Friday, January 24, 2014

Ethiopia Has a Terrible Human Rights Record - Why Is the West Still Turning a Blind Eye? | Eleanor Ross

Eleanor Ross


Posted: 23/01/2014 11:55

Some disappeared, others were given lengthy prison sentences. One thing all thirty men arrested in 2012 in Ethiopia had in common was that they had criticised the state and the policies of the former Premier, Meles Zenawi.
And yet last week Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a group of Japanese business leaders met with the current Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn to discuss further support for Ethiopia at "government and private sector level."
The former Meles Zenawi was a staunch supporter of American counter-terrorism policy while at the same time overseeing a country with a violent human rights record. In the eyes of the USA, Ethiopia is strategically situated. Located in the Horn of Africa, next to Somalia, northern Kenya and Sudan, it acts as a buffer zone between the growing Islamic extremism of Somalia and the West. As a result, the human rights violations of Zenawi were ignored.
As one of the first signatories of the UN in 1948, Ethiopia is a Western ally: 11 per cent of its entire GDP comes from Foreign Aid. The US is one of Ethiopia's largest donors: it is estimated that it gave $3.3bn in 2008 alone. The two countries benefited from their close relation: there have been rumours that America hosted "black sites" in Ethiopia; bases where the CIA interrogated undeclared prisoners during the "War on Terror."
But Meles Zenawi died in 2012. The opportunity for a more liberal government was not seized: Zenawi was replaced by Hailemariam Desalegn, described by critics as an "identikit Zenawi" running the country on "auto-pilot". Desalegn is following the same political manifesto as Meles - he hasn't changed one member of parliament.
The arena for debate and discussion is narrowing. Critics argue that Ethiopia is fast becoming a "one party democracy" where there are many parties but the same one wins again and again. Meles spoke to foreign press in 2005 and defended his 97 per cent electoral victory: "In democracies the party with the best track record remains in power." The years since 2005 have seen growing unrest among the Ethiopian population and serious repression against critics of the regime. Human Rights Watch reported that Ethiopia "continues to severely restrict freedom of movement and expression". It adds that "30 journalists and opposition members have been convicted under...vague anti-terrorism laws".
The day before World Press Freedom Day on May 2 2013, the Ethiopian government ruled to uphold the imprisonment of one of its most well-known prisoners of conscience, Eskinder Nega. He was jailed for being a journalist who criticised the government, and yet, by standing up for his beliefs and expressing his basic human right for Freedom of Speech, he earned an 18 year jail sentence.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has denied his release. America and Britain have done little to challenge their ally, so worried are they about creating another enemy in the Horn of Africa. Britain and America have consistently failed to challenge their ally about its abhorrent Human Rights record. Ethiopia flaunts its apathy towards the UN convention of Human Rights, denying opposition members a right to fair trial and repressing people for trying to voice their opinions peacefully.
Ethiopian political repression is worsening. There have been repeated crackdowns against the country's Muslim minority. This has included arbitrary arrests as Muslims make peaceful demands for freedom of worship. Again, critics have voiced concern with the regime. Mehari Taddele Maru, head of the African Conflict Prevention Program at the Institute for Security Studies expressed concern that "if legitimate grievances are not met then there is a risk that extremist violent elements will exploit those grievances to further their own."
The world is waking up to Ethiopia's increasingly poor human rights track record and yet the United States hasn't stopped aid flowing to Ethiopia or threatened the country with sanctions. Japan still tries to conduct business with Ethiopia when instead they should be holding Ethiopia to account.
As a founding member of the UN and an "ally" of the West, Ethiopia must be held accountable for her crimes. If the West does not challenge Ethiopia and demand that it releases its prisoners who have been locked up without fair trial, then notions of democracy and human rights accountability as embedded in the Human Rights Charter look ever more vulnerable-Human Rights globally will be laughed out of the door.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Demonizing Human Rights: The War on Ethiopian Muslims-ethiomedia

By Najib Mohammed
January 23, 2014

Once again the Ethiopian government openly displayed its evil intentions by airing a fictitious drama depicting Ethiopian Muslims as blood thirsty people bent on establishing an Islamic state. This second drama that was aired on January 18, 2014 is the twin drama of “Jihadawi Harakat” that was aired a year ago. To the credit of the wise people of Ethiopia, the intension behind “Jiahadawi Harakat” failed miserably by creating adverse reaction uniting instead of creation division between Muslims and Christians.

Despotic regimes such as the one in Ethiopia care less about peace and development. Their aim is to stay in power by any means necessary. Including inciting civil wars. We should not forget the recent history in Africa. Rwanda is a classic example where government owned media outlets TV and Radio instigated the people to rise up against each other by spewing hatred and mistrust. In Rwanda, close to a million people massacred by their own countrymen for being of a different ethnic group.

For the last 2 decades this ethnic card was tried again and again and did not bring the expected results. Few examples are the tension the government created between the Oromo and Amara, between the Oromo and Somalis, between Somalis and the Afar, between the Beni-shangol and Amaras but the most heinous one was the massacring of hundredths of Anuak people of south west of Ethiopia by government forces.

Now, the Ethiopian government is trying to foment a religious clash of gargantuan proportion. Though in small scale, the Ethiopian government had planned and executed clashes between Muslims and Christians. Their cadres were responsible of burning of each other’s places of worships. Most of those who were interviewed after the incidents testified that the perpetrators’ of these crimes were infiltrators that they have no knowledge of. It is said in some cases the government issued permits for two different religious groups for the same piece of land creating clashes where lives were lost.

On Monday December 23, 2013, the incarcerated Muslim leaders whom the documentary drama depicts as terrorists published a message of peace from their cell and the followings are the 3 points they concluded their message with:

  1. “We urge [all Muslims and Christians] to keep preserving on a solid foundation the unity and mutual respect demonstrated among Muslims as well as between Muslims and Christians that came about despite the government’s efforts of creating discord and enmity. For the country to come out of the current turmoil and stride on the path to prosperity, true freedom of religion, equality and mutual respect among people is a prerequisite, not an alternative. In order to prosper together, we must replace fear and suspicion by love and trust.
  2. We would like to affirm to our people and the government that we are ready to pay all the necessary sacrifice to continue our peaceful struggle for our inalienable rights. We and our people are in full gear and preparedness for the next round of the peaceful movement for our rights and we express with great and unwavering determination that we will not back away from paying all the necessary sacrifices required of us.
  3. We urge the government to stop its unconstitutional adventures and acts, including the indiscriminate jailing of Muslims, confiscation of mosques, false accusations and labeling religious personalities, journalists and rights activists as “terrorists”, and a host of other violations of constitutional rights. We also urge the government to stop the inhumane practices and demand for the release of prisoners of conscience at “Maekelawi” (the Central Crime Investigation Department) and other detention facilities. We would like to express that it is our earnest wish to see that all the people of Ethiopia enjoy the fruits of true peace, justice, democracy and development.
Finally, we appeal to all concerned to carry on the peaceful struggle forward in a civilized and well-planned manner and in a much more effective way than it has been so far with utmost commitment and determination until true justice and freedom are achieved. We have no doubt that victory and success will be ours at the end of the day through our peaceful struggle.”

The hate mongering and the government’s efforts to characterize Ethiopian Muslims is by itself an insult to the intelligence of all Ethiopians. No matter how hard the government tries to divide the people, the long history that they lived together with respect, Ethiopians of all persuasions will not fall victims of the plotting and knifings of this regime. The number of films and videos that use terror-activities as a critical basis for their lame anything illegal and forwarded to the courts as evidence has victimized so many innocent people. Rights activists, Journalists, and politicians who dared to write or say anything to the government’s dislike were charged with terrorism and are languishing in the dungeon of prisons all over the country.

Sooner or later the people of Ethiopia, the real victims, will discover that the government they thought was "theirs" has always and 'ONLY' been the real enemy of the people of Ethiopia.

I hope it is sooner than later. Inshallah!

May the Almighty Allah bring peace and Justice to Ethiopia and the whole World! Ameen! - An African-American news and views website.
Copyright 2013 

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Battle of Adwa - African Victory in the Age of Empire - Harvard University Press Blog

African Victory in the Age of Empire

In the late nineteenth century, when it seemed that all of Africa was destined to come under European colonial rule, Ethiopia succeeded in thwarting European conquest and preserving its own independence. The pivotal event in its resistance to Italian colonial advance from Eritrea was the Battle of Adwa, in which an army of black Africans under the leadership of Emperor Menelik decisively defeated the Italians. The Battle of Adwa, which marked the first time in the modern era that a non-European power had defeated a European power without the aid of a European ally, is considered one of the most important events in modern African history. In The Battle of Adwa: African Victory in the Age of Empire, historian Raymond Jonas makes the case for the broader global historical significance of the conflict. 
There are a number of complex reasons for Italian failure at Adwa. Italian leadership had assumed, wrongly but not without credibility, that it could play on factional conflict within Ethiopia. As a result the Italians were unprepared for the unity Menelik was able to inspire, and thus the Italians drastically underestimated the size of the Ethiopian army, and the firepower at its disposal. But Menelik’s forces didn’t merely outnumber the Italians; the Emperor also outmaneuvered them, in what Jonas describes as one of the great military campaigns of modern history.
Inevitably, Ethiopian victory was interpreted in racial terms, for not only had an African army defeated a European army, but a black army had defeated a white army. In the Jim Crow United States and elsewhere around the globe, Adwa gave the lie to the inevitability of European domination—both political and racial. We recently spoke with Jonas about the worldwide implications of what happened at Adwa in 1896. A bit of video from our conversation:

It can be a challenge to tell a story of such profound global impact on a personal level, to depict actions as driven by characters rather than countries. This, though, is exactly Jonas’s achievement in The Battle of Adwa. Jonas gives us Menelik, proud and shrewd; his wife, the fiery Taytu; their loyal and capable compatriot Ras Makonnen (whose son would become Ras Tafari, better known as Haile Selassie); the legion of Italian military officials and politicians who opposed them; and a host of sometimes-quirky European advisors, entrepreneurs, agents, and observers. Jonas draws on contemporary journalistic accounts of the battle in Africa, Europe, and the Americas, and also on the extensive diaries, journals, and memoirs kept by many of the combatants. Those diaries form the basis of his depiction of the complex social entanglements that developed between Italian prisoners and their Ethiopian captors-cum-hosts after the battle, and also double as “accidental anthropology,” providing some of the best evidence we have of everyday life in Menelik’s Ethiopia.
Victory at Adwa left a complicated legacy for Ethiopians to sort through, as Jonas shows. He refers to the manner in which Ethiopians rallied around Emperor Menelik to fend off the Italians and preserve their independence as “the paradox of Adwa,” for it had the effect of casting an Emperor as an emblem of freedom, legitimizing and perpetuating rule by sacred monarchy in the country. Those ensuing complications notwithstanding, writes Jonas, the core message of Adwa was clear:
It was a national epic, the founding event in the modern life of the nation. The stately northward march of Menelik and Taytu not only consolidated their rule but called upon the Ethiopian people—Tigrayans, Shoans, Oromo, Welayta, and others—to set aside their differences and, in recognizing a common enemy, recognize a common nationhood. Nations, if they are to endure, are defined not by religion, ethnicity, or race but by the scale at which freedom can reliably be defended. Only on the scale of Ethiopia itself could resistance have succeeded.
Jonas maintains a website,, where you can explore maps and other additional materials, and also browse through the resources he consulted in writing The Battle of Adwa.

Quick Linker

Amazon SearchBox

About the Bloger

My photo

Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.