October 22, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – The United States government has issued travel warnings to Ethiopia after waves of violent anti-government protests claimed lives of hundreds of people in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara regions. Continue reading →
October 10, 2016 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopian government has declared a state of emergency in the wake of continued anti-government protests across its Oromia region.
Demonstrators chant slogans while flashing the Oromo protest gesture during Irreecha, the thanksgiving festival of the Oromo people, in Bishoftu town, Oromia region, Ethiopia, October 2, 2016 (Reuters Photo)
The leader of the the movement in the Amhara region that is campaigning to restore areas forcefully annexed to Tigray by the Tigrian-led regime has been charged with terrorism.
Colonel Demeke Zewdu, seen by many Ethiopians as the leader of the ongoing uprising against a minority regime in Amhara region, was charged Wednesday after several court adjournments.
The colonel was taken to the custody of the Amhara police in July after he shot dead three operatives of the regime who went all the way to his house from Tigray to arrest him without a court warrant. Continue reading →
Since November 2015, Ethiopia has been experiencing a wave of anti-government protests unleashed by fears by the Oromo people that the government was planning to seize their land. Hundreds of people have been killed. Continue reading →
Last July, Barack Obama visited Ethiopia and declared the ruling Thugtatoship of the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (T-TPLF) regime a “democratic government.”
The T-TPLF claimed with a straight face that it had won the 2015 “election” by 100 percent or all 547 seats in “parliament”.
The New York Times called it a “sham”.
Human Rights Watch called Obama’s statement “shocking”.
I called it a low down dirty shame.
On April 20, 2016, Senators Ben Cardin (D-Maryland), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murry (D-WA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Al Franken (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) sponsored a Resolution condemning the crimes against humanity being committed by the T-TPLF in Ethiopia today. Continue reading →
The arrest came several months after Omot, a respected activist from Ethiopia’s Gambella region, served as translator for the World Bank Inspection Panel. The panel investigated the Anuak indigenous people’s allegation that the Ethiopian government was committing widespread forced displacement and other serious human rights violations in relation to a World Bank project in Gambella.
The authorities eventually released four of the seven, but Omot, Ashine Astin, and Jamal Oumar Hojele were charged on September 7, under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law. The seven had been on their way to a food security workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, organized by international groups. It was described in the charge sheet as a “terrorist group meeting.”
Omot faces 20 years to life in prison, accused of being a co-founder and leader of the Gambella People’s Liberation Movement (GPLM), a long inactive group that has not been designated a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian parliament. Ashine is accused of preparing a presentation titled, “Deforestation, Dispossession and Displacement of Gambela in General and Majang People in Particular.”
Sadly, their plight is a familiar story in Ethiopia. Those who criticize government policies – including development programs – are routinely arrested and accused of supporting armed opposition groups. Sometimes they are charged under the counterterrorism law. Sometimes they are not charged but are detained for lengthy periods. Sometimes they are tortured. The courts almost never investigate detainees’ allegations that they were tortured to confess. Acquittals are rare and those accused are routinely convicted without any meaningful evidence presented by the prosecution.
In recent years, Ethiopia’s government has produced economic and development progress, but accurately assessing the extent of that progress is impossible when people must risk detention or worse to express their views. As with the Oromo protesters who have been risking their lives to demonstrate over the past months, the arrest of Omot and his colleagues reminds us that the government only tolerates one view of government policies. Those who want to voice a different perspective, or who represent communities that bear the brunt of Ethiopia’s top-down, repressive policies, are silenced and sometimes accused of terrorism.
As an orchestra of mosquitoes and crickets greet the dusk, Bedlu Abera looks out over fields of rice stretching across the Ethiopian lowlands.
A flicker of contentment crosses his face. “It’s satisfying,” he says. “We are making progress.”
Bedlu is overseeing Saudi Star Agricultural Development’s first substantial harvest, and there is an urgency to his work. The land must be cleared and planted swiftly before the rains return. Continue reading →