As the US Congress is trying to hold a hearing on democratization, good governance and human and economic rights in Ethiopia, a series of papers are appearing providing in sight in the complicated developments of events over the past 15 years./
Here are two contending perspectives: The first is by a Citizen Dubbi who explores the social, political and economic climate of present day Ethiopia. He takes us through a maze of organizational networks both private and public that are thwarting competitive economic developments in the country and about assumed but documented favourable discrimination of one set of people against the majority.
Then the second paper is from an Ethiopian Embassy documenting its frustrations about the HR2003 that penalizes positive human rights, good governance and economic developments in Ethiopia and the region. A special focus is made about the unique US-Ethiopia relationship against the war on terror in this very turbulent region of the world.
As hearings are about education and assessment of situations,this two papers present very interesting perspectives and I invite the readers to consider their validity in reflecting realities in present day Ethiopia.
The challenge remains that there is serious difficulty of accessing accurate information on the country and its people with such contending perspectives all the time. Perhaps, that is why we have hearings.
Belai habte-Jesus,MD, MPH
Global Strategic Enterprises, Inc for Peace and Prosperity (GSE4p&P)
Globalbelai@yahoo.com, Globalbelai@hotmail.com, Globalbelai7@gmail.com
Why the Pit is a Bull: the threat of Tigrean nationalism
August 14, 2007
In my previous writing entitled “TPLF and Tigrean Identity Politics” dated May 25, 2007, I expressed a view that Tigrean nationalism is overtly discriminatory, and it is therefore distinguished by negative manifestations of the Ethiopian integrative power.
Instead of uniting multi-ethnic Ethiopia, the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) leadership has antagonized them, and as such, it has excluded even Tigreans from mainstream Ethiopian political discourse.
In this follow up, necessitated by email feed backs I received, I intend to provide some evidence without encumbering the reader with too much detail that such data would otherwise require.
My previous argument leads to a conclusion that the negative identity formation in which a group (TPLF) defines itself and also others in terms of what it is not, according to a famous sociologist, tends to lead into a "pathological situation of internal violence."
This has occurred on a large scale in the Balkans, Sri Lanka, or the Middle East. The situation in Ethiopia is an even more fitting example with acutely rising consequences.
Tigrean discrimination ignores individual merits based on the victim’s ethnic background, and this serves as a stifling factor for development, killing ideas in a poor country that requires mobilizing all its brain capacities to get rid of the ravaging poverty.
My previous view also suggests that Tigrean discrimination has paradoxically played a very important role of coalescing the discriminated people, pulling together victims who share the same abuse to a united powerhouse capable of undermining or perhaps even toppling the discriminator. Oromos, Somalis, Sidamas, and Amharas, etc. are united in wanting to dethrone the TPLF.
In other words, even a negative integration, integration that is achieved for a reason of shared abuse - threats, hatred, tortures, arrests, and killings is integration of some sort. This natural coalition of the oppressed is as strong as it can effectively resist political opportunism as well as TPLF’s corruptive infiltration.
There is tangible evidence, that creation of a country-wide united national opposition front to this Tigrean domination is targeted by infiltrators from the TPLF dominated regime. But the creation of a broad-based unity has its own weak points that expose it to such manipulations.
The weakest link
The Ethiopian political intolerance, exceptionally violent and intense in its makeup, is nourished by delusional tradition that borders with compulsive disorder.
By and large, it assumes that every human being with opposing opinion, every political group with a dissenting view, is an enemy. This intolerance characterizes the individual activist’s manner so profoundly, that one can observe its manifestations in coffee bar debates, at community gatherings, and even at scholarly meetings.
This is in major part the legacy of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Party (EPRP), the weakest link in the creation of a broad-based opposition against Tigrean domination, i.e., a hazard for political progress in the country.
In a familiarly condescending tone whose authorship must have a thing or two to do with EPRP mentality, one wrote, “The theory of the nation which decomposes Ethiopia by weaving the myths (emphasis mine) of Tigreanism, Eritreanism, Oromoism and so on goes counter to the core experience of the people, …”
After reclaiming Eritrea, an independent country and replacing the well established Ethiopian myth with his own, the author attempts to guard the mythical “framework” by delivering another punch to its contents: “There can be no compromise on the Ethiopian and African framework for citizen expression and engagement.”
The author forces all the Ethiopian cultural and ethnic diversities to either become Ethiopians or Africans of his personal definition of certainly chauvinistic preeminence, or face a wrath of his verdict and imagination – no compromise, we are told in no uncertain terms.
So, vaguely articulated malice of EPRP’s ideology still permeates through the deeds and words of the now senior or middle-aged activists who commenced politics in the 70s as infantile children.
Their politics never stopped growing, but it grew crook! In the 70s, in a bizarre combination of feudal tradition with Marxism, the EPRP offered nothing else to the Ethiopian political roundtable other than winning by killing or dying, even when in its opposition stood a well-armed national army pronouncing its sure demise.
There was no compromise then as now. Blinded by emotional ambition, traits of which are still glaring among its rank and file, the children were too young to fathom the essence of a military balance and too confused to comprehend the impact of a generation’s death.
The military junta was driven insane by their obnoxious and unflinching ambition, and as a result, the junta passed a collective death verdict on the generation.
This in part allowed the military to keep political power for one more decade, leaving behind a scar of historical magnitude. In this sense, the EPRP and the TPLF have little to distinguish them from Khmer Rouge, except that the TPLF, also a teen army that grew to power without growing to the society, is now terrorizing Ethiopia whereas the EPRP resides in old Diaspora minds as a political paranoia.
They do share concealed hate and love for each other; they can’t go against each other, that can’t go for each other either. It is sad to see that neither the politics nor the social evolution of the last thirty years offered any cure to the survivors of the lost generation of Ethiopia that continue diffusing discord throughout all the political establishments of the region.
There is little doubt that most of the destructive vectors and inward fighters in all political fronts and organizations can be traced to this futile ideology in a resistive or adaptive form.
Their relentless propaganda for the unity of Ethiopia on one hand, and equally relentless objection to the unity of Oromos, Amharas, Somalis etc. when not on their own sadistic terms on the other, their objection to the very idea of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD), is a synopsis of their fixation on winning, with extremely poor judgment of their capacity that would enable them to win.
By betraying its own mission and stated goals, the EPRP is acclaimed to be the weakest link of the Ethiopian political opposition against Tigrean domination, and therefore the creation of a better tomorrow for the region.
Facing a disgruntled Ethiopian opposition forces is the TPLF, an organization that has an exceptional talent in further disgruntling opposition forces.
The TPLF has two strong virtues that link it to the Ethiopian political power and shape its capacity to destabilize the opposition. They are its a) military, and b) economy.
a) The military: Strictly speaking, the Ethiopia armed forces are Tigrean no less than the TPLF is Tigrean. The following list makes this argument abundantly clear.
Ministry of Defense Commander of Ethiopian armed forces - Melles Zenawi (Tigrean)
Defense Minister is a non-Tigrean, but this position is constitutionally manned by a civilian, not a military person
Chief of Staff - Samora (Mohamed) Yunis (Tigrean)
Department of Training - Major General Taddese Wored- (Tigrean)
Department of Logistics and Administration - Major General Gezahi Abera - (Tigrean)
Department of Operations - Brigadier General Gebrzgiabher Mebrhatu (Tigrean)
Department of Military Intelligence- Brigadier General Yohannes (John) Gebre
Meskel - (Tigrean) …. Recently appointed as Deputy Commander of Central Command.
This Department will also be commanded by head of operations Brigadier General Gebrezgiabher Mebrhatu (Tigrean).
Commander of the Air Force - Brigadier Molla H. Mariam (Tigirean)
Under the Ministry of Defense there are 5 Ethiopian Army Commanders.
Northern Command (HQ Mekele) - Major General Seare Mekonnen (Tigrean)
North Western Command (HQ Baher Dar) - Brigadier General Abraham Gebre Mariam (Tigrean)
Special Army Command (HQ Dessie-Bure Front) - Birgadier General Teklai Ashebir (Tigrean)
South Eastern Army Command (HQ Harar) - Brigadier General Seyum Hagos (Tigrean)
Central Army Command (HQ Shire Indasilassie) - Major General Taddese Wored (Tigirean - Agaw). Recently, Brigadier General Yohannes G. Meskel also Tigrean.
The Ministry of Defense has 28 Division Commanders.
All but one are Tigreans
Division Commands have 106 Regiments.
98% of the Regiment Commanders are Tigireans
It can be safely argued therefore, that there is no Ethiopian national army but Tigrean.
b) The economy: The Ethiopian economy is controlled by two large conglomerates:
The Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT)
The Ethio-Saudi AI-Amudi-family - Midroc Ethiopia
Of interest to my ongoing argument is EFFORT. We will return to Midroc at another opportune time.
In 1978, the TPLF created the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), a financial umbrella organization of the TPLF, which acted as an NGO despite, headed by a TPLF Central Committee member.
It collected donations from the international community and channeled it to the TPLF, playing a key role in the survival and ultimate victory of TPLF over the Derg.
After the rise of the TPLF to power in 1991, REST was formally registered with the governmental Relief & Rehabilitation Commission in Ethiopia as an NGO.
As the TPLF’s financial backbone, it continued enjoying the state protection, and the restructured organization emerged as the richest “NGO” in the continent. In the summer of 1995, about four years after it took control of central power in Ethiopia, the TPLF established a stronger peer for REST - the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT).
Sources suggest that EFFORT started its business venture with a lofty investment volume of about 2.7 billion birr, - then just under US $1 billion (currently $1 US is about 9 birr).
Through EFFORT, the TPLF has considerably diversified its economic activities and expanded its outreach even to foreign countries.
The European financial maneuver of the TPLF is based in UK where family members are trained and placed in key areas of Ethiopia’s financial institutions. In some cases, they are assigned to a now growing number of internationalized affiliates co-owned or owned by EFFORT, such as the Tower Trading Company (TTC) – a London-based TPLF owned company mandated with money laundering.
New companies continue to emerge, fully or partly owned by EFFORT through an intricate system of shares and investments. By controlling key growth areas, EFFORT has become the soul of the country's economy: agriculture (Hiwot Mechanized Agriculture), industry (Almeda Textiles Manufacturing Sc., Mesfin Industrial Engineering SC.), import-export (Guna Trading House), transport (Trans-Ethiopia SC.), insurance (Africa Insurance SC.), mining (Meskerem Investment SC.), communications (Mega-Net Corporation), banking (Wegagen Bank), just to mention some.
Clearly, TPLF’s business enterprises cover numerous activities including textile, chemicals, pharmaceutical, and food industries. They also cover major service industries such as banking, insurance, transportation, printing, advertising, land developing, import/export, construction, mining, leather products, and farming.
EFFORT is divided into several sectors directed by members of the TPLF Central Committee, like Abadi Zemo for industrial activities, Arkebe Oqubay Mitiku for construction and transportation, and Tewodros Hagos for mining.
The individuals may be moved around, but no non-Tigrean is appointed to EFFORT.
In fact, no non-TPLF Tigrean is appointed to the ranks of EFFORT. Strategic positions of the Federal government that generate large amounts of cash are also led by Tigreans of EFFORT who hold multiple offices.
For example, Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin is chairman of Ethiopian Air Lines, chairman of the Mugher Cement Factory, chairman of the Ambo Water Factory, chairman of EFFORT, and deputy-chairman of the TPLF at the same time. The more trusted individuals are usually offered the more strategic positions.
Although EFFORT is strictly controlled by the TPLF, it is not the only entity owned or controlled by high-ranking TPLF officials or favored Tigrean citizens.
For example, although EFFORT controls WEGAGEN Bank, the TPLF encouraged the creation of DEDEBIT Credit and Savings Institution, headquartered in Meqele and administered by the local government of Tigray.
The bank has numerous financial links with other TPLF controlled businesses of the country. DEDEBIT, as an extension of Rural Credit Program, acquired a near total monopoly over credit to rural areas, mostly farmers.
The financial monopoly over rural Ethiopia has serious political ramifications. In the early 2000s, the main source of the bank was interest from fertilizer.
Farmers were identified, registered, and forced to make a down payment of 25% on the price for the amount of fertilizer. The Bank estimated the amount of fertilizer the farmer supposedly needed. A credit agreement was written with each farmer, and after six months, the bank collected the debt from the farmers with 15% interest.
Business in Tigray is completely closed to non-Tigreans, and all walks of Tigrean businesses are exclusively owned by EFFORT or the local Tigrean government. For example, the trading company GUNA has a near monopoly in sesame and incense wholesale in Tigray whereas TRANS Ethiopia carries all goods designated as relief.
The TPLF also benefits EFFORT by ordering free transfer of funds from government accounts, often under a bogus claim of services that TPLF institutions offered to the public. It allows free flow of goods in the name of EFFORT, without customs and taxes, but EFFORT is allowed to compete with for-profit businesses of the country through its tentacle bureaus.
Thus, Moseb Cement factory was built with public expenditure at a cost of 1.5 billion birr, and a Textile factory in Adwa at 1.2 billion.
However, the incomes from these public investments are fully controlled by the TPLF through EFFORT.
EFFORT also makes extensive use of the credit opportunities offered by the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) and other financial institutions controlled by the government.
The generous provision of credits by CBE to EFFORT is clearly politically influenced and based upon directives issued by the TPLF controlled government of Ethiopia.
When EFFORT defaults in the payment of loans CBE provides relieving credit, obviously upon directives from the Ethiopian government.
In some cases, millions of birr loans obtained by EFFORT are unlawfully delayed or even cancelled.
In a widely publicized case a few years ago, the Vice-Governor of CBE overruled an earlier decision by the credit department of CBE not to grant 40 million birr credit to SUR Construction, a subsidiary of EFFORT.
There is no way escaping the conclusion that the loan was made possible by political intervention from the TPLF regime.
As an almost sole beneficiary of state contracts, EFFORT’s income continues to grow exponentially.
For example, during the Ethio-Eritrean war, EFFORT became the financial wing of the war. MESFIN Engineering supplied water, fuel, and vehicles. TRANS-Ethiopia supplied trucks, and SELAM Bus was in charge of transporting militia.
The income from the war propelled these companies to powerful monopolies of the country in their respective business domains.
EFFORT has now become a self-contained economic state operating on the call of the official government, formally serving the personal appetite of state officials, a phenomena witnessed nowhere in the world. Its assets are protected federally, and its under-the-table contracts are enforced by TPLF’s iron fisted militias.
It has a favored access to government as well as to foreign aid contracts with profitable niches, dominating joint ventures with domestic and foreign investors.
One of the strategic alliances is with Amoudi’s Midroc, which supplies the TPLF with billions of birr through investments.
Midroc buys natural resources of the South including gold and other precious stones from the TPLF with cash, and service contracts at these sites go back to EFFORT.
At a policy level, the Financial Sector Steering Committee (FSSC) serves as an umbrella institute for justification of fund transfers, creating the legal framework for supporting even poorly performing EFFORT auxiliaries, or channeling funds to the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) cash institutes.
EPRDF is a bogus amalgam of Fronts populated with non-Tigrean renegades, created and dominated by the TPLF.
FSSC defines policies and strategies for banks, appoints board of directors and executives for the banks, and routinely monitors their operations.
Thus, the FSSC oversees all government banks, and has full power over their activities. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi chairs this committee. It is a public knowledge that he personally mandated EPRDF companies: Guna, Ambassael, Dinsho, and Wando to take over the sugar company when the plant was privatized.
Interestingly Ato Sebhat who owns Guna, Ato Bereket who owns Ambassel, Ato Girma who owns Dinsho, and Ato Kassu who owns Wando are members of FSSC, and some of these same individuals seat on the Board of CBE that financed these companies.
As a result, all privately owned enterprises competing for the privatization of the plant, Star, Abeba co. etc. were shut out of the competition.
The EFFORT companies are reported to owe billions of birr to Ethiopian banks. In fact, most of the EFFORT companies would not survive without government protection.
In one case, CBE, the Construction and Business Bank, and the Ethiopian Development Bank collectively loaned 1.7 billion birr to EFFORT. According to insiders, the loan has not been paid to date.
The 1.7 billion birr was distributed to Adigrat Pharmaceutical Factory, Adwa Textile Factory, Dashen Brewery, and Mesebo Cement Factory. These and other EFFORT or EPRDF affiliates including TESCO, Tikure Abay, Dansho Transport are constantly in deep financial crisis.
Although the main focus of this paper is private business ventures of the TPLF, it must be noted that Tigray, the TPLF’s home region has inequitably benefited from federal funds.
For example, a recently published paper presents comparative welfare analysis of four Ethiopian regions: Oromia, Amhara, Southern States, and Tigray.
A 2001/2002 data of these regions shows that 42% of children in Tigray are fully vaccinated, where as the percentage is - 10% for Oromia, 15% for Amhara, and 11% for Southern States.
Population to physician ratio is 28,600 for Tigray. This jumps to 60,800 for Oromia, 60,700 for Amhara, and 44,000 for Southern States.
Secondary education enrollment for Tigray is about 25% (a six-fold increase in just a decade), but Oromia has 11.6%, Amhara 9%, and Southern States 11%.
According to World Bank report “Ethiopia Public Expenditure review” the Federal government never transferred more than 6% of the country’s cash revenue to the states, which leaves more than 94% of the federal budget at the discretion of the TPLF, appropriation of which is apparent from the above numbers.
In conclusion, the TPLF has clearly violated international business rules and practices, and as a ruling political party, it not only owns large amounts of properties and engages in commercial and trading activities whereby it places competing private sectors in a hopeless situation, but it also uses this economic dominance to incarcerate, harass, dominate, and control political opposition forces to stay in power.
This injustice justifies continued armed struggle of the people against the TPLF domination, and rejection of foreign expeditions to exploit natural resources of the country on behalf of the TPLF.
Plethora of Reasons Why No ‘Millennium’ Celebrations in the Ogaden
Sept 18, 2007
By Saafi (Hoodo) Labafidhin
After seeing the title of this terse essay you may think you know the reasons why Ogaden Somalis are not celebrating the ‘Ethiopian Millennium’.
You may probably have already guessed dozen tragedies such as war, poverty, underdevelopment, poor infrastructure, and the latest Tigrian People Liberation Front, TPLF, crackdown associated with Ogaden, the land and the people.
Poverty although more prevalent in Ogaden is everywhere in Ethiopia, even in the birthplace of Legesse Zenawi, the current head of the Ethiopian autocracy.
In Ogaden though, there are other unique and underlining reasons for Ogaden Somalis not to be in celebratory mood at a time when the rest of Ethiopia is indulging in parties.
It is these underlying and unique reasons that explain why Ogaden Somalis are not, have not been and will not be part of the present day Ethiopia or the old Abyssinia.
Overwhelming majority of the Somali people in the Ogaden are Sunni Muslims and have been using the Islamic Hijra Calendar with Hijra months slightly modified with Somali Names (such as Soon, Soonfur, Sidataal, Arafo etc). Besides, the land has been under long and successive brutal colonial powers, Namely the British, Italians and present day Ethiopia, and as a result the land and people have hardly witnesses any progress throughout the past century. Consequently, the proud and lofty nomadic pastoralists make the bulk of the population.
For them, pastoralists, there are only two times worthy of celebration throughout the Muslim calendar namely: Eidul Fitr and Eidul Adha. For the minority of Ogaden Somalis who were somehow able to live in bigger towns with other Ethiopian highlanders, they, minority, could not swallow the ‘Amete Mihret’ ceteris paribus.
If one were to behave like Ethiopians (again other things being equal), one would see that the Ethiopian calendar has two abbreviated Amharic words A.M (also official) meaning ‘the year of forgiving’ according to the Christian belief. One will thus understand why as Muslims, the Ogaden Somalis, cannot solemnize the Church based Coptic Millennium!
Gregorian Calendar more Popular among Somalis in the Ogaden.
Though similar to the above in some aspects, the Gregorian calendar enjoys much eminence throughout the world and is adopted by many Islamic nations as a second (or first) calendar. On the eve of 2000, seven years ago, I remember when a group of Somali youth (both girls and boys) gathered in a remote village in the Ogaden to welcome the new Gregorian Millennium by discussing the fate and future of our disregarded pastoralists.
Even illiterate camel boys (geeljire) were familiar with the event and were eager to share their Camel Milk with us to welcome the commencement of the new millennia.
One of the girls jested if a camel man among us knew Ethiopian calendar to which he replied ‘the only thing I know about Ethiopia is their hostile soldiers!!’ others questioned if Ethiopia had its own calendar.
Generally almost all Ogaden Somalis know the Gregorian year and use it alongside the Traditional Islamic calendar while most of them are not familiar with the Ethiopian year and months let alone the use it.
It boils down to the fact that Ogaden Somalis have already celebrated the Millennium with the rest of the world and don’t need to be part of an imitation they are not part of and never been part of.
In a its widely publicized hoopla to promote the ‘new millennium, the TPLF claimed that this, new millennium, was not only Ethiopian millennium but also must be celebrated as Africa’s 2000 millenary celebrations.
Ironically, many AU members, majority of which include pro-Rastafarian groups, were misled by the Ethiopia’s claim and unfortunately thought the ‘Millennium’ as ‘Unique African Occasion!’ A Nigeria based newspaper wrote
Ethiopia is being the only African country having its own calendar and the African Union (AU) in its ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and government through declaration AU/ December 6 (Vii) adopted Ethiopian millennium as an historic African occasion.
One needs to critically pose the question why Ethiopia is comparable to African pride and reputation when it is notorious for being the only African ‘country’ that participated in the Berlin Conference and took part in the so called Scramble for Africa in 1880s.
According to Gann and Duignan (1981) the modern Ethiopian empire state was created by the conquest of emperor Menelik II of the Shewa Amhara dynasty (1889-1913). They continue to say ‘’Menelik was the only successful black African partner in the ‘scramble for Africa’ designed by the European powers in the Berlin Conference of 1884-5.’’
It is well documented in the history books that the only reason Menelik was allowed to rule Abyssinian land was to check the advancement of the Dervishes led by Sayyid Muhammad Abdille Hassan who was waging a highly successful gorilla war against the British and Italian colonizers of the time.
Menilik was pleased to accept the colonial condition, which was that he would not be colonized provided that he accepts the result of Berlin Conference, and at the same time engaged in the war against what the British conquerors termed the ‘Mad Mullah’ Movement.
Since we are the victims of that conference and its aftermath and have lon suffered under oppressive black (Ethiopian) colonization, we can’t be enticed by TPLF’s Pan African ‘Millennium’ allurement.
Last but not the least, the people of Ogaden are facing a great colonial burden as this article is penned. Extra judicial killings continue, the number of villages burned every day is increasing, many people are fleeing to neighbouring countries across the border, and more recently the elite and well-off section of Ogaden people living in bigger towns such as Dire Dawa, Harar and Addis Ababa were apprehended in greater numbers and encountered indescribable atrocities in the hands of the Ethiopian mafia which were supposed to engage all in party mood for the so-called millennium celebration.
All in all, the ‘Millennium’ is another Minim Yelem (There is nothing) for the people of Ogaden and there is nothing to celebrate until Ogaden Somalis are freed from TPLF instigated terror and oppression.
Saafi (Hoodo) Labafidhin
Joined: Aug 23, 2007
The Moral Imperative to Prosecute Zenawi and His Clique
In Ogaden, a land far removed from civilization and deliberately cut off from the global community, well-documented acts of war crimes perpetrated by the current Ethiopian autocracy in Addis Ababa have taken place.
Crimes such as the mass eviction of people from their dwellings and the deliberate destruction of whole towns and hamlets with the use of firebombs have been documented by credible sources including journalists, human rights organizations, and aid agencies the latest of which is the Doctors Without Borders, MSF.
Thousands of Ogaden civilians have been reported tortured, raped and some times killed in gruesome manners such as strangulation and public beheadings. Thousands others are either unaccounted for or are held in makeshift detentions throughout Ogaden.
The Ethiopian autocracy headed by the current premier Mr. Meles Zenawi has not only carried out the reported atrocities but has also so far prevented aid agencies from providing badly needed medical supplies and emergency food aid to the Ogaden survivors of these reported war crimes.
It is quite clear that atrocities that fit the definition of both the spirit and the letter of the law governing war crimes have taken place in Ogaden. There are also no shades of gray about the identity of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against the Ogaden citizenry.
Zenawi and his clique have professed publicly to have carried out these crimes yet the world community continues to ignore its moral imperative to prosecute Zenawi and his clique for the war crimes they have and continue to commit against the Ogaden civilians.
We, the Ogaden Editorial Board, believe that enough is enough and it is about time that the world community bring to an end the Ogaden carnage and prosecute Zenawi and his clique for crimes against humanity. The Ogaden communities in the Diaspora should also start exploring legal avenues to start war crimes proceedings against the Ethiopian clique headed by Zenawi.
Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2007 11:43 am Post subject:
Wednesday the 19th of September, 2007
UN calls for probe into alleged eastern Ethiopia rights abuses
ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — A United Nations panel on Wednesday recommended an independent probe into alleged human rights violations in Ethiopia's Ogaden region, where the army has cracked down on rebels.
A UN fact-finding mission travelled to Ogaden in late August to probe allegations that the military had committed rights abuses in its clampdown on Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) insurgents.
"The mission received reports and direct accounts of serious violations of human rights, including substantive protection concerns for the civilian population," the panel said in a report.
"It is the mission's view that these reported human rights concerns require independent investigation," it recommended, warning that humanitarian conditions in the conflict zone have "deteriorated substantially."
A UN official expressed hope in working with Addis Ababa to address the problem.
"We received alarming reports. We have heard enough to justify such an investigation," said the official.
In a statement, the rebels welcomed the call for a probe and pledged to cooperate.
"Such an investigation must be under the auspices of the United Nations and, unlike the recent fact-finding mission, must not be limited to routes approved by the current regime," the ONLF said in an e-mailed statement.
"This future independent investigative mission must also seek the views of the ONLF and not just the regime in order to be truly independent," it said.
The ONLF renewed a warning that another "African genocide" was unfolding in the region, where it said thousands of displaced civilians had fled to neighbouring Somalia without essential supplies over the past four months.
The Ethiopian army has flatly rejected the claims, and instead said its campaign is not targeting civilians, but the rebels whom it accuses of carrying out "terrorist" activities.
The UN panel called for urgent aid supplies and protection of civilians in the region.
"Humanitarian conditions within the conflict areas have deteriorated substantially (...) the price of food has nearly doubled.
"Government restrictions of commercial and livestock trade aimed at preventing contraband activity have markedly aggravated an already fragile food security and livelihood situation," the report said.
"Emergency food aid should be provided immediately for approximately 600,000 people for three months," said the report, explaining the crackdown has delayed aid operations.
"For now, the government and all other parties involved in military operations should take appropriate and urgent actions to protect civilian populations in the region," it added.
Addis Ababa has already expelled Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee for the Red Cross from Ogaden for allegedly meddling in politics.
A spokesman for Ethiopia's foreign ministry, Wahide Beleye, told AFP: "The main point is that the report is confirming what the government is thinking especially about the humanitarian situation in this region. If there are other details we will release them tomorrow."
The Ethiopian army launched a crackdown on the region, which is about the same size as Britain and has a population of about four million, following an attack by the ONLF rebel group against a Chinese oil venture in April that left 77 people dead.
Predominantly barren, the Ogaden has long been extremely poor, but in recent years the discovery of gas and oil has brought both hopes of wealth and new causes of conflict.
Ethiopian authorities have accused archrival Eritrea of supporting the Ogaden separatists. The Eritreans have denied the accusation.
Formed in 1984, the ONLF is fighting for the independence of ethnic Somalis in Ogaden, who they say have been marginalised by Addis Ababa.
Deflective Tactics of A Despondent Regime
Aug 07, 2007
Two months have passed since the Addis Autocracy announced for the third time in little more than a year a so-called crackdown in Ogaden. This so-called crackdown had the modest objective of ‘containing’ the ever-increasing strength of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, ONLF, whereas the prior ones had a much-publicized bravado of intending to ‘wipe’ out ONLF.
What the regime terms a crackdown against ONLF is nothing more than a failed attempt to yet again target the civilian population for the mistaken belief that harming the Ogaden civilians will somehow compel ONLF to cease and desist. Ever since this latest ‘crackdown’ there have been widespread Ethiopian brutalities against the Ogaden civilians throughout Ogaden.
In the name of the latest ‘crackdown’, the Ethiopian military and its associated militia firebombed entire towns and hamlets. Residents of Entire Ogaden towns and hamlets were forcefully moved to some cordoned off military areas closer to main cities. Mass detentions of civilians were carried out in many parts of Ogaden. There have been gruesome discoveries of civilians some of whom were tortured and later decapitated by the Ethiopian military.
There has not been a single reported military engagement between ONLF and the Ethiopian military in the two months since the so-called crackdown where the Ethiopian military was not handily defeated. Every time the Ethiopian military is defeated militarily by ONLF, it, the Ethiopian army, takes revenge against the Ogaden civilians wherever they encounter.
Knowing that the demoralized Ethiopian military cannot engage ONLF militarily the Ethiopian military have lately carried out despicable acts of revenge against civilians in Ogaden. Some of these acts include the planting of bombs in heavily populated civilian areas such as market places as well as sacred places like mosques and churches.
Having calculated that the bombing of a mosque in Ogaden will not generate as much press headline as that of say a church, the Ethiopian military this past Sunday, bombed a market place and a church in Jig Jiga, Ogaden. Within minutes of the bombing, a regime famous for its lethargy and incompetence was accusing ONLF of being behind such cowardly acts of terrorism against the market place and the church.
ONLF have condemned and categorically denied that they were behind the bombing. We, the Ogaden Editorial Board - OEB, believe that the real culprit of this heinous act of terrorism is no one other than the Addis Ababa autocracy. OEB not only condemns the terrorism carried out against our people and our Christian cohabitants in Jig Jiga city, but we ask the world and the UN agencies to investigate this latest acts of terrorism carried by the Ethiopian military against our people.
OEB sees this latest bombing as nothing more than deflective tactics of a despondent regime. The regime in Addis Ababa is a regime that does not respect the inviolability of sacred places like mosques and churches. The world community should not buy the Ethiopian blame game but should insist on dispatching UN investigative bodies to Ogaden in order investigate Ethiopian brutalities against the Ogaden citizenry.
Ogaden Online Editorial
Aug 07, 2007
Statement by the Embassy of Ethiopia on Action by the
United States Congress House Foreign Affairs Committee
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26,2007 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
The Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in Washington, DC, released this statement by Samuel Assefa, Ethiopia's Ambassador to
the United States:
Ethiopia is a close ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism and efforts to promote regional stability in the Horn of Africa.
It also is a country overcoming daunting challenges to build a new democracy while improving the economic fortunes of its 76 million people.
Today a Congressional committee recklessly approved a measure undermining these efforts and the critical relationship with the U.S.
The legislation would put in place sanctions consistent with measures taken by the U.S. only against dictatorships it has identified as its worst enemies around the world.
Ethiopia regards this as an unconscionable and irresponsible action by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Committee approved HR 2003, sponsored by Donald M. Payne, D-N.J., which purports to encourage human rights and democracy in Ethiopia. This misguided bill
would do neither.
There can be no misunderstanding about the serious effects of what a small group of Congress members have wrought. This bill ignores the context of what is happening in the region.
Ethiopia faces a serious threat from its neighbor Eritrea -- a country
that the U.S. Department of State is considering listing as a state sponsor of terrorism, that has rejected democracy and a free press, and that provides
no human rights to its citizens.
Yet, rather than move against Eritrea, Mr. Payne chooses to condemn America's democratic ally: Ethiopia.
Ethiopia thanks the current U.S. administration for its continued support and carefully considered opposition to this legislation.
It also welcomes the support of thoughtful Members of Congress, in the
House and the Senate, who understand the reality of the Horn of Africa and recognize Ethiopia's courageous commitment to democracy in one of the most dangerous
regions in the world.
Ethiopia is the only African country never to suffer colonial rule.
We are a proud and ancient civilization, always open to discussion and advice
from our friends. But under no circumstances will Ethiopia accept what it regards as officious intermeddling by misinformed Members of Congress to
intrude in our internal politics.
My government encourages all political parties to engage in debate and non-violent democratic action under the rule of law and within the Ethiopian legal
system. This bill is a blatant effort to employ the U.S. Congress in support of a partisan Ethiopian political agenda.
The bill ignores the recent bold democratic initiatives taken by our government, the immense progress in creating a competitive, pluralistic system of government and a more open civil society.
These measures have rekindled hope and promoted interethnic harmony. We will not waiver from this course. This legislation, should it proceed further, will create fresh obstacles by emboldening those who seek confrontation rather than dialogue,
encouraging politics of extremes.
Ethiopia is the strongest and most dependable U.S. ally in a region of strategic importance. It is baffling and deeply troubling that some members of Congress would want to condemn a longstanding friend with such an ill-conceived measure.
SOURCE Embassy of Ethiopia