Friday, October 21, 2016

State of emergency likely to ramp up repression in fractured Ethiopia

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.

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Ethiopia Travel Warning

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Ethiopia due to ongoing unrest that has led to hundreds of deaths, thousands of arrests, as well as injuries and extensive property damage, especially in Amhara and Oromia States. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services in many parts of the country is limited by the current security situation.

The Government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency effective October 8, 2016. An October 15 decree states that individuals may be arrested without a court order for activities they may otherwise consider routine, such as communication, consumption of media, attending gatherings, engaging with certain foreign governments or organizations, and violating curfews. The decree prohibits U.S. and other foreign diplomats from traveling farther than 40 kilometers outside of Addis Ababa without prior approval from the Government of Ethiopia, which severely affects the U.S. Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens. The full text of the decree implementing the State of Emergency is available on the U.S. Embassy’s website.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Why the ‘planned’ human rights violation in Ethiopia should be a global concern

The Ethiopian government has announced the rules that will guide the 6-month state of emergency declared last week. The conditions bar diplomats from going beyond 40km outside the country’s capital city of Addis Ababa because of “their own safety”.
The government has also categorized posting about the country’s situation on Facebook and other social media as a criminal offence. Unfortunately, these deliberate human rights violations that should be a global concern are yet to be seriously condemned globally.
Other things outlawed during this period in Ethiopia include broadcast media. Ethiopians cannot watch the TV channels Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio and Oromia Media Network, which are both based outside the country. The government says those media belong to “terrorist organisations”.

There are also reports that listening to other foreign media that have constantly reported the crisis in Ethiopia has also been banned and criminalized. Protests have also been banned in the country and a 6pm – 6am curfew imposed.
The Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency last week Sunday. Ventures Africa explained that a state of emergency may be less effective and the Ethiopian government will need more than this suppressive approach to restoring order to the country.
The latest rules guiding the state of emergency are items that amount to human rights violation that has been deliberately put together by Ethiopia and targeted against the Oromia people. The United States, a major ally to the East African country, has also refused to condemn this attack on human rights.

Since the protest in Ethiopia began about a year ago, the number of people killed has been put at no fewer than 500. If the silence from international stakeholders persists, the people of Ethiopia, particularly those with dissent voices to the government would be a subjected to the worst human rights violation ever witnessed in Ethiopia in recent times.


UN chief voices concern over Ethiopia

New York - The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is following developments in Ethiopia with concern after a series of measures under a state of emergency targeted the media and diplomats, his spokesperson said.
The government declared a six-month state of emergency on October 8 in response to an unprecedented wave of opposition protests.
Ban is "following the developments in Ethiopia with concern, including the declaration of a state of emergency," said the UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.
"We are aware of the latest reports about new measures being imposed and are looking at the available information."

The UN chief urged Ethiopian authorities to uphold human rights and called for calm and restraint.
The country's Oromo and Amhara communities - which together make up 60% of the population  have been protesting for nearly a year against marginalisation.

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Ethiopia: Draconian measures will escalate the deepening crisis

Heavy-handed measures by the Ethiopian government will only escalate a deepening crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 800 protesters since protests began in November 2015, said Amnesty International today after the government issued a directive imposing wide-ranging restrictions as part of a state of emergency.

The directive authorises arrests without warrants, as well as rehabilitation measures. When such measures have been used in the past, they have led to arbitrary detention of protesters at remote military facilities without access to their families and lawyers.
“These emergency measures are extremely severe and so broad that they threaten basic human rights that must not be curtailed even under a state of emergency,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“These measures will deepen, not mitigate, the underlying causes of the sustained protests we have seen throughout the year, which have been driven by deep-seated human rights grievances. These grievances must be properly addressed by the authorities. Further crackdowns and human rights violations will only make the situation worse.”

It is the government’s failure to constructively engage with the protesters that continues to fuel these protests. It must now change course

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Posting on Facebook is now a crime under Ethiopia’s state of emergency

This is clearly a sign of defeat and this government failed to handle the Ethiopian internal affairs and have no solutions for the Ethiopian people on the current issues, so this is a sign of defeat and they have to go

A state of emergency declared in Ethiopia last week is growing more draconian by the day. Posting updates on the current status of the country, hit by anti-government protests since last November, is now a crime, the government said over the weekend.

Watching Oromia Media Network and Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio, outlets run by the Ethiopian diaspora supportive of the protesters, is also illegal.

“The military command will take action on those watching and posting on these social media outlets,” Siraj Fegessa, Ethiopia’s minister of defense, said on state television. Those who violate the terms of the state of emergency risk imprisonment of three to five years.

Ethiopia’s largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and the Amhara, are protesting what they see as the marginalization of their rights and freedoms by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), dominated by the Tigray minority. After a week of intensified protests that left businesses and government property destroyed, prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared a state of emergency on Oct 9 for the next six months.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

The Evolving Hybrid War on Ethiopia is All About China!

The regime change riots and torching of foreign companies which preceded Ethiopia’s imposition of a six-month-long state of emergency have more to do with waging a Hybrid War against China’s Maritime Silk Road and its Horn of Africa component than they do with airing out local socio-political grievances.

Crisis Background and the Origins of Hybrid War

Africa’s second-most populous country and one of the world’s fastest growing economies has been in sporadic turmoil over the past 10 months as its largest plurality violently agitated over what it claimed to be socio-political injustices. The Oromo began protesting late last year because of opposition to the central government’s plan to expand the capital of Addis Ababa into their region. The problem arose because the municipality is entirely surrounded by Oromia Region, so it’s impossible for Ethiopia’s most important city to develop in the future without reaching some sort of compromise with the neighboring locals about their land rights.

The immediacy with which some of the Oromo, which are Ethiopia’s largest plurality at an estimated one-third of the population, took to violence indicates that there’s a deeper undercurrent of long-running discontent present in the community. This can be traced back to the simmering resentment that the most extreme members of some of the country’s identity groups have to Ethiopia’s post-civil war internal reorganization and subsequent federalization, which some of their representatives believe can only be remedied through regime change, secessionism, and/or another civil war.

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In Ethiopia’s war against social media, the truth is the main casualty

The annual U.N. General Assembly meeting provides an unparalleled opportunity for world leaders to take to the bully pulpit of the U.N. chamber and trumpet their country’s achievements or slam their enemies.

Last month, presidents, kings and prime ministers talked about the dangers of climate change, progress made in development goals, the threats of terrorism or their responses to the global immigration crisis. But when Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn took the podium Sept. 21, the global challenge he had in mind was perhaps unexpected: social media.

There were many other things he could have discussed, including Ethiopia’s impressive investments in infrastructure like hydroelectric dams and its high growth rates — or even a devastating drought that the government and its international partners have confronted this past year.
“We are seeing how misinformation could easily go viral via social media and mislead many people, especially the youth,” he said. “Social media has certainly empowered populists and other extremists to exploit people's genuine concerns and spread their message of hate and bigotry without any inhibition.”

There were many other things he could have discussed, including Ethiopia’s impressive investments in infrastructure like hydroelectric dams and its high growth rates — or even a devastating drought that the government and its international partners have confronted this past year.
“We are seeing how misinformation could easily go viral via social media and mislead many people, especially the youth,” he said. “Social media has certainly empowered populists and other extremists to exploit people's genuine concerns and spread their message of hate and bigotry without any inhibition.”

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ethiopia can't promise restoration of mobile internet, social media – Danish diplomat

The Danish ambassador to Ethiopia, Mette Thygesen, has disclosed that the Ethiopian government has failed to give concrete promises on when mobile internet and social media service will be restored.

Thygesen who is the Danish representative for Djibouti, South Sudan and Sudan said the move was disclosed when the Ministry of Communication held a briefing in the capital Addis Ababa to update diplomats on the state of affairs in the country.

The government shutdown mobile data and social media in the wake of protests that followed a deadly stampede at the Irreecha festival in the restive Oromia region. Access to fixed line internet was relaxed but mobile internet remains off.

Ethiopians have had to deal with internet cuts since late last year when anti-government protests – largely organized via social media – hit the Amhara region. The protests extended to the Oromia region this year.

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have called on the government to restore internet access. The United States (US) Department of State in a statement released on Wednesday said it was concerned over developments in the country.

‘‘We are troubled by the potential impact of the decision to authorize detention without a warrant and to further limit freedom of expression, including by blocking Internet access, prohibiting public gatherings, and imposing curfews,’‘ the statement said.

The government has in the past stated that the only condition for the restoration will be ‘when it is safe.’ Internet users in the capital and other regions have confirmed that the internet shutdown is still on.

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Egypt's Sisi denies supporting opposition in Ethiopia

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denied on Thursday Ethiopian accusations that his country was supporting the opposition after a wave of violent protests that left hundreds dead.

Ethiopia accused "elements" in Eritrea, Egypt and elsewhere on Monday of being behind protests over land grabs and human rights that prompted the government to declare a state of emergency.

The unrest has cast a shadow over Ethiopia, where a state-led industrial drive has created one of Africa's fastest-growing economies, but whose government also faces criticism at home and abroad over its authoritarian approach.

Ethiopia's government spokesman said Egypt, which is embroiled in a row with Addis Ababa over sharing Nile waters, was a source of backing for armed gangs though that backing may not come from state actors.

Sisi denied those accusations.

"Egypt does not conspire against anyone," he said in a speech to the military.

"I want to assure the brothers in Ethiopia that Egypt has never ever offered any support to the opposition and will not carry out any conspiratorial action against Ethiopia."

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