Thursday, July 2, 2015

Eritrea faces more UN scrutiny, a step closer to global court

GENEVA: Eritrea faces a second year of scrutiny by human rights investigators after the U.N. body overseeing them extended their mission on Thursday, a decision that may put the government at risk of referral to the International Criminal Court.

The U.N. Human Rights Council asked the independent investigators to use the time to consider if the Horn of Africa country was committing "crimes against humanity" - a level of offence that can be prosecuted by the global tribunal.

Eritrea's envoy to the Geneva-based rights council described the decision as "politicised" and dismissed an earlier report detailing testimony of widespread torture, sexual violence, forced labour and mass surveillance as unfounded and biased.

Eritrea is one of the poorest countries in the world and around 5,000 of its citizens flee every month to try and join migrants heading towards Europe, according to the United Nations.

Somalia, which formally asked the U.N. council to extend the investigation of its near neighbour Eritrea, has regularly accused Eritrea of backing militants on its a territory, a charge Asmara rejects. Djibouti, which shares a border with Eritrea, also backed the resolution.

The investigators, who submitted a report last month, had recommended that the council extend their remit to decide whether crimes against humanity had been committed.

Read more

Friday, June 26, 2015

Unexpected turbulence at Dublin Airport: seven passengers on inaugural flight from Ethiopia claim asylum

Are they the member of Ethiopian airlines? that is laughable

A Garda spokeswoman this morning confirmed that it was five adults and two children that claimed asylum.

“We are working with Ethiopian Airlines to ensure proper processes are in place for people coming into the country,” she said.

The new service from Addis Ababa stops in Dublin en route to Los Angeles and the maiden flight took place on Saturday.

It is understood that the passengers disembarked and made their way to Dublin Airport’s immigration gates where they claimed asylum.

They reportedly arrived at the desk without ID or travel documentation.

A spokeswoman for Ethiopian Airlines this morning insisted that all passengers on the flight had full legal documents when they boarded in Addis Ababa but said that the airline does not comment on individual cases.

“Ethiopian Airlines has been operating for over 40 years in Europe and Dublin is its 11th City.

“We only carry passengers with full legal documents and appropriate visas. We also carry out extra checks when in doubt and take guidance from appropriate immigration teams of the destination country we operate to, if needed,” she said.

An event to mark the airline’s first flight through Dublin had been taking place at the Departures gate a DAA spokeswoman said.

read more

Andy Tsege: Foreign secretary warns Ethiopia over treatment of Briton languishing on death row in the country

Ethiopia has been warned by the foreign secretary over its detention of British death-row inmate Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, as Philip Hammond attacked Addis Ababa's behaviour as "not acceptable".

Using strong, undiplomatic language, Mr Hammond renewed a call for Addis Ababa to grant British embassy officials access to the opposition leader and British national, adding that he was “concerned” for Ms Tsege’s welfare.

Ms Tsege, a 60-year-old British national, was arrested last year while travelling through Yemen and extradited to Ethiopia. He was sentenced to death in absentia in 2009 for his involvement with an opposition political group.

This week marks the first anniversary of Mr Tsege’s solitary confinement in a secret jail, with concerns growing for the state of mind of the father of three.

Now Mr Hammond has told his Ethiopian opposite number, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, that the treatment of Mr Tsege risks diplomatic consequences.

The foreign secretary said in a statement: “I am deeply concerned that, a year after he was first detained, British national Andargachew Tsege remains in solitary confinement in Ethiopia without a legal process to challenge his detention.

Read more

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ethiopia denies land giveaways to Sudan

The Ethiopian government admits that they gave Ethiopian land for SUDAN
A number of opposition parties accuse the ruling EPRDF-led Ethiopian government of offering large territories of the country to Sudan in order to ease the tension which started in 2001 when the two neighbours tried to re-demarcate their boundary.

However, the Ethiopian government says it only gave back a lands occupied in 1996 which belongs to Sudanese farmers adding no single individual from both sides was displaced at the borders as a result.

Ethiopian officials further argue that Ethiopia and Sudan were only implementing prior agreements signed on border demarcation and there are no land given away to Sudan as had been reported by some Medias.

The deputy prime minister further said that border issues with Sudan could be raised but the government of Ethiopia has the right and duty to keep and maintain the sovereignty of the nation.

He added that the major objectives of such accusations are to create a gap among top leadership; thereby, attempt to jeopardize nation’s development efforts.

Read more

Allies Win All Declared Parliament Seats

Mr. President Are you seriously considering visiting Ethiopia? The country is a joke, laughable and crazy place please, do not support these idiotic African despots, Mr. Hailmariam is a symbol without any meaningful power so why you are wasting your precious time? they will show you what you want to see but the basic stuff is not there

Ethiopia’s ruling party and its allies won all 546 seats in the Horn of Africa’s federal parliament where results have been counted after elections last month, the electoral authority said.
The result from only one seat in the southern Ethiopian district of Bonga hasn’t been declared yet because polling there was delayed, Merga Bekana, chairman of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, told reporters Monday in the capital, Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front and it allied parties also won all 1,984 of the seats announced for the country’s regional legislatures, with three remaining from the Bonga district, Merga said.

Ethiopia's higher-eduction boom built on shoddy foundations

Ethiopia’s higher education infrastructure has mushroomed in the last 15 years. But the institutions suffer from half-written curriculums, unqualified – but party-loyal – lecturers, and shoddily built institutions. The rapid growth of Ethiopia’s higher education system has come at a cost, but it is moving forward all the same.

Twenty years ago the Ethiopian government launched a huge and ambitious development strategy that called for “the cultivation of citizens with an all-round education capable of playing a conscious and active role in the economic, social, and political life of the country”. One of the principal results of Ethiopia’s agricultural development-led industrialisation strategy (ADLI) has been a rapid expansion in the country’s higher education system. In 2000 there were just two universities, but since then the country has built 29 more, with plans for another 11 to be completed within two years.

read more

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The brutal dictatorship the world keeps ignoring

On Monday, the United Nations released the results of a year-long investigation into human rights in Eritrea. What it found was horrific. Detailing "systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations," the U.N. commission of inquiry argued that Eritrea was operating a totalitarian government with no accountability and no rule of law.

"The commission also finds that the violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture), national service and forced labor may constitute crimes against humanity," the report said.

However, it appears the report failed to produce any mainstream outrage. Unlike similar U.N. reports on alleged crimes against humanity in North Korea, or online criticism of human rights abuses in places such as Saudi Arabia or Qatar, the horrific accusations against Eritrea didn't produce a viral outcry.

Why not? It certainly doesn't seem to be because of the severity of the accusations. Crimes against humanity are pretty much as serious as you can get, and it's hard to read the United Nations' full report and not be shocked.

It's hard to imagine now, but hopes were initially high for Eritrea in 1993 after it gained independence from Ethiopia after 30 years of civil war. Since then, however, President Isaias Afwerki has clamped down and allowed no room for an opposition. The U.N. report described a Stasi-like police state that leaves Eritreans in constant fear that they are being monitored.

Read more

Monday, June 8, 2015

An Ethiopian Writer Who Refused to Remain Silent

In April 2014, nine bloggers and journalists were arrested in Ethiopia. Several of these men and women had worked with Zone9, a collective blog that covered social and political issues in Ethiopia and promoted human rights and government accountability. And four of them were Global Voices authors. In July 2014, they were charged under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. They have been behind bars ever since, their trial postponed time and again.

This marks the fourth post in our series – “They Have Names” – that seeks to highlight the individual bloggers who are currently in jail. We wish to humanize them, to tell their particular and peculiar stories. This story comes from Nwachukwu Egbunike, a Nigerian poet, writer, and blogger who has worked with Global Voices since 2011.

Befeqadu Hailu is an Ethiopian writer who could not quiet his conscience in the face of brutality and human rights violations in his country. For this, he is currently in behind bars.

His novel, Children of Their Parents won the 2012 Burt Award for African Literature. He also writes poetry. It seemed only natural that his passion found visible expression in blogging, and that he became a co-founder of the Zone9 bloggers collective.

befeqe book

Using the Internet, Befeqadu personified those eternal words of the grandfather of African literature, Chinua Achebe: “an artist, in my understanding of the word, should side with the people against the Emperor that oppresses his or her people.” For doing this, Befequadu was deprived of his freedom.

read more

Eritrea committing crimes against humanity, horrific abuses, UN probe says.... Eritrean despot no place to hide!

Eritrea may have committed crimes against humanity, a year-long UN human rights inquiry said in a report describing extrajudicial killings, widespread torture, sexual slavery and enforced labour.

The report detailed horrific torture, including electric shock, near drowning, sexual abuse and forcing people to stare at the burning sun for hours.

Its nearly 500-page report details how the country, under Isaias Afwerki's iron-fisted regime for the past 22 years, has created a repressive system in which people are routinely arrested at whim, detained, tortured, killed or go missing.

Slavery-like practices are routine and torture is so widespread that the commission said it could only conclude that the government's policy was to encourage its use.

"Systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed in Eritrea with impunity under the authority of the government," said Sheila Keetharuth, one of the three commission members.

"The commission concludes that the government is accountable for the widespread torture inflicted on Eritreans throughout the Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah country," the report said.
Eritrea effectively enslaves people by a system known as "national service", but which really involves "arbitrary detention, torture, sexual torture, forced labour, absence of leave", the report said.

National service is supposed to last 18 months, but the commission spoke to one witness who had fled after 17 years.

Witnesses reported people being executed for trying to avoid being drafted into service as recently as 2013, it said.

Read more

UN accuses Eritrea of horrific abuses.... the Eritrean despot no place to hide

June 8, 2015

Geneva (AFP) - Eritrea's government is responsible for systematic and widespread human rights abuses on an almost unprecedented scale, driving some 5,000 Eritreans to flee every month, a UN investigation said Monday.

Wrapping up a year-long probe, a UN commission of inquiry on the human rights situation in Eritrea described a nightmare-like society in the authoritarian Horn of Africa state.

The report detailed horrific torture, including electric shock, near drowning, sexual abuse and forcing people to stare at the burning sun for hours.

Its nearly 500-page report details how the country, under Isaias Afwerki's iron-fisted regime for the past 22 years, has created a repressive system in which people are routinely arrested at whim, detained, tortured, killed or go missing.

A system of indefinite conscription of all Eritreans also forces many to toil in slave-like conditions in the military and other state jobs, sometimes for decades.

"Systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed in Eritrea with impunity under the authority of the government," said Sheila Keetharuth, one of the three commission members.

Read more