Monday, July 30, 2007

Millennial Challenges: The Former Ethiopian President Gidada admits guilt and wants to be accountable.

Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity-;

Re: Inciting hatred without absolution- Negaso Gidada volunteers and Accepts Guilt and Wants to be Punished or to be accountable as he put it....

This a very interesting story unfolding in Minnesota. The former President claims there was a lot of injustice done to Ethiopia under his watch and wants to be accountable if Ethiopia decides to charge the case.

Will the current Ethiopian Government Charge Negaso Gidada based on his own admission. Will this be an issue at the next meeting of Ethiopian Parliament.

This is a very good and interesting development, accpeting responsiblity for crimes committed under ones watch. Is he really saying he is reponsible or trying to pass the buck off and yet point fingers at others.

Please read the following interesting "Ethiopian parliamentarian summer brake activities,.....

Twin Cities Planet, Minnesota

Posted: Sat, 07/28/2007

Plight of ethnic groups in Ethiopia discussed at U

By Abdi Aynte , Minnesota Monitor

15,000 Oromo in Minnesota include many victims of
torture, persecution.

Seldom does a former head of state express remorse
about crimes committed under his watch, but that's
exactly what Dr. Negasso Gidada, the former president
of Ethiopia, told more than 100 people Thursday
evening at the University of Minnesota.

Speaking at the Oromo second annual international
human rights conference, Gidada said he's "ready to be
accountable for crimes I committed … and those
committed by the Ethiopian government" during his

Most of the people in attendance were Oromo, the
largest of Ethiopia's 86 ethnic groups. Gidada also is
an Oromo, but the current regime is dominated by a
minority ethnic group called the Tigre. He held the
largely ceremonial post of president between 1995 and

Now an opposition member in the Ethiopian parliament,
Gidada admitted that the "rule of law was enforced
brutally" while he was president. But he reiterated
that he couldn't stop most of those crimes, because
the power lied with the Tigre prime minister.

More than 15,000 Oromo refugees, the largest anywhere
in the country, live in Minnesota, according to the
Oromo-American Citizenship Council, which helped
organize the event.

The State Department's human rights index ranks
Ethiopia, a close U.S. ally in the war on terror, as
one of the worst human rights violators in the world.
Oromo-Americans said they are particularly
disappointed with how the United States turned its
back on the protection of human rights in their

Ethiopia is already fighting a proxy war for the U.S.
in Somalia, said Professor Abdi Samatar, a panelist
who teaches geography and global studies at the
University of Minnesota.

"With blessings from Washington, the Ethiopian
military killed thousands in Somalia since January,
displaced 450,000 and destroyed one-third of
Mogadishu's infrastructure," said Samatar, who studied
Ethiopia closely as a Fulbright scholar seven years

A study by the Minneapolis-based Center for Victims of
Torture found in 2004 that 69 percent of all Oromo men
and 37 percent of women in Minnesota were victims of
torture -- one of the highest percentages among
refugees in the state.

`Color of your passport matters'

Minnesota is also home to the largest Anuak ethnic
population in the United States. When Ethiopian
soldiers were in the middle of killing more than 400
Anuak people in three days in 2003, Obang Metho,
executive director of the Anuak Justice Council,
called the U.S. State Department.

According to Metho, who also spoke at the event, the
woman who answered his 1 a.m. call told him: "'People
are killed over there all the time,'" and the phone
went dead. Metho, who now lives in Canada, called back
five minutes later. The woman chided him but before
she could take her next breath, he interjected that
U.S. citizens could be among the dead. Then he hung up
on her.

The woman called back with a frantic question: "'Do
you know where they live? Their Social Security
numbers?'" Metho supplied whatever information he had.

Less than two hours later, he received a call from the
U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa, informing him that staff
members were on the way to Gambella, where the
massacre was under way. But they needed his help.

"At that time, I learned that the color of your
passport matters," he said.

Hope in legislation

Members of the Ethiopian community in Minnesota and
across the nation, who organized a massive rally
Thursday morning at the state Capitol, are hoping for
eventual passage of a bill that cleared a subcommittee
in the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

The bill, authored by Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J.,
connects U.S. financial and military assistance to
Ethiopia to improved human rights, freedom of the
press and democracy.

U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who spoke at the
Oromo human rights conference through video uplink,
told the audience that he supports the bill.

"Those who committed human rights violations ought to
be brought to justice," he said.


Questions shower Ethiopian ex-leader
By Jake Grovum
The Minnesota Daily / August 1, 2007
Remedan Yuya fled Ethiopia to escape the hardship and strife brought upon the Oromo people by the Ethiopian government.

Dr. Negasso Gidada, an Oromo himself, served as president of that government from 1995 to 2001. He is currently a member of the Ethiopan parliament.

"When I saw him, what I feel, (he is) somebody who tried to kill me, who tried to hunt me back home, I escaped from that," said Yuya, an activist and Oromo Studies Association member. "My sisters, my brothers, my mom, my father, because of him, disappeared. Then, how can I tolerate (him) over here?"

Last week, hundreds of Oromos attended two conferences at Coffman Union to discuss human rights issues facing the Oromo community in Ethiopia.

Gidada spoke at both conferences; Yuya attended one.

"When Sept. 11 happened, I was a student in college. I was made sick by that day because of all the people dying in America," Yuya said. "That's the same I feel when I see (Gidada)."

The situation in Ethiopia

The Oromo people have faced persecution in Ethiopia since a transitional government gave way to the

Tigray Peoples' Liberation Front in the mid-'90s, under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the TPLF have remained in power ever since.

"We had party members in the countryside who were beating people, for example taking out the whole village, maybe about 5,000 people, and have them sit down in the sun for five days," Gidada said. "(They were) accusing them of hiding the (Oromo Liberation Front) people and they were violating the human rights of the whole village."

The Oromo Liberation Front works for the human rights of the Oromo people. In Ethiopia, membership in the group is viewed as illegal by the governing regime.

Gidada said while he was president there were approximately 25,000 Oromos held as political prisoners for five or six years.

"I know that in 2000, when the new president was elected … he gave amnesty to about 1,000 people," he said. "The rest, we don't know where they are."

The U.S. Department of State issued a human rights report on the Ethiopian government in 1999. The report said the government's human rights record "generally was poor," and despite improvements, "serious problems remain."

In the Ethiopian government, the presidency is mainly a symbolic position which serves as head of state, but Gidada said he participated in all decisions made by the ruling party.

Gidada said he is prepared to accept personal and collective accountability for human rights violations.

"How many have died … are crippled … in prison and how many have run away to other countries because of the brutality of the government, I do not know exactly," he said. "What I can only say at the moment is I am very sorry."

Last week's conferences, The International Oromo Human Rights Conference and the Oromo Studies Association annual conference were both co-sponsored by the University's Oromo Student Union.

There are an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 Oromos living in the Twin Cities and more than 90 percent have refugee status, according to the Oromo Community of Minnesota.

Oromo students react

Oromo Student Union secretary, Hussein Waliye, lived in Ethiopia while Gidada was in office. Waliye said his father was imprisoned "pretty much for being Oromo."

"Every time and anytime they want, they'd just put him in jail," he said. "Every night, even though we were little kids, we would be sitting in the house wondering what's going to happen to our dad."

Eventually the government gave his father a final notice to leave the country. Officials threatened him, saying if they suspected he was involved with the OLF, he would be killed.

Gidada also played a role in the formation of the current government during four years of transitional government. Because of this, Waliye said Gidada has significant responsibility.

"Him coming here and saying sorry and then criticizing the current government doesn't make any sense to me, because he's the one that put this government in place," he said. "I have more blame on him than any Ethiopian president that came after him because without him (they) wouldn't be able to stand on their feet today."

Oromo Student Union President Gada Beshir said he once shared that distrust of Gidada and other members of the regime. But a trip to South Africa changed his mind. There, he studied the way that country reconciled following years of apartheid.

"Going to South Africa, personally, that changed me around 180 degrees," Beshir said. "I would like to see a true reconciliation commission based on the South African model that brings the society together."

Despite his optimism for the future of Ethiopia, Beshir admits Gidada's apology is not enough for him to forgive.

"As a student leader, I decided to tolerate him and accept him," he said. "When it comes to the excuse and apology that he made in front of the public, I just know that's not enough."

Community reaction

Oromos make up nearly 40 percent of the Ethiopian population, according to the CIA's World Factbook.

Because he is Oromo, Gidada's role was part of the reason why the regime was able to gain power, Nuro Dedefo, chairperson of the OLF in the United States, said.

"Because he held that status (he) gave legitimacy for the TPLF regime," Dedefo said. "He's a doctor, he should know better man, he should know better."

While Gidada's position was largely ceremonial, Dedefo said the former president could have done much more while in power.

"He should speak up for the human rights violations committed against the Oromo people," he said. "Once he left the office, whatever he says doesn't fly in my eyes because of the action that government committed. He was part of the regime; he is responsible."

Barbara Frey, director of the University's human rights program, was seated alongside Gidada on the panel held Thursday at the International Oromo Human Rights Conference.

"I found it quite extraordinary that the president chose to come here knowing that he would probably face criticism from his own ethnic community," she said. "It was a very powerful, the most powerful moment in the event, when he personally apologized for his role."

President of the Oromo Studies Association Dr. Gobera Huluka, said Gidada brought a necessary point of view to the conference.

"I am the most idealistic person who believes in the free flow of ideas," he said. "That is the only way we can understand our enemy; we can understand ourselves and we can understand our friends."

Posted: Sat, 07/28/2007 - 22:57

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