal that have long enjoyed a lively media; indeed, the media in Mali’s capital Bamako remained unshackled even after last year’s coup. Anti-media laws have been rolled back in Malawi and Uganda, while technology is liberating a generation of new voices even in some of the most perilous places. The recent election campaign in Zimbabwe was enlivened by an anonymous blogger revealing a stream of sensitive government gossip, infuriating Robert Mugabe.

Many of the issues confronting the media are the same the world over, with tight resources and tussles over state control. But after suffering so badly as a result of colonialism and collateral damage from the cold war, Africa needs strong voices to shape its own narrative and shrug off the old stereotypes as it emerges into a more peaceful, prosperous future. Instead of cuddling up to states seeking to silence such vital voices, media owners and their managers should be fighting for free expression and standing by brave journalists risking everything for their job, their causes and their continent’s future.

Ian Birrell is a former deputy editor of the Independent and co-founder of Africa Express