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The solutions for Ethiopians are Ethiopians, Unified or die together

The TPLF government (following the footsteps of its late prime minster) want us to believe that the Meles Zenawi was a progressive and inte...

Friday, June 10, 2016

Ethiopia’s New Cybercrime Law Allows for More Efficient and Systematic Prosecution of Online Speech

The Ethiopian government has passed a dangerous cybercrime law that criminalizes an array of substantive computer activities including the distribution of defamatory speech, spam, and pornography online among others offenses. The law, dubbed the “Computer Crime Proclamation,” was passed, the government says, in an effort to more accurately attune the country’s laws to technological advances and provide the government better mechanisms and procedures to "prevent, control, investigate, and prosecute the suspects of computer crimes."

While the law aims to facilitate and accelerate the way in which the country penalizes computer crimes, it criminalizes legitimate forms of online speech. Based on the law’s exhaustive list of offenses and penalties that are grossly disproportionate to the outlined crimes, it will undoubtedly have a chilling effect and could serve as a tool for silencing political opposition, which relies heavily on online publishing since the government has cracked down on traditional media.

EFF is all too familiar with Ethiopia’s track record of silencing bloggers, human rights defenders, political dissenters, journalists, and activists. Endalk Chala, a founding member of the Zone9 blogging collective, former EFF Google Policy fellow, and Global Voices contributor has firsthand knowledge of the Ethiopian government’s M.O. in exerting control over its people online.

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Ethiopia Stifles Dissent, While Giving Impression Of Tolerance, Critics Say

The Oromo Federalist Congress, an opposition party in Ethiopia, represents the largest ethnic group in the country, the Oromo.

Yet its office in the capital Addis Ababa is virtually deserted, with chairs stacked up on tables. A chessboard with bottle caps as pieces is one of the few signs of human habitation. In a side office, the party's chairman, Merera Gudina, explains why the place is so empty: Almost everyone has gone to prison.

The deputy chairman? Prison. The party secretary general? House arrest. The assistant secretary general? In prison. Six members of the party's youth league? All in prison.

Critics of the Ethiopian government regularly land in prison. So why isn't Merera Gudina, the chairman of the party and an outspoken critic of the regime, also behind bars?

The reason, he says, is what he calls "the game of the 21st century." Less-than-democratic regimes are getting more sophisticated, and instead of completely crushing dissent, they seek to create the appearance of tolerance or even a multiparty democracy, explains Merera. (Ethiopians go by their first names).

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‘Refer Eritrea to ICC For Crime Against Humanity of Persecution’

A new report from the United Nations says "systematic, gross and widespread crimes against humanity", including abuses of religious freedom, have been committed in Eritrea and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court.

Only four religious denominations are tolerated in Eritrea: Eritrean Orthodox, Catholicism, the Lutheran church and Sunni Islam. All other denominations are strictly prohibited.

In its section on religious discrimination, the report, released on 8 June, states: "The Government controls freedom of religion tightly ... Religious practice by members of non-authorised religious groups is prohibited and subject to repression. Following a 2002 decree requiring registration of all religions seeking authorisation to practice, a number of smaller religious groups attempted to register. To date, they have not received authorisation."

The report adds that the government also continues to "control" authorised religious groups. It references the recent arrest and detention (in April) of 10 Orthodox priests for protesting against the continued detention of Orthodox Patriarch Abune Antonio, who was arrested more than 10 years ago.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

The business of aid: there's big money being made fighting poverty, disease and hunger

15 May 2016 17:14Matt Kennard, Claire Provost

THE Grand Cunard Building in Liverpool sits on the edge of the River Mersey and the port city’s historic docklands. It was here that the city was propelled to prosperity as a major hub in the business of transatlantic slavery, profiting from the “triangle trade” by shipping goods and weapons to Africa; shackled slaves to America; and sugar, cotton, and rum back to Liverpool.

This dark history is still echoed in some of the city’s street names. Penny Lane, made famous by The Beatles, is believed to have been named after James Penny, one of the city’s most prominent 18th-century slave traders.

The Cunard Building, built in a style intended to recall grand Italian palaces — complete with marble imported from Tuscany — sits on The Strand, formerly known as Goree Piazza, named after the island off the coast of Senegal that was used as a base to trade slaves.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

'Unbridled violence' in Gambella leaves Ethiopia searching for answers

The South Sudanese attackers arrived on foot before dawn. In the Nuer villages in the grasslands of Gambella in western Ethiopia, people woke to the sound of gunshots and tried to flee, but armed men stopped them. Mothers were shot when they tried to stop the raiders taking their children.

Bol Choul, 26, tried to run away but one of the attackers caught him in his hut and they fought. Bol injured his hand but managed to get out. He had to leave without his wife and children, and his blind father, who was shot but survived.

“I heard my wife’s alive, but one child is taken and one is with her,” Bol said at the main hospital in Gambella region two days after the attacks in the Lare and Jikawo districts.
More than 200 people were killed in the attacks on more than 20 villages, according to Ethiopia’s government. About 100 children were abducted, and livestock was snatched as well.

Unicef said the attack on children constituted a violation of human rights, and condemned “this horrific act of unbridled violence”.

Described by locals as the worst violence they had seen in two decades, the cross-border attacks pose a new challenge to the Ethiopian government, already grappling with growing tensions between central authorities and ethnic populations.

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500 Migrants May Have Died in Sinking of Boat in Mediterranean, U.N. Says

The United Nations refugee agency said on Wednesday that 500 people may have died in the choppy waters of the Mediterranean last week, when a large boat packed with migrants from Africa and the Middle East capsized in an unknown location between Libya and Italy.

If confirmed, it would be the worst humanitarian calamity in Europe’s migrant crisis since more than 800 people died last April near Libyan shores as they tried to reach Italy.

The agency based its findings on interviews with 41 survivors of the shipwreck, although it was not able to verify the episode independently. The migrants — 23 Somalis, 11 Ethiopians, six Egyptians and a Sudanese — were picked up by a merchant ship near Greece on April 16 after days of drifting at sea. They were transferred to a migrant camp in Kalamata, a city on the Greek mainland.

Their stories helped lift a cloud of confusion about the episode ever since rumors of the sinking emerged over the weekend. But they did not resolve the questions of where exactly the ship went down or what the ultimate death toll may be. No national coast guards have reported finding the boat.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Twitter, WhatsApp Down in Ethiopia Oromia Area After Unrest

Internet messaging applications such as WhatsApp haven’t worked for more than a month in parts of Ethiopia that include Oromia region, which recently suffered fatal protests, according to local users.

Smartphone owners haven’t been able to access services including Facebook Messenger and Twitter on the state-owned monopoly Ethio Telecom’s connection, Seyoum Teshome, a university lecturer, said by phone from Woliso, about 115 kilometers (71.5 miles) southwest of the capital, Addis Ababa.

“All are not working here for more than one month,” said Seyoum, who teaches at Ambo University’s Woliso campus. “The blackout is targeted at mobile data connections.”

A spokesman for Twitter Inc. declined to comment on the issue when e-mailed by Bloomberg on Monday. Facebook Inc., which bought WhatsApp Inc. in 2014, didn’t respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

Protests that began in November in Oromia over perceived economic and political marginalization of Ethiopia’s most populous ethnic group led to a crackdown in which security forces allegedly shot dead as many as 266 demonstrators, according to a March report by the Kenya-based Ethiopia Human Rights Project. The government has said that many people died, including security officers, without giving a toll.

One social-media activist, U.S.-based Jawar Mohammed, disseminated information and footage from protests to his more than 500,000 followers on Facebook.

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Deafening Silence from Ethiopia

By Felix Horne, April 12, 2016.

The Ethiopian government is cracking down on journalists and NGOs. Where's the outrage from the international community?

Since November, state security forces have killed hundreds of protesters and arrested thousands in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region. It’s the biggest political crisis to hit the country since the 2005 election but has barely registered internationally. And with the protests now in their fifth month, there is an almost complete information blackout.

A teacher arrested in December told me, “In Oromia the world doesn’t know what happens for months, years or ever. No one ever comes to speak to us, and we don’t know where to find those who will listen to our stories.”

Part of the problem is the government’s draconian restrictions on news reporting, human rights monitoring, and access to information imposed over the past decade. But restrictions have worsened in the last month. Some social media sites have been blocked, and in early March security officials detained two international journalists overnight while they were trying to report on the protests. As one foreign diplomat told me, “It’s like a black hole, we have no idea what is happening. We get very little credible information.”

With difficulty, Human Rights Watch interviewed nearly 100 protesters. They described security forces firing randomly into crowds, children as young as nine being arrested, and Oromo students being tortured in detention. But the Ethiopian media aren’t telling these stories. It’s not their fault. Ethiopian journalists have to choose between self-censorship, prison, or exile. Ethiopia is one of the leading jailers of journalists on the continent. In 2014 at least 30 journalists fled the country and six independent publications closed down. The government intimidates and harasses printers, distributors, and sources.

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Britain is giving more than £1m to train security forces who kidnapped Ethiopia’s ‘Mandela’ as EU envoy to Rwanda admits: ‘I am proud to fund Britain-giving-1m-train-security-forces-kidnapped-Ethiopia-s-Mandela-EU-envoy-Rwanda-admits-proud-fund-dictator.

Britain is giving more than a million pounds to train Ethiopia’s security forces – even though the country’s repressive regime abducted a British citizen and holds him under sentence of death.

Andargachew Tsege, a father of three from North London, was snatched almost two years ago while travelling through an airport in Yemen. After being forced on to a plane to Ethiopia, he was paraded on television and held for months in secret detention.

Yet the Foreign Office is spending £500,000 on a master’s programme in ‘security sector management’ run by Cranfield University in Ethiopia – a one-party state accused of horrific human rights abuses. Another £546,500 is being spent by the Ministry of Defence to help support the Ethiopian Peace Support Training Centre, which opened last year.

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ethiopia: Where do we go from here?

NARIOBI (HAN) April 7. 2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. By Teshome Abebe (PhD) The following text of the speech was presented at Vision Ethiopia Conference on March 27, 2016. Because of time limitations, some paragraphs may not have been presented. I attended the conference as an academic only representing myself, and not as a member of a political party or any other group. As a result, the views expressed are mine alone. No financial support was requested or received from any individual or group, and my assignment was to respond to the following questions:
Quo Vadis? Where Do We Go From Here? Who Should Do What to Guarantee Democracy, Transition, and Unity in Post Conflict Ethiopia?

1. Background

Where We Have Been

There is no need to dwell too long on this part of my presentations, as all of you know so well where we have been over the past many decades. Suffice it to state that part of the failures in our past have to do with the excessive need to maintain and exercise power by the Atse Haile Selassie regime as well as by the Derg. In both cases, we have witnessed that they stayed in power too long; refused to listen to the citizenry; and never prepared the country for a peaceful transition of power in any meaningful manner. The result has been very familiar: assume power by force; get chased out of office by force. The price the nation has had to pay for this state of affairs or dysfunction has been enormous. We have lost too many and too much both in lives and treasury; we have lost enormously in opportunity cost; and for all intents and purposes, the nation is still backward: we still can’t feed ourselves; and we have taught the young an incredibly bad lesson: that disordered force is the norm in Ethiopia. In my opinion, this is a truly sad state of affairs. On this, I am certain that there is general agreement on all sides.

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