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  • Ethiopia 'hero' runner gets asylum donations after Oromo protest sign - BBC Africa


    A crowd-funding campaign has raised more than $40,000 (£30,000) to help Ethiopia's Olympic marathon silver medallist Feyisa Lilesa seek asylum.

    He crossed his hands above his head as he finished the race - a gesture made by Ethiopia's Oromo people who have suffered brutal police crackdowns.

    He says he may be killed if he goes home but Ethiopia's government says he will be welcomed as a hero.

    However, state media is not showing photos of him crossing the line.

    There has been a wave of protests in Ethiopia in recent months over a series of frustrations, including attempts by the governments to reallocate land in the Oromo and Amhara regions.

    US-based Human Rights Watch says security forces have killed more than 400 Oromo protesters, a figure the government disputes.

    Rule 50 of the Olympic charter bans political displays or protests and the IOC say they are gathering information about the case.

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  • Ethiopia: Protests in Oromia, Amhara Regions Present 'Critical Challenge' - U.S.

    Ethiopia: Protests in Oromia, Amhara Regions Present 'Critical Challenge' - U.S. Published: Aug 21, 2016 by Admin Filed under: Ethiopia - 2,883 Views The Obama administration's top official promoting democracy and human rights,Tom Malinowski, says the Ethiopian government's tactics in response to protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions of the country are "self-defeating". Writing ahead of the arrival of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Nairobi for talks on East African issues, including security, Malinowski says Addis Ababa's "next great national task is to master the challenge of political openness." The United States and Ethiopia have years of strong partnership, based on a recognition that we need each other. Ethiopia is a major contributor to peace and security in Africa, the U.S.'s ally in the fight against violent extremists, and has shown incredible generosity to those escaping violence and repression, admitting more refugees than any country in the world. The United States has meanwhile been the main contributor to Ethiopia's impressive fight to end poverty, to protect its environment and to develop its economy. Because of the friendship and common interests our two nations share, the U.S. has a stake in Ethiopia's prosperity, stability and success. When Ethiopia does well, it is able to inspire and help others. On the other hand, a protracted crisis in Ethiopia would undermine the goals that both nations are trying to achieve together. The recent protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions present a critical challenge. They appear to be a manifestation of Ethiopian citizens' expectation of more responsive governance and political pluralism, as laid out in their constitution. Almost every Ethiopian I have met during my three recent trips to the country, including government officials, has told me that as Ethiopians become more prosperous and educated, they demand a greater political voice, and that such demands must be met. While a few of the protests may have been used as a vehicle for violence, we are convinced that the vast majority of participants were exercising their right under Ethiopia's constitution to express their views. Any counsel that the United States might offer is intended to help find solutions, and is given with humility. As President Barack Obama said during his July, 2015 visit to Addis Ababa, the U.S. is not perfect, and we have learned hard lessons from our own experiences in addressing popular grievances. We also know Ethiopia faces real external threats. Ethiopia has bravely confronted Al-Shabaab, a ruthless terrorist group based on its border. Individuals and groups outside Ethiopia, often backed by countries that have no respect for human rights themselves, sometimes recklessly call for violent change. Ethiopia rightly condemns such rhetoric, and the United States joins that condemnation. But Ethiopia has made far too much progress to be undone by the jabs of scattered antagonists who have little support among the Ethiopian people. And it is from within that Ethiopia faces the greatest challenges to its stability and unity. When thousands of people, in dozens of locations, in multiple regions come out on the streets to ask for a bigger say in the decisions that affect their lives, this cannot be dismissed as the handiwork of external enemies. Ethiopian officials have acknowledged that protestors have genuine grievances that deserve sincere answers. They are working to address issues such as corruption and a lack of job opportunities. Yet security forces have continued to use excessive force to prevent Ethiopians from congregating peacefully, killing and injuring many people and arresting thousands. We believe thousands of Ethiopians remain in detention for alleged involvement in the protests - in most cases without having been brought before a court, provided access to legal counsel, or formally charged with a crime. These are self-defeating tactics. Arresting opposition leaders and restricting civil society will not stop people from protesting, but it can create leaderless movements that leave no one with whom the government can mediate a peaceful way forward. Shutting down the Internet will not silence opposition, but it will scare away foreign investors and tourists. Using force may temporarily deter some protesters, but it will exacerbate their anger and make them more uncompromising when they inevitably return to the streets. Every government has a duty to protect its citizens; but every legitimate and successful government also listens to its citizens, admits mistakes, and offers redress to those it has unjustly harmed. Responding openly and peacefully to criticism shows confidence and wisdom, not weakness. Ethiopia would also be stronger if it had more independent voices in government, parliament and society, and if civil society organizations could legally channel popular grievances and propose policy solutions. Those who are critical of the government would then have to share responsibility, and accountability, for finding those solutions. Progress in reforming the system would moderate demands to reject it altogether. Ethiopia's next great national task is to master the challenge of political openness, just as it has been mastering the challenge of economic development. Given how far Ethiopia has traveled since the days of terror and famine, the United States is confident that its people can meet this challenge - not to satisfy any foreign country, but to fulfill their own aspirations. The U.S. and all of Ethiopia's friends are ready to help. Tom Malinowski is the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

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  • EPRDF and the West: A game of bullying and appeasement by Reprieve International


    The article posted by Reprieve International, a registered charity in the UK, has somehow revealed the kind of challenges and the level of influence that EPRDF holds against the UK. The consistent refusal of the Ethiopian Government to give consular access and fair trial for Andargachew Tsegie, a 62 year old Briton, prominent critic of the Ethiopian regime, who was detained unlawfully in 2014 while transiting through Yemen, has caused uproars in the UK and among Ethiopian diaspora.

    The email leak from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) obtained by Reprieve regarding the consistent refusal to give consular access is an eye opening.The fact that the soft approach taken by UK has proved what Reprieve described as an “insensitivity” towards Tisge. Rather, contrary to the later’s assumption, EPRDF is actually bullying UK for its request to follow Andargachew’s case.


    Donors influence


    In Bible, Proverb 22:7 says “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” All African countries are indebted which, though indirectly, have shape their policy direction. Ethiopia too is among the heavily indebted country that is rapidly reducing itself as a “servant” to its lenders. Although, Ethiopia more than its national interest cares for the interests of its lenders; it also caters its dubious service in containing terrorism to barter for aid. EPRDF renders its service as along as receives financial and political support to its illegitimate rule. Foreign support is sought non-other-than to achieve the twin goals of regime security and development assistance.


    Although, U.K is the highest lender/financier next to UN and WB its influence over the latter seems waning. EPRDF’s conscious bulling towards UK, particularly with regard to Andargchew, is a clear indication that the later actually do lost its influence or will to encourage the regime for democratic reform.The reason why still tolerated the bulling as part of diplomatic business called non-intervention needs further analysis. However, Reprieve’s quote shows the level of frustration that the FCO in the words of Philip Hammond, UK secretary for FCO, saying “lack of progress risks undermining the UK’s much valued bilateral relationship with Ethiopia”. still, despite warning and declarations, there is no any progress.


    In 2015 for the third year running, the government of UK met its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on foreign aid, with the official budget rising to £12.2bn and the biggest regional beneficiary of bilateral aid is Africa. Out of a total of £2.54bn last year Ethiopia alone received the £334m -the single largest amount in the continent. Why Ethiopia, even not a member of a commonwealth, receives such highest amount second to none? And yet Presumptuously give such huge amount to enable the regime.


    The Department for International Development(DfID) Operational Plan 2011-2016 sets the reason for giving UK Official Development Assistance as “a stable, Secure and prosperous Ethiopia is critical to UK’s interest”. The literal meaning of the text gives how Britain sees Ethiopia and its role in the region. It matters in a range of Development, Foreign Policy and security reasons. Therefore, any negative change or disruption in the status quo would affect UK’s either real or imagined interest in the region. Therefore, continued existence of the regime is despite all its bad records and blatant refusal to heed reform calls, the west appeases using euphemisms like “anchor state” for being their satellite and ” development with purpose” for dictatorship.


    DfID’s annual review of aid effectiveness in 2014 has summarized the reason why UK is giving such colossal amount of aid. The reasons mentioned are some genuine and others hoax; particularly when a country like UK which prides itself being democratic funds a regime which becomes an epitome of torture.


    The Human Right context of the review reads as follows:


    Ethiopia’s second Universal Periodic Review was in May 2014. Of 252 recommendations, Ethiopia accepted 188 (including that the government will take steps to ensure the 2015 elections are more representative and participative than those in 2010), rejected 11 and noted 53 (including to invite the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to Ethiopia).


    Then one can see how a regime despite being the highest recipient of fund refused to be reviewed in almost all the programs pertaining vital human and democratic rights. Satirically enough, the regime’s commitment to make political space open to ensure 2015 elections to be more representative than the pervious, has absolutely controlled parliamentary seats which left nothing to the opposition. One would seriously question why the UK keeps funding a regime which is consistently disregards any recommendations that are vital to democratic reforms. Sadly keeps financing the regime despite lack of progress in core democratic values.

    Forecasting the regime’s behavior the review concluded: “Civil and political rights: long-term trends suggest that commitment is consistently low. (Behaviors and practices in the security and justice sector, a restricted electoral environment, restrictions on freedom of expression.)”

    The review clearly shows that the government of UK are fully aware of the regime’s nature and mode of operations in stifling democratic participation. In spirit and letter, the document albite in a limited way, tries to encourage the regime to become more tolerant and accommodative. Nevertheless, what the problem appears is the UK’s soft approach, contrary to its cherished human rights and democratic values, has intentionally emboldened regimes’s resolve to remain in power.

    The generous chasing enabled the regime to cling into power through the usual authoritarian means. And it seems perfectly working for the moment as the outcome of the 2015 election is endorsed half heartedly by the International Community.


    Shared fear


    DfID has explicitly affirms the importance of Ethiopia for its national security and believed a stable Ethiopia is critical to the region and beyond. Cooperations forged on security, migration and terrorism. Therefore, interests are intertwined and fears shared.


    The rise of fundamentalism and lack of political control in the Horn of Africa has strengthened UK’s perpetual fear of terrorist attacks. All the incidents in the past: the London car, transit and subways bombs were organized by British citizens adopted from East Africa. Hussein Osman, with his Ethiopian born wife and sister in law, Yasmin Omar, and Mukhtar Said Ibrahim are from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia respectively.

    A recent study suggested the demographic composition of Muslims in the UK is set to rise from 2.9 m now to 5.6 m in 2030 from its current 2% of UK population to 4.6 %. As the majority of its Muslim community originated in Africa and its sizable numbers are from the Horn of Africa the strategic cooperation in security and terrorism is one major reason that the UK despite the later’s appalling Human Rights record keeps funding.

    The US has its AFRICOM with modern technological gadgets to track-down terrorist from its base in Djibouti and Ethiopia. Chinese also establishing its base in Djibouti. It appears for the UK the only way to keep its interest served is through establishing a satellite state. So Ethiopia, as its leaders are quick to align their interest with donors, are ready to serve in whatever capacity. So the genesis of unholy alliance is their mutual desire to control the flow of information, people and fundamentalism in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia, an arch rival to Somalia with historical enmity is keen to monitor the movements of fundamentalism and U.K on the other hand, having a sizable Muslims from the Horn of Africa, have strong desire to contain terrorist threats.


    Unconscious collaboration or Connivance?


    Mohamed Ardous an Ethiopian born Briton arrested and convicted in Ethiopia is another example. Mr. Ardous has requested the United Nation to probe into his detention. His lawyer said his client has subjected to various tortures including electric shocks and depriving sleeps to extract confession at the infamous Maekelawi-which is dubbed Ethiopian Gulag. The Independent in its publication has wrote the detainee suspects that the British intelligence either unconsciously collaborated or connivance in his arrest which prompted the head of the MI5, Andrew Parker, to respond by saying: “we do not participate, incite, encourage or condone mistreatment or torture.”

    The Ethiopian government, what both the opposition and donors have failed to know about is, it operated based on premeditated and a well thought diplomatic manipulations. The arrest of other two Britons ( Mohamed Sharif and Mohamed Ahmed, from somaliland ) were very instrumental in convincing the UK that the Ethiopian government is a reliable partner in witch-hunting persons suspected as terrorist. As three Ethiopian born Britons were arrested since the Ethiopian Muslims started demonstrations. Later, the court passed a seven year prison term for the trio for an attempt to establish Muslim brotherhood and Islamic State and dozens of Ethiopian Muslim, notable Imams and journalists, are also convicted on similar trumped up charges based on a confession acquired through torture.

    The documentary which was aired in the national TV shows the inhuman technics of interrogations being conducted on the detainees and how diligently the charges politically corrected to suite both domestic and foreign propaganda consumptions.

    The reasons why UK hesitates to use its influence to free it’s citizens from the grip of an iron fist remains to be questionable. What exactly rendered UK to appease in face of such excesses is not a mystery that needs revelations.

    UK should see its interest from the perspectives of the public than the regime which is neither permanent nor stable to depend on. The only way to forge sustainable cooperation is to base relation based on democratic values and principles that would reflect the aspiration of both nations. Development aid also should be evaluated from such approach than narrow and temporary interests.

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  • Kenyans flee Ethiopian border for fear of clashes after gun attack

    Kenyans are fleeing the Ethiopian border for fear of a clash between the Dassanach community of Ethiopia and the Turkana following the killing of an elder last month.

    Ethiopian elder Lobakate Lobolemai was shot dead on July 31 by a Turkana gunman during a church service in Turkana North Sub-county. The attacker stormed the church and selectively shot Lobolemai.

    The elder had crossed to Kenya with members of Dassanach Catholic Church from Koro and Omorate villages in South Omo, Ethiopia, to attend the 10th anniversary of Our Lady of Peace Todonyang Catholic Mission at the border point. The Ethiopian authorities gave Kenya a week, which ended last week, to produce the suspect in court.

    Members of the Dassanach community threatened an unspecified action if the assailant is not apprehended. This killing is likely to disrupt a peace accord between the two communities, which ended several years of bloody conflicts along the border. “We are troubled by this incident. We fear the Dassanach community will retaliate.

    The suspect has spoiled peace that we have been enjoying in this region. Tension is now high between the communities,” said Todonyang resident Osman Eleman. Mr Eleman said more than 130 have been killed along the border following conflicts between the neighbouring Merille and Turkana communities.

    Turkana North OCS Francis Siror said they have launched a manhunt for the attacker. “We are using some Turkana elders to trace the suspect. The rough terrain and poor network in the region has frustrated our efforts to trace him, but our search is still on,” Mr Siror said.

    The Ethiopia Government has sent a protest letter to Kenyan authorities seeking to arrest the suspect. It threatened to take the matter to an international court. Source said the Ethiopian authorities want the suspect arrested and handed over to them for trial. “We the Government of Ethiopia are very sad about the incident, which occurred in Todonyang Mission camp.

    We are sincerely asking you to arrest the culprit so that we can also see him. If this will not happen we are not going to allow any movement from Kenya to Ethiopia, except for the priest of Todonyang Mission and his staff only,” the letter reads.

    “If nothing happens, we will take the case to an international court under the Ethiopian Law. If someone kills another person he or she must be jailed. So far, we have jailed 17 members of Dassanach community who killed Turkanas.”

    Ethiopia threatened to close down the border, warning that no member of the Turkana community should cross to the country town until a written permission from the authorities is sought. Todonyang Catholic Parish priest Alex Campon said, “It was  an unfortunate incident. All the congregants from Ethiopia and Kenya were shocked when a gunman stormed the church and shot dead the Ethiopian elder.

    It was not clear why he selectively shot the old man.”   Fr Campon said the faithful from Ethiopia had visited the parish to celebrate with their Kenyan counterparts the confirmation of 50 Christians and blessing of four new classrooms presided over by Lodwar Diocese Bishop Dominic Kimengich.

    The priest said the incident is likely to disrupt peace in the region. He said members of the Dassenach and Turkana communities had co-existed peacefully after peace was brokered in the region. The closure of the Kenya–Ethiopia border will cripple cross-border trade. The communities have been engaging inbarter trade.

    The communities share lake Turkana and River Omo for fishing, which has been a flourishing multi-billion shilling business. Turkana Deputy Governor Peter Ekal condemned the incident. He told The Standard on Sunday that he will lead a delegation to meet the Dassanach Woreda administration to iron out the issue. “We need peace between the two communities and that is why we will follow up on this,” said Ekai. Turkana North MP Christoper Nakuleu said security personnel who watched the gunman shoot the elder must be investigated.

    “It is sad that the officers, who were supposed to protect the faithful, watched as the gunman shot the old man,” he said.


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