Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Johnson 'not helping' Briton held on death row in Ethiopia

A human rights activist says Andy Tsege has been subjected to "appalling" treatment since he was seized and detained in Ethiopia.
Andy Tsege. Picture: Reprieve
Video:Death sentence hanging over Brit jailed in Ethiopia
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is not doing enough to press for the release of a British man on death row in Ethiopia, it has been claimed.
Andargachew Tsege was seized while travelling through an airport in Yemen in 2014, before being forcibly taken to Ethiopia.
Mr Tsege, known as Andy, is a vocal critic of the government in Addis Ababa and had been convicted of treason and sentenced to death five years before his detention.
A High Court challenge to force Mr Johnson to do more to secure Mr Tsege's release failed, and the Foreign Secretary used the decision as a reason for not talking about the case in the Commons.
Mr Johnson did publish an open letter outlining the Foreign Office's position in August in which he said "Mr Tsege's case remains a high priority for the British Government", adding "we take his welfare very seriously".
Campaigners have called for the release of the Briton held in Ethiopia
Image Caption:Campaigners have called for the release of the Briton
Maya Foa, from the human rights group Reprieve, has described Mr Tsege's treatment as "appalling".
She told Sky News: "It's yet another obfuscation by the Foreign Secretary and instead of really looking at this case for what it is, an egregious series of unlawful acts perpetrated against a British national, Boris Johnson is saying he can't answer questions on the case.
"Why? Because he doesn't have the answers because they're not doing the right thing."
Mr Tsege, who became a British citizen after fleeing Ethiopia in 1979, served as a member of the Ethiopian opposition group Ginbot 7.
Andy Tsege
Image Caption:Andy Tsege has been held in Ethiopia since 2014
Ababi Demissie, a minister for public diplomacy based at the Ethiopian Embassy in London, told Sky News the Briton was seized under a treaty with the Yemen government.
He said: "Of course he is a terrorist and many people know that.
"We rendered him while travelling to Eritrea. Why was Andargachew flying to Eritrea?
"He was going not for holidays, not to visit his family. He was going to train other fighters to create more chaos and attacks on Ethiopia."
Mr Tsege's family say he's innocent and claim the Foreign Office hasn't done enough to help him.
Mr Tsege's partner Yemi Hailemariam says she has been 'termed a terrorist'
Image Caption:Mr Tsege's partner Yemi Hailemariam says she has been 'termed a terrorist'
Yemi Hailemariam, his partner and the mother of his three children, said: "He is not a terrorist.
"The Ethiopian government label anybody and everybody that dissent as a terrorist.
"I've been termed a terrorist."
When he was still Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond visited Addis Ababa and raised the issue with government ministers.
But despite the controversial manner in which he was convicted and then captured, the Government says it will not call for Mr Tsege to be released.
However, Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell has asked the Ethiopian government to release Mr Tsege.
He said: "I think the way he was rendered from Sana'a is completely unacceptable and it's out with international law so that is an issue.
"But what we need here is for the Foreign Office to address this with the government of Ethiopia.
"Both governments have got a very strong interest in resolving this matter which is a considerable thorn of contention between the two countries."

Ethiopia in US trouble over spying | CAJ News Africa

From ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News)– ETHIOPIA is likely to be held accountable in the United States for an illegal malware and digital spying attack on an American citizen.
The Maryland man, only identified as Mr Kidane to protect his identijty, had his home computer infected by state-sponsored malware, which recorded his private Skype calls, monitored his web searches and emails. It tracked his family’s use of the computer for weeks.
Forensic analysis showed the information was surreptitiously sent to a secret server located in Ethiopia and controlled by the Ethiopian government.
“The fact that Ethiopia used software instead of a person to launch a wiretap attack against Kidane in no way allows the country to evade legal liability,” Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney, Nate Cardozo, said.
The invasion of the victim’s privacy of the man who is Ethiopian by birth and a US citizen is part of a crackdown on dissenting voices with Kidane having worked with activists back in Ethiopia.
Malicious digital surveillance and malware attacks against perceived political opponents, suspected dissidents and journalists have become all-too-common tactics used by Ethiopia

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Foreign factories and farms targeted by Ethiopia protesters

State of emergency likely to ramp up repression in fractured Ethiopia- The Guardian

Demonstrators chant slogans during the Irreecha festival in Bishoftu
Near a sacred volcanic lake for the Oromo people in the Ethiopian town of Bishoftu, a boisterous crowd seized an unusual opportunity to chant anti-government slogans during their annual Irreecha cultural celebration.
Disregarding the Oromo officials and traditional leaders at the 2 October ceremony, the youthful protesters crossed their arms in a symbol of defiance and edged forward towards police armed with batons. In a defining moment for the Oromo resistance, one man got on stage, grabbed the microphone and sent the thousands in the audience into fever pitch as he led a chant.
“Down, down, Woyane! Down, down, TPLF!” he yelled, referring to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front party, which opponents say has controlled the strategically vital Horn of Africa nation for 25 years.
Minutes later, as demonstrators threatened to take over the stage, Oromia police triggered a deadly stampede by firing tear gas. The crackle of gunfire followed from armed officers and an armoured vehicle sped into action, exacerbating the panic. People fell into a deep ditch and were crushed. Others drowned in the lake, contributing to an official death toll of 52, while rights groups estimate that more than 100 died.

Social media activists characterised the bungled dispersal as a “massacre”, falsely accusing soldiers of shooting people from a helicopter, and called for “five days of rage”. A week later, the government announced a state of emergency after protesters rampaged across Oromia, burning government buildings, and torching farms and factories.
The events may mark a turning point in the 11-month uprising by the Oromo, Ethiopia’s most populous ethnic group, who cite frustrations over political and economic marginalisation. The movement, along with a series of violent demonstrations occurring since late July in the historically powerful Amhara region, had already threatened the authority of the government, a favouredpartner of the UK and other donors that provide close to $4bn (£3.2bn) in aid a year.
The state of emergency is likely to mean the increased use of federal security forces, including the military, to quell unrest at the expense of regional states’ autonomy, as well as occasional curfews and suspensions of due process. The US Department of State said the move could “further enshrine” the repression that has contributed to the crisis.
The government has killed about 500 Oromo demonstrators so far during the crisis, while detaining tens of thousands more in an effort to discourage civil resistance. The message from those efforts and the latest round of unrest, however, is that it will be hard to subdue protesters, who see the government as discredited and embattled. That means the possibility of escalating violence in Africa’s second-most populous nation.
“If the government persists with the current stand, Ethiopia may be in for long-term instability,” said Hassen Hussein, a US-based regional analyst who has written sympathetically about the Oromo struggle.
The Bishoftu violence was preceded by a two-month lull, as new Oromo ruling party leaders emerged and pledged reforms. Before that, on 6 August, activists called for a day of “grand Oromo protests”, which resulted in about 70 deaths and included a rare demonstration in Addis Ababa, the capital. Federal police dispersed that rally, scattering attendees with batons and boots.
Among those subsequently detained was an educated young man calling himself Gudina Jalata. He’d previously stayed away from protests out of fear, but felt compelled to participate by witnessing continuing injustice across the sprawling region that encircles the capital. “First you have to be respected for your dignity – that is why I got involved. There is a lot of discrimination against the Oromo,” he said.
Before the government came to power in 1991 by removing a socialist junta, Ethiopia was a unitary state. A 1995 federal constitution ensured self-rule for minorities and promoted local languages in schools and government. However, Oromo allege the state is controlled by Tigrayans, who comprise 6% of the country’s almost 100 million-strong population, and say farmers are being unfairly evicted by investors tied to ruling elites.
The divergent narratives feed a furious debate. Far from being oppressors, TPLF elites say their community made huge sacrifices during a 16-year struggle that liberated the Oromo and other groups from Amhara domination. They add that ethnic federalism now protects those hard-won rights, and power is shared equitably within government, while the statist development model pushed byMeles Zenawi, the former TPLF chairman and prime minister who died in 2012, helped Ethiopia advance.

For Gudina and the other detainees, such claims seem fanciful. After time in a cramped cell, his group was driven to a federal police facility in the Awash area; some were held for a week and then released, others were held for up to two weeks. There were no showers or toilets and they were given only small amounts of bread and water. The camp had three components: gruelling barefoot exercises on gravel under a scorching sun, political lessons and bouts of investigation. Advertisement The workouts included being forced to hop forwards with hands behind their head. Even the injured had to participate; if there was any slacking off, they were beaten. “It was really inhuman,” Gudina said. Tigrayan officers, the interviewed detainees claimed, gave lessons on federalism and ruling coalition doctrines. While they felt contempt for their instructors, the prisoners were compliant, although one bucked the trend and was severely beaten. “The constitution they are teaching us is not broken by us – they themselves break the law. For example, it’s our right to protest,” one explained. Mass detention is not a new tactic for a government that has largely failed to move Ethiopia on from an authoritarian past. There have been similar initiatives during these Oromo protests, Human Rights Watch said in June, while thousands have also been detained in Amhara. After the disputed elections in 2005, when Ethiopia faced its last major political crisis, the US state department said up to 18,000 youths were kept at a military camp for longer than a month. While the regime undertakes another mass roundup of suspects, the efforts to indoctrinate Oromo youth are increasingly futile, Hassen believes. “If anything, it makes people even more defiant,” he said. “It’s exposing how empty the regime is, making it more vulnerable.” Facebook Twitter Pinterest In Denkaka, Kebele, on 3 October, women mourn during the funeral of Tesfu Tadese Biru, a construction engineer who died during the stampede after police fired warning shots at an anti-government protest in Bishoftu. Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters Ethiopia’s crisis developed after only one opposition lawmaker won a federal parliamentary seat in 2010 and last year’s election produced no opposition representative. The multi-ethnic ruling coalition emphasises its success in building infrastructure, improving social services, and helping millions out of extreme poverty, while acknowledging the democratic deficit. Advertisement Donor support for the government, which is also a security ally in Somalia and South Sudan, is unwavering. That relationship gives officials leeway to reject western criticism of abuses as a neocolonial attempt to impose liberal norms. Ethiopia’s leaders believe democratic pluralism is the product of development, not a means to achieve it. When parliament reconvened, the largely ceremonial president, Mulatu Teshome, an Oromo, promised to create jobs and introduce some proportional representation at elections. And using familiar refrains, the government blamed Egypt and Eritrea for stoking the violence by backing a weakened, fragmented Oromo rebel group. But the primary threat to Ethiopia is that a portion of its population is now committed to liberating regime change, rather than campaigning for reforms – including the young Oromo the police tried to re-educate. “Until we get our freedom, our self-determination as Oromo, I will continue struggling. I will continue to death,” said one"

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ethiopia 'detains 1,600' under state of emergency - BBC News

  • 33 minutes ago
  • From the sectionAfrica

Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe most recent protests were sparked by the deaths of at least 55 people at a religious festival

The Ethiopian authorities have detained more than 1,600 people under the state of emergency, a government minister has told the BBC.
A statement, quoted by state-affiliated FBC website, lists arrests in the Oromia and Amhara regions, which have recently seen massive demonstrations.
This is in addition to Monday's arrests of 1,000 people near the capital.
A six-month state of emergency has been declared in the face of a wave of unprecedented anti-government protests.
Under the emergency measures, people can be detained without an arrest warrant for the duration of the state of emergency.
FBC reports that a total of 1,683 people have been arrested in at least five places, including in Shashamene, 250km (155 miles) south of the capital, Addis Ababa, where 450 people have been detained.
It describes most of those arrested as "suspects in the recent violence" and adds that a large number of looted weapons had also been handed over.
Some business people have been detained for closing their shops, as have three teachers for "abandoning school".
There is no mention where the people are being held.

Oromo woman cryingImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe current unrest is the biggest to hit Ethiopia in more than two decades
Ethiopian security personnel at demonstrationImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThere have been months of deadly clashes in Ethiopia

Rights groups say that at least 500 people have died during the anti-government protests over the last 11 months as a result of clashes with security forces.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said last week that could be an accurate estimate, but blamed "anti-peace forces" for the trouble.
Activists have targeted commercial property, including some foreign-owned businesses.
These include warehouses and factories in the town of Sebeta, near Addis Ababa, which were set alight during recent protests, the authorities say.
On Monday, the mayor of the town told FBC that 1,000 people had been arrested in connection with those attacks. He later told the AP news agency that some of those had been released.

Arrest breakdown:

Map showing the regions of Ethiopia

  • 670: West Arsi zone, Oromia
  • 450: Shashamane, Oromia
  • 302: West Guji zone, Oromia
  • 110 "key actors and co-ordinators of the violence": Kelem Wolega zone, Oromia
  • 93: Gondar zone, Amhara
  • 13 businesspersons for closing their shops, 13 for calling for a strike and three teachers for "abandoning school": Gondar zone
  • 29 businesspersons for closing their shops: Bahir Dar, Amhara
Source: FBC

The recent wave of demonstrations began in Oromia last November with people there protesting against a plan to expand Addis Ababa into their region.
That plan has since been dropped, but the protests have continued.
There have also been demonstrations in the country's Amhara region.
The state of emergency was declared on 9 October a week after at least 55 people died in a stampede during an Oromo religious festival which turned into a protest.
Activists blamed the security forces for causing the panic, but the government said protesters in the crowd were responsible.
Human rights groups have in the past criticised Ethiopia for suppressing dissent.
In last year's general election, every seat was won by either a member of the governing EPRDF coalition or one of the party's allies.
The government has recently proposed reforms to the electoral system so that opposition politicians have a better chance of being elected.

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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.