Friday, April 13, 2007

Millennium Challenge Series#28- Managing Nature and Nurture- the Horn this week

Dear Patriotic Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia:

This week presents the best example of the common challenges of the Earth and the Horn in particular- that is managing the challenges of nature and nurture.

Attached below is current news about the Horn where the Economist of Britain, Irin of UN and Associated Press journalists document the impact of nature and nurture or what is otherwise termed as the continuous "Natural and Man Made Crisis" on the globe.

The local and international prisoners all want change at any expense and therefore have chosen to change the structure and order of the region by Orange and Green Revolution respectively. Unfortunately, they were not prepared well and so they lost their revolution to prison terms and constitutional order where transparency and accountability demands that they are made accountable. Perhaps the sane people of the region have a better deal compared to the incompetence that is witnessed in Dire Dawa. Two disastrous floods in a year and no preparation and no lesson. This is a governance that has to go!

There comes nature with its fury and the flush floods for the second time in a year has made lots of people homeless and some might have even lost their well being. Here again, no lessons learned from past experience and the local governance has to be put to task. A governance that does not learn from its mistakes should make way for a better governance. Heads should roll. We should not compensate for incompetence at any time. The people of Dire Dawa deserve better governance that prepares for "Flash Floods"! Imagine if the Mujaheddin descend on it like they did to Mogadishu where will the Dire Dawa Governance be?

Now back to the so called Political Prisoners! If the journalists are free after almost 18 months, do they have recourse for Civil Case where they will be compensated for the "lost opportunity of freedom, productivity and most importantly their good name?

Where does the justice arm stop? One cannot keep a set of people for over 18 months under false pretext and eventually say, sorry, we were mistaken and you are free. Some one has to pay for those mistakes. This is where real justice is experienced so that such mistakes are never repeated again. As the Governance of Dire Dawa cannot say we were not warned by the first disastrous flash floods, the justice in Addis, cannot say we could not know this people were innocent until we saw the evidence. They should have allowed them at least to defend themselves from their own respective homes without loosing their freedom, liberty and livelihood.

It is time to ask for transparency and accountability- This is critical for both the Dire Dawa Governance and the Attorney General in Addis who put those now proven innocent people to jail. As the US is struggling with the competency of its Attorney General, Addis Ababa should be concerned about the competency of the legal establishment that puts its people in jail without appropriate evidence and access to judicial system that is fair and transparent.

May the Millennium show us better way of dealing with Nature or Nurture? or better still with the age old "Man made and Natural Disasters" that continue to threaten our existence and civilization.

with regards and prayer for a better alternative and seeking you considered response, please read the following attached news of the week at the Horn

Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc
Partners for Peace and Prosperity,




Source: The Economist
Justice, of sorts
Apr 12th 2007
Some political prisoners have been freed but many more are still in jail

AN ETHIOPIAN federal court judge surprised everyone this week by throwing out the charges of genocide and treason brought against opposition politicians and their allies arising from the violent protests against the general-election results of 2005. The clemency was not all it appeared, but it is good news all the same.

Twenty-five of the 100 or more suspects were freed from prison immediately, most of them journalists and publishers. However, opposition leaders, including Berhanu Nega and Hailu Shawel, remain behind bars.

They now face separate charges of attempting to overthrow the government of President Meles Zenawi through the street protests that led to the deaths of at least 193 civilians and six policemen after the flawed election. An independent inquiry collapsed when several of its judges fled abroad, citing threats and government attempts at a cover-up.

Human-rights groups are heartened by the judge's decision but point out that the remaining charges still carry the possibility of a death sentence or life in prison. Opposition supporters are divided. Some think their leaders should now defend the charges, which they have so far refused to do.

The verdict will relieve foreign diplomats in Addis Ababa, the capital; they have been tying themselves in knots to defend the failings of a government that is one of their largest recipients of aid.

This is particularly true of the United States. Despite the misgivings of some congressmen, who think Mr Meles a dictator, some in the Bush administration see “Christian” Ethiopia (where half the people are in fact Muslim) as a bulwark against Islamist expansion in the Horn of Africa. Proof of that came to light recently with the embarrassing revelation that Ethiopia had been allowed to buy arms from North Korea, despite the UN sanctions against that country that America had insisted on.

The Americans were also indirectly involved in the detention of 41 “terror suspects” in Ethiopian prisons after the rout of Islamist forces in Somalia in January. The Ethiopians, who led the war against the Islamists, say the prisoners were not held secretly and that they had consular and legal representation. But they do admit that American and other foreign intelligence agents interrogated some of them; most of them are now due to be released.

So where are the terrorists who were supposed to have been rounded up after the fall of Somalia's Islamists? Ethiopia is still embroiled in Somalia. Some Somalis say that last week's fighting in Mogadishu, their capital, caused more than 1,000 deaths. But no al-Qaeda people or Somali jihadists were reported killed or captured. Bad news for Ethiopia—and by extension America.
2. ETHIOPIA: Flash flood damages houses in Dire Dawa

Photo: /IRIN
The August 2006 floods forced thousands of families out of their homes
ADDIS ABABA, 12 April 2007 (IRIN) - Several houses were damaged by flood waters in the eastern Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa, 515 km from the capital of Addis Ababa, after heavy rains pounded the area, officials said.

The Thursday morning floods swept over the Addis Ketema and Decahtu suburbs, said Binyam Fikru, public relations officer at Dire Dawa police station. There were no reports of casualties, although the flooding was quite intense.

It is the second time in less that a year that Dire Dawa, Ethiopia's second-largest town with a population of 400,000, suffers floods. In August, at least 250 people died and nearly 10,000 were forced to leave their homes – some 5,524 of whom are still living in tents in the Mariam Sefer area - when floods inundated the town.

Binyam said that the flood hit the city around 1:30 am [local time] and continued to sweep over it for three hours. "Some policemen fired guns and fire fighters used their alarm to wake up the residents," he said.

Many of those who woke up left their homes and spent the night on safe ground. However, a 100m bank in Decahtu burst while other barriers in Addis Ketema were also damaged.

According to the Ethiopian Meteorological Agency, heavy rainfall is expected to fall in the area over the next 10 days.

Binyam said that the police had begun to set up radio communications in Egeneni village, where the water converges from four different sources.

A meeting of top government and local administration officials was held on Thursday to discuss strategies to minimise possible damages, should flood waters hit the area.

Abraham Sahilu, head of the Disaster Prevention and Food Security Office in Dire Dawa, said a committee was formed and that a wall is now being constructed to block water from the main river.

After the 2006 floods, the Dire Dawa interim administration allocated funds to build four banks in the Decahtu, Ashwa, and Hafcat areas of the town. "Residents of Decahtu and Kebele are working on putting sand bags on the river bank," Sahilu told IRIN.
3. Eight foreigners held by Ethiopia in terror hunt


NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Smiling broadly and wearing casual clothes, eight terrorism suspects have been paraded on Ethiopia's state television as the country faces mounting pressure to explain a controversial program to net alleged al-Qaida loyalists.
The detainees, including an American, told the Ethiopian News Agency they were being treated humanely. One said the captors were "like our friends" and another thanked the government for treating them so well.

The Tuesday night broadcast came hours after Ethiopia's government confirmed an Associated Press report that it had detained foreigners as part of an effort to stem terrorism in the Horn of Africa region.
Ethiopia, which has a long history of human rights abuses, disputed charges from rights groups the detentions violate international law. It said the jailings are part of the international war on terrorism and insisted it has the "right to defend itself from this danger."

A key U.S. ally in the region, Ethiopia has a large Christian population, but the country's Muslim community is growing rapidly and officials fear Islamic militants are making inroads.

The detainees were captured in Kenya and Somalia, then moved to Ethiopia on suspicion of having ties to an Islamic militia that Ethiopia's army helped defeat in neighbouring Somalia. Extremists linked to al-Qaida fought on behalf of the Islamists.

Ethiopia initially denied having any foreigners in custody, but U.S. officials told the AP last week that they had questioned some terrorism suspects in Ethiopia.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, the guardian of the Geneva Conventions that protect victims of war, has tried unsuccessfully to meet with the detainees, ICRC spokesman Patrick Megevand said Wednesday.

In the broadcast, the prisoners offered a glowing image of Ethiopia.

"My treatment is good. No problems," said Amir Mohammed Meshal, 24, a U.S. citizen whose transfer to Ethiopia by Kenyan authorities drew formal protests from U.S. diplomats earlier this year.

Muhibitabo Clement Ibrahim, a Rwandan, said: "I do appreciate everything. The treatment here is very good. Ethiopians are very sociable and they respect human rights."

And Munir Awad, a Swedish citizen of Lebanese descent, said: "They treat us very well, they are like our friends."

The news agency also provided a photo of the men, smiling and wearing T-shirts and track suits with their arms around each other. The location and date of the photo were not given.

In New Jersey, Meshal's father, Mohamed Meshal, said he had not seen the television footage but called it a "publicity stunt" that seemed designed to improve Ethiopia's image.

"My main concern is that my son is freed. That's my main concern. If they give them two minutes of publicity, fine, so be it," he said in a telephone interview from Tinton, N.J., where he lives.

The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, said this week it had no comment on the detentions.
A spokeswoman for Sweden's Foreign Ministry, Petra Hansson, wouldn't comment specifically on the TV footage, but said: "A person who is not accused of a crime should be released."

The Red Cross said showing prisoners of war on television or otherwise exposing them to public curiosity violates the Geneva Conventions.

There has been no official determination about whether the detainees are PoWs. Some were swept up by Ethiopian troops that allied with Somalia's UN-backed interim government to defeat the Islamic militia. Others were deported from Kenya, where many Somalis have fled the violence in their homeland.

The Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Ministry said Tuesday that 29 of 41 foreign detainees had been ordered released by the government and that five already had been let go. The ministry said only 12 foreign detainees would remain in custody after the next round of releases.

It was not clear from Tuesday's report if the eight men shown on television would remain in custody or be freed.

Human Rights Watch, which has accused the Ethiopian government of running a secret detention program, said it thinks Ethiopia is holding more suspects than it says and condemned the decision to show the detainees on TV.

"Ethiopia's donors, like the European Union and United States, should be very concerned about the fact that Ethiopia is putting these people on TV before they have had access to independent monitors like the Red Cross or lawyers or even due process," said Tom Porteous, the British-based director of the rights group.

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