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Ethiopia Welcomes Year 2007

Addis Ababa. (Credit: dailysabah.com)

Daily Sabah

Published : 12.09.201

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia marked the arrival of 2007 on Thursday according to a unique calendar that reflects a blend of religious and seasonal/natural phenomena. “The Ethiopian calendar is ancient [and] takes its logic from lunar, solar and astrological considerations,”

Henok Yared, author of “Bahre Hasab,” a book which gives accounts of the origins of the Ethiopian calendar, told Anadolu Agency. “The four seasons also make up the basis for the composition of the Ethiopian calendar,” he said.

The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months, including twelve of 30 days each.

The 13th month consists of five days – although every fourth year it lasts for six days.

The Ethiopian New Year falls as the sun begins to make itself felt after three months of rain in most parts of the country.

The streets were packed with people shopping for live lambs, roosters, butter and eggs, among other things.

Lambs and roosters are traditionally slaughtered at home.

Some families pool their money to purchase bulls, sharing the meat between them.

Alazar Samuel, a renowned Ethiopian artist, sees the Ethiopian New Year as both real life and drama. “The real life is that it is one day added to the river of life, and [it's] drama due to all the rituals-slaughters, get-togethers, bonfires and all,” he told AA.

Emebet Tesfaye, a statistician, plans to welcome the New Year with joy and a sense of rejuvenation. “Our New Year is very expensive, though,” she told AA, noting that it coincided with the start of the new school year. “Costs have gone up by the day,” she added.

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Silicon Valley: Here Come Ethiopia’s SoleRebels

SoleRebels will open a new store in San Jose, California on October 1st, 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, September 11th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – What better location in the U.S. than California’s famed Silicon Valley to sell comfortable and fashionable footwear that are made from recycled materials with the added value of being 100 percent vegan? That’s what the Addis Ababa-based environmental-friendly shoe brand SoleRebels is promising to bring to its newest international store in San Jose scheduled to open on October 1st.

SoleRebels’ footwear are produced using indigenous practices such as hand-spun organic cotton, artisan hand-loomed fabric and recycled tires for soles.

The San Jose location will be the Ethiopian brand’s first retail space in the United States. In a statement the company’s Founder & CEO Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu described the Bay Area as the “perfect place” adding that it “epitomized the creativity, innovation, craziness, disruption and the overall ‘Walk Naked’ ethos that SoleRebels is all about.”

“I am totally vibed to open our first US SoleRebels store in Silicon Valley,” she added. “Silicon Valley is the epicenter of all these things and so it’s the perfect place to launch our US retail store business and I imagine there are quite a few folks in and around Silicon Valley who can’t wait to be able to ‘walk naked.’”

The 1270 square foot store will be located at San Jose’s Westfield Valley Fair mall on the 2nd floor near the Men’s Macy’s department.

You can learn more about SoleRebels at www.solerebels.com.

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University of Gondar Re-graduates 500 Alumni During 60th Anniversary

The University of Gondar 60th year Diamond Jubilee Celebrations was held from July 4- July 7th, 2014. During the event about 500 alumni from around the world were formally re-graduated. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – This past July the University of Gondar, which is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its founding this year, “re-graduated” about 500 alumni along with over 4000 students. The alumni had gathered for the three-day occasion (July 5-7th, 2014) from across Ethiopia as well as from other African nations, the United States, and Europe. The University’s Alumni Steering Committee in the U.S. estimates that there were about 100 former graduates in attendance from the Diaspora. The University of Gondar is the first public health institution in Ethiopia, and was established in 1954 as a Public Health College in response to a malaria epidemic to help train nurses, health officers, sanitarians, laboratory technicians and other professionals that would eventually form the backbone of the country’s modern public health structure. It was transformed into a medical college in 1978 and a full university in 2004.

Among the alumni residing in the U.S. who took part in the program include Dr. Elias Said Siraj, Professor of Medicine and Director of Endocrinology Fellowship Program and Clinical Endocrinology at Temple University in Philadelphia. “This was the first time in Ethiopia that alumni from a major university were organized in such a fashion and took an undertaking that others could emulate,” said Dr. Elias in an interview with Tadias Magazine. Dr. Elias graduated from Gondar College of Medical Sciences in 1988 and is one the founding members of the Alumni Steering Committee in the United States. “We also used the occasion to launch a publication, The Alumni Voice magazine, in conjunction with an ‘Alumni Clinical Symposium’ covering a range of subjects in medicine and highlighting expert presentations — including topics in surgery, women & children’s health, diabetes, kidney and heart diseases — that was attended by students, medical doctors, public health officials, and policymakers from Gondar and beyond.” Dr. Elias stated: “The feedback from students, teachers and others was very positive and encouraging. They were touched and delighted by the physical presence of the alumni, as well as by the contents of the magazine and the symposium.”

The Alumni Steering Committee in the U.S. includes six graduates of the historic Ethiopian institution: In addition to Dr. Elias, they are Dr. Anteneh Habte (1984), Founding Member, Clinical Assistant Professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine; Dr. Mulugeta Zerabruk Fissha (1998), Founding Member, Director of Cardiovascular Services at Newman Regional Health, Emporia, Kansas; Dr. Nuru Abseno Robi (1988), Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C.; Dr Yared Aytaged Gebreyesus (1988), Consultant in Internal Medicine at the Blue Nile Clinic in Alexandria, Viginia; and Dr Yared Wondimkun Endailalu (1986), Consultant in Internal Medicine at the Mary Washington Health Group in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Professor Yared Wondimkun, also former Dean of Gondar College of Medical Sciences and former President of the University of Gondar, notes in an interview with Tadias that the alumni-led symposium was designed not only as “an educational platform,” but also as a “networking opportunity for alumni, faculty, students and researchers to exchange ideas and learn about each other’s expertise as well as discuses way of strengthening the relationship between alumni members and the University of Gondar.”

Dr. Yared, who now lives in Northern Virginia, also received his MD degree from the Gondar College of Medical Sciences in 1986 before serving as the institution’s last Dean (2002-2004) and first President (2004-2007). He pointed out that the limited-edition of The Alumni Voice journal contains 26 important articles authored by alumni from the school’s various stages including graduates of the public health college, first graduates of the medical school, four previous Deans, and several alumni reflecting on the past and offering their perspectives for the future.” Dr. Yared adds that further contributions to the publication came from “key historical figures who played leading roles in the era of the Public Health College as well as the Gondar College of Medical Sciences.”

Dr. Elias shared his opinion that in general alumni and their potential resources are not effectively utilized in Ethiopia, and it was with this in mind that the University of Gondar Alumni Steering Committee in the US was established. “In close collaboration with the University of Gondar senior leadership, and with its president Professor Mengesha Admassu in particular, the Gondar Alumni Steering Committee worked hard in various areas to set an example so that other Ethiopian Universities will give the necessary attention to alumni activities and strengthen their alumni offices with appropriate manpower and resources” he said. Dr. Yared likewise added that based on the feedback received so far, the effort of the steering committee has paid off and the University of Gondar is being seen in Ethiopia as a “pioneer” in effectively collaborating with its alumni. Both Dr. Elias and Dr. Yared also thanked the leadership of the University of Gondar for believing in the power of alumni and for supporting all the activities of the steering committee.

The University of Gondar’s 60th year Diamond Jubilee was marked by year-long activities that culminated in early July not only with the “re-graduation’ of its alumni, but also the inauguration of a Comprehensive Outpatient Center at the University of Gondar Hospital “designed to provide an integrated program that will enhance patient-centered experience and increase the hospital’s capacity to accommodate an ever increasing number of patients.” The facility was built in partnership with the U.S. government that provided USD $9.1 million through the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) with technical assistance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Patricia M. Haslach, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, said, “This newly constructed facility is part of the U.S. Government’s commitment to strengthening the national capacity of health facilities to provide comprehensive and integrated HIV/AIDS health care services throughout Ethiopia.”

Below are photos from the event courtesy of the University of Gondar Alumni Steering Committee in the USA:



For more coverage on Gondar University and its journey to its 60th anniversary, you may listen to People To People’s broadcast on blogtalkradio.com. More information on The Alumni Voice can be found at: Facebook.com/University-of-Gondar-Alumni-Journal-special-edition.

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At Global Fest 2014 Aurora, Colorado Welcomes Adama (Nazret) as Sister City

Officials from Aurora, Colorado and Adama, Ethiopia sign Sister Cities agreement at the Aurora Municipal Center in Aurora, Colorado on Saturday, August 23rd, 2014. (Photo: Aurora Sister Cities International)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, August 24th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – A delegation from Adama, Ethiopia (also known as Nazret) was festively welcomed to Aurora, Colorado on Saturday, August 23rd at the annual Global Fest celebration where representatives of the Ethiopian and American municipalities signed a Sister Cities agreement. According to the Denver Post, the Aurora-Denver border area is home to an Ethiopian population of approximately 30,000. The event featured music, dance, and food by Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, one of the several restaurants highlighted at this year’s Global Fest.

“It’s intentional,” Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told the Denver Post. “Aurora is really the most international city in Colorado. Others may claim it, but we are, and it’s events like this that are making that happen, that celebrate that international flavor.” It’s hoped that the pact between Aurora and Adama will “open up trade between the cities, boost economic development and give citizens in both locations a better sense of who each other is.”

According to Wiki Adama city “is situated along the road that connects Addis Ababa with Dire Dawa. Additionally, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railroad runs through Adama. The city name Adama may have been derived from the Oromo word adaamii, which means a cactus or a cactus-like tree. More specifically, adaamii means Euphorbia candelabrum, a tree of the spurge family, while hadaamii would mean Indian fig. Following World War II, Emperor Haile Selassie renamed the town after Biblical Nazareth, and this name was used for the remainder of the twentieth century. In 2000, the city officially reverted to its original Oromo language name, Adama, though “Nazareth” is still widely used.”

Below are photos from the event courtesy of Aurora Sister Cities International.



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Interview with Dr. Gezahegne Bekele: AGOA Renewal in 2015

Dr. Gezahegne Bekele, Senior International Economist at the U.S. Accountability Office. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – In 2015, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) — which was signed into law in 2000 and is a trade program allowing eligible Sub-Saharan African countries to export goods to the United States duty free — will be up for review and renewal. Tadias recently interviewed Dr. Gezahegne Bekele, Senior International Economist at the United States Government Accountability Office who has worked extensively on AGOA.

Dr. Gezahegne joined the US Government Accountability Office in 1989 after having taught for over two decades at several institutions including the University of Miami, University of Oklahoma and Florida International University. He has authored papers focusing on food security, and today he is an international trade specialist who has worked on issues including the cost of remittances. Dr. Gezahegne has provided economic research reports to US Congress and Senate. In addition to his expertise on AGOA, his economic development work has enabled him to travel to numerous countries in Asia, Africa, and the former Soviet Union.

“To promote free markets, stimulate economic growth, and to facilitate Sub-Saharan integration into the world economy, US Congress signed AGOA into law on May 18th, 2000,” says Dr. Gezahegne. AGOA allows approximately 5,200 types of goods to be duty-free. Although crude petroleum is the largest import from AGOA countries, other items include automobile parts, steel, and cut-flowers.

In 2004 US Congress further amended AGOA to allow certain eligible countries to use fabric for garment production sourced from foreign nations. Through this amendment, Dr. Gezahegne notes that “If Ethiopia produces textiles made out of its own cotton and yarn, or imported from other foreign countries, it can still export the final product duty-free to the United States.” In the case of Ethiopia approximately 83% of items it exports to the United States are duty-free. Since Ethiopia was declared eligible on October 2nd, 2000 as one of the original member nations, Dr. Gezahegne shares that “AGOA has increased Ethiopia’s export to the United States by about 25%.”

Sub-Saharan countries are reviewed every year for AGOA eligibility. “Countries cannot have non-democratic practices such as coups,” says Dr. Gezahegne. Other requirements stated in the eligibility requirements include “a system to combat corruption and bribery as well as a market-based economy that protects private property rights, incorporates an open rules-based trading system, and minimizes government interference in the economy through measures such as price controls, subsidies, and government ownership of economic assets.”

Yet, in spite of being so beneficial AGOA’s uptake rate is not as great as it should be. In an initial request by US Congress to examine AGOA’s contribution to trade expansion between the U.S. and Sub-Saharan African countries, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) used US Census data on imports from 40 African countries and reported that AGOA countries’ imports remain small with 2% market share.

“Preference is a discriminatory process,” says Dr. Gezahegne. “If you extend it to others the value becomes less and this is known as preference erosion.” He adds: “There is also the issue of program uncertainty. The one thing you would want for a trade development process is stability.” Taking this into account after 2015, the President is trying to lengthen the period between renewals so that AGOA will be in place for another 15 years.

A press release from The White House on August 4, 2014 — during the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit — acknowledges that AGOA needs to be revised and expanded. The press release notes that the Administration’s “recent review of AGOA has revealed that, while the tariff preferences provided under AGOA are important, they alone are not sufficient to promote transformational growth in trade and investment.” Subsequently, President Obama’s administration has launched two major initiatives — Trade Africa and Power Africa.

Dr. Gezahegne describes Trade Africa initiative as “one that allows East African nations to trade more with each other,” while Power Africa “is an initiative that GE lobbied extensively in an attempt to provide more electricity to African nations, increase livelihoods and at the same time sell American know-how.” Dr. Gezahegne also adds: “Ethiopia views itself as a growing hydro-electric power producer. Americans view Ethiopia as a potential exporter of thermal power as well.” In addition to textiles and garments, Dr. Gezahegne likewise sees a potential for Ethiopia to be a possible producer of organic cotton provided that the organic certification processes are in place.

The White House August 4th press release also notes the establishment of a Steering Group on Africa Trade and Investment Capacity Building. Members from seventeen departments including the Department of State, Department of Treasury, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation are tasked with presenting the President with “clearly defined goals and benchmarks for increasing trade and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, and appropriate and transparent criteria for identifying priority countries, regions, and sectors that have the greatest potential to contribute toward meeting these goals and benchmarks.” The steering committee is also tasked with recommending “an outline of how to utilize programs across agencies to achieve these goals.”

Dr. Gezahegne is a strong supporter of trade versus aid. “Trade has been a known engine of economic development and poverty reduction in the world,” he states. “AGOA countries trade even more and are in better shape, and it’s not because of aid. Countries that are open have growth rates that are three to six times higher than those with closed economies. I don’t know any country in the world that has achieved transition status from ‘developing’ to ‘developed’ due to economic assistance.”

You can learn more about the African Growth and Opportunity Act at trade.gov/agoa.

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NED Hosts Media Panel During US-Africa Summit

Panelists for media task force at African Civil Society Conference at Capitol Hill during US-Africa Summit on August 6th, 2014. (photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

by Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Washington, DC (TADIAS)  — The African Civil Society Conference, organized by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its partners, brought together African civil society leaders, journalists and members of US Congress at Capitol Hill as part of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit on Wednesday, August 6th. The conference theme entitled ‘Towards an Action Program for Democracy’ comprised of 6 panels addressing Human Rights, Good Governance & Accountability, Elections, Media, Conflict & Security, and Civil Society Challenges. Martin Frost, NED Board Chair, Hon. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Hon. Chris Smith (R-NJ) gave welcoming remarks.

Each panel presented recommendations forwarded by their respective task force, which met earlier in the week. Spokesperson for the media panel, Henry Maina, Director of East & Horn of Africa for Article 19, stated the media task force recommendations.  Members of the Media Task Force included journalists and activists from Mali, Tunisia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Morocco, Malawi, Kenya, and Nigeria. Several Ethiopian civil society leaders participated in the conference including scholar & political activist Birtukan Mideksa (Human Rights task force) Dr. Merera Gudina, Professor at University of Addis Ababa (Elections task force), and civil society advocates Teklu Tessema Gudeto and Debebe Hailegebriel (Civil Society Challenges task force).

Spokesperson Henry Maina highlighted media repression in several African countries and cited the current plight of Ethiopia’s Zone 9 bloggers who he described as “just using mobile phones and websites.” He added: “They have done nothing wrong.”

Maina also emphasized that media must be seen as a central topic to be addressed when discussing post 2015 development goals. Recommendations by the media task force included encouraging international media organizations to have more comprehensive coverage of news in Africa and to “move away from the narrative of Africa as the hopeless continent.” The task force would also like African governments and leaders “to establish independent media regulation mechanisms as well as clear and transparent criteria” so that media organizations are not stifled.

“Media is a mirror where leaders can perceive themselves,” one panelist stated, without which “journalists find themselves in situations of self-censorship and leaders may be going the wrong way.”

The media task force addressed the need for organizations such as USAID to support media by including programs in its portfolio that addresses the needs of African media organizations. Panelist John Gatluak from South Sudan shared the necessity for funding for the media sector to help develop professional media training programs. Likewise, the task force recommended that UN agencies and the African Development Bank lead the way to promoting access to information.

Addressing the African commission on human and peoples rights, the media task force stated that it must show leadership in encouraging Africa’s 53 countries to meet their obligations under international law, especially in regards to media law. Maina also shared the task force’s recommendations for media professionals stressing the need to form solidarity networks to support each other “whenever they find themselves in distress.” Addressing the private sector Maina asked for more efforts in allowing ICT and knowledge transfer so that Africa need not go through the slow progress of development and instead leapfrog to the digital economy.

A member of Facebook’s policy team also announced their recent collaboration with Airtel to provide free internet access along with healthcare and job information via their new initiative, Internet.org, in Zambia. Facebook reiterated that key issues in media include access and affordability of Internet as well as freedom of information as outlined by the media task force.

Panelist Kumba Gborie from SKYY Radio in Sierra Leone brought forth the issue of the under-representation of women in media in African countries and called for greater efforts to increase access to formal education for girls so that they may have better opportunities in the future to join media organizations. She likewise called for greater representation of women in the area of politics and leadership as well.

Several panelists stressed the need for the U.S. government to engage with African leaders to enhance and ensure the safety of media professionals. They also recommended that media workers in African countries consider forming trade unions for greater security.

During the Q&A session an audience member from South Sudan raised the question of hate speech on social media, which oftentimes exacerbates conflicts on the ground. Media panelist Mandala Mambulasa from Malawi acknowledged the need to address this critical issue while noting that there are no laws that address hate speech.

Organizers of the conference have noted that recommendations presented by the various panels during the African Civil Society Conference “will be incorporated into an Action Program, addressed to African governments, civil society, and citizens, as well as the international community, on the occasion of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit.”

U.S. House Democratic Whip, Congressman Steny Hoyer gave the closing remarks and noted that “this gathering is so critical because it highlights the role of civil society in Africa’s development.” He added: “I see and hope you see as well a continent of opportunity. Activists are building democratic institutions.”


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African & U.S. Scientists Hold Symposium at US-Africa Summit

Panelists at the Science, Technology & Innovation Symposium at US-Africa Summit in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, August 5th, 2014. (Photo by Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) – When Ethiopian-American IBM scientist and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Solomon Assefa, took the podium to make his presentation on private sector contributions to science & technology in Africa he reiterated that the focus needs to be on fostering local innovation by Africans for Africa. “Mobile money is a prime example,” he told the audience gathered at the Symposium on Science, Technology & Innovation for Economic Growth & Development in Africa held at the Keck Center of the National Academies today in conjunction with the US-Africa Summit. “By 2015, mobile money is expected to generate a $160 billion industry.”

Solomon also drew attention to shifting African demographics. “52 cities in Africa have a population of over a million people,” Solomon said. “And by 2035 the labor force in Africa could be as big as China or India.” Calling for long-term research development, innovation and investment in skills development, Solomon cited IBM’s efforts to expand its presence from 4 countries to 24 countries in Africa in the past decade alone while also building the first commercial research and development lab in Africa. Bringing entrepreneurs and local partners together to work with IBM Solomon notes that efforts range from working on cutting-edge nanotechnology to creating plant innovation centers across the continent.

The Science & Technology symposium brought together delegates of African Academies of Science, policymakers, scientists, and executives from the private sector to assess innovative approaches to improve infrastructure for advances in science and technology in African countries.

The morning program started with introductory remarks from Foreign Secretary of the National Academies of Sciences John Hildebrand and President of the National Academy of Engineering C. D. Mote. South African Minister of Science & Technology Grace Pandor addressed the need to strengthen local institutions of higher education and in particular institutions of science and technology. Minister Pandor noted that four out of ten African scientists currently live and work in high income countries away from their home countries. “So we are losing our human capital,” she stated. In order to retain African scholars and scientists to work in their respective nations “we need to invest in local institutions,” she added. Developing a skilled workforce, a strong research base, and making Africa a fertile environment for innovation are some of the suggestions that Minister Pandor shared with the audience to foster a “vibrant, active higher education sector.”

Geneva-based Under Secretary for the UN International Strategy for Disaster Risk, Margareta Wahlstrom, highlighted disaster risk reduction, post 2015 sustainable development goals and the climate change agenda as three key global issues to contend with. Wahlstrom emphasized focusing on data and interdisciplinary as well as multi-stake holder research as the most critical calls for action.

Panelist Wole Soboyejo, President of Africa University of Science & Technology shared how the US/Africa Materials Institute was launched at Princeton in collaboration with the National Science Foundation. Soboyejo traveled to over 35 African countries in an effort to establish collaborations between universities in the United States and those in Africa. “Our vision is to be a meritocracy..to replace brain drain with brain circulation, work towards transparency in governance, and build links across the world to diffuse innovation across Africa,” he stated.

Farid Fezoua, CEO & President of GE Healthcare Africa noted how Africa is a young continent in the sense that 60% of the current population is under the age of 20. He noted that General Electric’s first overseas branch was established in South Africa, and GE remains a key stakeholder in encouraging innovation in Africa. Fezoua gave several examples of  what he called ‘reverse innovation’ developed in Africa including the creation of solar-powered surgery kits, and hand-held ultrasounds.

“At the end of the day sustainability is what matters,” added Fezoua. “As an ex-banker converted to healthcare with a passion for Africa I have seen that financial investment alone cannot solve Africa’s challenges. We need the expertise and knowledge of scientists.”

Director of the US Global Development Lab, Dave Ferguson, moderated the second panel and shared the announcement of a $100 million pledge in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation to jumpstart a ‘Resilience Partnership.’

Ambassador & Global AIDS Coordinator at the US Department of State, Deborah Birx, highlighted progress in several African countries including Malawi whose HIV/AIDS prevention programs were effective and successfully scaled up at the national level. However, she urged more efforts need to be made to reduce the rates of infection, especially among young women who make up the largest proportion of affected populations.

Harvard Professor Calestous Juma wrapped up the morning session by highlighting the accomplishments of Arthur Zang, a youth entrepreneur from Cameroon who created the continent’s first tablet and who won the 2014 Rolex Award for inventing a mobile cardiac test device. “Every two years there is more knowledge than has ever existed in the entire history of technology,” Calestous stated. ” This type of thinking moves us away from the scarcity of knowledge to understanding how to harness abundance of information. The lesson of many of the presentations today is to look at technology in the context of problem solving.”


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Civil Society Forum at Historic US-Africa Summit in DC

Civil Society Leaders & Panelists from Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Tunisia at the US-Africa Summit in Washington D.C. on Monday, August 4th, 2014. (Photograph by Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, August 4th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — The Civil Society Forum, one of six U.S. Government-sponsored “Signature Events” at the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., commenced today at the National Academy of Sciences setting the stage for the high-level discussions that President Obama will chair during the subsequent Summit leader meetings.

Themes at the Civil Society Forum included building momentum towards open government in Africa, the role of civil society, and translating ideas into action. Featuring civil society leaders from Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Tunisia the forum started with an introduction from Sarah Sewall, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights. Ms. Sewall noted two main goals of the forum — fighting corruption and working with civil society organizations and the private sector to advance open government and to enhance transparency. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) was launched by the U.S., South Africa, Tanzania and five other countries who issued national action plans and made commitments to greater transparency. Today there are 8 African countries and a total of 64 nations worldwide participating in OGP.

Sewall quoted Obama’s support of OGP stating that “openness will strengthen our democracy and increase our efficiency. OGP is a new way of doing business.”

The Civil Society Forum panel was moderated by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power who called for the reduction of paperwork and other government bureaucracies in pushing the efficacy of the Open Government Partnership. “We want to bring domestic reformers and those fighting corruption together so they can be talking to one another,” she stated. The OGP aims to include both civil society organizations and the private sector in collaborating with governments participating in the initiative.

Amira Yahyaoui, Civil Society Leader and panelist from Tunisia shared that her country joined OGP a week after they voted on a new constitution in January 2014, which was also the second anniversary of their revolution. Coming from the anti-censorship movement she is a strong advocate of access to information. Describing Tunisia’s involvement in OGP Ms. Yahyaoui noted that “Three years ago when you reported on corruption you could get five years jail time. Today we have language that supports whistle blowers.” Yahyaoui emphasized that “The commitment is really good, but the question remaining is one of implementation.. OGP should be a results-oriented process.”

Civil Society Leader Rakesh Rajani from Tanzania discussed the importance of citizen participation to hold governments accountable. “One of the things that we inherited from our colonial history is that we have to be afraid of the people,” he said. “But one of the things to realize is that people are your assets and they can share the burden” in building society.  He drew from his own personal story where he was initially viewed by his government as a staunch critic. “But now we share ideas on how we can unlock two or three bottlenecks that we have in this open government initiative,” he added. Rajani acknowledged that OGP “is government-led, but it is very collaborative and includes both civil society and the private sector. This engenders trust. When governments open up and build credibility..you don’t have to spend so much money on security. Instead you can spend it on making lives better.”

Deputy Minister & President’s Lead for OGP in South Africa gave examples of how the South African government is participating by simplifying the way information is disseminated. “We have established a department that deals specifically with ICT and outreach, she shared. And the information provided to citizens is tailored to their needs and in a language that is easy to understand.

During the Global Town Hall session of the forum the Coordinator of the Open Government Partnership in Sierra Leone, Amadu Massally, spoke first and called for a moment of silence for the victims of the Ebola virus in his country and in several West African nations. Massally also shared with the audience that Sierra Leone would like to host the regional open government partnership initiative in 2015. Massally had a strong message for all African leaders: “If you are not open to open government partnership you will become obsolete.”

From the private sector, Microsoft pledged its commitment to OGP by asking to partner with two countries by the end of 2014 and offered to host 100 Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) fellows in Microsoft offices across Africa. A representative from IBM also shared that they are engaging with 10 countries in Africa and glad to be part of the Open Government Partnership. “We’re not just talking about open data, we’re publishing it ourselves and understanding the challenges involved,” he said. IBM is scheduled to host an Africa open data jam session tomorrow.

A representative from the Kenyan government highlighted their 1-stop shop for services that is currently available in 16 counties, which they hope to expand to over 45 counties and also make it accessible via mobile phones for their citizens.

Discussing the inclusion of media in OGP, Rakesh Rajani asserted that “media is absolutely crucial to open government partnership” and that “countries which clamp down on media do the wrong thing.”

Elected Chair of the Refugee Council in Washington addressed the audience and reminded African leaders to acknowledge the voices of refugees and vulnerable populations as part of open government initiatives. Mandela Washington Fellow Fouzia Dahir from Kenya likewise told the panelists and audience that it’s time for the youth to be included in initiatives such as Open Government. “We as young people want to sit with government and work alongside you,” she stated.

Hundreds of individuals from Ethiopia and several from the Democratic Republic of Congo protested outside the National Academy of Sciences calling for accountability for human rights violations in their countries.

Below are photos from the Civil Society Forum:

 


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First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on Girls’ Education at Presidential Summit for Young African Leaders

Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia Yonas Moges, Helawi Sewnet, Mesganaw Mulugeta Assefa, Michael Addisu, Haleta Fisseha and Edda Zekarias at the YALI Summit in D,C. on July 30th, 2014. (Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)- At yesterday’s Presidential Summit for Young African Leaders First Lady Michelle Obama gave a speech focusing on increasing girls’ access to education. Addressing the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellows and invited guests at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, the U.S. First Lady stated “Many of you are barely half my age, yet you have already founded businesses and NGOs. You’ve served as leaders in your government.. so you all represent the talent, energy, and diversity that is Africa’s life blood, and it is an honor to host you here.” She added “The roots of my family tree is in Africa. The blood of Africa runs through my veins.”

The First Lady pointed out that while great strides have been made by women in Africa — including that “the number of women who serve in parliament in Rwanda is over 50%, which by the way is more than double the percentage of women in the U.S. House” — greater efforts are still needed to address the consequences of harmful traditional practices.

“While I have great respect for cultural differences, I think we can all agree that things like female genital cutting, forced marriages, and domestic violence are not legitimate cultural practices,” The First Lady stated. “They are serious human rights violations, and they have no place in any country on this earth.”

Acknowledging the struggles girls face in pursuing their dreams for education, The First Lady shared her own unlikely ascent to leadership. Quoting Nelson Mandela, she stated “As Madiba once said: ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done,’” and she recounted her beginnings. “My ancestors came in chains. My grandparents and parents knew the sting of inequality. Yet I attended some of the best universities, and today I live in the White House, in a home that was constructed by slaves.” Following a standing ovation, The First Lady continued: “And I know my story and the story of my country is the story of the impossible getting done, and I know that can be your story.”

The First Lady also highlighted the stories of several Mandela Washington Fellows including that of Fikiri Nzoyisenga from Burundi who created a youth coalition to address violence against girls.

Mrs. Obama’s speech was preceded by a forum on ‘Enabling Inclusive Economic Development,’ hosted by Ambassador Michael Froman. Panelist Steve Case, Founder of AOL, shared how only 3% of Americans were online at the time that he created AOL .”It took us 10 years to get 1 million people online,” he said. “It was not easy in the beginning to literally get Americans online.” Citing how the Mandela Washington Fellows have grown up in a more connected world, he noted: “Now we are seeing some of the great technologies coming out of Africa such as mobile banking. Some of the best ideas may not start in Silicon Valley; they may start in Nairobi.” He added: “The mentality of mobile first would create new infrastructure, but we also must make sure that the regulations in place make it easier for startup culture.”

Responding to a question from Ghanaian Fellow Ethel Delali Cofie regarding how to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive, Steve Case responded that “competition is a signal that [your idea] is a big idea, so competition is a good thing.” Case also encouraged Fellows interested in entrepreneurship to remember the three Ps: “People, Partnerships, and Possibility.”

Panelist Alexa von Tobel, Founder of Learnvest, encouraged the audience to “dream big and perceive yourself as customer #1 when trying to solve a problem.” She admitted that it does take time to get ideas off the ground, but it helps to “pay it forward, look ahead, and get to work everyday.” Von Tobel also noted that “competition helps to sharpen your decision skills.”

Panelist Tcheguan Adebo Koba, Washington Fellow, addressed the need to go beyond acknowledging the rapid economic growth in African countries and find ways to make societies more inclusive. He lauded the Mandela Washington Fellowship’s public management track and called for greater opportunities for African youth entrepreneurs to gain access to markets across regional borders.

Yonas Moges, one of the 13 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia, told Tadias that he is inspired by his experiences as a participant. “I strongly feel the time has come to shine for Africa with the brilliant fellows I have met,” he said. Yonas has worked for more than a decade in the hospitality industry while focusing on international hotel chains. He is currently Managing Partner at Calibra Hospitality Consultancy and Business Plc, and “advises local developers in hotel design concept development, site selection, conducting feasibility studies, searching and selecting for hotel operators, and sourcing debt and equity finance for hotel projects.”

What has Yonas enjoyed most about the Young African Leaders Summit so far? “The networking, attending Obama’s speech and how he is simple to relate to for any aspiring young person, and community service culture in USA,” he shared.

Below are some photos from the Presidential Summit for Young African Leaders.



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Face2Face Africa Honors Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, Alek Wek, Femi Kuti

At the 2014 Face2Face Africa Awards ceremony in New York on Saturday, July 26th. (Photograph: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, July 27th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – On Saturday evening at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts a diverse and stylish crowd of African professionals filled the hall to celebrate and honor six trailblazers from the African continent in business, fashion, entertainment, social innovation and democratic governance.

Among those recognized by the pan-African media company Face2Face Africa include Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu of Ethiopia who received the “Entrepreneur Award” for her pioneering work as Founder and CEO of the international footwear brand SoleRebels. The “Humanitarian Honor” was awarded to U.S.-based Ghanaian social entrepreneur Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, Founder of FOCUS (Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine) which provides orthopedic care to patients in Ghana and several other African countries.

The Global Ambassador Honor was given to South Sudanese British model and designer Alek Wek who saluted all the honorees and pointed out that “Africa needs more women in business and entrepreneurship like SoleRebel’s Bethlehem Tilahun” and added that above all education is the key for all. She reminded the audience to ” study hard, stay focused and celebrate others.”

The Trailblazer award went to Masai Ujiri – the Nigerian-born President and General Manager of Basketball Operations at the Tronto Raptors organization. The Entertainment Honor was also given to Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Femi Kuti, who spoke about the need to “focus globally not just Africa.”

The Lifetime Achievement Honor was conferred on Sudanese-British mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire Dr Mohamed “Mo” Ibrahim – who was not present, but sent a video message accepting the accolade.

Below are photos and video from the event:

Video: The Face2Face Africa Awards Gold Carpet Presentation


Related:
Oprah Magazine Names Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu to Annual Power List

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Bill Gates Receives Honorary Doctoral Degree From Addis Ababa University

Bill Gates receives an honorary doctoral degree from Addis Ababa University (Photograph: UNECSO)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Although Bill Gates never graduated from college, dropping out of Harvard to start Microsoft, the American business magnate and philanthropist has received many honorary degrees from around the world, and now also his first from an African university. Gates was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from Addis Ababa University on Thursday, July 24th.

“It is a special honor to receive an honorary degree from Addis Ababa University,” Gates said in his speech. “This is one of the leading institutions of higher learning in Africa – a continent whose future has been a central interest of my career ever since my wife and I began our foundation nearly 15 years ago.”

Per AllAfrica.com “Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is the Microsoft founder’s first honorary degree from an African university.”

Below is the text of Bill Gates’ Speech to students at Addis Ababa University courtesy the gatesfoundation.org.

Bill Gates
Addis Ababa University Honorary Degree
July 24, 2014
AS PREPARED

Thank you for that introduction, Dr. Admasu Tsegaye [President of Addis Ababa University].

Prime Minister Hailemariam; distinguished guests; faculty and students of Addis Ababa University.

I am deeply grateful for this honorary degree.

I never got my real degree. I dropped out to start Microsoft, and never went back. So getting a diploma I can put on the wall and show my father is a relief.

It is a special honor to receive an honorary degree from Addis Ababa University.

This is one of the leading institutions of higher learning in Africa – a continent whose future has been a central interest of my career ever since my wife and I began our foundation nearly 15 years ago.

The first time Melinda and I came to Africa, 20 years ago, we were on vacation. We visited Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. We were awed by the natural beauty. But we were no less awed by the poverty we witnessed. Children were dying from illnesses we’d never even heard of.

This struck us as deeply wrong – and totally unnecessary.

The foundation we started took as its motto “All Lives Have Equal Value” – because it was so obvious to us that the world was clearly not treating all lives as having equal value. If it were, kids wouldn’t be dying by the millions from diseases that are preventable and treatable.

In short, coming to Africa inspired us to start our foundation.

Of course, the Africa I’m visiting today is not the Africa we saw back then.

You know the stats: Income per-person in sub-Saharan Africa is up by two-thirds. Seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are on this continent.

I could go on. But I didn’t come here to give a speech about economic statistical phenomena – because those figures don’t get at the real reason why I’m optimistic about Africa.

The real reason why I’m optimistic about Africa is that this continent is now in an incredible position to shape its own destiny for the better.

Why is this the case?

For one very simple and powerful reason: the countries of Africa are learning from each other.

I know that much of the narrative over the years about Africa has focused on how outside entities can help the people of this continent – whether those entities are foreign governments, or international aid organizations, or non-profits such as our own foundation.

Make no mistake – outside support has made a big difference, and will continue to do so. I spend a lot of my time advocating for donor countries to maintain foreign assistance focused on the needs of the poorest – and such assistance does indeed have an absolutely critical role to play.

That is also why our foundation has such a focus on Africa, investing in research and supporting delivery efforts on the issues of greatest consequence to the people of this continent – from HIV/AIDS to malaria.

In doing so, our priority is to support programs developed by Africans, for Africans, because we understand that the real fuel for development will be the resources of African nations themselves – whether that’s in the form of government funding, private-sector investment, or just plain human creativity at all levels of society.

This is where the idea of “African countries learning from each other” becomes so important. If you want to spend your national budgets as effectively as possible, there is now a clear path for doing exactly that – and Africans themselves are defining that path, for others to follow if they choose.

That path may not be easy, but it’s fairly simple to explain, and it comes down to this: If you want your country to rise from low-income to middle-income status, emphasize two things: health and agricultural development.

If you get health and agricultural development right, the gains are exceptional, and they reverberate through the rest of your economy for decades to come.

African leaders have formally acknowledged these truths. At Abuja in 2001 and Maputo in 2003, the delegates to the African Union agreed to targets for investment in these sectors.

While the progress since then has been uneven, the emphasis on health and agriculture is absolutely right.

The reason for this is straightforward: There is no path to lasting growth within Africa that is not widespread growth. It’s not possible. If Africa seeks prosperity, it must provide for the health and nutrition of all – including the poorest. Unless this continent brings its rates of malnutrition and premature mortality way down, it will not achieve the productivity levels necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

I fully realize that health and agricultural productivity are far from the only factors in economic growth. There are plenty of others – education, good governance, a sound physical infrastructure, to name just a few.

There’s no question that a modernized approach to development finance is another much-needed factor in equitable growth. Ethiopia is going to host a very important Financing for Development conference a year from now. That gathering will seek to establish a vision of finance for the new targets that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals.

That will be a critical opportunity for the world to commit to the public and private investments that are necessary if we are to continue to accelerate human development and economic growth.

To be successful, that new vision of development finance will need to be rooted in basic human needs. In fact, any sensible definition of what it means to be a middle-income country should go beyond per-capita numbers and include some measure of achievement on basic human needs like health and nutrition.

Across Africa, some countries are doing a very good job of meeting those needs – and others are not. The differences in outcomes are striking, even for countries with similar resources.

That variance represents a massive opportunity for countries to learn from each other’s best practices. If you learn from each other, then all countries in Africa should be able to do as well as the highest performing countries. That would be a stunning transformation.

A great place to start this conversation is where I’m standing today – Ethiopia.

I realize this is a nation that still faces many fundamental challenges, but Ethiopia has made enormous relative improvement in both health and agricultural productivity, which will give the country a solid basis for lasting growth.

Yes, Ethiopia remains for now a low-income nation by global standards – but that’s exactly my point.

With per-capita income comparable to many other African nations – and considerably smaller than some – Ethiopia is putting itself on a path to the global middle class.

If this proud country – which 30 years ago was seen by many as the world’s most extreme example of poverty and malnutrition – can put itself on this trajectory, there’s no good reason why other African countries can’t do the same.

What has Ethiopia done right? Quite simply, it has made health and agricultural development top priorities.

I want to talk briefly about what it’s done in both of these areas, and mention a few other nations that have also generated good examples in each.

Let’s start with health.

Our foundation started with a focus on health because that’s where the evidence pointed us. We were looking for the most strategic way to fight inequity so that our resources did the greatest good for the greatest number. Investing in health generates extremely high returns for huge numbers of people.

Here’s a striking illustration of that: A recent global commission of leading economists found a strong connection between health and national prosperity. Its report stated that about 11 percent of the economic growth in low- and middle-income countries from 1970 to 2000 resulted from reductions in adult mortality.

Conversely, there’s a vicious cycle that results from not investing in health – and here too, the results show up on a national scale.

For example, malaria kills more than 600,000 people a year. That’s a big number. But it actually understates the problem – including the calamitous economic costs of the disease.

Malaria infects roughly 200 million people annually, of whom probably more than 99 percent survive. At best, the survivors have to miss school or work for extended periods. At worst, they suffer lifelong disabilities, including cognitive impairment that virtually guarantees they’ll never reach their full potential.

Even when malaria and other diseases don’t take children’s lives, they can steal their future – and slow the progress of a nation.

This is the right time to invest in eradicating malaria – and other diseases that have long plagued this continent.

When I first started learning about development, there wasn’t a lot of hope that we could make rapid progress against malaria. Parasites had developed resistance to chloroquine – the main drug used to treat the disease – and malaria was resurgent across much of sub-Saharan Africa.

Since then, the global research community has begun committing more resources to malaria and other illnesses that disproportionately affect this continent. New vaccines and other health advances are emerging as a result.

But something else has been happening, as well. And that “something,” once again, is that Africa is learning from itself.

Countries on this continent – including some very poor countries – have made crucial innovations in providing for the health of their people. These innovations are models that virtually any African nation can follow, regardless of income.

Ethiopia has helped set the standard – most notably with its groundbreaking Health Extension Program. The federal government recognized that if it was going to make good on the Millennium Development Goals, it was going to have to expand access to primary health care across this large, predominantly rural country.

It came up with a smart plan. It identified the geographical gaps in health coverage, and went about filling those gaps, deploying more than 38,000 health-extension workers – nearly all of them women – in over 16,000 health posts nationwide.

Since its inception in 2004, the Health Extension Program has provided a range of vital services in maternal and child health; disease prevention; sanitation and hygiene; and basic health education.

Overall, the Health Extension Program has been a great success – and you can see it in the data.

The under-five mortality rate fell 67 percent from 1990 to 2012, meaning that Ethiopia met this Millennium Development Goal. The rate of decline has been especially impressive since the middle of the last decade, when the Health Extension Program began its work.

Ethiopia has shown a willingness not only to invest in health, but to do something that is sometimes even more difficult for governments, on any continent: It has been willing to measure results, adapt where needed, and admit the shortcomings that still exist.

For example, the Health Extension Program has been quick to offer new interventions in response to practical needs – such as by allowing health extension workers to treat childhood pneumonia and provide new, long-acting family-planning methods.

It has also been willing to collaborate – as it has with one of our grantees, L10K, which serves as a bridge from households to the Health Extension Program.

The government recognizes that while it has achieved great gains in combating child mortality, it still has much work to do to reduce Ethiopia’s maternal mortality rate, which remains one of the highest in Africa.

The Health Extension Program is a remarkable example that other African nations, such as Namibia, are already learning from.

On vaccines, there is enormous variance across Africa. Across the continent, vaccine coverage ranges from the mid-90s to well under 50 percent. Ghana – another African country that could serve as a model for development in both health and agriculture – has been among the continent’s best examples on vaccination.

In 2012, with assistance from the GAVI Alliance, Ghana took the innovative step of simultaneously rolling out pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines – the first time any African country had introduced the two vaccines at the same time.

The project was a success, and by the end of the decade, vaccines against two of the most prolific killers in the world – diarrhea and pneumonia – will be available in nearly every African country, thanks in part to GAVI’s excellent work, and in part to the national model that Ghana has established.

With regard to malaria – which I talked about a moment ago as an example of the economic burden of disease – a number of African countries, such as Zambia, are demonstrating that progress is possible where governments take determined action.

If this is the case now, with the weapons currently at our disposal, it will be even more so as new medications and other tools become available.

And while there is still a long way to go, it is inspiring to see the public-health gains so many countries in Africa have made in recent years. Along with Ethiopia, countries from Liberia to Malawi to Tanzania have met the MDG goal of cutting mortality by two-thirds even before the 2015 deadline. Others, like Madagascar and Niger, are on the verge of doing so.

That progress is both accelerating and spreading – in countries like Senegal and Rwanda, the rates of improvement are among the fastest we have measured in recent decades. That translates into millions of lives saved – young Africans who will soon be the ones leading the continent into the future.

Now I’d like to turn to the other central element of lasting growth for Africa – agricultural productivity.

Here too, Ethiopia has been a leader. The federal government did something extraordinary – it set up an organization, the Agricultural Transformation Agency, or ATA – that focused on providing data-driven, evidence-based solutions to improving farm productivity nationwide.

It’s very strategic for an African government to place this kind of bet on agricultural innovation. After all, the continent’s economy remains heavily reliant on agriculture: Two-thirds of Africans depend on farming for their livelihoods. Ethiopia is no exception to this reliance: Agriculture accounts for about 45 percent of its GDP.

I’d like to mention a couple of great examples of what Ethiopia has achieved with its ATA initiatives. One of them involves one of my favorite subjects: fertilizer.

For the past three decades, Ethiopia had used only two types of fertilizer. When you think about how big and geographically varied this country is, that didn’t make much sense. After all, different fertilizers work best in different soils.

The ATA, working with the Ministry of Agriculture, found that the best way to assess fertilizer needs nationwide was to analyze the soil using a combination of ground measurements and remote sensing.

I had the privilege of seeing this project myself on my last visit to Ethiopia. I got to see the special soil augurs and sampling techniques that your teams were using. The result of this effort is a soil-mapping system that’s unprecedented not just for Africa, but for virtually anyone in the world.

By the end of this year, the government will have mapped soil properties for the whole of Ethiopia. Our foundation provided some early support for this effort, and we’re proud of the results.

There’s also been some great innovation with regard to farmer-owned cooperatives. These have a mixed record in Ethiopia and across Africa, but can provide much-needed services for their members, such as distribution and marketing. The world-renowned coffee sector here in Ethiopia has seen good examples of this.

Now the ATA is leading a $50 million project to build storage capacity within these cooperatives – it’s a three-year undertaking, and is drawing upon $3 million in capital from the World Bank. It’s a good illustration of how a little outside money can supplement a much larger government-led initiative to support farmer-owned, private-sector organizations.

Ethiopia has begun to branch out from the collectives, and to open up its agricultural market. It is expanding its own version of an agro-dealer program as seen in other parts of Africa, including through direct-seed marketing.

Just last year, some regional bureaus of agriculture began supporting the marketing of certified seed from producers directly to farmers through independent distribution agents – a departure from the traditional approach, which was exclusively through a public-sector process.

By opening its markets further – and by seeking the involvement and consent of the rural communities themselves – Ethiopia could realize significant gains from its most important resources of all: the ingenuity and creativity of its own people.

Other countries – such as Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania – have undertaken their own bold investments, with huge payoffs. These are innovations that nations throughout Africa could emulate or adapt.

For example, Nigeria has established staple-crop processing zones to encourage investors to set up processing facilities near areas of high production for certain key crops, such as rice or cassava. This literally shortens the distance between producers and processors, and helps ensure more effective use of resources.

While we admire these and other agricultural innovations unfolding across the continent, far more needs to be done. African food production has not kept up with population growth – and that growth will only accelerate in the near future.

Nor is Africa’s agricultural sector moving quickly enough to meet another accelerating challenge: global climate change, which poses an especially severe danger to this continent, its agricultural productivity, and its overall development.

What is needed is a continent-wide commitment to a new generation of sustainable agricultural productivity, in the spirit of the Green Revolution that did so much to propel large sections of Asia and Latin America into the global middle class.

We are proud to be partners with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa – an African organization advancing African solutions, with a necessary emphasis on smallholder farmers, and on female farmers – who bear immense responsibility for overall agricultural production in Africa, but who realize relatively few of the economic gains.

I am heartened by the commitments made on agricultural development at the African Union summit last month – including commitments to allocate at least 10 percent of public expenditure to agriculture, and to work toward ending hunger in Africa by 2025 by at least doubling productivity in the sector.

Any commitment to lifting agricultural productivity in Africa – or to improving health – will require both realism and optimism.

Usually, people assume that realism and optimism describe two different schools of thought. I disagree. I believe my optimism about the future of Africa is extremely realistic.

You already have the tools to decrease child mortality and increase agricultural yields significantly. In the next decade, these tools will keep improving. You also have examples of countries that have invested in health and agriculture to make life better for their people.

So, we know that if a country in Africa is not improving in health, or not producing enough food, its first reaction should not be to seek scapegoats or excuses.

No, the first reaction should be to learn from your neighbor. Because that country has as many challenges as you do – but it also has good ideas that you can adapt to your own circumstances.

The rise of this continent will depend on whether leaders – here in Ethiopia and all across Africa – are open to learning from each other, and from their own people.

Whether or not that happens will depend on you – the future leaders of this country, and this continent. By focusing on basic health and agricultural productivity – and by learning from what is actually working right here – you can ensure that Africa will keep rising.

Our foundation is committed to working with you as you make this happen.

Thank you.

Related:
Why John Green and Bill Gates Joined Forces In Ethiopia (The Wall Street Journal)
Bill Gates in Ethiopia Says Africa Needs Better International Aid Audit

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Video: Teddy Afro Rocks New York’s SummerStage, B.B. King Blues Club

Teddy Afro performing at SummerStage festival in New York on July 5th, 2014. (Credit: Tsedey foto)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, July 12th 2014

New York (TADIAS) – Last week, Teddy Afro successfully played his first back-to-back show in New York at the 2014 SummerStage festival and at B.B. King Blues Club on Saturday, July 5th. Teddy briefly chatted with Tadias Magazine following his second show. The Ethiopian star was greeted at both venues with an enthusiastic audience that hailed from as varied locations as Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Boston.

Below is our video coverage of both events:



Related:
Photos: Teddy Afro at SummerStage 2014 Festival in New York

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Cool Moment: Zuckerberg Enjoys Ethiopian Food at Walia Restaurant in San Jose

Mark Zuckerberg poses for a photo with Walia restaurant staff in San Jose, California. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — When it comes to authentic Ethiopian cuisine Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, has very good taste. He was recently spotted enjoying Injera at Walia restaurant in San Jose, California. Not only did Zuckerberg wait ten minutes to be seated last Saturday, we are told, he also took his time to pose for a photo with the Walia staff.

You can learn more about Walia restaurant at www.waliaethiopian.com.



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Minnesota Senate Condemns Recent Violence in Ethiopia’s Oromia State

(Photo: UNPO.org)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Saturday, May 17th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The legislature of the state of Minnesota, which is home to the largest Oromo population in the United States, has condemned the recent police violence directed against student protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia state. In a resolution signed earlier this week the Minnesota State Senate urged the Obama administration to pressure the Ethiopian authorities to respect human rights.

“Whereas, Oromo students in Ethiopia started protesting on April 25th, 2014, to stand against the government’s plan to substantially expand the municipal boundaries of Addis Ababa because, according to students, the expansion would threaten communities under regional jurisdiction,” the resolution stated. “Whereas, under this proposed Addis Ababa Integrated Development Master plan, the boundaries would include 15 more communities in Oromia; it would take the authority of Oromia Regional State on the Oromo farmers and give it to Addis Ababa city; and the students are concerned that the displacement of Oromo farmers and students will have a negative effect on the land and citizens.”

The lawmakers noted: “The Oromo people make up nearly one-half of Ethiopia’s population; and whereas, the government has reported that there are at least nine students dead, but other estimates have reached 47, witnesses report that at least 70 people are wounded; and whereas, on May 9th, 2014, an Oromo rally to protest the killings and imprisonment of peaceful Oromo protesters in Ethiopia and to demand the perpetrators be brought to justice was held at the Minnesota State Capitol.”

“Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate of the State of Minnesota that it supports the Oromo community and condemns the violence against them, and urges the United States government to pressure the Ethiopian authorities to respect human rights and democratic process.”

Below is copy of the resolution:



Related:
The Brutal Crackdown on Ethiopia Protesters (Human Rights Watch)
Deadly Ethiopia Protest: At Least 17 Ambo Students Killed in Oromia State (VOA)
Ethiopia protest: Ambo students killed in Oromia state (BBC)
Students killed in violent confrontations with police in Ethiopia’s largest state (AP)
Ethiopia: Oromia State Clashes Leave At Least 11 Students Dead (International Business Times)
Ethiopia: Discussing Ethnic Politics in Social Media (TADIAS)

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Historic New York Medhanialem Church Moves into New Bronx Home (Video)

The inauguration ceremony for the new Bronx building purchased by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Medhanialem Church took place on Friday, May 2nd and Saturday, May 3rd, 2014. (Photograph: Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, May 9th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — One of the oldest Ethiopian churches in New York, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Medhanialem Church, which had gathered at the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan for over three decades, has officially moved into a newly purchased property in the Norwood section of the Bronx (302 East 206 Street). Last weekend, the dedication program included an all-night vigil prayer held on Friday, May 2nd as well as a procession of the Ark and a celebratory lunch on Saturday, May 3rd.

The following is a video and photo coverage of the event.



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Society of Ethiopians in Diaspora: 22nd Annual Dinner and Awards Gala in DC

Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora (SEED) will hold its 22nd Annual Awards Gala at Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, May 25th, 2014. (Courtesy photos)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Professor Donald N. Levine, Obang Metho, Menbere Aklilu, Ambassador Zewde Retta and the late Rachel Beckwith, along with five “outstanding students,” are among those that will be honored at this year’s award dinner hosted by SEED (Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora), which is scheduled to take place on May 25th at Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center in Washington, D.C.

Beginning with its inaugural event held in 1993, SEED has been highlighting the achievements of Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia who “stand out as role models from among the educators, scientists, artists, religious leaders, high school and university students and community leaders without any preference for education and career category.”

Dr. Belay Abegaz, M.D., a cardiologist and founder of CHFE, is being recognized this year for his pioneering contributions to cardio-care for children in Ethiopia. “SEED salutes Dr. Belay Abegaz as an exemplary and outstanding physician and as a role model to so many fellow Ethiopians,” the press release noted.

SEED added that it is honoring Menbere Aklilu as a distinguished role model to women in general: “We salute her in admiration of her rise from homelessness to richness through determination and hard work, in appreciation of the positive contributions she has made by exemplifying the higher ideals and standards of our community, in recognition of her inspiring entrepreneurial excellence, as well as community and civic responsibilities, and for representing the Diaspora Community with dignity and sterling character.”

Professor Donald N. Levine, Ph.D. will be acknowledged for “his lifelong dedication to preserving the history and culture of Ethiopia and Ethiopians through his writings, in appreciation of his many other positive attributes and the higher esteem he is being held in the Ethiopian community.”

Likewise Ambassador Zewde Retta is being featured “for his prolific writings and ability to touch us deeply, for having enriched us intellectually as well as for appealing to our collective conscience to remember and preserve our history.”

The SEED 2014 Outstanding Student Honorees include Mahlet Kirubel, Herrana E. Addisu, Luladay Price, Hewan Tilahun and Michael Mekonnen.

If You Go:
SEED Annual Award Dinner
SUNDAY, May 25th, 2014 at 6:30pm
Georgetown University Hotel & Conference Center
3800 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC 20057
Phone: 202-687-3200
TICKETS:
$75.00 for adults
$85.00 at the door
$35.00 for children under 12
Contact: 609- 407-0496 or 234 -380-1533
More info at www.ethioseed.org.

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YEP: Young Ethiopian Professionals Named ‘Empower Player 2014′

Dr. Solomon Bililign speaking at Young Ethiopian Professionals (YEP) event in D.C. (Courtesy Photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias staff

Published: Saturday, April 12th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The online magazine emPower has selected Young Ethiopian Professionals (YEP) as one of the “emPower Player 2014″ award winners and a nominee for this year’s “Leader of Good” prize. YEP, founded in 2010, is a growing networking group in the DC area that has built a platform for Ethiopian professionals in various sectors to meet and share resources among each other. In addition, the organization’s Co-Founder and Executive Vice-President, Shimelse Mekonnen, says that YEP also provides mentoring programs for college and high school students.

“[We are] a non-profit organization with volunteers, such as myself, who strive to build a community of diverse professionals,” Shimelse told Tadias. “We offer free tutoring, educational workshops and inspirational events to our members.” He added: “This award is a recognition of our volunteers’ hard work and provides us more energy to go forward.”

Since it was established nearly four years ago, YEP has hosted over 30 events highlighting inspirational speakers from the Ethiopian community including Physicist Solomon Bililign, a recipient of the 2011 U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering; Emmy Award-winning journalist Bofta Yimam; and the Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Mimi Alemayehou.

“There is a famous African proverb that says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” Shimelse said. “No one person can make it in life without the support and guidance of other people in their lives.” He shares that “Traditionally, support and guidance in the Ethiopian Diaspora come from an informal network of family and relatives. The fate of many people depends on the information they get from this informal network. However, figuring out how to navigate through a new country, new culture, new language and new system, can become very challenging as the traditional means of guidance and support are not enough.”

Shimelse points out that he and his friend, Mesfin Getaneh (the Co-founder and President of YEP), noticed such a gap in the Ethiopian community while participating in various member-based organizations pertaining to their careers. They were inspired by “the connections and opportunities created from these events and eagerly looking for a similar platform to meet and network with fellow Ethiopian professionals.” During the early stages of planning, they were joined by Lulit Ayne (Co-Founder & Vice President) whom Shimelse said brought “firsthand experience” in grassroots organizational development.

Today YEP, which enjoys a membership of over 600, continues to organize career fairs and other events designed to connect job seekers with working professionals in their field. Shimelse emphasizes that YEP’s goal is to “create opportunities for Ethiopian professionals to meet, network, and share resources among fellow professionals to succeed in their career and social endeavors by inviting successful mentors to speak about their experiences to our aspiring professionals, organizing workshops and panel discussions on various topics about professional development, and organizing learning excursions and field trips.”

Regarding the emPower magazine’s award nomination, Shimelse adds: “This recognition will also help us in our plans to expand to other cities where there’s a large concentration of Ethiopians such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Oakland and San Jose. The more members we have, the easier it will be to achieve our vision to create a network where connections are made, resources are exchanged, and skills are enhanced. We want to give young Ethiopian professionals all the tools and resources at our disposal to empower them to create the next Microsoft, Apple, or Google.”



You can learn more about YEP at www.yepnetworks.org.
Vote for them at www.empowermagazine.com.

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Update: Isiah Leggett’s Press Conference with Ethiopian Media

The incumbent Executive of Montgomery County, Maryland Isiah "Ike" Leggett. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, April 5th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — How large is the Ethiopian community in Montgomery County, Maryland? “Well the county overall is 1.1 million residents and we have about 10% of that population from continental Africa,” answered Isiah ‘Ike’ Leggett, the County’s Executive, during a teleconference with Ethiopian media last week. “And from that ten percent, which is about 110,000, I think the best figure is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000 directly in the county, but it overlaps with two other counties in our region and Washington, D.C.”

In fact, Mr. Leggett said that he had a recent meeting with a group from Washington, D.C. that established an office in Montgomery County to help them with providing some support to issue micro-loans to the Ethiopian community, for small businesses, restaurants, and people who are interested in purchasing tax services.  He emphasized: “We are trying to be more engaged and support some of those organizations from the economic development standpoint. Of course, we are promoting Ethiopian culture through our libraries, recreational facilities and within our schools as well. We are trying to address it from a cultural perspective, from an educational perspective, a business approach as well as simply trying to remove some of the obstacles for people who want to reside and stay in Montgomery County and in this country — to help them facilitate that process as well.”

Organized by the Ethiopian-American Council (EAC) the press conference, which took place on Tuesday, April 1st, was intended to introduce Mr. Leggett to the larger Ethiopian community and to announce EAC’s endorsement of his candidacy for a third term as Montgomery County Executive. Mr. Leggett took several questions from Ethiopian journalists on a range of issues that are pertinent to the Ethiopian-American community and residents of the county in general. Topics of discussion included immigration reform, jobs, education, business, access to health care, affordable housing, as well as his support for an Ethiopian community center and his trip to Ethiopia a year and a half ago to sign a sister city agreement between Montgomery County and the historic Ethiopian city of Gonder.

“I carried a delegation of about 60 people with me to Ethiopia for about ten days,” Mr. Leggett said of his trip in the fall of 2012. “We had an opportunity to travel throughout the country with a signing ceremony in Gonder to establish our sister city relationship. The Ethiopian community in the county had expressed very strong views that they thought, and I believed them, that we should establish one of our sister city relationships with Gonder.” He added: “We have several other [such agreements] including China and South Korea. But we thought given the history of Ethiopia and the many residential Ethiopians that are here in Montgomery county from Ethiopia who are contributing to our local economy, whether its in education or various professions, we were delighted that we had the opportunity to visit and to host many follow-up meetings with people from Gonder, Ethiopia and Montgomery county.”

Regarding his stand on immigration reform Mr. Leggett, who is also the current President of the County Executives of America (a position he assumed in August of 2013), said he feels strongly about the issue at a national level. “First of all we start with the general premise of the county that we treat people with dignity and respect and make certain that the resources that we have in the county are available to all people — that we do not discriminate or we do not have hard core kinds of restrictions as it relates to the immigrant population in Montgomery County,” he said. “That involves everything from health care to housing and to a variety of other resources that we provide in Montgomery County.” He added: “We have a very large number of Ethiopians that serve on boards and committees throughout Montgomery county and our county government. Thirdly, we try to promote all kinds of cultural, religious and educational activities, which the Ethiopian community is an active part of. And fourthly, it’s in the area of economic development that we’re reaching out [and] working with the Ethiopian [business] community.”

In addition, Mr. Leggett pointed out that his staff is constantly in contact with members of the Ethiopian community in Montgomery County “to make certain that we respond to many of their concerns” and to assist in creating an Ethiopian community center. Mr. Leggett continued: “For example, there is a very large festival event that was held in Maryland this past summer and Montgomery County played a part as host. We are working on a variety of fronts trying to ensure that we support a community center whereby there will be a common place where Ethiopians can consistently gather. And they do so now, but often times it’s at different locations, its not as consistent, it’s not as focused as we would want it to be. With a community center Mr. Legett shared that they can provide activities ranging  ”from cultural events to religious events, or simply a meeting place that they would have as a common location within our county.” Mr. Leggett emphasized that “more importantly, my office is and has opened its doors so that we can be supportive of what the Ethiopian community wants. I think that’s the best response we can have. The more important side to this is to be receptive to the Ethiopian community and things that they would like to see us do and to have an ongoing dialogue. If you have that as a model and you are prepared to work aggressively with that, very positive things can happen.”

According to his bio Leggett, who was initially elected as Montgomery County Executive in 2006 (and re-elected in 2010), was born in Deweyville, Texas in 1944. “Leggett attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and, after serving in the Vietnam War, earned a law degree from Howard University in Washington, D.C.  In 1986, he became the first African-American elected to the county council in Montgomery County, Maryland and served on the council through 2002. He remains the only African-American ever elected to that body at-large.”

At the press conference last Tuesday Mr. Leggett repeatedly urged Ethiopian- Americans to volunteer in his campaign and noted that on the 27th of April, his wife is having “a large event in Silver Spring,” an engagement, he stated, for women across the board “so she is encouraging Ethiopian women and others to come.” He added: “That involvement provides a number of things because many years ago when I first moved into Montgomery County and got involved, I started by assisting other candidates and learning from them about the elements of politics and public service and I was able to expand from that to run for office myself at a lower level and eventually worked my way up to County Executive.”

Mr. Leggett said that he hopes to see Ethiopian-Americans vying for elected office in the United States in future years: “So that you are not looking at Iike Leggett who is running for Country Executive or some other office and representing the views of the Ethiopian community, but you have people from Ethiopia or people with strong background and connection with Ethiopia who are running themselves, that’s the progress that I want to see happen.”

Below are clips of the audio from the teleconference.



You can learn more about County Executive Isiah ‘Ike’ Leggett at www.ikeleggett.org.

Video: Leggett Leads a Delegation to Gonder Ethiopia, Montgomery County’s Sister City (2012)

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John Kerry Highlights Eskinder Nega

Secretary of State John Kerry. (Photo: AP)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: February 27th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega on Thursday during a press briefing in Washington while unveiling the latest U.S. reports on Human Rights. “The truth is that some of the greatest accomplishments in expanding the cause of human rights have come not because of legislative decree or judicial fiat, but they came through the awesomely courageous acts of individuals, whether it is Xu Zhiyong fighting the government transparency that he desires to see in China, or Ales Byalyatski, who is demanding justice and transparency and accountability in Belarus, whether it is Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, who is rapping for greater political freedom in Cuba, or Eskinder Nega, who is writing for freedom of expression in Ethiopia,” Kerry said. “Every single one of these people are demonstrating a brand of moral courage that we need now more than ever.”

Below is a video and text of John Kerry’s full speech.

Kerry Remarks on the Release of Country Reports on Human Rights


Remarks on the Release of the Annual Country Reports on Human Rights

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Press Briefing Room
Washington, DC

February 27, 2014

Well, good morning, everybody. Excuse me. I’ve got a little allergies this morning, I think. I’m delighted to be here this morning for the second Human Rights report that I have issued as Secretary, and I’m particularly pleased to be here with our Acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Uzra Zeya, who as I think all of you know, is performing these responsibilities in the capacity as an interim assistant secretary but who has done just a spectacular job and has led the Department in a year-long process to track and make the assessments that are reflected here. So I thank her for a job particularly well done on this year’s Human Rights Report.

The fundamental struggle for dignity, for decency in the treatment of human beings between each other and between states and citizens, is a driving force in all of human history. And from our own nation’s journey, we know that this is a work in progress. Slavery was written into our Constitution before it was written out. And we know that the struggle for equal rights, for women, for others – for LGBT community and others – is an ongoing struggle. And it’s because of the courage and commitment of citizens in each generation that the United States has come closer to living up to our own ideals.

Even as we come together today to issue a report on other nations, we hold ourselves to a high standard, and we expect accountability here at home too. And we know that we’re not perfect. We don’t speak with any arrogance whatsoever, but with a concern for the human condition.

Our own journey has not been without great difficulty, and at times, contradiction. But even as we remain humble about the challenges of our own history, we are proud that no country has more opportunity to advance the cause of democracy and no country is as committed to the cause of human rights as we are.

This year’s report, we think, is especially timely. It comes on the heels of one of the most momentous years in the struggle for greater rights and freedoms in modern history.

In Syria, hundreds were murdered in the dead of night when a disaster occurred at the hands of a dictator who decided to infect the air of Damascus with poisonous gas, and many more have been, unfortunately, confined to die under a barrage of barrel bombs, Scud missiles, artillery, and other conventional weapons.

In Bangladesh, thousands of workers perished in the greatest workplace safety disaster in history.

And from Nigeria to Russia to Iran, indeed in some 80 countries the world over, LGBT communities face discriminatory laws and practices that attack their basic human dignity and undermine their safety. We are seeing new laws like the Anti-Homosexuality Bill enacted by Uganda and signed into law by President Museveni earlier this week, which not only makes criminals of people for who they are, but punishes those who defend the human rights that are our universal birthright.

These laws contribute to a global trend of rising violence and discrimination against LGBT persons and their supporters, and they are an affront to every reasonable conscience, and the United States will continue to stand with our LGBT brothers and sisters as we stand up for freedom, for justice, for equal rights for all people around the world.

And so with this year’s report, we join with many other nations in reaffirming our commitment to a world where speaking one’s mind does not lead to persecution, a world where practicing or changing one’s faith does not lead to imprisonment, and where marching peacefully in the street does not get you beaten up in a blind alley or even killed in plain sight.

So let me be clear. This is not just some high-minded exercise. This is the most comprehensive, authoritative, dispassionate, and factual review of the state of human rights globally, and every American should be proud of it. That’s why Acting Assistant Secretary Zeya of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and our embassies and consulates around the world have spent countless hours researching and writing these reports, engaging activists, talking to governments, and analyzing NGO and media reports. And that’s why they capture the attention of dictatorships and democracies alike.

This is about accountability. It’s about ending impunity. And it’s about a fight that has gone on for centuries, as long as human beings have been able to think and write and speak and act on their own. The struggle for rights and dignity couldn’t be more relevant to what we are seeing transpire across the globe. The places where we face some of the greatest national security challenges today are also places where governments deny basic human rights to their nations’ people, and that is no coincidence. And it is particularly no coincidence in an age where people have access and want access to more information and the freedom to be able to act – to access information and to be able to act on the basis of that information. That is what has always characterized democracies and free people.

It’s no coincidence that in North Korea, a UN commission of inquiry recently found clear and compelling evidence of wholesale torture and crimes against humanity, reports of people who have been executed summarily and fired at by artillery, fired at by anti-aircraft weapons, 122 millimeter aircraft weapons that literally obliterate human beings, and this has occurred with people in the masses being forced to watch, a form of gross and utter intimidation and oppression.

It’s no coincidence that the first use of a weapon of mass destruction anywhere in the last quarter century came from a dictatorship in Syria in trying to suppress a popular uprising, in trying to suppress the aspirations of young people who simply wanted jobs and education and opportunity.

It’s no coincidence that the brutal violence that we’ve seen recently in South Sudan and the Central African Republic is rooted in cycles of violence stemming from past abuses, marginalization, discrimination, and unwillingness to listen.

And so the United States of America will continue to speak out, without a hint of arrogance or apology, on behalf of people who stand up for their universal rights. And we will stand up in many cases for those who are deprived of the opportunity to be able to stand up for themselves.

We will do so in Venezuela, where the government has confronted peaceful protestors by deploying armed vigilantes, by imprisoning students, and by severely limiting freedoms of expression and assembly. The solution to Venezuela’s problems are not found through violence, and they will not be found through violence, but only through dialogue with all Venezuelans in a climate of mutual respect.

We will do it in Sri Lanka, where the government still has not answered basic demands for accountability and reconciliation, where attacks on civil society activists, journalists, and religious minorities, sadly, still continue. Our concern about this ongoing situation has led the United States to support another UN Human Rights Council resolution at the March session. We will do so because we know countries that deny human rights and human dignity challenge our interests as well as human interests. But we also know countries that advance those values, those countries that embrace these rights are countries that actually create opportunities.

From Yemen to Tunisia, which I just visited last month, we have seen how national dialogue and democratic progress can make countries more stable and make them stronger partners for peace and prosperity. In Ukraine, as we all just saw in real time in the last days, tens of thousands took to the streets to demonstrate against the power – to demonstrate again the power of people to be able to demand a more democratic and accountable governance, and to stand up even against those who would sniper from roofs and take their lives in the effort to have their voices heard.

In Burma, we continue to see a country that was isolated for so many years slowly moving away not just from dictatorship, but toward a more productive partnering with the United States and the international community.

So there are plenty of examples, folks, of places that choose a different road, and that strive to make it work. As today’s report makes clear, Burma still faces the normal challenges, from reforming an undemocratic constitution to ending discrimination and violence against religious and ethnic minorities, but we must continue to encourage progress even as we speak honestly about the problems that persist.

In my first year as Secretary of State, I have been very fortunate to see with my own eyes what we can accomplish when we see our power and use our power and influence to empower others to be able to change things for the better. I’m truly inspired by the civil society activists that I’ve met with in many of the countries I’ve been to – in Hanoi, for instance – people who are standing up for their fundamental rights to speak out and to associate freely. I’m inspired by the 86-year-old human rights pioneer I met in Moscow who has spent a lifetime fighting for the basic rights that we take for granted here in the United States. I’m inspired by a group of young southeast-Asian land rights advocates that I met at the ASEAN regional forum last year who understand that societal problems are best solved when the government works with civil society, not against it.

The truth is that some of the greatest accomplishments in expanding the cause of human rights have come not because of legislative decree or judicial fiat, but they came through the awesomely courageous acts of individuals, whether it is Xu Zhiyong fighting the government transparency that he desires to see in China, or Ales Byalyatski, who is demanding justice and transparency and accountability in Belarus, whether it is Angel Yunier Remon Arzuaga, who is rapping for greater political freedom in Cuba, or Eskinder Nega, who is writing for freedom of expression in Ethiopia. Every single one of these people are demonstrating a brand of moral courage that we need now more than ever.

This year there is actually another name on all of our minds, and that is, of course, the first Human Rights Report since the passing of one of the most courageous individuals of all time, Nelson Mandela. Mandela was more than an inspiration; he was a model. All over the world, I have been in homes and offices where his unmistakable face was on posters and prints. I’ve met so many young kids named Nelson in Africa, but in so many other places where people are aspiring for real change. His influence was just that powerful. Even in his absence, the example that he set will long endure. We carry on his work for those who are walking picket lines, who are sitting in prison cells sometimes unknown to anybody except their family, who are protesting from Cairo to Caracas to Kyiv.

And we have to ask ourselves, as we do this: If we don’t stand with these brave men and women, then what do we stand for and who will stand with them? And if we don’t give voice to those who are voiceless, then who do we speak for and who will give voice to them? The demand for human dignity I believe, President Obama believes – I think all of us believe in this country – is unstoppable. And today we reaffirm our commitment to stand with the many who seek dignity and against the few who deny it.

That’s how we live up to our ideals. That’s how we will meet the demands of this moment. That’s how we will build a more stable and peaceful world.

And before I turn things over to Uzra, let me leave you with one final thought. We obviously have a big agenda. You can see that. And that means we need our full team on the field so that we can get to work. Frankly, it’s unacceptable that so many of our nominees – countless numbers of ambassadors to very important countries are awaiting confirmation. Our national security is not served by keeping many professionals, people who have waited patiently, in a perpetual limbo. Neither is our ability to support democratic rights and aspirations of people all over the world enhanced by what is happening.

Let me give you an example, for instance, of what is happening to Tom Malinowski. Tom is a human rights champion whom the President has picked as his nominee to be the next Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Tom has strong bipartisan support. We know of no objection to his nomination – none – and yet, he has been waiting more than 220 days to be confirmed.

So now is the time to send a strong signal that we are not content to sit on the sidelines. I ask and I hope that our colleagues in the Senate will help Tom Malinowski get on the job so that we can continue to lead in these very kinds of issues that I have just laid out here today. We are ready to lead, and that’s when America is at its best, and that’s the vision that has always inspired people. And it always will. And it’s with that understanding that we are committed to continue this important work to defend the rights of people all around the world. That’s how we became a nation, and that’s how we will stay the nation that we want to be.

With that I thank you very much, and I will leave it in the good hands of Uzra. Thank you.

Related:
Q&A: Ethiopian journalists languish in prison

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Dr. Catherine Hamlin Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Dr. Catherine Hamlin has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Photo courtesy: hamlinfistula.org)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Saturday, February 8th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Dr. Catherine Hamlin, an Australian-born, honorary Ethiopian citizen, recently celebrated her 90th birthday surrounded by the women whose lives she changed for the better at the fistula hospital she established with her husband in Addis Ababa in 1974.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 100,000 women are affected worldwide by obstetric fistula — an injury during the birthing process that women with obstructive labor suffer from when they have inadequate access to medical support.

Earlier this month the Ethiopian government sent a letter nominating Hamlin for the Nobel Peace Prize, and over the years Dr. Hamlin’s work has received global support and financial assistance from organizations such as Hamlin Fistula USA, Fistula Foundation, and Tesfa Ineste – an Ethiopian Diaspora initiative that helped establish the Harar Hamlin Fistula Center.

In 2014 the Hamlin College of Midwives enrolled 21 Ethiopian students for the Bachelor of Science degree, making the total count of midwifery students up to 89. “The opening of the Hamlin College of Midwives, about 12 kilometers from Addis Ababa, is the key to tackle, and even eradicate completely, this devasting childbirth injury” says Abaynesh Asrat, Board Member of Hamlin Fistula USA. “I think, as we did a phenomenal job collectively to build the Harar Center, we can once again use our intellect and our financial support, individually and collectively, three-fold, toward the education of more students to graduate from the Hamlin Midwifery College.”

Still working as a surgeon Dr. Hamlin recently told World News Australia Radio that she plans to continue her lifelong dedication to women suffering from obstetric fistula in Ethiopia. Several of her former patients now also work by her side performing some of the most challenging fistula repairs, which is a testament to her legacy of training the next generation of reproductive rights champions and being a beacon of light to many more thousands of women around the world.

Related:
At 90 this doctor is still calling by Nicholas kristof (NYT)
90 Year Old Surgeon Keeps a Steady Hand in Ethiopia (Australia Radio)

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US Congress Takes a Historic Stance Against Land Grab Evictions in Ethiopia

(Courtesy Oakland Institute)

Oakland Institute

Oakland, CA – In a historic move, the US Congress has taken a stance on land grabs-related human rights abuses in Ethiopia. The 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill contains provisions that ensure that US development funds are not used to support forced evictions in Ethiopia.

The bill prevents US assistance from being used to support activities that directly or indirectly involve forced displacement in the Lower Omo and Gambella regions. It further requires US assistance in these areas be used to support local community initiatives aimed at improving livelihoods and be subject to prior consultation with affected populations. The bill goes further and even instructs the directors of international financial institutions to oppose financing for any activities that directly or indirectly involve forced evictions in Ethiopia.

According to Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute, “We welcome this move as it aims to address one major flaw of US assistance to Ethiopia. The step taken by the US Congress is very significant, as it signals to both the Ethiopian government and the US administration that turning a blind eye to human rights abuses in the name of development is no longer an option.”

Several reports from the Oakland Institute have raised alarm about the scale, rate, and negative impacts of large-scale land acquisitions in Ethiopia that would result in the forced displacement of over 1.5 million people. This relocation process through the government’s villagization scheme is destroying the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and pastoralist communities. Ethiopian security forces have beaten, arrested, and intimidated individuals who have refused to relocate and free the lands for large-scale agricultural plantations.

Read the full press release at www.oaklandinstitute.org.

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Tadias Magazine Roundtable Discussion at National Press Club

Jomo Tariku presents at Tadias Roundtable at The National Press Club, Saturday, December 14th, 2013. (Photo: Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Tadias Magazine hosted a roundtable discussion on Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Saturday, December 14th.

The roundtable discussion presented a panel of scholars, legal experts and civic society leaders from the Ethiopian and Middle Eastern communities who informed the audience about the status of Ethiopian migrant workers in gulf states using data and research to promote a continued dialogue on short and long-term solutions. A Q&A session followed panelist presentations.

Panelists included Jomo Tariku, developer of a crowdmapping website on domestic help abuse in the Middle East; scholar Khaled Beydoun who focused on international anti-trafficking protocols and the legal issues facing Ethiopian migrants working in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and various gulf states; Dr. Maigenet Shifferaw, President of the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW) in Washington, DC; Kumera Genet, Huffington Post contributor who has written extensively on the status of Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East; Dawit Wolde Giorgis, Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.; and Rima Kalush, Editor and Head Researcher for Bahrain-based Migrant-Rights.org.

Several media organizations attended the event including Deutsche Welle German Amharic radio program, Voice of America, EBS, and ESAT. We also extend our thanks to Ethiomedia.com who helped publicize the event.

Below is a video trailer and slideshow of the roundtable discussion.

Video: Tadias Roundtable on Ethiopian Migrants in the Middle East at National Press Club

Photos by Matt Andrea:

The following are tweets from the audience:

PANELIST BIOS

Jomo Tariku developed a crowdmapping site that documents domestic help abuse in the Middle East. Jomo is a voracious reader of current events around the world, a tinkerer of web technologies and a volunteer for various causes. He is also in the process of documenting Ethiopian (TimeLineEthiopia.com) and soon African stories using freely available data and data visualization tools. Jomo was born to Ethiopian parents in Kenya in 1968. He was named after Jomo Kenyatta, founder of the Kenyan nation. Jomo completed his higher education in Industrial Design (BFA) at the University of Kansas. After almost 10 years of operating a design studio in Washington, DC, Jomo joined The World Bank as a Publishing Officer/Designer in 2011. In his spare time he is an advocate of peaceful means of solving difficult problems. Jomo is married with two sons and lives in Springfield, VA.

Khaled A. Beydoun’s insight on domestic and international legal matters has been featured on television and radio, including CNN, NPR, MSNBC, Al-­Jazeera, Voice America, and the Washington Post. Professor Beydoun’s scholarship focuses on immigration law, criminal law, critical race theory, and legal history. His research interests focus on the intersection of race and religion in criminal and immigration law. Professor Beydoun earned his J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and holds a B.A., with distinction, from the University of Michigan. In addition, he earned an LL.M. with an emphasis on Islamic Law from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Before joining UCLA School of Law as a Critical Race Studies Fellow, Professor Beydoun practiced in the areas of criminal law and civil rights advocacy. He served as an Appellate Defense attorney for the State Appellate Defender of Michigan, and served as a Racial Justice Fellow with the ACLU of Michigan. In addition, Professor Beydoun also served as the Middle East & North Africa Legal Analyst for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative in Washington, D.C. Professor Beydoun’s work has been featured in the Berkeley Journal of International Law, the Michigan Journal of Race and Law, the Journal of Islamic Law and Culture, and his forthcoming work will be featured in the NYU Survey of American Law.

Maigenet Shifferraw is currently the president of the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW) in Washington, DC. Dr. Maigenet earned her Ph.D. in education from the University of Wisconsin­, Milwaukee in 1982. She was an Associate Professor in adult education at the Department of Education at the University of the District of Columbia for twenty years. She has served as a consultant in education at the World Bank, the US Department of Education and other institutions. She has been a women’s rights advocate for the last thirty five years.

Kumera Genet blogs about African migrant issues for the Huffington Post and has built relationships with Lebanese and Arab American activists who support legal, economic, and cultural change in the Middle East to respect migrant workers. Kumera is originally from Austin, Texas, and has been living and working in the DC area for the past 6 years. He has worked in various youth serving organizations and non-­profits focusing on job readiness training, immigrant rights, parental engagement in education and community organizing.

Dawit Wolde Giorgis represents the newly formed global alliance on the issue of Ethiopian migrants in the Middle East. He is a Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C.

Rima Kalush is the current editor and head researcher of Migrant-rights.org, a platform dedicated to advancing migrants’ rights throughout the Middle East. She has several years of research experience in diverse fields, ranging from North African history to California politics. Her pieces have been republished by digital journals including Jadaliyya, and her research has been referenced by institutions such as Gender Across Borders and the Institute for Global Labour Rights.


Roundtable Discussion on Ethiopian Migrants in the Middle East
National Press Club
Saturday, December 14, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM (EST)
529 14th Street Northwest, Murrow Conference Room
Washington, DC 20045

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Addis and DC Sign Sister City Agreement

DC Mayor Vincent Gray and Addis Ababa Mayor Diriba Kuma toasting the signing of a Sister City Agreement between their respective cities on Wednesday, December 11th, 2013. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Thursday, December 12th, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Mayor Vincent Gray and Addis Ababa mayor Diriba Kuma signed a Sister City Agreement on Wednesday evening (December 11th) laying the groundwork for a closer relationship between residents of the two cities. In a press release the DC Mayor’s office stated that the agreement will be in force for a period of five years focusing on mutual interests including economic development, information exchange, cultural education and youth engagement.

“Inspired by the District’s vibrant Ethiopian diaspora and by the similarities shared by our two capital cities, I am proud today to call Addis Ababa the District’s newest Sister City,” Mayor Gray said. ” I am deeply grateful to the members of the Ethiopian community for their contributions to the District and view this signing ceremony and the partnering of our two cities as an opportunity for the residents of these two great capital cities to enrich each other culturally, educationally, economically and in quality of life.”

The Mayor added: “With such a large Ethiopian community right here in the District, the signing of this Sister City Agreement presents an unprecedented opportunity for the District and Addis Ababa to work and grow together, and I am very excited about the prospects of our bright future. These important agreements help to foster the international ties that strengthen civil society and goodwill between nations. I look forward to our fruitful collaboration and thank Mayor Kuma for visiting our great city for this truly special occasion.”

Addis Ababa is Washington, D.C.’s fourteenth sister city including Bangkok, Thailand; Dakar, Senegal; Beijing, China; Brussels, Belgium; Athens, Greece; Paris, France; Pretoria, South Africa; Seoul, South Korea; Accra, Ghana; Sunderland, U.K.; Rome, Italy; Ankara, Turkey; and Brasília, Brazil.

Belwo are photos. Stay tuned for video coverage of the event.



Related:
Photos: 2nd Annual DC to Africa Business Symposium

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“Write for Rights” Campaign Launched for Journalist Eskinder Nega (Video)

A global appeal has been launched for the release of Eskinder Nega. (Courtesy Amnesty International)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

December 4th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — Amnesty International has launched a global “Write for Rights” campaign to raise worldwide awareness about the case of imprisoned journalist Eskinder Nega.” Eskinder has been locked up at Kaliti prison since 2011 serving an 18-year sentence on terrorism charges.

In May 2013, Eskinder wrote from prison: “I will live to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It may or may not be a long wait. Whichever way events may go, I shall persevere!”

You can take action at http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/LWM2013-Ethiopia

Below is a video from his wife Serkalem Fasil.



Related:
International Rights Group Appeals for Release of Reporter Jailed for 18 Years (AP)
Ethiopia: A Lifeline to the World — Wire Interview With Birtukan Mideksa
Taking Eskinder Nega & Reeyot Alemu’s Case to African Court on Human Rights (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia: Red Cross Supports Returnees From Saudi Arabia

Thousands more people are expected to return to Ethiopia in coming weeks. (Photo: Red Cross Society)

By Fekadu Ethiopia, Ethiopian Red Cross Society and Katherine Mueller, IFRC

The decision by the Government of Saudi Arabia to crack down on illegal immigrants is causing ripple effects at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Daily flights between the two countries have doubled to accommodate a rapid influx of Ethiopian returnees. An estimated 40,000 returnees arrived over the span of a few days and that number is expected to increase to 80,000.

One of the first sights greeting the men and women now returning to their homeland is the emblem of the Red Cross. The Ethiopian Red Cross Society is at the forefront of operations, supporting the government in ensuring returnees receive the the assistance they require. Sixty Red Cross volunteers are working around the clock, carrying luggage for returnees, providing first aid, and transportation to shelters.

“Many of these people are arriving with very little. Some have had to leave all of their belongings behind,” said Frehiwot Worku, Secretary General, Ethiopian Red Cross Society. “They need to rebuild their lives from scratch. Working with the government and other partners, we are making sure they have the basics, shelter, food, and blankets.”

Critically, Red Cross volunteers are also ensuring returnees are reunited with their loved ones. “People are arriving exhausted, but also emotionally traumatized by the ordeal of having to leave Saudi Arabia,” said Worku. “Providing a mobile phone so people can reconnect with their families helps to ease a lot of their anxiety. It is such a simple gesture, but the impact is tremendous.”

The society has also deployed five ambulances to transport returnees from the airport to nearby hospitals, including mothers who gave birth either shortly before deportation or upon arrival. Staff and volunteers have helped build 15 temporary shelters and four first aid stations. They are distributing food and non-food items, including soap, blankets and plastic sheeting and work is underway to set up two additional temporary shelters to accommodate a further 4,000 returnees.

“We would not be able to do any of this if it weren’t for our team of dedicated volunteers,” said Worku. “They are putting their own lives aside for the moment to be by the sides of these returnees in need of assistance. With international volunteer day fast approaching, it is important to recognize their valuable contributions to these smaller scale but meaningful operations.”

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Human Rights Watch on Saudi Arabia Migrant Crackdown

Ethiopians in Rome protest killing of migrants in Saudi Arabia on November 19th, 2013. (Photo: Demotix)

Human Rights Watch

(Beirut) – Ethiopian migrant workers have been the victims of physical assaults, some of them fatal, in Saudi Arabia following a government crackdown on foreign workers. Many workers seeking to return home are being held in makeshift detention centers without adequate food or shelter.

Human Rights Watch spoke to five Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. Four Ethiopians in Riyadh told Human Rights Watch that the attacks began after November 4, 2013, when authorities resumed a campaign to arrest foreign workers who they claim are violating labor laws. Security forces have arrested or deported tens of thousands of workers. Saudi officials and state-controlled media have said that migrant workers have also been responsible for violence, including attacks on Saudi citizens, in the wake of the crackdown.

“Saudi authorities have spent months branding foreign workers as criminals in the media, and stirring up anti-migrant sentiment to justify the labor crackdown,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “Now the Saudi government needs to rein in Saudi citizens who are attacking foreign workers.”

Saudi authorities should immediately investigate assaults on Ethiopian and other migrant workers by security forces and Saudi citizens, and hold those responsible for violent crimes to account, Human Rights Watch said. Saudi and Ethiopian authorities should work to speedily repatriate undocumented foreign workers waiting in makeshift holding centers, if they have no fear of returning home, and ensure that they get adequate food, shelter, and medical care.

The most violent attacks occurred on the evening of November 9 in areas around the Manfouha neighborhood of southern Riyadh, where Ethiopian residents make up a majority of residents, according to local activists. Two Ethiopian migrant workers told Human Rights Watch that they saw groups of people they assumed to be Saudi citizens armed with sticks, swords, machetes, and firearms, attack foreign workers.

One of the Ethiopians, a 30-year-old supervisor at a private company, said he heard shouts and screams from the street, and left his home near Manfouha to see what was happening. When he arrived near Bank Rajahi on the road to the Yamama neighborhood, west of Manfouha, he saw a large group of Ethiopians crying and shouting around the dead bodies of three Ethiopians, one of whom he said had been shot, and two others who had been beaten to death. He said six others appeared to be badly injured.

He said he saw Saudis whom he called shabab (“young men” in Arabic), and uniformed security forces attack the Ethiopians who had gathered. The shabab were using swords and machetes, while some of the uniformed officers were beating the migrants with metal police truncheons, and other officers were firing bullets into the air to disperse the crowd. He said that he narrowly escaped serious injury when a Saudi man swung a sword at his head. It missed, but hit his arm, requiring stitches to close the wound.

The other Ethiopian witness, a 26-year-old undocumented day laborer who lives in Manfouha, told Human Rights Watch that he was sitting among a group of 23 Ethiopians in a private home on Street 20 on the evening of November 9 when a group of 20 shabab with machetes and pistols broke down the door and attacked the people inside. He and five other Ethiopians escaped by climbing to the roof, but he does not know what happened to the other 17 men.

Another Ethiopian worker who lives nearby, but who did not witness the violence, told Human Rights Watch that on the afternoon of November 9, he was sitting inside the Ethiopian community center and school compound five kilometers from Manfouha when 35 Ethiopian men came to the center.

The Ethiopian men said that groups of armed men were forcing their way into homes in Manfouha, removing the men, and holding the women inside. The person who spoke with Human Rights Watch said that the men showed him as proof a mobile phone video they said they surreptitiously filmed from a distance that appeared to show a Saudi man raping one of the Ethiopian men’s wives. He said the group told him that 10 other women were missing.

Since the evening of November 9, Ethiopian activists have circulated dozens of YouTube videos and other photos purporting to show Saudi men in civilian clothes and security forces attacking Ethiopian workers in Manfouha. Human Rights Watch cannot confirm the authenticity of these videos, though the incidents they purport to show largely match the witness accounts.

Saudi authorities should ensure that all incidents of apparent use of violence and abuse in Manfouha are swiftly and transparently investigated, and that anyone who committed a crime is brought to justice, including members of the security forces, Human Rights Watch said. The authorities should both address any unnecessary and unlawful use of force by security forces and take steps to prevent ordinary citizens from harassing or molesting migrants based on suspicions that they are violating labor laws.

Some Saudi sources blame the migrants for instigating the violence. Arab News, a local English-language newspaper, said that Saudi security forces entered Manfouha on the evening of November 9 to restore the peace after a group of Ethiopian men “went on a rampage in anger at the Kingdom’s ongoing campaign against illegal foreign workers.” It stated that one Saudi man died after “rioters” hit him with rocks, and that the 65 injured were “mostly Saudis and legal residents.” The Sabq news website reported on November 14 that Ethiopian migrants had stabbed to death a 14-year-old Saudi boy in Manfouha, reportedly asking him, “Are you Saudi?” before attacking him.

The five Ethiopian migrant workers who spoke to Human Rights Watch said that many undocumented Ethiopian workers in Manfouha have turned themselves in to the authorities since November 9, fearing violence from police and groups of Saudi citizens. One worker described the atmosphere in Manfouha as a “battleground.” The Ethiopian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Muhammed Hassan Kabiera, toldArab News on November 13 that at least 23,000 Ethiopians, many from the Manfouha area, had surrendered to Saudi authorities for repatriation.

The Ethiopian workers said that authorities transported the Ethiopians to makeshift holding facilities across the area, including a large wedding hall and the campus of Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University. One man told Human Rights Watch that he visited the wedding hall and saw thousands of foreign workers detained there, men in one area, and women and children in another, both inside and outside the building.

He said that Saudi guards give the detainees only one small meal of rice per day, and provide no access to medical attention. He said that other Ethiopians in the neighborhood are trying to help the detainees by bringing food, and that many at the hall had been left without shelter during recent heavy rainfall in Riyadh. One Ethiopian in Riyadh said he escaped from the wedding hall after officials held him in an area outside the building for 10 days, failing to supply the detainees with sufficient food, which forced them to buy food from Saudi guards.

Two Ethiopians in Riyadh told Human Rights Watch that people they knew who turned themselves in had not known that authorities would hold them in makeshift detention centers. They said that Saudi officials told them they would take them directly to Ethiopia. Saudi police officials say that the kingdom is spending one million Saudi Riyals (US$267,000) per day to house and feed thousands of detained Ethiopians.

On November 19, the Ethiopian foreign minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, announced that the government is doing “everything possible to repatriate citizens from Saudi Arabia within 14 to 25 days.”

“Saudi authorities say they are carrying out a crackdown on migrant workers humanely, but keeping thousands of people in makeshift centers without adequate food, shelter, or medical attention could lead to humanitarian disaster,” Stork said. “Saudi officials should release the detainees or send them home immediately.”

Migrant Worker Campaign Background

Over nine million migrant workers in Saudi Arabia–more than half the work force–ill manual, clerical, and service jobs. Many suffer multiple abuses and labor exploitation, sometimes amounting to forced labor, Human Rights Watch said.

Saudi officials say that the ongoing labor crackdown against foreign workers, which includes road checkpoints and raids on businesses, is part of Saudi Arabia’s effort to combat high levels of unemployment among Saudi citizens by opening jobs previously filled by undocumented workers. Those targeted include workers who do not have the proper residency or work permits, and workers who are caught working for an employer who is not their legal sponsor. According to local media outlets, authorities have arrested and deported thousands of workers since November 4.

The violence between Saudis and Ethiopians follows months of local press reports blaming Ethiopian female domestic workers for brutal attacks against Saudi employers. In July, Saudi officials claimed that over 200 Ethiopian women had been detained in two months for “psychological problems,” leading the labor ministry to temporarily ban the recruitment of Ethiopian workers to the country.

In October, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in turn, stopped processing applications for Ethiopians to travel to Saudi Arabia, citing concerns over poor labor conditions for Ethiopian migrants.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the Saudi government to abolish aspects of the kafala or “sponsorship” system that create conditions for abuse, including rules requiring a worker to obtain permission from his or her employer to change jobs or leave the country. These rules leave foreign workers with little option for redress in cases of abuse or labor violations and force them into under-the-table work.

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Columbia University’s African Diplomatic Forum Explores New Frontier of Leadership

The 2013 African Diplomatic Forum at Columbia University, Friday November 22nd, 2013. (Tadias photo)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Monday, November 25th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – As Africa grapples to adopt to the rapidly changing global media environment, transparency and a paradigm shift in public leadership, the impact of new media on society and good governance in Africa was one of the topics highlighted at the 7th Annual African Diplomatic Forum (ADF) on Friday at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Tadias Magazine was a media sponsor of this year’s conference, which was themed ‘The New Frontier of African Leadership.’

“New media and technology are changing the way millions of Africans communicate and connect with one another on a slew of social and economic issues,” the ADF 2013 press release noted.

Keynote speakers this year included George Ayittey, Founder and President of Free Africa Foundation and Author of Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Development as well as Colin Coleman, Head of Investment Banking, Sub-Saharan Africa at Goldman Sachs.

The forum featured panel discussions on fostering investment in African infrastructure, the role of the press on society and good governance, human rights law and building African capacities for justice, and women as catalysts of change in the African development story.

Tseliso Thipanyane, Former CEO of the South African Human Rights Commission and current Lecturer at Columbia University Law School addressed the issue of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent indictment by the International Criminal Court and the Kenyan Parliament’s subsequent vote to withdraw from the ICC. “What does it mean for the fight against impunity in Africa? What does it mean for the rule of law and African countries themselves upholding their own constitution and addressing issues of crimes against humanity?” Thipanyane asked the audience. “For me, I think it is completely unacceptable for African leaders to say that no sitting heads of state should be tried in an international criminal court. That is nonsense.” Thipanyane added. “I mean in my country we don’t have that. No one is above the law. And secondly that’s what we all signed up for and agreed to when we ratified the Rome Statute. We will not have impunity for heads of state.”

Thipanyane, further pointed out that although Kenya’s constitution does provide immunity from prosecution for the president of Kenya in his country, he noted that “however, the very same constitution says that he can be prosecuted internationally.” In order for the Kenyans to abide by their constitution they pulled out from the ICC and claimed ‘Okay now we are not party to any international treaty.’ Thipanyane asserted that granting impunity to heads of state from being indicted by the ICC will only encourage leaders to hold on to their power for life and strongly condemned making such exemptions.

The gathering concluded with a networking session for attendees. Below is a video excerpt and photos from the event as well as a description of the various panels.

ADF 2013 PANEL DISCUSSIONS

Panel 1: Bridging the Gap: Fostering Investment in African Infrastructure
Moderator: Akbar Noman, Senior Fellow, Initiative for Policy Dialogue; and Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Thiam, Founding Partner and CEO, Thiam & Co; and Former Minister of Mining, Energy and Hydraulics, Republic of Guinea
Joel Moser, Partner and Head, Energy & Infrastructure Group of Kaye Scholer LLP; and Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Mark Rosenberg, Senior Analyst for Africa, The Eurasia Group
Jamal Saghir, Director, Sustainable Development Department, Africa Region, World Bank

Panel 2: New Media, New Voices: The Impact of New Media on Society and Good Governance
Moderator: Anya Schiffrin, Director, Journalism Training Programs, Initiative for Policy Dialogue; and Director, International Media, Advocacy, and Communications Specialization, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, Founder and Managing Online Director, www.ghanabusinessnews.com
Karen Attiah, Freelance Journalist, Blogger, and Consultant, World Bank (SIPA Graduate, 2012)
Dayo Olopade, Journalist and Writer, The New Republic, Slate, Dailybeast; and Knight Law and Media Scholar, Yale University
Erika Rodigues, Social Marketing and Branding Specialist, Ulula.com

Panel 3: Human Rights, Law, and Building African Capacities for Justice
Mahmood Mamdani, Director, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University, Uganda; and Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, and Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
Tseliso Thipanyane, Adjunct Lecturer, Columbia University Law School; and Former CEO of the South African Human Rights Commission

Panel 4: Women as Catalysts of Change in the African Development Story
Moderator: Sara Minard, Socio-economist and Lecturer-in-Discipline of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Farai Gundan, Co-founder, FaraiMedia.com and Contributor, Forbes USA, Forbes Africa, Forbes Women Africa, Forbes Life Africa
Mpule K. Kwelagobe, Managing Director, Pula Agriculture Fund; Founder, MPULE Institute for Endogenous Development; and President of Botswana-based MPULE Foundation
Katie Meyler, Founder, More than Me (MTM) – MTM gets girls off the street and off to school in one of the poorest slums in Liberia.
Macintosh Johnson, Program Coordinator, More than Me, Liberia
H.E Dr. Hadja Saran Daraba Kabba, First woman secretary-general of the four-nation Mano River Union (The Mano River Union, which comprises Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, was established in 1973 with the objective of promoting regional integration along economic lines).

The African Diplomatic Forum is one of the largest Africa-focused gatherings taking place at the Columbia campus bringing together scholars, policy makers, leaders and development practitioners.
Sponsors of ADF 2013 include Arik Air and Columbia University Institute of African Studies. Media sponsors included MediAfritiQ, Face2Face Africa, Africa.com, Tadias Magazine, Afrique Expansion, Africa Trade, Africa 2.0, 3G Media, and Africa Women Power.

Learn more about the Columbia University African Diplomatic Form (CUADF) at www.cuadf.com/

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NYC Ethiopians Make Presence Felt at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations

Ethiopians protested at Saudi Mission to the U.N. in New York, Nov. 18th, 2013. (Photo: Kidane Mariam)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopians in New York made their presence felt outside the Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations on Monday, November 18th.

The demonstration followed last week’s deadly immigration crackdown in Saudi Arabia that claimed the lives of several Ethiopian citizens.

The diverse crowd included members of the Caribbean and other African communities joining fellow Ethiopians around the world who are holding similar events this month to raise global awareness and to protest the recent killings and continuing mistreatment of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. There are still tens of thousands of undocumented Ethiopians in limbo facing danger without adequate legal protection in the region.

More protests are scheduled this week in front of Saudi embassies and missions including in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for updates.

Below are photos from New York:



Related:
Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Ethiopians Protest Killings In Saudi Arabia (KDLT News)
Ethiopians demonstrate outside Saudi embassy in London (BBC News)
Canada: Ethiopian community protests working conditions in Saudi Arabia (CTV News)
The Ethiopian Migrant Crisis in Saudi Arabia: Taking Accountability (TADIAS)
Tadias Interview With Rima Kalush: Migrant-Rights Org Seeks Long Term Solutions
Ethiopians Continue Peaceful Protests Against Migrant Abuse in Saudi Arabia (TADIAS)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Crackdown (Global Voices)
First group of Ethiopians from Saudi arrive in Addis (ERTA)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia Visa Crackdown (AFP)
Ethiopian Domestic Help Abuse Headlines From the Middle East (TADIAS)
Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking (TADIAS)
Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)
BBC Uncovers Untold People-Trafficking, Torture of Ethiopians in Yemen (TADIAS)
Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East (TADIAS)
In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C.
The Plight of Ethiopian Women in the Middle East: Q & A With Rahel Zegeye

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

The Ethiopian Migrant Crisis in Saudi Arabia: Taking Accountability

(Photo: Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
Editorial

Published: Monday, November 18th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — If it was up to the Ethiopian migrants — who last week were savagely attacked, beaten, robbed and killed amid a mob of violence targeting foreigners — the Saudis would have been stripped of their seat on the UN Human Rights Council. It makes a mockery of the international organization that Saudi Arabia was elected to the position the same week that thousands of non-Saudi nationals were being hunted and several murdered in the streets of Riyadh. It’s a shame that Saudi Arabia, now a member of the world’s highest rights monitoring body, gets to make human rights decisions at the global level despite the fact that to date it has refused to let U.N. investigators visit to check alleged abuses. The New York-based Human Rights Watch describes the oil rich kingdom as an enemy of minority rights and political freedom.

The Saudis, however, are not the only ones to blame for the continuing plight of Ethiopian citizens inside their territory. It’s unfortunate that the Ethiopian government also failed to take advantage of the amnesty period to properly register and account for its nationals as Pakistan has done. Pakistani Ambassador Muhammad Naeem Khan told Arab News that more than 700,000 of his country’s citizens have been legalized by Saudi Arabia ahead of the November 4th deadline to avoid forced deportation. “The embassy has created 80 different focal points all over the Kingdom to help illegal workers register” Ambassader Khan reported. What effort did the Ethiopian embassy make to register its citizens and provide access to legality or else repatriate Ethiopians before the amnesty expired? Even now, the Saudi government has stated that it will continue to receive adjustment applications from migrants as long as fines are paid given that they missed the amnesty deadline. Do representatives of the Ethiopian government in Saudi Arabia have plans to assist detained migrants given this leeway? If Pakistan can get 700,000 of their nationals registered there is no reason why Ethiopia can’t do the same for a much smaller migrant worker population.

The matter is complicated by the fact that in most Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, having an official sponsor is a legal requirement. According to Gulf News: “nearly a million migrants — Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Indians, Nepalis, Pakistanis and Yemenis among them — took advantage of the amnesty to leave when they failed to guarantee a sponsor. If Ethiopia chooses to repatriate all non-legal migrants it must do so in a timely manner, as those detained are facing risky and life-threatening conditions.

On the ground, this is a time of intense difficulty for many Ethiopians and their families. We are encouraged by the collective efforts of Ethiopians worldwide to bring about global awareness, as well as government efforts to open an investigation into the deaths of three Ethiopians and repatriation of a few hundred so far. However, tweets and press releases may not be enough. We urge a united public engagement among Ethiopians both at home and abroad to close this sad chapter in Ethiopia’s modern history. We watched the videos and photos depicting unimaginable human cruelty, but we cannot imagine what it must have been like for those stranded after the amnesty expired and who found themselves being chased by armed gangs. And how about their relatives who watched in horror from afar?

We call on the members of the United Nations to urge Saudia Arabia to adhere by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights especially now that they are a UN Human Rights Council member. We also call upon the Ethiopian embassy in Saudi Arabia to take up collective responsibility to work to register its citizens and assist them — as other nations have for their people — in adjusting their status, or voluntarily repatriating them in a timely manner so that they don’t continue to languish in detention.

Related:
NYC Ethiopians Make Presence Felt at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations (TADIAS)
Ethiopians demonstrate outside Saudi embassy in London (BBC News)
Tadias Interview With Rima Kalush: Migrant-Rights Org Seeks Long Term Solutions
Ethiopians Continue Peaceful Protests Against Migrant Abuse in Saudi Arabia (TADIAS)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Crackdown (Global Voices)
First group of Ethiopians from Saudi arrive in Addis (ERTA)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia Visa Crackdown (AFP)
Ethiopian Domestic Help Abuse Headlines From the Middle East (TADIAS)
Changing Ethiopia’s Media Image: The Case of People-Trafficking (TADIAS)
Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)
BBC Uncovers Untold People-Trafficking, Torture of Ethiopians in Yemen (TADIAS)
Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East (TADIAS)
In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse
Photos: Vigil for Alem Dechassa Outside Lebanon Embassy in D.C.
The Plight of Ethiopian Women in the Middle East: Q & A With Rahel Zegeye

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopians Returning From Saudi Arabia Describe Horrible Attacks

Police this week broke up a protest outside the Saudi embassy in Addis Ababa [AFP]

Al Jazeera English

When Abdallah Awele moved to Saudi Arabia from Ethiopia last year, he thought he would land a good job and earn enough money to send home to his family.

But instead, Abdallah, 21, said he was beaten, robbed and jailed for living in the country illegally.

“I wanted a good salary and a good life, that’s why I crossed the border,” he said.

“When I was in Saudi Arabia, I was successful, I was saving a lot of money and I had nice things. But I lost all of it. Now I am home and I won’t go back there.”

Abdallah was one of at least 23,000 Ethiopians living illegally in Saudi Arabia, and part of a group of close to 400 flown home on Friday after being expelled.

According to Ethiopian officials, three of their nationals were killed this month in clashes with Saudi police as the clampdown – set in motion after a seven-month amnesty period expired – got under way.

“I had 3,500 Saudi Arabian riyals (930 dollars, 690 euros). We were taken to prison, I lost my luggage, and all of my money was collected by the police,” Abdallah said.

“Even my shoes were collected by the police,” he said, speaking barefoot after leaving the airport with about 30 other men and showing scars on the back of his neck.

Abdullah, who had a job guarding animals, was jailed for six months – during which he said he was denied food and medical help.

Read more.

Related:
Severe Flooding in Saudi Capital Riyadh Claims Three Lives (Gulf News)
Ethiopians Continue Peaceful Protests Against Migrant Abuse in Saudi Arabia (TADIAS)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Crackdown (Global Voices)
First group of Ethiopians from Saudi arrive in Addis (ERTA)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia Visa Crackdown (AFP)

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Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Ethiopians protest outside Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., November 14th, 2013. (Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Published: Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Thousands of Ethiopian demonstrators gathered outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. today to protest the killings of several Ethiopian citizens and the violent clampdown against foreign migrants workers in Saudi Arabia. The protesters also denounced xenophobia in the kingdom and the role of vigilante Saudi civilians in violence directed against Ethiopians.

The protesters were dressed in black scarves and held placards that read, “Shame on You” and “Stop Killing and Raping our Sisters.” Emotions ran high as protestors braved the cold weather to express their disappointment and outrage at both the Saudi and Ethiopian governments, waving the Ethiopian flag and shouting various slogans.

“We don’t understand why our government is unable to protect our citizens,” some asked angrily.

Shimeles Legese, a member of the protest organizing committee, told Tadias that the large turnout was more than he had expected.

“This is special because it’s a matter of humanity and Ethiopian dignity,” Shimeles said. “I have not seen anything like it at any previous demonstrations here in Washington.” Leaders of the protest also presented a letter to the Embassy.

According to officials more than 23,000 Ethiopians are being held at various detention centers across Saudi Arabia. Three Ethiopians are among the five people that died following clashes with police in the capital, Riyadh, this week.

The protesters asked “Why do they kill them, why do they rape our women? Why don’t they let them leave their country freely?” referring to Ethiopian migrants who are currently facing abuse while being stuck in Saudi Arabia having either over-stayed their visa or entered the country illegally.

A tearful demonstrator from Maryland, Fekerte Belete, said she has no words to express her feelings, except to say: “please tell our government to rescue the poor people and tell the Saudis to stop mistreating pregnant women.”

Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said earlier that it has evacuated some 31 Ethiopian nationals from Saudi Arabia and had registered over 20,000 Ethiopian who are willing to return to their country.

Organizers said this is the first of many protests planned to take place in front of Saudi embassies in major cities around the world to galvanize action and solutions for this migrants’ rights issue. The next D.C.-based protest is scheduled for Monday, November 18th, 2013.



Related:
First group of Ethiopians from Saudi arrive in Addis (ERTA)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Ethiopians Shame Saudi Arabia On Twitter for Migrant Killings (TADIAS)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia Visa Crackdown (AFP)

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Ethiopians Shame Saudi Arabia On Twitter For Inhumane Treatment Of Migrant Workers

(Photo: Stringer / Reuters)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopians have taken to Twitter to express their outrage and draw much needed attention to the ongoing brutal treatment of tens of thousands of migrant workers stuck in Saudi Arabia. So far police and vigilante civilians have killed at least three Ethiopian citizens.

BuzzFeed highlighted a Twitter campaign that started yesterday with a message from user Abdi Lemessa who wrote: “#SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to stop killing our brothers and sisters.”

The hashtag has since ignited a social media storm over the kingdom’s abuse of migrant workers.

Below are several tweets:



Related:
NYC Ethiopians Make Presence Felt at the Saudi Mission to the United Nations (TADIAS)
Ethiopians demonstrate outside Saudi embassy in London (BBC News)
Photos: Ethiopians Hold Protest Outside Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)
Ethiopians: #SomeoneTellSaudiArabia to Stop Immigration Crackdown (Global Voices)
23,000 Ethiopians ‘Surrender’ in Saudi After Clamp Down (BBC)
Saudi Arabian Immigrant Crackdown: 23,000 Ethiopians Surrender to Authorities (AFP)
23,000 undocumented Ethiopians surrender to authorities (Arab News)
Ethiopians Shame Saudi Arabia On Twitter (TADIAS)
Three Ethiopians Killed in Saudi Arabia in Visa Crackdown (AFP)

Video shows mass exodus of immigrants in Saudi Arabia

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Columbia University’s 7th Annual African Diplomatic Forum

(Photo courtesy Columbia University's African Diplomatic Forum)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Thursday, November 7th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Tadias Magazine is proud to partner with Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) as media sponsor of the 7th annual African Diplomatic Forum (ADF), which will take place on Friday, November 22nd, 2013.

The SIPA Pan-African Network (SPAN) is a student group dedicated towards providing a platform for all students interested in business, economic, political, and social development of Africa and its diaspora. Every year they host and co-host two of Columbia University’s largest Africa focused events, the African Diplomatic Forum and African Economic Forum respectively. The forums provide great learning and networking opportunities for students, faculty, alumni, and working professionals passionate about the success of the continent.

A new generation of leaders in Africa is grappling with a number of challenges, old and new, across the continent. In the public sector, good governance paradigms are shifting and democratic processes are taking hold, yet problems of electoral corruption and public mistrust remain. In the private sector, foreign direct investment and liberal economic reform are on the rise at the same time that resource exploitation and the merits of local versus foreign market control are debated. Leaders in the non-profit and social welfare sectors must grapple with the changing role of foreign aid, emerging micro-finance and social enterprises, and the capacity of local organizations to combat poverty, health, hunger and education-related problems. New media and technology are changing the way millions of Africans communicate and connect with one another on a slew of social and economic issues. This conference will focus on how the nature of African leadership across the aforementioned sectors and in various industries and levels of government is changing in response to these new challenges and opportunities.

Questions that the conference will broadly address include:

What does a changing leadership landscape mean for governance reform and democracy, both at home and with regard to perceptions of African leadership abroad? How are private sector companies and international institutions responding to the need for increased investment in the context of new governance paradigms? How are young, business-minded leaders – many of them women – changing the face of social welfare, education and health programs? And what role might new media, cellphones, and other forms of network technology play in the execution of policy, the formation of new business, and the rise of new constituencies?

Panel specific content will focus on the role of women and gender in African leadership changes, the role of governance, law, and international institutions in fostering economic growth andsocial equality, the urgency of infrastructure investment and leaders’ role in encouraging it, and the role of new media in debates about development and reform on the continent.

If You Go:
Columbia University’s 7th Annual African Diplomatic Forum
Date: November 22, 2013
Time: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Location: Columbia SIPA, 15th Floor
420 W 118th St,
New York, NY, 10027
Click here to register.

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Attack on Indian Farm in Gambella Turns Spotlight on Land Policy

A farm leased to an Indian owned company in Gambella. (Photograph: Aman Sethi)

The Hindu

BY AMAN SETHI

A violent attack on a tea plantation leased by Indian-owned Verdanta Harvest Plc, a subsidiary of the Noida-based Lucky Group, has renewed concerns over Ethiopia’s policy of leasing out large tracts of land to international investors.

On October 20, unidentified individuals destroyed buildings and machinery worth approximately $140,000, according to Verdanta officials.

Media reported that locals set the plantation on fire “on account of destroying the rich forest resources”, a claim denied by the company.

Community leaders in Gambella did not comment on the attack, but rights groups have warned that a policy of leasing out 42 per cent of Gambella’s land and resettling over 30,000 agro-pastoral communities is the likely cause of the unrest.

In 2011, for instance, armed gunmen killed five workers on a farm developed by a Saudi Arabian company.

All land in Ethiopia belongs to the state, giving the government unusual leverage in its dealings with local communities.

Read more at The Hindu.

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Kenyans Dominate 2013 NYC Marathon: Buzunesh Deba, Tsegaye Kebede Finish 2nd

Priscah Jeptoo (above) and Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya cross the finish line Sunday to capture the 2013 New York City Marathon in the women’s and men’s races respectively. (Getty Images)

New York Daily News

Priscah Jeptoo and Geoffrey Mutai have won the women’s and men’s titles in the New York City Marathon in its triumphant return after a 1-year hiatus.

The two Kenyans waved their flag in celebration while thousands cheered in Central Park.

Jeptoo, 29, overtook Bronx resident Buzunesh Deba with an impressive final kick and sped across the finish line to thunderous applause, clocking in at 2 hours, 25 minutes and 7 seconds for the grueling 26.2-mile race.

Deba, 26, finished second for the second straight time, having claimed No. 2 in 2011 as well.

Jeptoo trailed the Ethiopian-born Deba by more than three minutes halfway through. But she made her move as the race entered Manhattan and passed Deba with more than two miles to go.

Read more at NY Daily News.

New York Resident Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia Finishes Second in the Women’s Race


File Photo: Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia training in her Bronx neighborhood in New York City. (Photo by Jason Jett for Tadias Magazine).

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

New York (TADIAS) — New York-based Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba repeated her 2011 record on Sunday, finishing second at the 2013 ING New York City Marathon. Priscah Jeptoo of Kenya won the women’s race with a time of 2:25:07 while her fellow countryman Geoffrey Mutai won the men’s race in 2:08:24 time. He was followed by Ethiopia’s Tsegaye Kebede and South African long-distance runner Lusapho April. The third place finisher in the women’s competition was Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia.

Below are the results as announced via Twitter by ING NYC Marathon. Stay tuned for updates.


Top 5 Women To Watch At 2013 NYC Marathon on Sunday (By Competitor.com)

It’s impossible to count on two hands the number of women with sub-2:30 marathon personal bests on the starting line of this Sunday’s ING New York City Marathon. What does this mean? There’s potential for fireworks.

Reigning champion Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia returns as does former champion and two-time reigning world champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya. London Marathon champion and Olympic silver medalist Priscah Keptoo will also be in the hunt for victory as will New York-based Ethiopian Buzunesh Deba, who finished second in New York in 2011. Sub-2:24 runners Valeria Straneo of Italy, Jelena Prokopcuka (two-time NYC Marathon champion) and Risa Shigetomo of Japan also figure to be in the mix, along with host of other mid-to-high 2:20 women who are all hoping for a breakthrough.

Here’s a look at the top-5 international women to watch in this year’s race.

Read more.

Related:
Top-5 International Men To Watch At 2013 New York City Marathon

Watch: Firehiwot Dado & Buzunesh Deba Take Top-Two Spots at 2011 NYC Marathon

Watch: Homecoming Reception For New York Marathon Winners at Queen of Sheba Restaurant


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UDJ Report Alleges ‘Gruesome Rights Violations’ Against Its Members

Negasso Gidada, the UDJ party chief, center, has urged the government to stop abusing his party members. [EPA])

AFP

Addis Ababa — A leading Ethiopian opposition party said in a report Thursday that scores of its members and supporters had been killed, abused or jailed over the past two years.

“The report has information on human rights violations on members of UDJ, on supporters and other political party members and leaders… in different parts of Ethiopia,” said Unity for Democratic Justice (UDJ) leader Negasso Gidada.

Negasso said seven party supporters had been killed in southern Ethiopia and around 150 supporters had faced intimidation, arrest without charge, abuse, abduction and confiscation of property by police and security forces across Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government said it had not seen a copy of the report, but accused the party of routinely coming up with “concoctions and spurious accusations”, Information Minister Redwan Hussein told AFP.

Read more at AFP.

Related:
Ethiopian opposition says members beaten, illegally detained (Reuters)
Ethiopian opposition claims rampant abuse (Al Jazeera)

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Ethiopia Bans Citizens From Travelling Abroad for Work

Ethiopian Migrants in Yemen, near the Saudi border, waiting to return home. (Photo courtesy BBC News)

BBC News

Ethiopia’s government has temporarily banned its citizens from travelling abroad to look for work, the state-run Erta news agency reports.

The foreign ministry was quoted as saying countless Ethiopians had lost their lives or undergone untold physical and psychological trauma because of illegal human trafficking.

The decision was meant to “safeguard the well-being of citizens”, it added.

The travel ban will remain in place until a “lasting solution” is found.

The ministry said the government had taken various measures to limit the suffering of its citizens, including setting up a national council and a taskforce to educate them.

But those measures had not been able to address the problem sufficiently, it added.

Employment agencies will also be barred from facilitating travel abroad.

Read more at BBC.

Related:
Video: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen (BBC)
Video: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’ (BBC News)

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Ethiopia’s First International Marathon Draws Crowds to ‘Land of Runners’

Awassa hosted an international Marathon on October 20, 2013 drawing hundreds of elite runners. (AFP)

Agence France-Presse

By Jenny Vaughan

HAWASSA, Ethiopia – The sun had barely risen but the cool morning air was buzzing with excitement: 350 participants had gathered in Ethiopia, the land of runners, for the country’s first international marathon organized by athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie.

Sunday’s (October 20) race, which drew 150 elite Ethiopian athletes and about 150 foreign “fun runners”, promises to boost professionalism in a country that has produced scores of world-class runners, many of whom started running barefoot along dusty country roads.

“Believe me, we can produce more big names, we can produce more marathon runners, more Olympic champions, world champion and world record holders,” said Gebrselassie, two-time marathon record-breaker and 10,000 Olympic champion.

Read more at Agence France-Presse.

Video: Ethiopia Hosts Very First ‘Haile Gebrselassie Marathon’


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Mulatu Teshome Elected As Ethiopia’s New President

Mulatu Teshome has been elected by parliament as Ethiopia's new president. (Photo: World Bulletin)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Published: Monday, October 7th, 2013

Washington D.C. (TADIAS) — The Ethiopian parliament has elected Dr. Mulatu Teshome Wirtu to serve as Ethiopia’s President for the next six years.

Dr. Mulatu replaces the outgoing Girma Wolde-Giorgis who has held the position for the past 12 years.

Mulatu, a 57-year-old economist, was Ethiopia’s top diplomat in Ankara, Turkey prior to his election as President on Monday, October 7th, 2013. Mulatu has also served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to China and Japan, as well as several other government posts including as Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture. The new president, a father of one son, said he is humbled by the appointment and vowed to work hard to speed up the the country’s development.

Mulatu is the fourth president since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power some 21 years ago. The ruling party controls 546 out of 547 seats in the Ethiopian parliament, and the lone opposition parliament member, Girma Seifu, represents the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ).

Video: Dr. Mulatu Teshome becomes new president of Ethiopia


Related:
Ethiopia parliament elects Mulatu Teshome as new president (AFP)

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UPDATE: Lampedusa Migrant Shipwreck Survivors Recall Awful Ordeal

A man from Eritrea is rescued: the boat had almost made it to the coast, sinking just 800m away. (BBC)

CNN

By Matthew Chance

Lampedusa, Italy (CNN) — At the port in Lampedusa, recovery teams continue to fill trucks with the bodies they’re still pulling from the sea.

At least 287 so far — and that number could rise.

They are among the more than 500 African migrants believed to have been aboard a boat that sank off the island last Thursday. The tragedy amounted to Italy’s deadliest migrant shipwreck and, according to Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini, “the biggest sea tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea since World War II.”

The survivors — 155 of them, mainly from Eritrea, who swam for their lives and were lucky enough to be rescued by fishermen and the Coast Guard — wait in a cramped migrant detention center.

It was built to hold about 250 people but has held many times that in recent days. Each day, more people are leaving on ferries for other detention centers along the Italian coast, though 900 nonetheless remained Tuesday.

Read more at CNN.



Related:
Migrants Boat Disaster Off Lampedusa Island: Aerial Search Mounted (BBC News)

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PM Hailemariam Desalegn at General Assembly, 68th Session (UN TV)

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn addresses the sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 25th, 2013. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

Watch: Ethiopia, General Debate, 68th Session (UN TV)


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Starbucks’ New Flavor Honors the Birthplace of Coffee, Ethiopia

A single-origin coffee unlike anything in Starbucks 42-year history, "Ethiopia" is masterfully roasted for an exquisite taste experience. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Business Wire

SEATTLE (September 24, 2013) – Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) today introduces a new single-origin coffee from the birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia.

Starbucks first whole bean packaged coffee available globally since the introduction of Starbucks® Blonde Roast two years ago, Ethiopia coffee celebrates Ethiopia’s rich coffee tradition and delivers a taste in cup unlike any other coffee offered in Starbucks 42-year history. This new coffee joins Starbucks selection of 20 core and 10 traditional and seasonal whole bean coffees offered at Starbucks retail stores nationwide.

“We’ve taken great care in sourcing this coffee and applying the signature Starbucks roast to create a flavor profile that is both uniquely Starbucks and unique to specialty coffee,” said Craig Russell, senior vice president of Global Coffee at Starbucks. “We want to honor Ethiopia’s rich coffee heritage while also giving our customers an exceptional flavor experience from the birthplace of coffee.”

With its high elevation, rich volcanic soil, and more than 10,000 coffee varieties, Ethiopia produces some of the most extraordinary coffee in the world.

“Starbucks fully-washed, medium-bodied Ethiopian coffee offers soft, velvety notes of dark chocolate, subtle hints of peppery spice, and sweet, mandarin-like citrus for a balanced and approachable taste in the cup,” said Anthony Carroll, Starbucks coffee development manager.

Coffee was discovered in Africa more than 1,200 years ago and is where the first arabica beans were grown.* Today, coffee remains central to Ethiopian culture and heritage and is shared with family and friends through daily coffee ceremonies often occurring throughout the day lasting up to several hours. Multiple steps in the ceremony include pan-roasting green coffee, grinding the roasted beans using a mortar and pestle, and preparing the roasted and ground coffee in a spherical-shaped pot called a jebena. The coffee is then served in traditional tasting cups.

Ethiopia coffee is available at Starbucks® retail stores and starbucksstore.com starting today, September 24, for the suggested retail price of $13.95 U.S. per pound. Customers can sample Ethiopia coffee at participating Starbucks® stores in the U.S. on National Coffee Day, September 29, and those who purchase a 1 lb. bag of Ethiopia whole bean will receive a commemorative Ethiopia tasting cup, while supplies last. Ethiopia coffee will be available for customers to order as a brewed option through October 15, at select Starbucks stores.

Read more and watch video at http://news.starbucks.com.

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In Ethiopia, State Controls Hold Back Waking Giant (Reuters)

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pictured a day before the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Sept. 4, 2013. (Reuters)

VOA News

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) — When global drinks giant Diageo bought a brewery in Ethiopia, it paid a premium for a stake in a barely tapped African market that in the 1980s had spectacularly failed to feed its own population.

Diageo paid $225 million for state-owned Meta Abo, joining a list of firms seeking a foothold in Africa’s second most populous nation that was once run by communists and now has an emerging middle class after a decade of double-digit growth.

“We paid a premium of course and that was a deliberate decision … We knew the value of what we were buying,” Francis Agbonlahor, Diageo’s managing director at Meta Abo, told Reuters in a capital that boasts smart highways and new office blocks.

Ethiopia is now sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth biggest economy, leap-frogging next door Kenya and wooing investors from Sweden, Britain and China, as other emerging markets lose some of their shine.

Few nations can better tell the story of “Africa Rising,” the narrative of a hopelessly mismanaged and violent continent now prized for strong growth and, in many cases, the kind of political stability scarcely imaginable a decade or two ago.

Yet like other African nations, Ethiopia must now work out how to maintain economic momentum as the U.S. Federal Reserve starts to turn off the taps of easy money that drove investors to more adventurous markets, and when China’s economy and those of other emerging powers start to shift down a gear.

That means another tricky transition for Ethiopia, which has until now relied on the state to run its economy, but which has seen growth rates slip to 7-8 percent, short of the level needed for its goal of middle income status by 2025.

“When you are starting from a very low base with a lot of donor support, it is easy enough to grow in a strong, robust way,” said Razia Khan, head of Africa research for Standard Chartered bank. “As the economy matures … it is going to become a lot more difficult.”

Dilemma

Opening up the economy, as many businesses at home and abroad want, could draw in new investment but may also loosen the controls that can be exerted by a government made up of ethnic and regional parties that has carefully managed development and kept a lid on rivalries.

That is the dilemma for Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and his cabinet, who still work in the shadow of Meles Zenawi, the rebel-turned-statesman who ruled with an iron grip for two decades until he died last year. Caution remains the watchword.

“We are not ready now,” Foreign Affairs Minister Tedros Adhanom told Reuters when asked if Ethiopia could open up its mobile network or banks, prime targets for foreign investors.

Concerns about a deepening rich-poor divide and worries about changing the tried and tested policies of a charismatic leader, all weigh in to deter officials from a big shift.

But moving too slowly risks squandering investor enthusiasm and damaging the prospects of a nation once best known for “Red Terror” purges under communist rule in the 1970s and its 1980s famine. For now, at least, it has not deterred investors.

“I was in India recently and the thing that caught me by surprise [when talking] to foreign investors [was] the country that kept being mentioned was Ethiopia,” said Khan.

Diageo is not alone in seeing the potential. Heineken of Holland and France’s BGI Castel have snapped up breweries, which were among first state firms to be sold off.

The Ethiopian Investment Agency says Unilever and Nestle are sniffing around, and South Korea’s Samsung told Reuters it was exploring Ethiopia as a place to assemble its electronic goods. The two European companies did not comment.

Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), the world’s second biggest fashion retailer, has put in test orders as the nation seeks to boost textile exports to $1 billion a year by 2016 from $100 million last year.

H&M spokeswoman Marie Rosenlind said that, if the tests were successful, production could start this autumn.

Lending support

With manufacturing accounting for just 4 percent of gross domestic product, Ethiopia needs such investors to help reduce its reliance on exports of coffee, horticultural products and livestock that have driven growth until now. It also remains one of the world’s biggest recipients of aid.

“No other country that I’m aware of, aside from these resource-rich countries … can go to middle-income status with still 50 percent of GDP on agriculture,” Guang Z. Chen, the World Bank’s country director, told Reuters in a June interview.

China could lend support, though this time not in the usual form of donations that have helped African growth till now.

Chinese shoe exporter Huajian has announced plans to co-invest $2 billion in an industrial zone outside Addis Ababa to bolster its Ethiopian exports and create up to 100,000 jobs.

The African Development Bank says a switch by Beijing towards domestic consumption may boost manufacturing in African economies like Ethiopia, where labor is cheap and power is a third of the price in China.

Ethiopia is building a huge dam on the upper reaches of the Blue Nile, part of plans to export electricity in a few years.

Until now, the most visible signs of growth are in the capital, where building sites clad in wooden scaffolding have mushroomed. In the upmarket Bole Medhane Alem suburb, an emerging middle class is enjoying new luxuries.

A fast-food outlet sells burgers and fries for a just over $4, more than many Ethiopians earn for several days’ work. “We’re not coping with demand,” said one employee.

At a nearby coffee house, whose logo mimics Starbucks, hip youths in low-cut jeans sip Frappuccino’s and caramel macchiatos.

“The middle class is growing and is really increasing its purchasing power,” said 18-year-old Yohannes, sitting near a billboard advertising two new residential tower blocks carrying the slogan: “From shabby to chic. Witness the transformation.”

‘I won’t be one of them’

Yet for some, change is not being felt, including those in the capital’s tin-roofed slums.

“You can see it all around you, there are rich people. But I am not going to be one of them,” said Elias Zelalem, a teenager who earns $1.60 a day shining shoes — if business is brisk.

Ethiopia’s ambition is to achieve middle income status in 12 years’ time, defined by the World Bank as a per capita income of $1,430. In 2012, Ethiopia’s per capita income was $410.

Yet to do this, Ethiopia’s $43 billion economy needs to repeat the 10.7 percent average annual growth achieved in 2004 to 2011. Some question whether the state’s determination to meet this target is coming at the cost of private business.

“We have to overcome poverty. How fast we should do this, therein lies the difference [of opinion],” said Zafu Eyessus Zafu, whose United Insurance Company is a shareholder in a commercial bank. He wants financial services open to foreigners.

Two thirds of Ethiopia’s 8.5 percent growth in 2011/12 was due to public spending, the World Bank said. Half of spending needs are raised domestically, leaving little for private firms.

“If we need 50 million birr ($2.7 million) from the bank we may get 20-25 million,” said a truck importer who identified himself as Taye, wary of using his full name in a nation where the state has long kept a tight lid on dissent and criticism.

“For foreign currency it is impossible. We can apply to the bank and wait a month or more,” he added.

Proven policy

The credit crunch is deepened by a state-imposed requirement that each time a bank lends cash it must loan an additional 27 percent of the loan’s value to the government in the form of a low-interest Treasury bond to help fund development projects.

But the government shows no change of tack. Reining in the state would challenge the vision of Meles, whose portrait still hangs in government offices.

“There is no need to look for policy changes at this time,” deputy premier Muktar Kedir told Reuters earlier this year.

“We are of the mind that we have to fully implement the policy that has already proven itself successful,” he said.

A policy shift could open rifts along ethnic lines in the coalition made up of four main regional parties. There is little room for anyone who might challenge the status quo.

Without the force of personality or reputation of his predecessor, Hailemariam has shown no sign he has the political will or clout to veer from Meles’ path.

That may mean Ethiopia has to be content with slower growth and investors will need patience.

“Ethiopia is missing out in several respects,” said Standard Chartered’s Khan. “But there is this very cautious policy.”

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Admits Imposing New Restrictions Against Reeyot Alemu

Reeyot Alemu is the recipient of the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize. (Photo: Getty Images)

NEW: Sudan Tribune Reports Ethiopia admits imposing new restrictions against jailed journalist
—-
Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Washington D.C. (TADIAS) — The saga of imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu continues as officials refuse to lift a ban denying her any visitors except for her younger sister and her fiancé.

“The decision by authorities at Kality Prison to impose visitor restrictions on imprisoned journalist Reeyot Alemu constitutes harassment and runs counter to the Ethiopian constitution,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Monday.

“We call upon the Ethiopian authorities to lift these latest restrictions and allow Reeyot Alemu to receive all visitors,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “She is a journalist, not a criminal, and should not be behind bars.”

The CPJ statement follows Reeyot’s hunger strike last week to oppose what her family members said was mistreatment inside her cell that arose out of a dispute with a new inmate.

“Reeyot, a critical columnist of the banned private weekly Feteh, began a hunger strike on Wednesday to protest an order by Kality Prison officials to turn in a list of visitors,” CPJ said quoting local news reports. “The officials did not provide an explanation for the request. In retaliation for the hunger strike, authorities forbade her from having any visitors excluding her parents and priest, local journalists said.”

Two days later, prison officials said she could receive any visitors except for her younger sister and her fiancé, journalist Sileshi Hagos, the sources said. Sileshi was detained for four hours at the prison later that day when he attempted to visit Reeyot.

CPJ said Reeyot stopped the hunger strike on Sunday, but decided not to receive any visitors until the restrictions on her fiancé and sister are lifted. The journalist is serving a 14-year prison term on vague terrorism charges that was reduced in August 2012 to five years on appeal.

Reeyot is the winner of the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, which she was awarded on world Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, 2013 at a ceremony held in Costa Rica.

Per CPJ: “It was not immediately clear whether the visitor restrictions were in connection with an article published by the International Women’s Media Foundation last month that had been written by Reeyot. It is unclear if the journalist wrote the letter from prison or if this was a translation of an earlier story. In the article, Reeyot criticizes Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law, an overbroad legislation that was used to jail and convict her for her critical coverage of the government.”

Kality Prison Director Abraham Wolde-Aregay did not respond to CPJ’s calls and text messages for comment. Desalegn Teresa, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s Ministry of Justice, did not return CPJ’s call for comment.

Related:
Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu wins 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize (UN)
Friends and Supporters React to Reeyot Alemu’s Media Award (TADIAS)
Reporter jailed in Ethiopia among women journalists honored in Beverly Hills (L.A. Times)
Portraits Of Courage: Reeyot Alemu Honored At International Women’s Media Foundation

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UNICEF: Ethiopia Reduces Child Mortality Rates By Half (Video)

Ethiopia has reduced child mortality rates by 50%, according to a new millennium development goal report by UNICEF: "2013 Progress Report on Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed." (Photo: ICMHD)

UNICEF Television

September 13th, 2013

Gambella, Ethiopia – For a country that once made headlines for famine, poverty and war, Ethiopia is gaining a reputation as a development leader on the African continent. In just over 10 years, the country has slashed child mortality rates by half, rising in global rank from 146 in 2000 to 68 in 2012. More money is being spent on health care, poverty levels and fertility rates are down, and twice as many children are in school.

Read more at Unicef Org.

Also see: The 2013 Progress Report on Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed (PDF)

Watch: Health care extension workers in Ethiopia help address child mortality (UNICEF)


Related:
Ethiopia achieves development target on reducing child mortality (The Guardian)

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Hana Alemu’s Adopted Parents Convicted Of Homicide By Abuse

Hana Williams, adopted from Ethiopia by Larry and Carri Williams in 2008, died on May 12, 2011 after she was found unconscious outside their home in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees. (Family photo)

The Associated Press

MOUNT VERNON, WASHINGTON — A couple were convicted on Monday in the malnutrition-and-hypothermia death of a teenage girl they had adopted from Ethiopia.

A jury found Carri Williams guilty of homicide by abuse as well as manslaughter. Larry Williams was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter. The jury also convicted them both of assault of a child. The jury couldn’t reach a decision on the homicide by abuse charge for Larry Williams, and the judge declared a mistrial on that count. Larry and Carri Williams face a maximum life sentence, the Skagit Valley Herald reports.

Read more at The Seattle Times.

Hana’s Adopted Mother Guilty On 3 Counts, Father On 2 (The Skagit Valley Herald)

adopted mom
Carri Williams reacts after she was found guilty of abusing to death her adopted Ethiopian daughter.

By Gina Cole

MOUNT VERNON — A jury has found Carri Williams guilty of all charges in the homicide and abuse trial involving the death of a young teenage girl she and her husband adopted and assault of their adopted son.

Her husband, Larry Williams, was found guilty of manslaughter and assault of a child. The jury was unable to agree on whether Larry was guilty of homicide by abuse.

The jury started deliberating this past Thursday after the seven-week trial of Larry and Carri Williams, whose parenting practices were called into question after Hana Williams died in May 2011 after collapsing in the family’s backyard home in the Sedro-Woolley area.
An autopsy showed she died of hypothermia hastened by malnutrition and a stomach condition.

The Williamses were charged with homicide by abuse and first-degree manslaughter in the death of Hana and first-degree assault of the younger boy they adopted at the same time as Hana. Both were adopted from Ethiopia.

Read more.

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UPDATE: Ethiopia Faces Nigeria For World Cup Qualifying Play-offs

(Getty Images file)

AFP

JOHANNESBURG — Giantkillers Ethiopia were drawn against Nigeria Monday in the 2014 World Cup Africa zone play-offs.

Ivory Coast face Senegal, Tunisia meet Cameroon, Ghana tackle Egypt and Burkina Faso play Algeria in the other ties created by a draw in Cairo.

The two-leg showdowns are set for October and November and the winners qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next June and July.
Ethiopia were the only side to upset the seeding in the mini-league previous stage, finishing two points ahead of top-ranked South Africa.

But they will face much tougher opponents in Nigeria, who beat Ethiopia 2-0 en route to winning the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa last February.

While the ‘Super Eagles’ use a mix of local and Europe-based stars, the bulk of the ‘Walias Antelopes’ squad is home based.

Read more at AFP.

Ethiopia Secures Place in African play-offs for the 2014 World Cup

BBC Sports

By Nick Cavell

Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Ghana secured themselves places in African play-offs for the 2014 World Cup.

Ethiopia were one of several sides during Africa’s World Cup qualifying campaign who had results overturned by Fifa for using ineligible players.

There was a touch of irony in the fact that Ethiopia’s winning goal in a their 2-1 victory over Central African Republic in Group A was scored by Minyahil Teshome Beyene.

He was the man who lead to his side being docked points in July.
There was also drama in Group E as Burkina Faso claimed top spot ahead of Congo Brazzaville.

Congo were held to a 2-2 draw in Niger which allowed Burkina Faso to move ahead of them thanks to a 1-0 win over visiting Gabon.

Read more at BBC News.

Related:
Ethiopia advance in World Cup, S. Africa out (AFP/Fox News)

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More Than 100 Blue Party Leaders Arrested Ahead of Ethiopia Rally

Photo: Peaceful march organized by the Semayawi party in Addis Ababa on June 2nd, 2013. (You Tube)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Washington D.C. (TADIAS) – Federal police in Ethiopia have taken control of the headquarters of the Semayawi (Blue) party in Addis Ababa after they stormed the building late on Saturday. Party officials confirmed that more than 100 Semayawi party leaders have been arrested.

Head of the Semayawi party, Yilkal Getnet, a former engineer, told Tadias Magazine that police broke into the party’s offices located around Arat Kilo and confiscated all property at the site.

“Our members were taken to various police stations around the city late on Saturday,” Said Yilkal who spoke by phone. He said he had just returned from visiting his imprisoned colleagues at Gulele police station. He said a number of them are women. “Some were savagely beaten,” he added.

The dispute with authorities began when the Semayawi (Blue) party made an announcement last week to hold a simultaneous rally along with the government’s planned public gathering on Sunday to counter the two-year-old Mosque sit-ins that turned violent last month attracting international condemnation. Semayawi party leaders say they wanted to use the occasion to bring up the related subjects of “jailed religious and political leaders” as well as journalists, activist and an end to “government interference” in mosque and church affairs. Addis Ababa city administration, however, declared the Blue party’s plans “illegal.”

Police state that they will take all measures if the party insists on holding any protest without permission. Asked about the party’s plans on Sunday the Semayawi President said it’s up in the air. “I told you our office is under control and members and officials are under police custody,” Yilkal said. “It is midnight and I have no other information on what’s going on around here,” he said.

The police commission had contacted representatives of the Blue party for a meeting on Friday to discuss “security issues.” Sources said that police met with opposition leaders Saturday morning to convince them to postpone their protest, but the discussion ended without coming to an agreement. Yilkal indicated that the Blue party was finalizing preparations to stage a march on Sunday.

Hana Walelegne, one of the members who were arrested at the party’s office, said she was taken to Gulele police station. She said she was sitting at the party’s office working on Sunday’s demonstration when she was arrested.

“They released me along with a few other women,” Hana said, claiming that she received a beating with a rubber stick. She said she also saw others being hit with metal objects.

“We just took a contract taxi and are now in a friend’s house,” she said. “I cannot tell you what will happen next.”

In an earlier interview Yilkal had described the government’s decision to bar the Blue party from holding its own demonstration as lacking sound legal basis.

“There is no such thing as legal and illegal protest” Yilkal argued. “What we are required to do by law is to inform the concerned office about the planned demonstration.” He said: “Our party did that a month ago.”

The government-backed demonstration was held as expected on Sunday at the Addis Ababa Meskel square to “denounce extremism in Ethiopia,” which the government says is becoming a major threat.

Related:
Ethiopia denies crackdown on Semayawi opposition (BBC News)
Ethiopia Police Block Opposition Rally, Beat Some (AP/ABC News)
Political Rallies Set for Sunday Over Religious Issue (TADIAS)

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Meseret Defar Defeats Tirunesh Dibaba at Diamond 5000 in Zurich (Video)

Meseret Defar won the Women's 5000m at the 2013 Diamond Race in Zürich. (Photo: Diamond League)

LetsRun.com

August 29, 2013

In the first clash of the year between the two Ethiopian giants of women’s distance running at the Weltklasse Zürich meet tonight, the final 100 meters belonged firmly to the 2012 Olympic and 2013 World 5000 champion Meseret Defar. Defar emphatically kicked away from Tirunesh Dibaba to win the women’s 5000 as well as the Diamond League crown in 14:32.83 after a 58 low last 400 (58.48 leader to leader but Defar was in second at the bell).

Dibaba was second in 14:34.82 as those two were leaps and bounds better than everyone else over the final 600. 2013 5000 silver medallist Mercy Cherono was third in 14:40.33 – the only other woman in the race within 10 seconds of Defar.

Read more at LetsRun.com.

Video: Meseret Defar Defeats Tirunesh Dibaba at Diamond League 5000 in Zurich


Related:
Defar defeats Dibaba in Diamond 5,000m battle (AFP)

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Organized Immigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel Ends

Ethiopian Israelis hold up photographs of their relatives during a demonstration outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office in Jerusalem on Wednesday, August 28, 2013. (Photo: Associated Press)

Los Angeles Times

By Batsheva Sobelman

JERUSALEM — A plane carrying 450 immigrants from Ethiopia on Wednesday marked the end of Israel’s decades-long effort to bring Jews and their descendants from the African nation to the Jewish state.

About 90,000 Ethiopians were brought to Israel in the organized immigration project that began with a dramatic airlift in 1984-85 dubbed “Operation Moses” and continued with the 36-hour “Operation Solomon” in 1991.

Left behind at that time were thousands of the Falash Mura, the name given to the descendants of the ancient Jewish community who converted to Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries, most often under pressure. The end of airlifts left some families divided between Ethiopia and Israel.

Read more at LA Times.

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World Bank Sees Ethiopia GDP Grow at 7 Percent for Medium Term

Men prepare bars of salt to be sold in the main market of the city of Mekele on April 24, 2013. (Reuters)

Reuters

August 26, 2013

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s economy is likely to grow seven percent a year over the next three to five years, below its average of the last decade, and to push that rate higher, the government needs to change policy to encourage private investment, the World Bank said.

While seven percent GDP growth would be the envy of finance ministers in Western economies, it would fall short of an average rate of 10.6 percent that Ethiopia said it achieved in the last 10 years with its state-interventionist policies.

It would also be insufficient to meet Ethiopia’s target of reaching middle-income status by 2025. The bank says that goal is still within reach, however, if the government shifts the balance from public to more private investment.

”We still think growth could be robust – in the order of seven percent in the medium term would not be unexpected,” said Lars Christian Moller, the bank’s lead economist in Ethiopia, in an interview on Monday.

The World Bank estimates Ethiopia’s economy grew seven percent in the fiscal year July 8, 2012 to July 7, 2013, below the government’s 10 percent estimate.

Moller said Ethiopia’s $43 billion economy would need to repeat its performance of the last decade to become a middle income country – defined by the bank as one with a gross national income (GNI) per capita of around $1,430 – in 12 years.

The World Bank put Ethiopia’s GNI at $410 in 2012.

Ethiopia is banking on massive state-supported energy and transport projects to help transform its agrarian economy.

Infrastructure spending required financing equivalent to 19 percent of Ethiopia’s GDP in fiscal 2011-2012, the World Bank estimates.

But while public investment in Ethiopia is the third highest in the world as a percentage of GDP, private investment is the sixth lowest.

Major sectors including retail, transport, banking and telecoms are closed to foreign investors.

Double-digit inflation again?

Growth has been driven by an expansion in services, now the largest economic sector, and agriculture. Ethiopia’s main exports include coffee and horticulture products, and it is also a big aid recipient.

Two thirds of Ethiopia’s 8.5 percent GDP growth in 2011-2012 could be ascribed to public investment, the World Bank said.

Even though the public investments are intended to benefit the private sector in the long run, they are depriving the private sector of finances in the short term, Moller said. “And that is where a deliberate choice is being made,” he added.

”Maybe there are some really good private investment projects out there that could deserve to get that credit, that could actually make the economy grow even faster,” Moller said.

He added that Ethiopia should keep monetary policy tight to head off inflation, which could quickly return to double digits.

The annual inflation rate accelerated to eight percent in July from a 2013 low of 6.1 percent in April. It exceeded 40 percent in 2011.

A loose fiscal stance and periodic external price shocks have left Ethiopia vulnerable to price spikes. Its public investment program has injected liquidity into the market, fueling inflationary pressures.

”We are a little bit wary that inflation is going up and perhaps could hit double-digit levels again,” within the next six to 12 months, Moller said.

So far, Ethiopia has managed to keep down inflation by using its foreign exchange reserves to mop up liquidity.

That has raised questions within Ethiopia’s private sector over how easily the government can sustain its spending program and keep inflation in single digits at the same time.

”The fiscal stance is loose, and so that is contributing to inflationary pressures,” Moller said. “So that would be another benefit of slowing down on public investment; you could maintain a lower level of inflation.”

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Swedish Fashion Retailer H&M Looks to Source Clothing From Ethiopia

H & M (Hennes & Mauritz AB ), a Swedish multinational retail-clothing company with locations in 43 countries, is eyeing Ethiopia as the business looks to expand its global production hubs to Africa. (WSJ)

The Wall Street Journal

By JENS HANSEGARD And HEIDI VOGT

STOCKHOLM — Clothing retailer H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB is looking to Ethiopia as a new low-cost country in which it will produce clothing as it races to keep shelves stocked at a growing number of stores around the globe.

The Swedish clothing retailer relies heavily on Bangladesh for clothes production, and a move to Africa would expand its sourcing footprint but not replace its commitment to production in Asia. One supplier says H&M is looking to source one million garments a month from Ethiopia.

A spokeswoman said the fashion company has placed test orders with Ethiopian suppliers and says large-scale production can begin as early as this fall. H&M is adding stores in a number of markets, a move needed to help offset stagnant same-store sales in some regions.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

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Ethiopia Hosts 2013 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum

The 2013 U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum is taking place at the African Union Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from August 09-13, 2013. (Photo: AGOA 2013 Ethiopia org)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Sunday, July 11, 2013

Addis Ababa (TADIAS) – Ethiopia is hosting the 12th annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum this weekend in Addis Ababa featuring business leaders and government officials representing the United States and several African countries. The Forum that alternates between Washington, D.C. and an eligible country from the continent every other year, is being held in Ethiopia for the first time.

The AGOA forum, that was singed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000, is designed to increase business to business relations between the U.S. and African countries through duty-free export of certain African products to the United States. Last year, 39 AGOA-eligible sub-Saharan African countries “exported nearly $35 billion in products to the United States,” a spokesperson for U.S. State Department said. “AGOA provides incentives for African countries to improve their investment climates, reduce corruption, respect human and labor rights and the rule of law, improve infrastructure and harmonize trade standards to help them become more competitive in the global marketplace.” Previous gatherings of the Forum had been organized in Mauritius, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia.

The press release added: “The 2013 AGOA Forum will highlight the progress achieved since the Act’s inception in 2000 and launch a dialogue on the future of United States-sub-Saharan Africa trade and economic cooperation. These discussions will pave the way for the Obama Administration to work with Congress and other stakeholders on AGOA’s extension after September 30, 2015, when the current Act is due to expire.”

This year’s forum opened in Ethiopia on Friday, August 9th under the theme “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology,” in conjunction with a business conference spearheaded by the Corporate Council on Africa that concludes on Sunday, June 11th. The event will be followed by the Ministerial Forum scheduled to take place on Monday August 12th and Tuesday, August 13th.

You can learn more about the forum at www.agoa2013ethiopia.org.

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UPDATE: Senior Air Force Pilots Among Those Killed in Mogadishu

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) firefighters attempt to extinguish the fire at the site of an Ethiopian military plane crash in Mogadishu, Somalia on Friday, August 9th, 2013. (Photo: VOA News)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Saturday, August 10, 2013

Washington DC (TADIAS) – The four crew members killed on board the Ethiopian military plane that crashed on Friday at Mogadishu airport in Somalia were all experienced Ethiopian Air Force personnel, including two senior pilots who had also served under the previous regime, a source told Tadias Magazine.

A colleague of the former pilots who refused to be named said that those who died in the crash were experienced airmen who began work during the Derg era and were employed by the air force under the current government.

“I personally knew all of them,” the air force official said. “I am very sad to hear the news of their death in such an incident.” He added: “These pilots should be working as senior trainers and consultants not flying planes.”

The other two crew members killed out of the six officers inside the doomed cargo plane are also reported to have many years of experience in the Ethiopian Air Force.

The Ethiopian government has not issued a statement regarding the crash. But in a press release AMISOM said that the two surviving crew members have been admitted to a hospital in Mogadishu.

News reports say the aircraft (Soviet-made Antonov 24) may have been carrying ammunition. According to international media, the Somali government is to appoint a committee later today to investigate the cause of the accident as well as the extent of the damage.

Although Ethiopia does have a sizable troop presence in Somalia fighting al-Shabab militants, its forces are not in the country under the AU mission, AMISOM.

Photos: Ethiopian Military Plane Crash Lands in Mogadishu (VOA News)


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Rights Group Presses Ethiopia to End Crackdown at Muslim Demonstrations

A woman injured during clashes between Muslim protesters and police in Addis Ababa on Thursday, August 8, 2013. Witnesses told AP that hundreds were beaten by police. (Photo: Nation Media Group)

Associated Press

August 8, 2013

ADDIS ABABA – An international rights group is urging Ethiopia’s government to end “repressive tactics” against Muslim demonstrations.

At a protest in Ethiopia’s capital on Thursday marking the Muslim celebration of Eid al-Fitr, Muslims chanted slogans asking the government to respect their rights.

Witnesses told an Associated Press reporter that hundreds of protesters were beaten by police who dispersed the crowd near a stadium where mass prayer was being held. Police blocked roads leading to the stadium.

Amnesty International said it’s concerned with authorities’ crackdowns on freedom of speech and the right to assemble. The group said Ethiopia should restrain its response and avoid future bloodshed.

Read more at ABC News.

Ethiopian Muslims clash with police on Idd el-Fitr day (Africa Review)

By Andualem Sisay

August 8th, 2013

ADDIS ABABA – Muslim protesters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa clashed with police, resulting in several injuries during Idd el-Fitr prayers on Thursday.

Members of the Muslim community have been demanding that the authorities respect their right of electing their own religious leaders; they have also demanded the release those arrested over the same.

There have been tensions in the past several months, especially during Friday prayers as the worshippers engage the police in running battles during demonstrations. Last week government media reported a clash between the police and “messengers of terrorists” in Arsi Kofele town of Oromia region.

Following today’s clashes, Amnesty International released a statement calling on the Ethiopian government to end “its use of repressive tactics” against demonstrators.

“We are extremely concerned at reports coming out of Ethiopia this morning of further widespread arrests of Muslim protesters. The Ethiopian government’s ongoing repressive crackdown on freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest has to end now,” Amnesty International’s Ethiopia researcher Claire Beston said

Read more at Africa Review.

Ethiopian Muslims stage Eid protests, some are arrested (By Aaron Maasho/Reuters)


Ethiopian Muslims attend prayers during Eid al-Fitr, Addis Ababa Aug. 8, 2013. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

August 08, 2013

ADDIS ABABA — Muslims in Ethiopia protested in the capital Addis Ababa during Eid al-Fitr prayers on Thursday, part of a two-year-old campaign against what they say is government interference in their religious affairs.

A heavy police presence around the city’s stadium — the venue for morning prayers — marked a tense run-up to the Muslim holiday after clashes between Muslims and police killed up to five people last week in Ethiopia’s south.

Demonstrators chanted “Allahu Akbar” and hoisted banners that read “respect the constitution,” referring to allegations that the government has tried to influence the highest Muslim affairs body, the Ethiopia Islamic Affairs Supreme Council.

Ethiopia, long seen by the West as a bulwark against militant Islam in the Horn of Africa, denies the claims but says it fears militancy is taking root in the country.

“These were Salafist elements who tried to create disturbances as the crowd went back to their homes,” government spokesman Shimeles Kemal told Reuters, referring to the ultraconservative brand of Islam followed by al Qaeda.

“They have no following among the population but still tried to make it look like a protest. A few have been arrested.”

Muslims make up about a third of the population in the majority Christian nation of 85 million, and the vast majority follow the moderate, Sufi version of Islam.

Some have been staging mosque sit-ins and street protests in the capital for almost two years. They accuse the government of promoting an “alien” branch of Islam — the Al Ahbash sect — which is avowedly apolitical.

The government denies that, and protesters’ allegations that authorities tried to rig elections to the Islamic council earlier this year.

Shimeles said the protesters aimed to set up an Islamic state in the country and were bankrolled and guided by “extremists” overseas.

Thursday’s incidents followed clashes in Kofele in Ethiopia’s Oromiya region, where government officials said Muslims wielding machetes and arms clashed with police, killing police officers and civilians. The protesters blamed the authorities for the incident.

Last year, police arrested 29 members of a committee that called for protests, accusing them of “planning to commit terrorist acts.”

Amnesty International urged Ethiopia on Thursday to end “its use of repressive tactics” against the demonstrators.

Related:
Ethiopian repression of Muslim protests must stop (Amnesty International)

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AMISOM Summit in Uganda: African Leaders Discuss Security in Somalia

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the meeting for the African Union Mission in Somalia on Sun, August 4th, 2013. (AP)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Published: Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Washington D.C (TADIAS) – Leaders of five troop contributing countries to the African Union’s peacekeeping force in Somalia, AMISOM, met on Sunday in Kampala, Uganda for an emergency session where they discussed ways to harmonize ongoing efforts to neutralize al-Shabab militants in Somalia by encouraging the government in Mogadishu to “reintegrate” more moderate groups into the national army.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is the current chairman of the African Union, attended the regional gathering along with heads of state from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Sierra Leone. All of them have peacekeeping troops in Somalia under the AU peacekeeping mission.

AMISOM was first deployed six years ago to support the transitional government in Mogadishu.

The leaders also discussed achievements and challenges of the mission, which in recent months has seen al-Shabab gaining grounds, still making it a security threat to the central government.

Sunday’s conference was chaired by President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, whose country deployed the first troops under the AMIOSM mandate in 2007. As of this year the force consists of 5,432 from Burundi, 999 from Djibout, 4,040 (Kenya), 850 (Sierra Leon) and 6,223 Ugandan troops.

The UN, EU and the AU as well as the U.S. are among the international financial backers of the continental peacekeeping mission.

Ethiopia announced last week that it has no immediate plans to withdraw its troops from the country.

Related:
UPDATE: Senior Ethiopian Air Force Pilots Among Those Killed in Mogadishu Crash
Ethiopian Military Plane Crash Lands in Mogadishu (Photos)
African leaders want disputed Somali city annexed (AP)
AU to Mark World Humanitarian Day in Addis Ababa (TADIAS)
Ethiopia: Muslims Clash With Police During Eid Protests (Africa Review)

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AU to Mark World Humanitarian Day in Addis Ababa: Call for Film Submissions

The African Union will commemorate World Humanitarian Day on August 19th, 2013 in Addis Ababa. (AU)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Updated: Saturday, August 3, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The African Union Commission is preparing to mark World Humanitarian Day on August 19th in Addis Ababa under the theme “Helping Hands.” In honor of the occasion, organizers have announced a challenge for journalists from the African Diaspora who have documented or featured stories on humanitarian related issues affecting the continent within the last year.

In a statement the AU Commission said it is currently accepting submissions until the end of August for short films (maximum 3-5 minutes), a visual photo map or an essay (max. 1000 words).

The top 26 selections receive continental recognition at the Africa Solidarity Launch on September 12th and 13th, 2013 and the top 6 will win a trip to New York to the General Assembly of the United Nations, organizers said.

World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is a United Nations General Assembly-designated day dedicated to the recognition of humanitarian personnel worldwide. It was started following the 19th of August, 2003 bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad that killed the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, and twenty-one of his colleagues.

“Through the ‘Helping Hands’ Initiative, the African Union Commission and its partners seek to recognize the valiant efforts of African humanitarian heroes and heroines by providing a platform for illuminating their efforts,” the press release stated. “The campaign will recognize those who have made a difference in their local, national and regional communities.”

The AU statement pointed out that ‘Helping Hands’ speaks to the African tradition and humanist philosophy of Ubuntu — that one is because of others, and that responding to distress is not a duty but the natural reaction of human beings.

“Helping Hands will showcase stories and projects by Africans and the African Diaspora that have made great impact in their communities,” the statement noted. “It is an opportunity to give Africans the chance to tell their story – not only to raise awareness, but also to inspire future generations to emulate innovative and exciting approaches to making a difference.”

You can contact the organizers or send your submission via Facebook/African-Humanitarian-Hub.

Related:
Ethiopia Hosts 2013 African Growth and Opportunity Act AGOA Forum (TADIAS)
Photos: United Nations Marks OAU-AU 50th Anniversary (TADIAS)
At a Summit in Uganda, African Leaders Discuss AU Somalia Operations (TADIAS)

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UPDATE: Four on Board UN Helicopter That Crashed in Ethiopia Are Russians

The United Nations helicopter, which was headed to Juba, South Sudan, crashed Wednesday on the outskirts of Eastern Addis Ababa injuring the four people on board, including the two pilots. (Photo: Flickr)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Thursday, August 1, 2013

Washington D.C (TADIAS) – The head of the special investigation team that is looking into the cause of Wednesday’s UN helicopter crash in Ethiopia said all four on board were Russian citizens.

Major Girma Gebre Yohannes, who is leading the inquiry into the crash, told Tadias that “the four Russian individuals” are currently getting medical treatment at Debre Zeit hospital.

In a telephone conversation Girma said that they are due to be transferred to Addis Ababa for further medical assistance.

“The bad weather in the area is interrupting the investigation team’s activity,” Girma said. “And we are unable to fully undertake our work at the crash site.”

The helicopter was en route from Djibouti to Juba, South Sudan on a United Nations mission.

According to the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, the Russian-made chopper crashed on Wednesday afternoon at 4:20pm in Chefe Dinsa area, located some 45km east of Addis Ababa, where it had stopped for refueling.

The Ethiopian Air Force from nearby Debre Zeit was involved in the rescue efforts.

Related:
Two Senior Ethiopian Air Force Pilots Among Those Killed in Mogadishu Crash (TADIAS)
Ethiopian Military Plane Crash Lands in Mogadishu (Photos)
No UN personnel were on helicopter that crashed in Ethiopia en route to UN mission (AP)
United Nations Helicopter Crashes in Ethiopia (TADIAS)
UN helicopter crashes near Ethiopia’s capital; injuries reported (AP)

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Olympian Meskerem Legesse’s Body Arrives in Ethiopia for Burial

The body of Olympian Meskerem Legesse has been flown from the U.S. to Ethiopia for burial. (Courtesy Photo: Service at St Mary of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Church in New York on Sunday, July 21, 2013)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Washington D.C. (TADIAS) – The body of 26-year-old Olympian Meskerem Legesse, who died last week after collapsing at a restaurant in Hamden, Connecticut, has arrived in Ethiopia for burial.

A special service had been held for the late athlete at St Mary of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in New York on Sunday, July 21st that was attended by a large number of people from the Ethiopian community, including her fellow athletes residing in the area, friends and family.

Zerihun Asrat Feleke, a family member of the athlete told Tadias in a telephone conversation from South Dakota that Meskerem’s immediate family and Ethiopian athletes were at Addis Ababa International Airport to receive her body late Tuesday.

“Her funeral is scheduled to be held on Wednesday at the St. Trinity church in Addis Ababa in the presence of her family and athletes as well as her supporters,” said Zerihun. He thanked the Ethiopian Diaspora community who have been extending their support to help transport Meskerem’s body to Ethiopia.

“I can’t tell you with enough words how Ethiopians were cooperating to support us to move her body to Ethiopia. We, families of the late athlete Meskerem Legesse, have a great appreciation for all the Ethiopian community both here in the US and in Ethiopia,” added Zerihun.

Meskerem, who was due to give birth in three weeks, is survived by her two children including her newborn whom doctors saved the same day she died. Her 2-year-old son was with his mother when she collapsed at the Chinese restaurant in Hamden. Family members told Tadias that the children will remain with their father, Meskerem’s partner.

We reported last week that the former runner was initially diagnosed as having a heart problem in 2009 after she collapsed during a training session in Arizona. The same year, Meskerem suspended her athletic career, but family members say her recent pregnancy was considered to be high risk due to her heart problem.

Below is a video from the New York Church service for the late Olympian Meskerem Legesse.


—-
Related:
Photos: Service for Meskerem Legesse at St. Mary of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Church (NYC)
Pregnant Former Olympian Meskerem Legesse Dies, Her Baby Saved (AP)

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FAA Calls For All 787 Dreamliner Inspections After London Fire

(Photo by Gediyon Kifle/Tadias Magazine)

USA Today

BY Bart Jansen

The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing that airlines inspect emergency transmitters in all Boeing 787 Dreamliners after British investigators traced a fire to a transmitter in a parked plane.

The FAA announced the proposal Saturday and is developing the inspection instructions with Boeing for the emergency locator transmitters.

The proposal, which the FAA expects to finalize within days, will ask airlines to inspect the transmitters for signs of wire damage or pinching. The inspections will also check each transmitter’s battery for unusual heating or moisture.

Although the FAA doesn’t require the transmitters aboard large commercial planes, the order for inspections will be mandatory. The FAA said it is relaying its concerns to airlines and regulators worldwide this weekend.

The proposal came after British investigators traced a July 12 fire aboard an Ethiopian Airlines’ 787 parked at Heathrow International Airport to an emergency transmitter powered by lithium manganese dioxide batteries.

Although the Air Accidents Investigation Branch found damage to the battery’s cells, it wasn’t clear whether the battery caused the problem or a short-circuit ignited the battery. Investigators said there are 6,000 emergency locators with the batteries on a wide range of aircraft, and this is the first with a significant problem such as the fire.

The transmitter’s manufacturer, Honeywell International, supported the British recommendations “as a safety-first-focused company” and said it would assist Boeing and airlines as needed.

Read more at USA Today.

Related:
Boeing Confident Fire-Damaged Ethiopian 787 Can Be Repaired (Puget Sound Business Journal)
Dreamliner Fire Probe Confirms Looking at Honeywell Part (Reuters)
Ethiopian Airlines to Seek Insurance Claim for Dreamliner Fire (TADIAS)
Heathrow Fire: Ethiopian Airlines to Go on Flying 787 Fleet (BBC News)
Ethiopian Airlines Boeing Dreamliner Catches Fire at Heathrow Airport (The Chicago Tribune)

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BBC: Untold People-Trafficking, Torture of Ethiopians in Yemen

Ethiopian Migrants in Yemen, near the Saudi border, waiting to return home. (Photo courtesy BBC News)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, July 20th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In a major program that is currently airing on BBC’s World News, international correspondent Yalda Hakim uncovers abuse and exploitation on a massive scale as BBC investigates one of the most dangerous journeys on earth, and the plight of thousands of Ethiopian migrants attempting to reach Saudi Arabia in search of employment.

In a statement BBC said its World News documentary “traces the steps of the 80,000 Ethiopians who attempt to reach Saudi Arabia every year, but first they must cross the Red Sea, trek 500 kilometres through the desert and then evade Saudi border guards.”

BBC added the biggest danger the migrants face, however, is from Yemeni criminal gangs who kidnap and sell them to so called “torture camps,” where they are held and tortured for ransom.

The program travels to Bab Al Mandab on the south-eastern tip of Yemen, where the migrants come ashore, and then onto to Haradh, a Yemeni town on the Saudi border where the torture camps are located.

“With access to victims, the smugglers themselves and the torture camps, Yalda hears stories of unimaginable cruelty and uncovers evidence to suggest that the Yemeni military may also be involved in the trafficking and sexual abuse,” BBC said.

Below are links to the program and photos.

Watch: Ethiopian migrants tell of torture and rape in Yemen
Watch: Inside Yemen’s ‘torture camps’

The following photographs are courtesy of BBC World News

BBC World News journalist Yalda Hakim at a camp in Yemen housing Ethiopian migrants. (Courtesy photo)


Yalda Hakim at a Migrant camp in Haradh run by The International Organization for Migration. (BBC News)

If You Tune In:
Our World: Yemen: The Most Dangerous Journey on Earth
On BBC World News (all times GMT):
Friday July 19th 2013 at 23:30,
Saturday 20th 2013 at 11.30 and 16.30
Sun 21st 2013 at 17.30 and 22.30
www.bbc.com

Related:
Meskerem Assefa Advocates for Ethiopian Women in the Middle East (TADIAS)

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EU Delegation Denied Access to Imprisoned Journalists in Ethiopia

Imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu, recipient of the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award and winner of the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Friday, July 19, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS)- A delegation of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights conducted a visit to Addis Ababa this week to meet with AU and Ethiopian officials and to assess the human rights situation in Ethiopia. The EU parliamentary delegation was led by Barbara Lochbihler of Germany and included Jacek Protasiewicz of Poland, Jörg Leichtfried of Austria, and Jean-Jacob of France.

The group was turned away from Kaliti prison, where most of Ethiopia’s prominent imprisoned journalists and political leaders are held.

Reached by phone the head of the EU delegation, Barbara Lochbihler, said officials at the prison administration asked the delegation to leave the area without giving them any explanation. She said they had received permission in advance through the EU delegation in Ethiopia to visit the Kality prison facility. She said the meeting was scheduled from 8:00 am to 9:00 am on Wednesday morning.

“However, when we arrived there, we were denied access,” Barbara said. She noted that the delegation had a similar visit earlier this year to Yemen without such an incident. “We are protesting this action,” she said. “It is honestly disappointing.”

Barbara indicated that the delegation was scheduled to visit journalists Reyout Alemu, Eskinder Nega, Woubishet Taye and other imprisoned opposition party officials.

“The Government of Ethiopia must guarantee freedom of opinion, speech and the right of peaceful assembly at all times, in accordance with its Constitution and obligations under international law,” the European Union said in a statement.

In an interview with the Associated Press Getachew Reda, a spokesman for Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, said Ethiopia has no political prisoners. “We do have, like any other country, people who were convicted of crimes including terrorism who are currently serving their sentence,” he said. “We are not going to release anyone just because some European Union members said so.”

Getachew dismissed the EU appeal saying: “They [the prisoners] would only be freed when either they complete their sentence or probation on good behavior.”

Regarding their visit to the AU headquarter, a priority issue for the EU delegation was the fight against impunity. In this respect, Ms. Lochbihler declared, “Africa has played a pivotal role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Cooperation among international, regional and national levels is crucial to promote global justice and peace. We owe to the African victims of atrocious war crimes that those responsible are brought to justice.”

As to Ethiopia, the visitors took note of some “encouraging developments,” such as the adoption of the National Human Rights Action Plan and the establishment of the Human Rights Commission and of the Ombudsperson.

“While welcoming the efforts of the Ethiopian authorities in the field of economic and social rights, notably in relation to poverty alleviation, the EP delegation called for the opening of the domestic space for civil society, which could only contribute to the overall development of the country,” EU said in a statement. “They stressed that civil society organizations should be allowed to function freely, without interference, harassment and undue restrictions.”

The European delegation’s visit to Addis included meetings with representatives of the government, parliament, opposition parties, as well as with representatives of civil society organizations.

Meanwhile, former President of Ethiopia and UDJ Chairman Negasso Gidada has told international media that police in four districts of Addis Ababa had detained 40 opposition supporters on Tuesday for distributing pamphlets asking people to sign a petition that also demanded the release of jailed opposition members, religious leaders and journalists. “It is harassment,” Negasso said in a phone interview with Bloomberg News. “There is no law that says you need permission to distribute leaflets.”
—-
Related:
Letter From Ethiopia’s Gulag: By Eskinder Nega (The New York Times)
EU urges Ethiopia to release journalists, revise terror law (Reuters)
Police Detain UDJ Activists Calling for Terror Law Repeal (Bloomberg News)
Ethiopian Opposition Holds Rare Protests in Gondar and Dessie (AFP)

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8th Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum to Be Held in D.C.

The 2013 Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum will be held at George Washington University on July 27th, 2013. (File photo)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Monday, July 15, 2013

Washington DC - (TADIAS) – The 8th Annual Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum will be held on July 27, 2013 in Washington D.C., to discuss business and investment opportunities in Ethiopia, as well as to award and honor pioneering entrepreneurs from the community.

Organizers of the annual conference announced that the 2013 event will focus on “Investing in Agri-business: Opportunities and Challenges for Diaspora Investors.”

“Specifically, the Forum will discuss specific investment opportunities in agri-business, agro-processing and financing and value chain development opportunities in select subsectors,” organizers said in a statement.

In addition, the forum this year features an agri business concept competition and the winning teach will be rewarded with a round trip ticket to Ethiopia and technical support from the Forum and its sponsors as well as “participate in a USAID-funded matching grant program to support investments in select agricultural value chains.”

The 2013 Ethiopian Diaspora Pioneer Businessperson Selection Committee is currently accepting nominations from the public and will announce the awardee by July 19, 2013. It was to be recalled that last year the Pioneer Ethiopian Diaspora Business Person award was shared by Ato Tadiwos Getachew Belete, founder and CEO of Boston Partners PLC, and Ato Zemedeneh Negatu, Managing Partner of Ernst & Young Ethiopia & Head of Transaction Advisory Services (Corporate Finance) Eastern Africa Ernst & Young LLP.

“The Forum and Awards Event will highlight the work of the Ethiopian Diaspora entrepreneurs and various business and investment opportunities available for Diaspora businessmen and women,” said Yohannes Assefa, Founder and Executive Director of the yearly gathering.

The Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum is organized by The Ethiopian American, a Virginia based Ethiopian Diaspora business and investment group.

If You Go:
8th Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum & Awards Dinner
Date: July 27, 2013
Place: Jack Morton Auditorium, George Washington University
Attendance is by registration.
Please register at www.theethiopianamerican.com.

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UPDATED: Ethiopian Airlines to Seek Insurance Claim for Dreamliner Fire

The following story has been updated with comments from Boeing. (Photo by Gediyon Kifle/Tadias File)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Monday, July 15, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) – Ethiopian Airlines plans to file an insurance claim after one of the company’s 787 Dreamliners caught fire while parked at London’s Heathrow airport on Friday.

Tadias Magazine has learned that the demand for financial compensation could be worth millions of dollars and will be made as soon as the inquiry led by UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport is completed.

“The insurance claim will include damage to the aircraft and other losses,” a source told Tadias on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak to the media.

The official indicated that the airline is closely monitoring developments in London, but it is not yet clear to whom the insurance request will be made.

The British regulator said in a statement on Saturday that its initial investigation show damage to the upper part of the aircraft’s fuselage, but they do not believe that it was caused by battery problems. “At this stage there is no evidence of a direct causal relationship,” the press release said, referring to the blaze and the batteries.

Ethiopian Airlines had temporarily grounded its 787 Dreamliners earlier this year for inspection following a safety warning issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address the risk of battery fires.

In London, the Ethiopian Boeing jet was empty and parked at a remote corner of the airport last Friday at the time the fire broke out. And there were no reported injuries. “As you know investigation is still being carried out,” the source said, speaking about the accident at Heathrow.

In an email response to Tadias Boeing said “we do not publicly discuss the contents of any discussions we may have with our customer.” The Boeing spokesperson said the aerospace corporation has been asked to participate as an advisor to the investigation and has a team on the ground working in support of authorities. “Protocol dictates that all publicly released information concerning the investigation must come from, or be approved by, the AAIB,” Boeing said.

The probe, which is underway inside a special hangar at the London airport, is being conducted by England’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US-based National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), The Boeing Company and Ethiopian Airlines.

Ethiopian owns four B787s and is the only African carrier that operates the Dreamliner fleet. According to Airframes.org the airline took delivery of the damaged plane, nicknamed the Queen of Sheba, in late November of 2012.

Dagnachew Teklu is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C.

Related:
Dreamliner Fire Probe Confirms Looking at Honeywell Part (Reuters)
Heathrow Fire: Ethiopian Airlines to Go on Flying 787 Fleet (BBC News)
Ethiopian Airlines Boeing Dreamliner Catches Fire at Heathrow Airport (The Chicago Tribune)

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Tadias Interview: Ambassador David Shinn on Obama’s Africa Trip

(Photograph by © Gediyon Kifle)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – President Barack Obama’s just-concluded Africa trip has brought positive international media attention to the continent, particularly to the success stories of Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania — countries that administration officials say were chosen for their “exemplary progress” in economic development, transparency in governance, independent press, respect for human rights and rule of law.

In a recent interview with Tadias Magazine David H. Shinn, former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia and Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., said President Obama’s trip to Africa is an effort to underscore the importance of US-Africa relations after a period of relative non-engagement at the presidential level during his first term in office.

“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did make frequent visits to Africa over the last four years, which partially made up for the absence of President Obama except for a brief visit in 2009 to Ghana and trip to Egypt in connection with Middle East issues,” Ambassador Shinn pointed out.

At lower levels of the government, Shinn noted, the United States remained “thoroughly engaged” with the continent, but he said this is not the same as presidential involvement. “I think this trip by President Obama will go a long way in strengthening the ties between the United States and African countries,” he said.

Why such a short list? we asked. “Whenever a U.S. president visits Africa, it is difficult to visit more than three countries because of the vastness of the continent,” Shinn replied. “In choosing countries to visit, there are always geographic, language, regional and political considerations.” He added: “Once the decision is made to visit three countries, the next step is to identify countries in three different regions of sub-Saharan Africa that also include both French and English [speaking nations].”

Senegal was picked as the West African and francophone country. South Africa, the economic powerhouse in Africa, was selected as the southern African choice. Tanzania represents East Africa.

“All three countries have good records on governance and democratization, a consideration which placed these three countries above several other possibilities,” Ambassador Shinn said. “Kenya, the birthplace of Obama’s father, would have been an obvious choice but was not selected because both the newly elected president and vice president face charges from the International Criminal Court.”

And why did the White House not choose to address African leaders from the AU headquarters in Addis? “Ethiopia, which hosts the African Union, was another possibility but was recently visited by Secretary of State John Kerry and does not have as good a record as Tanzania on the pace of democratization,” he stated.

Related:
The Official Blog of Ambassador David H. Shinn
Obama Receives Huge Welcome in Tanzania (Video)
Ethiopia: Children TV Host Speaks at African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania (TADIAS)
Obama Africa Trip Highlights Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania (TADIAS)

Watch: President Obama delivers the central speech of his three nation Africa tour (VOA News)


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UPDATE: Obama Ends Africa Trip in Tanzania, Voices Confidence in Future

President Barack Obama and the First lady Michelle Obama wave from Air Force One upon their departure from Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania on July 2, 2013. (VOA News/Reuters)

VOA News
By Dan Robinson

July 02, 2013

DAR ES SALAAM — President Barack Obama ended his Africa trip Tuesday, voicing confidence in Africa’s future with help from a new U.S. model for development assistance.

In Tanzania, Obama and former president George W. Bush marked the 1998 al-Qaida terrorist bombing. Coordinated truck bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, and Nairobi, Kenya on August 7, 1998 left 224 people dead.

Just over three years later, al-Qaida attacked the United States directly on home soil on September 11, 2001.

In a brief ceremony at the new embassy building that opened in 2003, Obama and former president Bush laid a wreath at the memorial to those killed in the attacks.

With five family members of victims and those who survived the attack nearby, they walked side by side to the memorial, and bowed their heads for a moment of silence.

Obama’s Africa trip has been focused primarily on enhancing trade and investment in the continent, based on a new model of aid, public-private partnerships with African governments and reforms.

But security threats faced by African nations, and the U.S. role in helping to counter extremist groups, were on the agenda in his discussions from Senegal to South Africa and Tanzania.

In South Africa, Obama spoke of what he called the “senseless terrorism that all too often perverts the meaning of Islam – one of the world’s great religions – and takes the lives of countless innocent Africans.”

He also attempted to counter the notion that the United States is militarizing its involvement in Africa, saying ultimately Africans must shoulder their own security responsibilities.

“I know there’s a lot of talk of America’s military presence in Africa. But if you look at what we’re actually doing, time and again, we’re putting muscle behind African efforts,” he said.

In the final event of his Africa trip, Obama visited a formerly idle power plant brought back to life through joint Tanzanian-U.S. efforts, highlighting his new initiative to double access to electricity in Africa.

Obama said this reflects his approach of combining public and private resources to spur economic progress.

He referred to other new initiatives, from agriculture to education and health, and said the United States intends to be a strong partner with Africa in years ahead.

“That is what all our efforts are going to be about, is making sure that Africans have the tools to create a better life for their people and that the United States is a partner in that process. It’s going to good for Africa, it’s going to be good for the United States and it’s going to be good for the world,” he said.

Over a week of travel, Obama highlighted democratic progress and the importance of civil society and human rights in Senegal.

He held up South Africa’s democratic transition and progress against HIV/AIDS as a model for Africa, met family members of critically ill former president Nelson Mandela, and underscored the role of Africa’s youth in building the future.

As he left Tanzania he said he was inspired, and convinced that “with the right approach Africa and its people can unleash a new era of prosperity.”



Obama Receives Huge Welcome in Tanzania (VOA News Video)


President Barack Obama, followed by first lady Michelle Obama, does a dance upon his arrival ceremony with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, right, July 1, 2013, at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. (VOA News/AP)

BY Dan Robinson

DAR ES SALAAM — In Tanzania, President Barack Obama and President Jakaya Kikwete have discussed plans to step up economic engagement with the continent and a “new model” for U.S. assistance.

The Obamas received a warm airport welcome from the president and his wife, complete with a marching band, and women dressed in traditional “khanga” skirts bearing Obama’s picture.

In a news conference after bilateral talks, both leaders took questions about the development, trade and investment agenda of Obama’s trip. Obama reiterated a key objective of his new model for engagement.

“I have said this throughout Africa. We are looking at a new model that is based not just on aid and assistance, but on trade and partnership,” he said.

President Kikwete thanked President Obama for “invaluable” support in Tanzania’s development efforts, from education to food security and HIV/AIDS prevention.

“The lives of the people of Tanzania are different today thanks in many ways to the support we have been getting from the United States of America,” said President Kikwete.

Obama noted Kikwete was the first African leader welcomed to the White House after Obama took office.

Obama also noted that his visit to Tanzania came just ahead of the 50th anniversary of the late President John F. Kennedy welcoming President Julius Nyerere to the White House on July 15, 1963.

Obama called Tanzania a close partner with the United States on major development initiatives, and lauded Tanzanians for democratic progress.

“Tanzanians continue to work to strengthen their democracy. Parliament, opposition groups, civil society groups and journalists are all doing their part to advance the good governance and transparency on which democracy and transparency depend,” he said.

The two leaders also discussed African conflicts, including the one in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Obama said all parties need to implement commitments under a recently-signed U.N. Framework for Peace.

Obama said the peace framework has to be more than just a piece of paper and countries surrounding Congo need to step up.

“The countries surrounding the Congo they have got to make commitments to stop funding armed groups that are encroaching on the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Congo,” he said. “They have signed on to a piece of paper, now the question is, do they follow through?”

As Obama arrived, the White House announced he had signed an executive order to provide $10 million to sub-Saharan countries to help them combat trafficking in wildlife.

Tanzania and other countries are highly dependent on wildlife tourism. U.S. officials noted that rhinos and elephants are particularly threatened by poachers, who are motivated by high prices for horns and tusks in an illegal trade worth at least $7 billion per year.

On Tuesday, Obama and former U.S. president George W. Bush, who is also visiting Tanzania, participate in a wreath-laying event at the site of the al-Qaida U.S. embassy bombing in 1998.

Obama used a response to a question on the appearance by reiterating praise for the anti-AIDS program PEPFAR that Bush initiated.

“I am looking forward to being able, on African soil, to once again thank him on behalf of the American people, for showing how American generosity and foresight could end up making a real difference in people’s lives,” said Obama.

Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama and her predecessor Laura Bush will participate in a First Ladies Summit in Dar es Salaam about empowering women in Africa.

President Obama Outlines Partnership Model with Africa (VOA News)


President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama tour the jail where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island, near Cape Town, in South Africa on June 30, 2013. (VOA News/Reuters)

By Dan Robinson

July 1st, 2013

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA — President Barack Obama has outlined a new model for U.S. engagement with Africa, supporting greater economic opportunity and democracy, and African-led solutions to security.

At the University of Cape Town, Mr. Obama presented a broad picture of his goals for U.S.-Africa policy, including assistance, trade and investment, health, and security cooperation.

The speech was framed around the legacy Obama said former president Nelson Mandela has left for the continent.

​Earlier he and his family visited Robben Island, where Mandela spent nearly two decades of his 27 years in prison under the former apartheid regime. “Nelson Mandela showed us that one man’s courage can move the world and he calls on his to make choices that reflect not our fears, but our hopes, in our own lives and in the lives of our communities and our countries,” he said.

Obama said the United States will “up our game” in a continent he described as “poised to take off,” with new trade and investment and steps to bring down trade barriers.

He spoke about his food security initiative to help lift 50-million people out of poverty within a decade. And he announced a “Power Africa” initiative to double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa, with an initial investment of $7 billion.

Obama said he will continue seeking ideas from Africa’s young people about their continent’s future. He announced his plan to hold a first-ever summit in Washington of sub-Saharan African leaders.

“I am proud to announce that next year, I am going to invite heads of state from across sub-Saharan Africa to a summit in the United States to help launch a new chapter in U.S.-Africa relations,” he said.

The president spoke of a “historic shift” in Africa from poverty to a growing middle class with fewer people dying of preventable disease, but still threatened by the “rot of corruption” and conflict.

“It is not moving fast enough for the child still languishing in poverty in forgotten townships. It is not moving fast enough for the protester who is beaten in Harare, or the woman who is raped in Eastern Congo. We have got more work to do because these Africans must not be left behind,” he said.

Obama called South Africa an example of the difference between freedom and tyranny, saying governments “should exist to serve their people and not other way around.”

Citing free and fair elections and the growth of civil society from Ghana to Zambia, he said governments that respect the rights of their citizens and abide by the rule of law do better and draw more investment.

In Zimbabwe, he said only a credible election can help repair the country’s economy. “There is an opportunity to move forward, but only if there is an election that is free and fair and peaceful so that Zimbabweans can determine their future without fear of intimidation and retribution. And after elections there must be respect for the universal rights upon which democracy depends,” he said.

Obama said the United States is interested in investing not in “strong men, but in strong institutions” and supports open and accountable governments, independent judiciaries, and societies that empower women. “No country will reach its potential unless it draws on the talents of our mothers and our sisters and our daughters,” he said.

Obama said opportunity and democracy cannot take root as long as fear prevails in too many places, citing conflicts in Mali, Somalia, Congo and Sudan.

He said the United States supports African-led solutions, noting U.S. support for African Union peacekeeping in Somalia and efforts against the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa.

“From Mali to Mogadishu, senseless terrorism all too often perverts the meaning of Islam one of the world’s great religions and takes the lives of countless innocent Africans. From Congo to Sudan, conflicts fester robbing men and women and children of the lives they deserve. In too many countries the actions of thugs, and warlords and drug cartels and human traffickers hold back the promise of Africa, enslaving others for their own purposes,” he said.

He said America makes no apology for helping African efforts to end conflict and stand up for human dignity.

Earlier, Obama joined retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a youth center named after him for AIDS prevention.

“Your success is our success. Your failure, whether you like it or not, is our failure. And so we want to assure you that we pray for you to be a great success. We want you to be known as having brought peace to the world,” said Tutu.

President Obama and his family depart early Monday for Tanzania, the final stop on his three-nation Africa tour.

Watch: President Obama delivers the central speech of his three nation Africa tour (VOA News)

Related:
After Obama Trip, Africa’s Vast Potential Touted on Capitol Hill (VOA)
Tadias Interview: Ambassador David Shinn on Obama’s Africa Trip
Ethiopia: Children TV Host Speaks at African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania (TADIAS)
Obama Africa Trip Highlights Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Photos: United Nations Marks OAU-AU 50th Anniversary

At the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Thursday, June 27th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The African Union Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations in New York hosted a “High level Panel Discussion and Workshop” on Wednesday June 26th inside the UN building marking the 50th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union (AU), headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The event opened with a remark by Ambassador Tete Antonio of the Permanent Observer of the AU to the UN, who delivered an introductory message from Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission and the first woman to lead the organization. Statements were also made by the head of the African Group for the month of June 2013, Mr. Roble Olhaye, Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the United Nations.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Ali A. Mazrui, the famed academic and political writer on African and Islamic studies as well as North-South relations. During his speech Professor Mazrui, who turned 80 last year, proposed that the AU, which currently has no real authority to make binding decisions for all of Africa’s 54 states, perhaps should establish a permanent member council similar to the U.N. with a rotating chairmanship. He suggested the body should be made up of 4 or five countries, one from each region based on size of population: “Nigeria from the West, Egypt from the North, Ethiopia from the East and South Africa from the South.”

Mazuri also recalled Nelson Mandela’s memorable interview with Ted Koppel on ABC’s Nightline on February 15th, 1990, soon after he was released from his 27-year imprisonment. “Most people would look at the last 27 years of your life or at the life of someone who has spent the last 27 years in prison and say to themselves “what a waste.” What about you?,” the ABC host had asked. “That is true, to spend 27 years at the prime of your life is a tragedy and I regret those years that I have wasted in prison,” Mandela had responded. “But there are very positive aspects too because I had the opportunity to think about problems and to reflect on my mistakes.” Mandela added: “I also had the opportunity of reading very widely and especially biographies and I could see what men sometimes from very humble beginnings were able to lift themselves with boot strings and become international figures and men that are useful to society in their own community and to the world.”

The gathering also included screenings of a short documentary focusing on the history of the founding of the OAU in Addis Ababa on May 25th, 1963 as well as a trailer of a film highlighting the organization’s 50th anniversary celebrations .

Below is a slideshow of images from the panel discussion:

Watch: Feb. 15, 1990: Nelson Mandela Interview with Ted Koppel on ABC’s Nighline


Related:
Yadesa Bojia Reflects on African Union Flag on 50th Anniversary (TADIAS)
The African Union Turns 50: Voices From Ethiopia — Past and Present (TADIAS)

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Watch: U.S. Congress Hearing on Democracy & Human Rights in Ethiopia

Mr. Obang Metho, Executive Director of Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, testifies at a Congressional hearing on Thursday, Jun 20th, 2013. (Photo courtesy Leyou Gennene)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) – The U.S. congressional subcommittee on Africa held a hearing on Thursday entitled Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights. The featured witnesses included Donald Y. Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary of State at the Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs; Earl W. Gast, Assistant Administrator at USAID’s Bureau for Africa; Berhanu Nega, Associate Professor of Economics at Bucknell University; Dr Peter Pham, Director at the Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, Atlantic Council; Mr. Obang Metho, Executive Director of Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia; and Mr. Adotei Akwei, Managing Director for Government Relations at Amnesty International, USA.

The full text of their statements can be accessed at foreignaffairs.house.gov.

Below are videos from the hearing.

Opening Statements

Subcommittee Chairman Smith Questions Witnesses at Hearing on Ethiopia



Related:
Ethiopia’s opposition vows sustained national protests against the ruling party (AP)
Ethiopia opposition threatens protests over anti-terrorism law (Reuters)

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Law Professor Urges Ethiopia to Take Nile Issue to International Court

The construction of the Grand Renaissance hydroelectric dam in the Asosa region of Ethiopia. (Photo: AP)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In the late 1990s, long before the Egyptian cabinet got caught on live television discussing to sabotage Ethiopia’s $4.7 billion Grand Renaissance hydroelectric dam project, a law professor and his students at Stanford University were quietly researching the legal case that could assist Ethiopia in the event that the inter-country conflict ended up at the International Court of Justice for resolution.

“I was very happy when I learned Ethiopia was going ahead with the Blue Nile Gorge project; and then very concerned when the Egyptian cabinet meeting conversation leaked, referring to Egypt’s going to war against Ethiopia,” said former Congressman Tom Campbell who is currently the Dean of Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California. “What totally irresponsible statements.”

In a recent interview with Tadias Magazine, Mr. Campbell recalled that two of his Stanford law students, Paul Epstein and Ken Fleuriet, had prepared a draft brief that dealt with just these questions.

“International law requires upstream and downstream users to engage in equitable use of a river’s water,” he said.

Egypt, which operates its own multiple dams built on the Nile, is vigorously opposing Ethiopia on the basis of a colonial era agreement that served only the interest of Egypt and Sudan. In a review article entitled “Who Owns the Nile? Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia’s History-Changing Dam” published at Ohio State University, Andrew Carlson notes that “After achieving its independence in 1922, Egypt negotiated the Nile Waters Agreement of 1929 with the East African British colonies. This accord established Egypt’s right to 48 billion cubic meters of water flow, all dry season waters, and veto-power over any upriver water management projects.” Despite that over 85% percent of the waters flowing to Egypt came from the Blue Nile originating in Ethiopia, Carlson states that Ethiopia’s emperor Haile Selassie “was not consulted.” An additional colonial-era agreement between Egypt and Sudan, which Egypt claims should be followed today also left out five other upriver countries from fair use.

“Does Ethiopia have the legal right to dam the Nile?” we asked. The answer, Mr. Campbell gave is a resounding “Yes.”

“Unquestionably Ethiopia has the legal right to build the dam,” he replied. “The issue had been one of funding: the U.S. had supported Egypt at the World Bank, and the World Bank had not funded the project. I believe Ethiopia found alternative funding from China.”

Mr. Campbell added. “While Egypt wants more of the Nile to be diverted to new settlements in the Sinai, Ethiopia wants water to prevent the devastating drought that occurs every seven years. This favors Ethiopia. Further, Ethiopia’s storage of water in the Blue Nile gorge will result in far less evaporation per cubic meter of water than Egypt’s storage in Lake Nasser, a shallow lake with huge loss to evaporation.”

Mr. Campbell emphasized that this essentially means sharing the river, based on traditional uses, and the value of the proposed new use. “The International Court of Justice exists for just this kind of dispute resolution,” he argued.

In their brief Epstein and Fleuriet asked: “Beyond the broad notions of fairness and justness embodied in the concept, just what are the particulars of ‘equitable utilization?’ In very large measure the modern doctrine of equitable utilization is nothing more than a compromise between the two extreme positions. Equitable utilization recognizes a right of upper riparians to develop and exploit their water resources, but also imposes upon them a burden to take the needs of their downstream neighbors into account.”

“My advice is for Ethiopia to commence a legal process in the International Court of Justice.” Campbell urged. “The sooner this goes to the ICJ the better, as any military threat would, on top of being highly irresponsible, then be perceived by the world community as an attempt to short cut the process of the ICJ.”

Related:
Hydropolitics Between Ethiopia and Egypt: A Historical Timeline (TADIAS)
How Egypt Might Try To Stop Ethiopia’s Dam Project (Forbes)
Egyptian warning over Ethiopia Nile dam (BBC News)
Ethiopia rejects Egyptian protests over Nile dam (The Guardian)
Ethiopia says Nothing Will Stop Nile Dam Project (AP)

Watch: Communications Minister Bereket Simon on the Nile issue (Al Jazeera English)


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Peaceful Opposition Protest Could Mark Change in Ethiopian Policy

Thousands of people staged a peaceful protest in Addis Ababa on Sunday in the first large-scale gathering of its kind and a rare show of public opposition in more than eight years. (VOA)

VOA News

Peter Heinlein

June 03, 2013

A peaceful protest rally in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, has sparked speculation the government may be relaxing its tight restrictions on political demonstrations. The large turnout at the rally has also raised the profile of a little-known opposition party that seems to be attracting a large following among Ethiopia’s disaffected youth.

Sunday’s demonstration drew thousands to the streets of Addis. But estimates of how many thousands varied widely. State-run television reported it was 2,000, while organizers said it was more like 15,000 to 20,000.

Whatever the figure, the event was significant. It marked the first time authorities have allowed a mass political protest in Addis Ababa since 2005, when police gunned down demonstrators who accused the ruling party of fraud in parliamentary elections.

Pictures and video of the demonstration created a sensation on the Internet, prompting speculation about whether Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s government might be easing restrictions on political speech imposed by his predecessor, the late Meles Zenawi.

It also raised questions about whether a new generation of opposition leaders might be emerging. The rally was organized by the Semayawi (Blue) Party, a small offshoot of an opposition group that collapsed following the 2005 election.

Party president Yenekal Getinet said the Blue Party represents the desire for change among the 70 percent of Ethiopians under the age of 35, who he said want to break away from the Marxist ideas that have dominated the country’s political thinking for more than a generation.

“This is a new generation of leaders,” said Getinet. “Many political leaders for the last 20 years, be it in the ruling party or opposition are from the leftist ideology or Marxist-Leninist mindset and ethnocentric. So this is the new generation from the globalization era, a bit liberalized, vibrant and knowledge-based; and this may be the reason why, I am from the new generation.”

The protest was mainly called to demand the release of political prisoners, including opposition leaders, journalists and the organizers of last year’s Muslim protests that called for an end to government interference in religious affairs.

Government spokesman Shimeles Kemal was quoted Monday as saying the overwhelming majority of the protestors were Muslims, including Islamic extremists. But law professor Yakob Hailemariam, who is representing the Muslim protest organizers in court, and was the keynote speaker at Sunday’s rally, said the demonstrators represented a broad spectrum of Ethiopian youth.

“Actually, the number of Muslims was only one-fifth, it was not very significant. They stand out because of their clothes, but they were not that many. But the demo was espousing their cause that Muslim jailed leaders should be released, so that was one of the demands, but it has not religious sentiment to it,” said Yakob.

Yakob, who is gained prominence as a senior prosecutor with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, expressed surprise that Ethiopia’s ruling EPRDF party had allowed the demonstration. He said it is too early to know whether this represents a change in the tight restrictions on protests that have been in effect since the 2005 post-election violence.

“It Is hard to tell. The EPRDF is secretive and it is difficult to know what their intentions are. I have been wondering why they allowed this demonstration. Are they opening up? Is this an indication? Because they have been prohibited since 2005. Strictly prohibited,” said he said.

Blue Party leader Getinet declined to speculate about whether authorities would tolerate more protests.

Other opposition figures, including Yakob Hailemariam, have noted that the demonstration permit had been issued just before last month’s African Union summit, when the government’s restrictions on political speech were under scrutiny by a host of international visitors, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Yenekal said the test will come in three months, when the Blue Party plans to ask for another demonstration permit to press its demands for release of political prisoners.

Critics allege Ethiopia has become a de facto one-party state, noting the ruling EPRDF’s near total domination of all elections since 2005. The late prime minister Meles Zenawi rejected that label, however, calling it a dominant-party state.

Thousands Hold Peaceful Demonstration in Rare Ethiopia Protest (VOA News)


Thousands of Ethiopian opposition activists demonstrate in Addis Ababa, June 2, 2013. (Marthe van der Wolfe/VOA)

Marthe van der Wolf

June 02, 2013

ADDIS ABABA — Thousands of Ethiopians demonstrated Sunday in Addis Ababa, the first political protest against the country’s ruling party since 2005.

The demonstrators were shouting they wanted their human rights to be ensured, that political and religious prisoners should be released, and accusing state television of only broadcasting propaganda.

“We have been raising lots of questions for the government and one is to release those political party leaders and journalists,” said Getaneh Banch, a member of the Blue Party, the opposition party that organized the demonstration. “And we have been also calling for the government to release also those who have been dislocated from their locations, because of their ethnic background.”

This was the first political demonstration since the 2005 elections, after which many protesters and opposition leaders were imprisoned.

One of the opposition leaders jailed after the 2005 elections, Jacob Hailemariam, says this demonstration is significant for Ethiopia.

“This will definitely encourage people to demand their rights that they have been very quite about, until today,” he said.

Many of the protesters were young men with a Muslim background who do not necessarily support the Blue Party, but do feel a change in government is needed.

“I am not happy with the political party of this nation,” said Mustafa, a high-school teacher. “I never support this party because if I am a citizen I can not believe in what I believe. We are suffering too much, our leaders are in prison.”

University student Shimelis says he does not expect any immediate change, but still feels it is important to be present.

“When we demonstrate, we express our idea, we express our thinking to the government and to the international community,” he said.

The Blue Party says it will organize more demonstrations if Ethiopia’s ruling party does not respond to its demands within three months.

Related:
Ethiopia: Free to protest (The Economist)
Thousands march for rights in rare Ethiopia protest (Reuters)
Ethiopian protesters take to streets (BBC News)
Ethiopia: Thousands Protest Political Repression (AP)

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How Big is Corruption in Ethiopia? $16.5 Billion Lost to Cash Smuggling

Global Financial Integrity says Ethiopia lost US$16.5 Billion to illicit financial outflows in the last decade.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Last week police in Ethiopia conducted a high-profile corruption sweep in Addis Ababa, the biggest of its type in the Capital in more than ten years, arresting several people, including a Minister and his deputy in charge of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority.

But how big is corruption in Ethiopia on the global scale? We placed a phone call to the Washington, D.C office of Global Financial Integrity (GFI), which tracks illicit financial flows out of developing countries worldwide.

According to Clark Gascoigne, a spokesperson for GFI, the organization’s latest available research data show that the amount of money that Ethiopia lost to smuggling of cash out of the country, both by the government and the private sector between 2001 and 2010, totals 16.5 billion U.S. dollars.

Mr. Gascoigne pointed out GFI’s statistics are based on official data provided by the Ethiopian government, World Bank, and IMF.

“Our numbers indicate all funds that illicitly left the country in a ten year period including by individuals and private companies illegally funneling their money out of Ethiopia,” he said.

Ethiopia also ranks 113 out of 176 countries in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, the global civil society coalition that encourages accountability initiatives by regular citizens.

Meanwhile, the Federal Anti-Corruption Commission in Ethiopia said that Melaku Fanta, a Minister and the Director General of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority, and his deputy, Gebrewahed Woldegiorgis, are two of the highest ranking officials apprehended so far on bribery, kickback, tax evasion, illegal trading and fraud accusations.

The other individuals taken into custody on similar indictments in the recent roundup include Ketema Kebede, who is the proprietor of KK Trading, Simachew Kebede, owner of the Intercontinental Hotel, and investor Mihretab Abreha, as well as Nega Gebre Egziabeher of Netsa Trading PLC.

Related:
So far 51 suspects arrested, most from tax, customs and business sector (AP)
The Grand Fall: Ethiopia Detains Top Taxmen (Addis Fortune)
Ethiopia arrests minister, 11 others over corruption (Reuters)
Melaku Fanta and other 12 detained on corruption charges (Walta Info)
Ethiopia’s Expanding Sectors Prone to Corruption (VOA News)

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PM Hailemariam Asked About Reeyot Alemu In France24 Interview

Reeyot Alemu, winner the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
Editorial

Published: Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In a wide-ranging interview with France24 this week, Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn energetically fielded a number of questions in his role as the current chairman of the African Union about the continent’s troubled spots, including the situation in Mali, the elections in Kenya, the prospect of peace in Somalia, and the border issue with Eritrea. But when the topic changed to domestic matters and the imprisoned journalist Reeyot Alemu, winner of the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize, so did the tone of the Prime Minister.

“For us our due process of law is, you know, according to the international standard and practice and we will continue on this way whether whoever says it,” he said. “What matters is the peace, security and democracy in the country, rather than what somebody says.”

Reeyot, who is now 32-year-old, was arrested in June 2011 inside a high-school class room where she worked as an English teacher. She was wanted for her opposing views in her part-time job as a columnist for the then Amharic weekly Feteh. She is currently serving a five year sentence in Kality prison. UNESCO said last week that she was recommended for the prestigious award by an independent international jury of media professionals in recognition of her “exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.”

“The whole important thing in this issue is that rule of law is one of the pillars of democratic process in the country,” the PM told the French television station, without mentioning Reeyot by name. “So we have responsibility also not only to have, you know, any kind of issues in the country, but to secure our people from any kind of terrorist actions.”

Hailemariam added: “In this regard, I think what’s important is that we are following all the international standard including the UN charter for human rights and democracy, which we have signed and ratified in my country. So I think it is according to the international, universal declarations that we are operating in the country.”

“Do you think there is room for improvement?” the reporter for France24 asked. “Do you agree that things could be better in this regard that there should be more vibrant press and a more vibrant opposition to make Ethiopia a real and full democracy?”

“I think there is no doubt about it,” the PM said. “Not only in Ethiopia, even in much more civilized democratic nations like France you have always something to improve. So how can we say there is no need of improvement in a fledgling democracy and a democracy of only fifteen years of age.”

The PM argued that establishing a culture of democracy takes time. “Therefore, we have a fledgling democracy, we have to learn lots of things, there are a number of rooms for improvement, including, the press, media and all kind of things,” he said. “We are learning from the international practices and my government is open to learn and improve things at home.”

The UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded annually during the celebration of World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd, which will take place this year in Costa Rica. The UNESCO jury highlighted Reeyot’s critical writing published in several independent Ethiopian newspapers on various political and social issues focusing on poverty and gender equality.

We urge Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to do the right thing for Ethiopia and exercise his authority under the constitution to pardon Reeyot Alemu.

Watch: PM Hailemariam Desalegn interview with France24


Related:
Reeyot Alemu Wins the 2013 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize (RTT)
Reeyot Alemu: Ethiopia’s Jailed Truth Teller (The Daily Beast)
Eskinder Nega: An Ai Wei Wei Story in Ethiopia (TADIAS)
Prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia (Al Jazeera)
UN Finds Detention of Eskinder Nega Arbitrary (United Nations)

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Eskinder Nega: An Ai Wei Wei Story in Ethiopia

File photos of Eskinder Nega with his son Nafkot and his wife Serkalem Fasil. (Photographs courtesy www.Freeeskindernega.com)

Tadias Magazine
Editorial

Updated: Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – In the early 1990′s when Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was a young man living in the suburb of Washington, D.C., which is home to one of the largest populations of Ethiopian-Americans in the United States, he dreamt of one day opening an independent newspaper company in his native country. Unfortunately, two decades later Eskinder, now 45 years old, is languishing behind bars, locked away for 18 Years at Kality prison nearby where he was born and raised in Addis Ababa separated from his wife, 8-years-old son, profession, and branded as a terrorist.

Eskinder, who has been in and out of jail eight times since he returned to Ethiopia almost twenty years ago, stands convicted of attempting to subvert the country’s constitution, which in principle affords its 80 million plus citizens all of the universally accepted due process guarantees and human rights — including that “no one can be deprived of his liberty for exercising his freedom of expression or being a critic of the government.”

Last year around this time there was a glimmer of hope among Eskinder’s compatriots at home and in the Diaspora rightly encouraged by the news that PEN America had awarded him its prestigious “Freedom to Write” prize. Tadias Magazine had the opportunity to attend and cover the ceremony on May 1st, 2012 at the literary organization’s annual gala dinner held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. We interviewed a number of people on camera including Eskinder’s wife, Serkalem Fasil — herself a former journalist who gave birth to their son Nafkot in 2005 during her own stint as a political prisoner — who accepted the award on her husband’s behalf, as well as her former cellmate the renowned Ethiopian opposition leader and former prisoner of conscience Birtukan Mideksa, who is currently in exile and a Harvard fellow in the United States. Both Serkalem and Birtukan’s spirits were buoyed by PEN’s success stories of advocating on behalf of those that are selected to be honored. Forty-six women and men have received the award since 1987; 33 of the 37 honorees, who were in prison at the time of their nomination, were subsequently released.

“International human rights law does not prohibit prosecution of members of terrorist organizations or those who support cooperate and assist terrorism by any means,” Ethiopian authorities wrote to members of the European Parliament in February who had urged Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn back in December to consider the release of the imprisoned journalist. “Rather, it prohibits any form of discrimination and impunity of prosecution.”

Since the Pen Award, however, impunity and unchecked power by a single party is what appears to be preventing officials from resolving the matter once and for all. Instead the ruling party agents have turned to a strategy of Chinese-style campaign, disturbingly similar to the attack against Ai Wei Wei — the contemporary artist and outspoken critic of the Chinese government. Eskinder’s personal story mirrors Ai Wei Wei’s in more ways than one. Both individuals had studied in America in their youth and returned to their birth countries to work. Both Ai Wei Wei and Eskinder turned to blogging as a means of expression, both were incarcerated for refusing to stop writing and asserting their right to self-expression. And both men had firmly decided to stay in their native country to continue their work despite the fact that unjust harassment was looming over them and they knew they were putting their lives at stake.

While Ai Wei Wei has received overwhelming international support from art institutions and human rights organizations, Eskinder’s story hasn’t reached the critical spotlight needed to win his rightful release.

The labeling of Eskinder as a ‘terrorist’ is designed to deflect criticism and to intimidate international agencies into covering their eyes and ears regarding domestic human rights abuses in Ethiopia. Meanwhile, local officials are busy exploiting the flow of financial assistance from the same donor countries that are eager to hunt real terrorists residing in the populous Horn of Africa region.

The Ethiopian authorities, of course, don’t see anything wrong with the fact that the Federal Police seem to be habitually confusing a “pen” for a deadly weapon. Today, Ethiopia is listed among the top ten most censored countries in the world. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that compiles the annual data, says the nation is one of only two African countries along with Eritrea that still holds the distinction.

In the last decade Ethiopia has shown an impressive potential for economic progress as well, but also mimicking China in downplaying respect for human rights. Without specifically mentioning Eskinder Nega, there has been a development of late in the Ethiopian parliament that is apparently aimed at fixing the general issue concerning freedom of expression in the country. But let us cross our fingers that this time it’s not part of the fly-by-night and feel-good charm offensive intended to cloud the festering problem.

On the world stage, it is also encouraging to see the finding by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Eskinder’s ongoing detention as a violation of international law. The panel of five independent experts from four continents held earlier this month reported that the government violated Eskinder’s rights to free expression and due process. The UN body called for Eskinder’s immediate release following sustained lobbying efforts by his international pro bono lawyers and support by his friends in exile, including Birtukan Mideksa, who recently wrote a well received Op-Ed piece on Al Jazeera English highlighting her anguish over the muzzling of progressive Ethiopian voices.

As fellow journalists it too is our desire to bring this hard-fought momentum one step closer to the finishing line. We lend our voice in urging all freedom loving citizens of the globe to stand with Ethiopians in demanding the unconditional release of our colleague, the award-winning journalist, publisher and blogger Eskinder Nega.
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Related:
UN Finds Detention of Eskinder Nega Arbitrary and Calls for Immediate Release (Freedom Now)
Prisoners of conscience in Ethiopia by Birtukan Mideksa (Al Jazeera)
Letter from Ethiopia: Regarding The Case Against Eskinder Nega
Video & Photos: Eskinder Nega Honored With Prestigious PEN Award

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Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Norway Co-host First Global Education & Technology Health Summit

The global education and technology health (GETHealth) summit was held at the United Nations in New York from February 6- 7th, 2013. (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Monday, February 11, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The first Global Education and Technology Health Summit was held at the United Nations in New York last week, which brought together academics, social entrepreneurs, distance learning experts, physicians, business leaders and ministers of health for a talk on the impact of mobile technologies to improve global health.

The summit was organized by Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education and Global Partnerships Forum and co-hosted by the International Telecommunication Union as well as the governments of Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Norway.

Dr. Enawgaw Mehari, Neurologist and Founder of People to People (P2P) global network was a panelist discussing information and communications technologies, and the patient versus provider relationship. Citing his organization’s work, Mehari described the People to People as being founded on the principle of triangular partnership consisting of “the mother country (Africa), the Diaspora, and Western institutions.” The main effort is to “implement programs that contribute to closing the gap through education, training, and research,” Mehari told Tadias in a later interview. An example of such a program was an emergency medicine initiative coordinated by People to People, Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, and Wisconsin University as well as a neurology program at Black Lion Hospital in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic.

Another panelist, Ms. Amy Lockwood, Deputy Director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University, supported Mehari and the role that individuals from the Diaspora can play by noting that pilots implemented by NGOs or student interns are short-term and don’t help to form the deeper, and more meaningful connections needed to scale and grow programs. “When you are a member of the Diaspora you have an umbilical cord” she said and urged practitioners to move towards implemented innovative projects with the support and collaboration of diaspora resources.

Dr. Seble Frehywot, Principal Investigator of the MEPI Coordinating Center at George Washington University also presented on the topic of creating centers of excellence for ICT in health education and research training that would likewise serve as hubs of innovation.

Ethiopian Diaspora physicians participating in the summit included Dr. Senait Fisseha from the University of Michigan who is both a doctor and lawyer by training and is involved in global health activities in collaboration with medical schools in Ethiopia. She felt the summit was “an interesting meeting looking at the impact of technology to improve health care services as well as global medical education,” but also pointed out that she “would like to see more healthcare providers and stakeholders at this meeting as well as diaspora from all African and Asian countries who really have a vested interest in addition to NGOs and funders.” She travels once a month to Ethiopia to oversee projects that are currently being developed on the ground.

On the topic of leveraging mobile technology to strengthen health systems, Dr. Ferew Lemma Feyissa, Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Health in Ethiopia, told Tadias that the summit has enabled them to network and meet with various technology company representatives including from Dell and Verizon who have shown interest in working with them as private sector partners. An area of health that Ethiopian Ministry of Health is primarily focused on is improving maternal and child health outcomes, and expanding emergency obstetric care at the district level. Dr. Feyissa notes that Ministry is also using mobile technology tools to “help us enhance the skills of health extension workers in the primary health care unit.” In the future, Ethiopia also hopes to use mobile health to address chronic care and to support the vastly expanded medical education system in Ethiopia.

During the ministerial addresses, Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Kesetebirhan Admazu Birhane, described the three-tier health system, which is comprised of health centers and community health extension workers. “We consider our community health extension program as a pillar of our health system,” he said. “And through this program we have trained and deployed 38,000 health extension workers, with two workers per village.” Most of these professionals are women who have been “tasked to do health promotion, disease prevention, and provide basic curative services,” he added. The four areas of support for them include data exchange, improving supply chain so that workers are receiving supplies on a continuous basis, and using mobile technology to improve both communication between the community health extension workers and labs and hospitals. One outcome of this program is that “we have seen an increase in antenatal visits as well as an increase in institutional delivery rates,” Dr. Birhane said, citing the use of mobile technology to reduce maternal mortality in Ethiopia. “So the challenge is to have the same quality of success at scale.”

Similarly, the Director of e-health at the Rwandan Ministry of Health said his nation has three community health workers per 75,000 villagers, which exceeds the goal of the million community health worker campaign for Sub-Saharan Africa announced by President Paul Kagame, Novartis CEO Joseph Jiminez, and Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs this past January at the World Economic Forum.

In addressing some of the current challenges faced, Dr. Birhane noted the recent expansion of Ethiopia’s medical schools from just three to 25 new medical schools. Dr. Birhane spoke of the difficulty in retention of physicians who leave and practice in other countries, and mentioned the initiative to increase medical school enrollment capacity from “150 five years ago to 3,000 this year.” The challenge is that “we don’t have enough faculty,” he said, “and that’s where technology will definitely help.”

Dr. Wuleta Lemma, Director for the Center for Global Health Equity at Tulane University and Country Director for Tulane’s program in Ethiopia has been working for several years in Addis Ababa spearheading the development of a pre-service Master’s training program in health monitoring and evaluation, as well implementing an e-health and mobile health strategy called HealthNet in collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health.

Speaking of such efforts, Dr. Birhane said “we have tried to create a linkage between universities in Europe and the U.S. with our newer medical schools. And we have also created a network with the Ethiopian Diaspora.” He added, “I would like to call upon our partners here to work with us to really improve the quality of medical education in Ethiopia using information and communications technologies.”

State Minister for Primary Health Care in Uganda, Ms. Sarah Opendi cited similar hardship in the retention of trained doctors in her country, noting physician preferences to work for higher pay in the private sector or abroad. Yet, by using mobile technologies, Uganda has improved service delivery and monitoring of medicines, and has better quality of data from monthly reports, as well as improved anonymous consultation services for HIV/AIDS patients through the national, toll-free hotline. Uganda has also “connected regional referral hospitals with the national hospital so that doctors can easily consult with their colleagues.”

The Minister of State for Health in Nigeria, Dr. Alit Pate, shared with participants that his country has 65,000 registered health extension workers, but more initiative is needed, especially when it comes to evaluating the impact of using mobile technology to improve health outcomes. He mentioned an online portal for training midwives that initially received a lot of hits but then experienced a decline in submissions, and emphasized that incentives need to be put in place to encourage community health extension workers to continue submitting valuable data used for tracking progress.

Incentives such as providing promotion opportunities for community health workers to supervisory levels, and providing access to medical education via distance learning modules to increase medical student enrollment and retention are just a few ways that Dr. Feyissa at the Ethiopian Ministry of Health hopes to build and maintain a trained health workforce. Uganda’s integrated use of an innovative health system tracking service known as IHRIS is yet another avenue for better monitoring and evaluation of health outcomes.

The Summit also covered subjects such as health and media literacy, and leveraging social media to address issues including increasing organ donation. Sarah Wynn-Williams, Manager of Global Public Policy at Facebook informed the audience that the launch of Facebook organ donation profiles increased organ donation by 800% in California in the first week alone.

Lee Wells, Head of Health Programs (Africa) at Vodaphone Foundation looked forward to translating the success of mobile money such as the M-Pesa system in Kenya to the mobile health sector. He stated that “last year, 25% of Kenya’s GDP was transferred via M-Pesa mobile system.” He emphasized “It’s low-cost, let’s use what’s already available.”

Below are photos from the event:



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Letter from Ethiopia: Regarding The Case Against Eskinder Nega

Former journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault, left, with Serkalem Fasil, Eskinder Nega’s wife, at last year's PEN America annual gala dinner in New York on Tuesday, May 1st, 2012. (Tadias Magazine file)

Tadias Magazine
Editorial

Published: Friday, February 1, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Fairness, justice, forgiveness, equality before the law, and deference for the sanctity of life and human dignity are not foreign concepts to the diverse nationalities, cultures and religions that make up the modern Ethiopian mosaic, but it is not encouraging to see the legal language justifying the continued imprisonment of a number of Ethiopian journalists on the grounds that the nation’s current administration of justice meets international standards.

In a recent paper entitled Information on the Allegations Concerning the Arbitrary Detention of Mr. Eskinder Nega, Ethiopian legal experts wrote a 19-page response to the 16 members of the European Parliament who urged Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn back in December to consider the release of the imprisoned journalist Eskinder Nega. In the document, shared with Tadias, Ethiopian officials explain to the European MPs that their actions are anchored in international law.

“The trial process of Mr. Eskinder Nega demonstrates that due process guarantees were ensured in keeping with domestic legislations and international standards as enshrined in the ICCPR and other relevant human rights instruments to which Ethiopia is a party,” the document said. “International human rights law does not prohibit prosecution of members of terrorist organisations or those who support cooperate and assist terrorism by any means. Rather, it prohibits any form of discrimination and impunity of prosecution.”

This is open to interpretation, however, and it is apparently constitutional to brand citizens as terrorists for their critical views and subject them to arbitrary arrest and detention. It is illegal for writers, journalists, columnists, bloggers, and others with opposing perspectives to share unapproved observations with any audience if it touches upon subjects decrying abuses of power and corruption.

“The Constitution of Ethiopia strictly prohibits deprivation of rights or liberty without due process of law except on such grounds and in accordance with clearly established law,” the text continued. “This has been witnessed during the trial process of Mr. Eskinder Nega.”

The legal brief includes a twenty-six point argument covering topics including background of the case and pretrial detention, the charge brought against the defendant, the trial, observance of the right to legal counsel, as well as the accused’s right to visitations, and the appeals process in which Eskinder was actively involved.

In its opening paragraph the brief also highlights the individual freedoms and rights enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution. “No one can be deprived of his liberty for exercising his freedom of expression or being a critique of the Government,” it declared.

“Ethiopia is a country governed by of rule of law. All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.”

Then why are Reeyot Alemu, Eskinder Nega, Wubishet Taye and others languishing in jail separated from their families and friends? Why are they not able to practice journalism?

The brief also argues that in Eskinder’s case he was charged for conspiring to cause violence in collaboration with an illegal organization, noting that “Mr. Eskinder Nega was found guilty by court of law for involvement in a conspiracy to commit a crime of terrorism as an accomplice with a clandestine and terrorist organization named Ginbot 7 which has publically declared its intention to overthrow the democratically elected Government of Ethiopia through assassination of government officials, destroying public property, destabilizing peace and constitutional order of Ethiopia.”

“The Federal Prosecutor, after meticulously investigating Mr. Eskinder Nega’s participation in terrorism and ensuring the presence of ample evidence, requested the Federal First Instance Court in Addis Ababa for an arrest and search warrant.”

The document added: “Cognizant of its responsibility not to arrest, search or seize a person’s property contrary to the law, police arrested the defendant, searched and seized the relevant property of evidentiary significance after securing arrest and search warrant from the Federal First Instance Court. His house was searched and relevant evidences found were seized by court warrant issued by the Federal Court in accordance with article 26 (3) of the Constitution and article 19 of the Ethiopian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. The defendant promptly brought before a court of law within 48 hours in accordance with article 14(3)(c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 19 and 20(1) of the FDRE Constitution and tried without undue delay.”

The legal brief makes no mention of Ethiopia’s tradition of pardoning prisoners, most recently approved by the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi before he passed away on August 20th, 2012, which freed over 1,900 inmates including two Swedish journalists — reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson — who were jailed for assisting members of the outlawed rebel group the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

As always, we remain hopeful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the Ethiopian journalists still incarcerated. And once more, we call upon PM Hailemariam Desalegn who was recently elected as the new chairman of the African Union to lead the AU by example by helping to remove his country from the list of Africa’s top jailers of journalists — a distinction Ethiopia currently shares along with Eritrea as the only two African countries spotlighted as the world’s top ten leading press offenders.

Related:
MEPs urge Ethiopia to release journalist (The Guardian)
Letter from 16 Members of the European Parliament (Press Release)
Ethiopia pardons two jailed Swedish journalists (Reuters)
Country List of Top 10 ‘Jailers of Journalists’ (CPJ)

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Editorial: Our Role in Shaping U.S.-Africa Policy in Obama’s Second Term

President Obama gave his second inauguration address on Monday, January 21, 2013. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
Editorial

Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – As we extend our best wishes to President Barack Obama for a successful second term in office, we also urge the White House to pay more attention to the diverse voices in our community and to engage the Diaspora as the U.S. formulates better policies towards Africa in the next four years. After all, as citizens, we are voters and taxpayers, and therefore stakeholders in what the United States does in Africa.

Influencing U.S. foreign policy also requires a culture of respectful political discourse among ourselves, which has not been the hallmark of the Diaspora during Obama’s first term, particularly by Ethiopian pundits in the United States.

In one of the many memorable lines delivered at his second Inaugural Address this week, President Obama said: “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.”

It is a message that political leaders, activists and scholars in our community should take to heart if they are to be effective moving forward in communicating on behalf of a wider constituency and in shaping future U.S.-Africa and U.S-Ethiopia relations.

Related:
Obama Stresses Unity in Second Inaugural Speech (VOA News)

Video: Sights and Sounds from the 2013 Inauguration (NBC)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


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Ethiopian Airlines Grounds 787 Dreamliner

(Photo by Gediyon Kifle for Tadias)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian Airlines has temporarily grounded its 787 Dreamliners for inspection following a safety warning issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA said on Wednesday that the 787 should not operate until the risk of battery fires is addressed.

The crisis began when one of the planes owned by the Japanese airline, All Nippon Airways, was forced to make an emergency landing in Japan when a cockpit warning indicated a battery problem and a burning smell. Ethiopian follows Chile’s LAN, Air India and the European Aviation Safety Agency who have all sent out grounding orders.

“Ethiopian Dreamliners have not encountered the type of problems such as those experienced by the other operators,” the airlines said in a press release. “However, as an extra precautionary safety measure and in line with its commitment of putting safety above all else, Ethiopian has decided to pull out its four Dreamliners from operation and perform the special inspection requirements mandated by the US FAA.”

Ethiopian airlines, which has been operating the Dreamliner since mid-August last year, said it is working closely with Boeing to comply with the US FAA approved special inspection. “The airline aims to return the Dreamliners to service as soon as possible, after full compliance with the new procedure,” the press release said.

“Ethiopian would like to apologize to its esteemed passengers for any inconvenience this may cause in their travel experience.”

Related:
Boeing 787 Crisis Widens, as Global Regulators Ground Dreamliner

In Pictures: Ethiopian airlines 787 Dreamliner lands in D.C. (Photos: Tadias File – Aug 2012)


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Ethiopia’s Expanding Sectors Prone to Corruption

Last year Ethiopia scored 113 out of 176 countries in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International. And a recently released study by the World Bank and the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has identified industries that are prone to corruption. (Image credit: Screen shot/BBC)

VOA News

Martha van der Wolf

ADDIS ABABA — A new study says the fastest-growing sectors of Ethiopia’s economy, such as telecommunications, land management and construction, are prone to corruption. A study conducted by the World Bank and the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission was made public on Friday.

At the same time, the study praises Ethiopia for its generally low levels of corruption compared to other low-income countries.

Rupert Bladon of the World Bank says fast growing sectors are more vulnerable to corruption but that steps can be taken to reduce the practice.

“I think it needs a combination of efforts. I think you need strong regulatory frameworks, and also strong institutions and people working in those institutions helping to oversee the regulation of those,” he said. “In terms of areas where you have large procurement, it’s very important that there are transparent regulations that are being followed across the public sector.”

Fast growing sectors in developing countries such as Ethiopia are instrumental to economic growth. The study focused on eight different sectors.

The telecommunications sector is at high risk, according to the study, because of weak accountability and the monopoly position of the telecom service provider.

Abdurahim Ahmed of Ethiotelecom is not impressed with the findings of the research:

“The research states that this country has a strong policy framework. This means the policy of this company emanates from the government’s policy, which the research puts as a strong policy framework. So the monopolistic framework emanates from the country’s policy,” he said. “There is nothing that had been presented that correlates these two, the monopolistic nature and the reason that it will become prone to corruption.”

Ethiotelecom does not see corruption as a top priority at the moment, but they did say they would look into the report’s recommendation to improve accountability within the company.

The Ethiopian government has already started to change its land policy to reduce corruption. The chairman of the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Ali Suleiman says much more is administrated and registered than before:

“The government had no data which part of the land was occupied or owned by somebody. Because of this lack of registration it was easy for people, for engineers, for land managers, to corrupt with this plot of land,” he said. “But now a database has been started to be implemented and the procedures, how to get title deeds, how to prove ownership – all this starting from policy registrations and directives started to be implemented.”

Examples of other efforts to reduce corruption can be found in the construction sector. Any transaction over $162,000 (3 million Ethiopian birr) has to be published on a website. This is also an effort to change public perception. The study reports that the public perception does not correspond with the actual level of corruption.

Chairman Ali says the level of corruption is much lower than other low-income and developing countries, but that there is a perception that corruption is rampant in the East African country:

“In all sectors it proves there is a disparity between perception and reality. Our assignment is to see the reason why people perceive in such a way,” Ali added. “I think one reason because we lack transparence in our public services and maybe people they don’t differentiate between inefficiency and corruption – maybe any delay, any inefficiency, maybe translated to corruption.”

Ethiopia scored 113 out of 176 countries in the 2012 Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, the anti-corruption watchdog.

Read more news at VOA.

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ESAT: FBI Investigating Alleged Murder Plot Against Abebe Gellaw

Abebe Gellaw at the G8 summit at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC on Friday, May 18, 2012.

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Washington, D.C. – ESAT is reporting that FBI is currently investigating an alleged assassination plot against U.S.-based Ethiopian journalist and opposition activist Abebe Gellaw. The FBI has not confirmed the report.

According to Ethiomedia, Boston FBI spokesman Greg Comcowich said he wouldn’t go into details but noted that the FBI takes such type of crimes seriously.

Click here to watch the report at ESAT.

Related:
Video: Abebe Gellaw Interrupts PM Meles Zenawi’s Speech | Ethiopian Activists Protest G8 Summit

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Reeyot Alemu Loses Appeal

Jailed Ethiopian Journalist Reeyot Alemu, who is currently serving a five-year term on terror charges in Ethiopia, has lost an appeal to dismiss the case against her. She was among four women who where honored last year by the International Women’s Media Foundation. (Photo: Elias Wondimu, second from left, accepted the award on her behalf on October 24, 2012/ By Stan Honda/IWMF)

January 08, 2013

ADDIS ABABA — An Ethiopian journalist lost an appeal on Tuesday against a five-year prison sentence for her role in promoting subversive plots by a rebel group.

Reyot Alemu, a columnist at the now-defunct Feteh newspaper, and fellow journalist Woubishet Taye were found guilty a year ago of conspiring to participate in attacks under the orders of rebel groups and sentenced to 14 years behind bars. The pair were arrested in July 2011.

An appeals court reduced Reyot’s sentence to five years in August and dropped two of the three charges to leave just the promotion of “terrorist activity.”

A subsequent appeal to dismiss the case altogether, however, was rejected on Tuesday and she faces another three years and three months in prison, having already served more than 19 months.

Read the full story at VOA News.

Related:
Human Rights Watch: 4 Journalists From Ethiopia Win Free Speech Prize
Court delays Eskinder Nega’s appeal (Africa Review)
Update: The Year’s Top 10 ‘Jailers of Journalists’
MEPs urge Ethiopia to release journalist (The Guardian)
Record number of reporters jailed globally (BY kirubel Tadesse/AP)
Federal High Court Expresses Doubts About Eskinder Nega’s Conviction (VOA)
Friends and Supporters React to Reeyot Alemu’s Media Award (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Ethiopia’s Squad for Africa Cup Include 3 Foreign-based Players

Saladin Said, pictured above scoring against Nigeria, who plays in the Egyptian Premier League, is one of three foreign-based players that are part of Ethiopia's 23-man squad for this month's African Nations Cup in South Africa. (Flickr)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, January 4, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The Walya Antelopes, Ethiopia’s national soccer team, have enlisted a trio of foreign-based Ethiopian players as part of the line-up for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations 2013, which is set to commence on January 19th in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Coach Sewnet Bishaw has chosen 28-year-old Swedish-born midfielder Yussuf Saleh and 21-year-old Ethiopian-American footballer Fuad Ibrahim, in addition to the team’s star striker Saladin Said who plays abroad for Wadi Degla in Egypt. Yussuf comes from the Swedish football club Syrianska, while Fuad is currently playing for the Minnesota Stars in the North American Soccer League.

The head coach Seyoum Kebede told Star Africa that he “has high hopes his youthful team have a bright future.”

Ethiopia is scheduled in group “C” and faces Zambia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. The Walya’s opening match is against the defending champions Zambia on January 21st.

Here is the team:

Goalkeepers: Jemal Tassew (Coffee FC), Sisay Bancha (Dedebit), Zerihun Tadelle (Saint George)

Defenders: Degu Debebe, Biyadglign Eliase, Abebaw Butako, Alula Girma (all Saint George), Seyum Tesfaye, Birhanu Bogale, Aynalem Hailu (all Dedebit)

Midfielders: Asrat Megersa (EEPCO), Addis Hintsa, Behailu Asefa, Minyahel Teshome (all Dedebit), Yared Zinabu, Shimelese Bekele (both Saint George), Dawit Estifanose (Coffee FC), Yusuf Salah (Syrianska)

Forwards: Saladin Said (Wadi Degla), Adane Girma, Umed Ukuri (both Saint George), Getaneh Kebede (Dedebit), Fuad Ibrahim (Minnesota Stars).
—-
Related:
FEATURE-Soccer-Ethiopia’s ‘Walyas’ look to make up for lost time (Reuters)
Three Foreign-based Players Named in Ethiopia Squad (Reuters)
Nations Cup 2013: Ethiopia name squad (BBC)
Ethiopia Gearing up for Africa Cup 2013 (TADIAS)

In Pictures: Photographs of the Walya Antelopes – Ethiopia’s National Soccer Team

Video: Swedish-born midfielder Yussuf Saleh’s goal highlight – October 2012


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Sole Rebels Planning Expansion With 30 New Franchise Stores

Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun started Sole Rebels in 2005 in order to create jobs and sustainable prosperity in her country. (Photo: Courtesy Sole Rebels)

The Rise of Sole Rebels (IPS)

By Ed McKenna

ADDIS ABABA – Innovative Ethiopian footwear manufacturer Sole Rebels will open its second retail outlet in Taiwan this year. With ambitions to open 30 more franchise stores across the world in countries like the United States, Australia, Italy and Japan, Sole Rebels, the largest African footwear brand, is now fast becoming a global competitive brand.

The company currently sells its innovative range of artisan shoes made from recycled materials in 55 countries and is now one of Ethiopia’s thriving businesses with a major presence on e-commerce sites such as Amazon. Its success reflects this Horn of Africa nation’s growing footwear-manufacturing industry as Chinese businesses are increasingly investing in the sector here.

Founded in 2005 by Ethiopian entrepreneur Bethlehem Tilahun, who wanted to create jobs and sustainable prosperity in her country, Sole Rebels made two million dollars in sales in 2011 and is expecting to generate over 15 to 20 million dollars in revenue by 2015.

“We are extremely excited to open a Sole Rebels store in the heart of Taichung. Taichung is a footwear epicentre, home to the Asian design centre for the planet’s largest footwear brands,” Bethlehem told IPS.

Read the full article at IPS News.

In Pictures: Inside SoleRebels’ store in Kaoshiung, Taiwan (Photographs courtesy of Sole Rebels)


Related:
SoleRebels Expands to Asia (TADIAS)
Click here to learn more about SoleRebels’ products.

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Ethiopia Gearing up for Africa Cup 2013

Ethiopia is returning to the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in thirty years. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Johannesburg (TADIAS) – Preparations are underway for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, and Ethiopia’s national team (The Walya Antelopes), that qualified for the tournament for the first time since 1982, is also gearing up for the continent’s most prestigious soccer competition, which kicks off on January 19th in Johannesburg.

By all accounts the past year has been very productive for Ethiopia. The website SouthAfrica.info noted, their games included a tie against the host country, which led to the firing of South Africa’s coach Pitso Mosimane “after a string of unconvincing results.”

The Walya Antelopes, popularly nicknamed “The Black Lions,” also advanced past Benin and Sudan on “the away goals rule” after a draw with Benin followed by victory over Sudan, against whom they lost 5-3 in Khartoum and then beat 2-0 in Addis.

The team’s star players are striker Saladin Said, who plays abroad for Wadi Degla in Egypt, and Adane Girma of Ethiopia’s Saint George Club, who was voted the best player in the Ethiopian Premier League in 2011.

Speaking about Saladin his former coach Belgian Walter Meeuws is quoted as saying: “Said is a very skilful player, technically strong, good speed and a good positioning as striker. He reads very well the game and the last year he became stronger in both power and physical strength.”

But in order for Ethiopia to have a performance worth remembering in South Africa, the team must first survive its challengers in group “C” that include Zambia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

Related:
Ethiopia Line-up for Africa Cup Includes 3 Foreign-based Players (TADIAS)
Three Foreign-based Players Named in Ethiopia Squad (Reuters)
Nations Cup 2013: Ethiopia Name Squad (BBC)
Africa Cup of Nations 2013: Ethiopia Aim to Defy the Odds (Aljazeera)
Ethiopia win battle of the minnows (Super Sport)

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2012 in Pictures: Politics, London Olympics and Alem Dechasa

Images from some of the biggest stories of 2012. (See credits and full slideshow below)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, December 29, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – From the death of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to the apparent suicide of Alem Dechasa, and from the surprise results at the London Olympic games to the decisive re-election of President Barack Obama, 2012 has been a year of many lessons and historic transformations.

The televised abuse of Alem Dechasa, the Ethiopian woman that was violently mistreated outside the Ethiopian embassy in Lebanon last March, and her suspicious suicide a few days later, was one of the most watched and heartbreaking stories we covered this year: (In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse)

The mysterious absence, illness and death of PM Meles Zenawi was by far the biggest political news of the year in our community. On July 15th the 57-year-old prime minister failed to show up for an African Union meeting that he had religiously attended without absence since the early 90′s. What followed next was several weeks of bizarre secrecy by the Ethiopian government and repeated pronouncements of vague assurances by officials about the status of the PM’s health. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was eventually declared dead on August 20th and was given a state funeral on September 2nd, 2012 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa. The confusing summer frenzy also exposed the weakness of the flummoxed political opposition in the Diaspora as disorganized and fractured, neither inspiring confidence nor prepared for public leadership and responsibility.

What was inspiring in 2012, however, was the spectacular performance of our women athletes at the London Olympics. Ethiopia earned seven medals this year, three of them gold, courtesy of Tirunesh Dibaba, Meseret Defar and Tiki Gelana — making the country the leader in Africa on the athletics medal count and globally trailing only the United States, Russia, Jamaica and England.

Here are images from some of the biggest stories of 2012.



Related:
2012 in Review: Ten Arts & Culture Stories (TADIAS)

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Report From Second Community Forum on Mental Health – Video

The second community forum on mental health took place on Saturday, December 15th, 2012 at the Shaw Neighborhood Library in D.C. (Image credit: Filmstock Inc)

Tadias Magazine
By Tsedey Aragie

Updated: Friday, December 21, 2012

Washington, DC (TADIAS) – Last week I hosted the second public forum on mental health here in Washington, D.C. The interactive get-together attracted over 100 participants from across the country who joined the conversation via conference call as well as an online live stream channel in addition to those who attended in person at the Shaw Neighborhood Library.

I am happy to report that it was another fruitful and educational event. My only regret is that we ran out of time before we could cover all the speakers because we did not assign and monitor time segments properly, which we will fix next time.

One of the key point that was repeatedly emphasized at the meeting was the need to incorporate religious leaders in this dialogue as well as in the treatment and healing process for individuals. There are studies that show that the close knit and communal nature of our culture does play a protective role in preventing mental illness.

As tax payers we do have the right to vocalize the importance of including natural remedies to be recognized as part of the treatment plan by lobbying the appropriate government agencies that write the policies governing health service providers.

It was also noted that there is an abundance of health professionals among the Ethiopian & Eritrean populations in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, but that talent pool is under-utilized. Often medical professionals are at the forefront of this fight and if given the proper training could recognize any ongoing mental health issues as they are developing, most importantly as it relates to substance abuse and addiction.

We also learned that the World Health Organization has partnered with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health to implement a Mental Health program in Ethiopia that could also be used as a resource.

The impact of Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD), which is commonly found among war veterans in this country, is another mental health problem that affects immigrants who have witnessed violence in close proximity, and how detrimental these effects are on a person’s psychological well-being, especially for those who have experienced violence in the Horn of Africa. Another issue raised was the impact of political oppression and how it affects an individual’s psychological makeup.

We also received an update from the working-team that was tasked to conduct research. The advocacy-group is led by the organization “My Love in Action” and they are to come up with a needs assessment survey, and create outreach programs geared towards collaborating with organizations that work with professionals in the behavioral science fields, including educational institutions, as well as student associations. They are making progress but they need your help so please get involved.

Sadly, our event took place the day following the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut where a 20-year-old gunman shot and killed 26 people – mostly children – at Sandy Hook Elementary School before committing suicide himself. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims’ families.

Below is a short video featuring clips from the “Second Community Forum on Mental Health” held on Saturday December 15th. I will keep you posted on future gatherings. In the meantime, you can follow updates on twitter @MyLoveInAction.

Watch: Clips from the “Second Community Forum on Mental Health” held on December 15th


Related:
Community Forum II on Mental Health Announcement
Interview With Dr. Welansa Asrat About Mental Health Taboo in the Ethiopian Community

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Post-Susan Rice Debacle: The ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Horn of Africa Debate

(Photo credit: Pete Souza/The White House)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Monday, December 17, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – U.N. envoy Susan Rice withdrew from consideration for Secretary of State last week amid intense criticism from Senate Republicans over the Benghazi controversy.

In a letter published in The Washington Post on December 13 Ambassador Rice explained why she pulled out of the promotion process: (Why I made the right call).

Foreign Policy magazine featured a paper jointly written by former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and former National Security Advisor Samuel R. Berger entitled “Setting the record straight on the U.N. ambassador and colleague we know.”

Rice’s possible nomination for Secretary of State had also generated strong opposition from the East African Diaspora. Eritrean-American journalist Salem Solomon who runs Africa Talks, a news and opinion website covering Africa and the global African Diaspora, highlighted Rice’s cozy relationships with some of the continent’s notorious ‘dictators’ in articles that appeared last week in The New York Times: (Susan Rice and Africa’s Despots) and Reuters (Rice: Hitting ‘reset’ on Africa talks). And Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Tekeda Alemu, responded to the NYT OP-Ed in a letter to the editor: (Sanctions on Eritrea). Likewise, Eritrea’s Ambassador to the UN Araya Desta answered in a reply letter: (Eritrea and Ethiopia). Within the Ethiopian Diaspora articles criticizing Rice included posts by Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam: (Susan Rice and Africa’s Unholy Trinity) as well as (The Tall Tale of Susan Rice), an essay from an individual who claims to be an opposition activist (Susan Rice, Spokeswoman for Tyranny in Ethiopia), and the latest by Yilma Bekele (Watching Susan twist in the wind or don’t mess with Ethiopia).

The following video is Susan Rice’s interview with NBC’s Brian Williams.

EXCLUSIVE: Rice withdrew from Sec. of State consideration

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


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Update: The Year’s Top 10 ‘Jailers of Journalists’

Photo: Imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu, recipient of the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award. (Image credit: International Women’s Media Foundation)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists released its 2012 census of imprisoned journalists yesterday identifying 27 offending countries with 232 writers, editors, and photojournalists behind bars this year, an increase of 53 from 2011 and the highest since the organization began the survey in 1990. According to CPJ, the 2012 figure surpasses the previous record of 185 journalists imprisoned in 1996.

The report said the trend was driven primarily by terrorism and other anti-state charges levied against critical reporters and editors.

CPJ highlighted Turkey, Iran, and China as the three leading jailers of journalists, while Eritrea and Ethiopia are the only African countries that are listed among the top ten press offenders.

“Rounding out the top five jailers were Eritrea, with 28 journalists in prison, and Syria with 15; the worst abusers of the rule of law,” the organization said. “None of the journalists in jail in either country have been publicly charged with a crime or brought before a court or trial.”

More than half (118) of those held globally were online journalists and more than a third were freelancers.

CPJ singled out Burma for “some improvement” this year: “For the first time since 1996, Burma did not rank among the nations jailing journalists. As part of the country’s historic transition to civilian rule, authorities released at least 12 imprisoned journalists in a series of pardons in 2012.”

Of the 27 countries imprisoning journalists, the top 10 jailers were:

Turkey: 49
Iran: 45
China: 32
Eritrea: 28
Syria: 15
Vietnam: 14
Azerbaijan: 9
Ethiopia: 6
Saudi Arabia: 4
Uzbekistan: 4

Click here to read the full report at CPJ.
—-
Related:
Court delays Eskinder Nega’s appeal (Africa Review)
MEPs urge Ethiopia to release journalist (The Guardian)
Record number of reporters jailed globally (BY kirubel Tadesse/AP)
Federal High Court Expresses Doubts About Eskinder Nega’s Conviction (VOA)
Friends and Supporters React to Reeyot Alemu’s Media Award (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In UAE, Illegal Migrant Workers From Ethiopia and Philippines Rush to Seek Amnesty

(Image credit: blottr.com)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Hundreds of amnesty seekers in the United Arab Emirates are rushing into the Philippine consulate and the Consulate-General of Ethiopia on the first day of a two-month amnesty program for illegal residents.

According to Khaleej Times, one of UAE’s English daily newspapers, more than 200 amnesty seekers have reached the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO), located at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai.

No official figures have been released regarding the number of Ethiopians that have come forward.

A Filipino woman named Cherry R. told the publication that she resigned from her job upon the demands of her company when she ran into trouble with several banks for delinquent accounts. “I wanted to leave the UAE but I was informed by a friend, who went to check with the police and the immigration on my behalf, that two banks had imposed a travel ban. Even at the time my father died, I could not go home. This amnesty is a great opportunity for me to go home or to legitimize my status,” she said.

“At the Ethiopian Consulate-General, Fananesh A. said she has been illegally staying in the UAE for five years, and though she wanted to go home, she could not go back due to travel ban from banks. “With this amnesty, I am looking forward to seeing my family again.”

The report added that her friend Abenet S. was absconding from her employer, which stopped her from leaving the country. “My father died and that day I cried for days because I could not go home. I felt I was put in a cage. Now is my time to go.”

Click here to read the full story.

Related:
New conditions drawn up for Ethiopian domestic workers headed to UAE (7DAYS Dubai)
In Memory of Alem Dechassa: Reporting & Mapping Domestic Migrant Worker Abuse (TADIAS)

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Ethiopian Political Head-Butting in Houston Spawns Lawsuit, Criminal Charge

The late Meles Zenawi, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, speaks during the session 'Africa -- From Transition to Transformation' at the 2012 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 26, 2012. (Photo credit: Monika Flueckiger for World Economic Forum)

News Update

Updated: Nov 29, 2012

Houston, Texas – An Ethiopian-American man in Houston claims he was assaulted outside an Ethiopian Orthodox Church by another Ethiopian while he handed out flyers for a memorial service in honor of the late prime minister Meles Zenawi, according to criminal and civil court documents, the Houston Press reports.

According to the suit, the man was allegedly “head-butted so hard that he was knocked out cold.” The person also claims that other church members assisted in kicking him when he was down.

“The victim and plaintiff, Tesfai Tsadik, is suing both Wossenu Gizaw, the alleged assailant, and Debre Selam Medahnealem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Fondren Southwest house of worship near which the alleged assault took place,” the report said. “According to the pleadings in the civil suit, on August 26, Tsadik attended services at the church. After church let out, Tsadik went across the street and started handing out flyers for Zenawi’s memorial service.”

Per the Houston Press: “That might not have been the wisest move. The church founders and many of its members are opponents of Meles Zenawi. The members of the church, including members in leadership positions, have openly shared their views and hatred of Meles Zenawi and his government. In fact, church members and leaders protested outside during the funeral of Mr. Zenawi.”

“So apparently Tsadik was decidedly not preaching to the choir. Even so, this is a free country, and what allegedly happened next is reprehensible.”

Read more at Houston Press.
—-
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Update: Romney Meets With Obama at White House Lunch (Photo & Video)

Updated Friday, November 30, 2012: President Obama and Mitt Romney met face to face yesterday for the first time since the election, sharing private lunch at the White House as negotiations over the looming fiscal crisis seems to be stuck on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Pete Souza/White House)

Watch: Mitt Romney and President Obama’s Private Lunch at the White House (ABC News)


Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – President Obama and his one-time Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, will have lunch at the White House on Thursday, the President’s press secretary announced in a statement released on Wednesday.

“Governor Romney will have a private lunch at the White House with President Obama in the Private Dining Room,” the statement said. “It will be the first opportunity they have had to visit since the election. There will be no press coverage of the meeting.”

“In fact, the meeting will be closely watched,” The New York Times noted. “The two men competed intensely for the better part of a year. Mr. Romney, in private conversations with donors shortly after the election, blamed his loss in part on the president promising “gifts” to Democratic constituencies like minorities and students.”

In their election night speeches, both men were complimentary of each other. “I wish all of them well, but particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters,” Mr. Romney said in his remarks. For his part Mr. Obama extended an olive branch to his former rival saying he looked “forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together.”

Related:
What Does the Re-Election of Obama Mean for U.S.-Ethiopia Relations? (TADIAS)

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How Ethiopia Lost Control of Its Teff Genetic Resources

Teff field in Ethiopia. (Photo: Peter Bregg Images)

FNI News

In 2005, Ethiopia concluded an agreement with the Dutch company HPFI, sharing its teff genetic resources in return for a part of the benefits that would be achieved from developing teff products for the European market.

In the end, Ethiopia received practically no benefits. Instead, due to a broad patent and a questionable bankruptcy, it lost its right to utilize and reap benefits from its own teff genetic resources in the countries where the patent is valid.

The amazing story of the Teff Agreement has been uncovered and meticulously documented in a recent FNI report by FNI researchers Regine Andersen and Tone Winge.

Click here to read the full article.
—-
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Time Magazine: Stepping Out, Ethiopian Style

Inside one of the Ethiopian shoe brand's retail locations in Taiwan. (Photo courtesy of SoleRebels)

Time Magazine
By William Lloyd George

Nov. 27, 2012

Addis Ababa – Call it a small step for a brand, but a giant leap for Ethiopian business. Shoemaker soleRebels, whose funky footwear is entirely designed and made in Ethiopia, set up its second overseas outlet in the Taiwanese city of Kaoshiung last month. The brand already operates a store in Vienna.

Boosting its international profile is a distinct possibility for soleRebels, which sells the world’s only Fair Trade-certified footwear. The fashionably designed sandals, slip-ons, lace-ups and boots are handmade and feature organic cotton linings. They’re environmentally friendly too: many of the products have soles made from recycled car tires, as does a lot of the everyday footwear found in Ethiopia. “We are working for change,” says CEO Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu. She started soleRebels in her mid-20s with five staff and a small workshop in her grandmother’s village of Zenabwork, outside Addis Ababa. Inspiration came from her homeland: poverty and unemployment indicated the need for new enterprises, and plentiful Ethiopian artisanal skills were indicative of unused talent. What won Alemu professional recognition and a string of awards, however, was her determination that soleRebels would subvert the image of Ethiopia so firmly established by the famines of 1984-5, and the international response of Band Aid and Live Aid. The brand’s foundation, says Alemu, is “trade not aid.” She adds: “We can produce and sell, and do it all by ourselves. We are not begging all the time.”

Read more at Time.com.

Related:
SoleRebels Opens 2nd Taiwan Store (Tadias Interview & Photos)

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Federal High Court Expresses Doubts About Eskinder Nega’s Conviction

Ethiopia's highest court on Thursday delayed the appeal of journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage by demanding that prosecutors justify their convictions. (Photo: Eskinder Nega's wife Serkalem Fasil accepts the 2012 "PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award" on her husband's behalf in New York last spring./Tadias Magazine/file)

Ethiopian Court Demands Justification for Journalist’s Conviction
VOA News

Marthe Van Der Wolf

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s Federal Supreme Court has postponed hearing an appeal of the conviction of prominent Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage. But the court gave its first indication Thursday that charges brought by prosecutors under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation may not be that strong by demanding that prosecutors justify the June convictions.

Journalist Eskinder Nega received an 18-year sentence, while opposition politician Andualem Arage is serving life in prison on terrorism-related charges.

Andualem’s lawyer, Abebe Guta, said the court has found many irregularities in the prosecution’s charges.

“As they scrutinized our ground of appeal they found so many legal and factual irregularities,” said Abebe. “Therefore, before the ruling passes, that means before our appeal is accepted or approved, they wanted to summon the prosecution officers to come and justify.”

Maran Turner, the executive director of Freedom Now, a Washington D.C.- based organization that works on individual prisoners of conscience cases, said the latest developments are positive. Freedom Now has been supporting Eskinder and brought his case before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

“It seems to me that the court also is confounded by the charges against Eskinder and the other defendants,” Turner said. “So the fact that the court has postponed the case, it obviously acknowledges the flaws that we see, which is that the charges themselves are flawed. In fact, the case is flawed from the very beginning of arrest.”

Eskinder, Anualem and more than 20 others were found guilty of ties to a U.S.-based opposition group, Ginbot 7, classified as a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government.

Amnesty International and other rights advocacy groups have said the trial was a sham used to silence dissent.

The prosecution will need to justify its convictions before the court on December 19.

Related:
Ethiopia delays appeal of jailed blogger, opposition leader (AFP)
Lawyers: Terror case against 29 Ethiopians faulty (AP)

Video: PEN America’s 2012 Annual Gala Dinner in New York Honors Eskinder Nega

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Abey Girma, Suspect in Murder of Ethiopian Dallas Restaurant Owners, Moved From Colorado to Texas

37-year-old Abey Belette Girma, the suspect who police say killed Yared Lemma and his wife Yenni Desta - owners of Desta Ethiopian Restaurant in Dallas, three months ago, has been extradited from Colorado to Texas on a capital murder arrest warrant. (Photo credit: Dallas Police Dept.)

The Dallas Morning News: Three months after police say he killed couple who owned Greenville Ave. restaurant, Abey Girma’s in Dallas jail

By Robert Wilonsky

It’s been three months since 40-year-old Yayehyirad “Yared” Lemma and 31-year-old Yenenesh “Yenni” Desta were shot to death in front of their Lower Greenville home. The couple was returning home from Desta, the Ethiopian restaurant they ran on Greenville Avenue near Forest Lane, when a man accosted them on their front porch. Police would later say Abey Belette Girma was the shooter, and that he’d followed the couple home from the restaurant because they’d “disrespected him.”

Dallas police issued a capital murder arrest warrant for Girma, who’d left the state: A witness told police the 37-year-old Girma showed him the pistol he used to shoot the couple, then forced him to drive to Goodland, Kansas. Eventually, Girma showed up in Aurora, Colorado, where he was taken into custody and booked into the Arapahoe County jail.

And that’s where he sat till last week. But Dallas County records show that Girma is now being held in the Dallas County jail. He’s being held on a $1 million bond, charged with capital murder.

Sources familiar with the case say it took so long to get Girma back to Dallas because he fought extradition.

Girma is due in court Monday to approve Juan Sanchez as his court-appointed attorney. Sanchez says a pre-trial hearing will follow soon after.

Read more at The Dallas Morning News

Related:
Mental Health Taboo in the Ethiopian Community: Interview with Dr. Welansa Asrat (TADIAS)

Video: Ethiopian Community Mourns Couple Fatally Shot In Dallas (WFAA-TV)



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What Does the Re-Election of Obama Mean for U.S.-Ethiopia Relations?

(Photograph by © Gediyon Kifle)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – U.S.-Africa relations was not part of the conversation in the 2012 U.S. Presidential elections, but what does the re-election of President Barack Obama mean for American diplomacy with Ethiopia?

“The election campaign had almost nothing to do with African issues,” said David H. Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia. “As a result, I don’t see the re-election of President Obama and the new Congress, which is little changed, having much impact on US-Africa or US-Ethiopia relations.”

According to Shinn once the United States deals with the looming fiscal crisis, we will see more attention focused on Africa by the Obama Administration, including “a major visit” to the continent. “Kenya will certainly be on the list,” Ambassador Shinn said. “The other countries will be selected based on their progress with democratization and economic development in that order.”

Ambassador Shinn, who is currently an Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC and a frequent commentator on East African Affairs, added: “Assignments in the Senate and House on committees related to Africa will be important, but I don’t see much change there either.”

Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam, who teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and a contributor to various Ethiopian websites, said although he is one of many Ethiopians who have been disappointed by the Obama administration’s ‘see-no-evil’ approach to Ethiopia, he nevertheless was pleased by the Ethiopian American voter participation in the 2012 elections as well as by the re-election of President Obama.

“I fully supported President Obama’s re-election despite lingering disappointments over his administration’s policy of willful blindness to flagrant human rights violations in Ethiopia,” Professor Alemayehu said. “But I believe in a second term he will vigorously pursue a foreign policy agenda that balances America’s global strategic interests with its commitment to promote the values of freedom, democracy and human rights in Africa and elsewhere.”

He added: “I was glad to see a healthy and civil debate among Ethiopian Americans on whether to support President Obama or Gov. Romney. In America, we have the constitutional right to vote, organize and express ourselves without fear or penalties. I agree wholeheartedly with the president’s election night speech regarding the value of a vigorous and civil debate in a democracy: “These arguments [over the direction of the country] we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.” I remember with great sadness that in November 2005, hundreds of Ethiopians lost their lives and thousands were imprisoned for peacefully challenging what they believed to be theft of an election and the silencing of the voices of dissent and democratic opposition in Ethiopia since that time. I am very pleased to see the high level of excitement, enthusiasm and participation of young Ethiopian Americans in this election. Nearly one-fifth of President Obama’s support came from young people. It is heartening to see that young Ethiopians are an important part of the youth vote.”

Ambassador Shinn said he is optimistic that a more robust form of democracy will eventually take root in Ethiopia as well, but that initiative must come from the Ethiopian side. “With a new government in Ethiopia and a government in Washington with a new lease on life that is committed to encouraging democratic principles, I am hopeful there will be progress in Ethiopia,” he said. “But this depends more on Ethiopia than it does the United States.”

Former Ethiopian opposition leader Judge Birtukan Midekssa, who is currently a visiting fellow at Harvard University Law School (President Obama’s alma mater), noted she’s appreciative of “the dynamic” nature of the democratic culture in the United States. “What is impressive is that the deep commitment of the American people to various institutions of their country, their willingness to play by the same rules when it comes to conducting elections, and the enormous value they give to the whole process. In my opinion, these are all part and parcel of what is at the epicenter of this remarkable achievement,” she said. “I think all the candidates, campaign volunteers of both sides and everyone involved deserve to be congratulated for making the election a success.”

Birtukan highlighted: “As it was the case in most of the previous elections, the US presidential race of this year also encourages and inspires multitudes around the world, including Ethiopia that is laboring to give birth to democracy in its own unique national color. It is my strong expectation that President Obama and his administration would renew their commitment to show more solidarity with the people in the African continent as outlined in his Accra speech at the beginning of his first-term.”

For Ayele Bekerie, an Associate Professor of History and Cultural Studies at Mekelle University in Ethiopia and a scholar of African and African American studies, the re-election of Obama is a vindication for Obama’s historic presidency. “Obama wins and that means Americans have accepted his leadership,” he said. “The voters have given Obama a second chance and he has to perform now. I believe his election is good news for U.S.-Ethiopia relations.”

We called the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C seeking input from Ambassador Girma Birru for this article. The Ambassador was unavailable to comment. We will update the story when we receive a response.

Related:
President Obama Wins Second Term

Video: Watch the world reacts to Obama’s victory (NBC News)

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Obama Takes Key Swing States to Win Second Term

President Obama with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha in Chicago on Wednesday, November 7th. (Getty Images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States and the first African American to hold the office, has been re-elected for a second term.

Mr. Obama defeated his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, after a long, hard-fought and one of the most expensive presidential campaigns in American history.

President Obama secured victory in the swing states of Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire that put him over the top in the final electoral vote count.

Television networks declared the election in the president’s favor shortly after polls closed in all 50 states late Tuesday night on November 6th.

Governor Mitt Romney called to congratulate Mr. Obama on his re-election before addressing supporters gathered at his campaign headquarters in Boston. “I wish all of them well, but particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters,” Governor Romney said in brief remarks. “This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.”

President Obama delivered his acceptance speech in his hometown of Chicago. “Tonight in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back,” the president told a waiting country in the wee hours of early Wednesday morning. “We know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.”

Related:
What Does the Re-Election of Obama Mean for U.S.-Ethiopia Relations?

Watch: Obama’s Triumphant Return to Washington (NBC News)

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WATCH: Excerpts from Obama’s Victory Speech (NBC News)

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Tadias Magazine Endorses President Barack Obama for Re-election

We endorse President Barack Obama for re-election. (Photograph by © Gediyon Kifle)

Tadias Magazine
Editorial

Published: Sunday, November 4th, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – As Ethiopian Americans prepare to cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential election on Tuesday, regardless of the choice of candidate, we urge our readers who have not voted early to vote on November 6th and to exercise their citizenship right to participate in the democratic process.

Four years ago when we backed Barack Obama for President, we were motivated not only by the historic nature of the 2008 election, but also by the enthusiastic, grassroots activism that his candidacy had generated in our community. Although we cannot agree with every decision that the Obama administration has made in the last four years, both domestic and foreign, there can be no doubt that the Ethiopian Diaspora’s contribution to the American tapestry has received more national attention in the same period than at any previous time in history, both through appointments to key administration positions as well as honoring innovators and high achieving professionals.

President Obama could do better to articulate and encourage the culture of free press, government transparency and accountability in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa. However, it is ultimately our responsibility as citizens to make our voices heard. Regardless of who wins this election, we hope that political activists in our community tone down the non-constructive criticism that prevents all of us from responsibly engaging in the democratic system.

Broadly speaking President Obama’s accomplishments have been impressive, including the passage of the most sweeping health care reforms since 1965, preventing another “Great Depression” and saving the American automobile industry from demise. The economy that was on a doomsday downward spiral when he took office in 2009 has rebounded to a positive territory with the latest jobs report showing “persistent economic growth.”

Most importantly we believe President Obama has remained true to the spirit of his historic 2008 campaign to be a leader of the people, by the people for the people. It goes without saying that President Obama has earned our vote. We urge Ethiopian Americans to support his re-election!
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Video: Watch President Obama makes his Case in Ohio

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Update:
President Obama Wins Second Term

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Update: After Cancellation, Marathon Runners Help NYC Recover (Video)

The 2012 New York City Marathon was canceled on Friday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office amid intense public criticism in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. It is the first cancellation in the race's 42-year history. (Photo: Firehiwot Dado & Bronx resident Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia and Kenyan runner Mary Keitany at the 2011 New York City Marathon. By Clay Shaw/Tadias Magazine file)

Time.com

Nov. 04, 2012

On Friday evening, with slightly more than 36 hours to go before the 2012 ING New York City Marathon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg canceled the annual event, amid criticisms the runners would be siphoning off valuable resources needed in the city’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy. But the decision hardly discouraged a group of nearly 1,300 runners from boarding the Staten Island Ferry toward the starting line. Far from anticipating a grueling 26.2-mile run, however, these would-be racers ran their own marathon, carrying garbage bags and backpacks full of donated supplies ranging from blankets to Home Depot gift cards that they delivered to the destroyed homes of Staten Island residents.

“I’ve run the marathon three times, and there was an odd familiarity getting on the Staten Island Ferry this morning with a group of runners for a completely different reason,” says runner and New Yorker Jon Bennion. “It was fascinating, the anxiety and jitters were replaced by an overwhelming sense of community.”

Read more at Time magazine.

Related:
Runners Embrace Chance to Help Residents Recover (NYT)

WATCH:

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After Days of Pressure, Marathon Is Off
By KEN BELSON (NYT)

Published: November 2, 2012

New York – After days of intensifying pressure from runners, politicians and the general public to cancel the New York City Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, city officials and the event’s organizers decided Friday afternoon to cancel the race.

The move is historic — the marathon has been held every year since 1970, including the race in 2001 held two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks — but seemed inevitable as opposition to the marathon swelled. Critics said that it was in poor taste to hold a foot race through the five boroughs while so many people in the area are still suffering from the storm’s damages, and that city services should focus on storm relief, not the marathon. Proponents of the marathon — notably Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Mary Wittenberg, director of the marathon — said the race would provide a needed morale boost, as well as an economic one.

Read more at The New York Times.

WATCH: After uproar, marathon canceled (NBC News)

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Related:
NYC Marathon canceled amid criticism (USA Today)

Friends and Supporters React to Reeyot Alemu’s Media Award

Elias Wondimu, second from left, accepted the award on behalf of Reeyot Alemu at the International Women's Media Foundation's annual Courage in Journalism awards luncheon on October 24, 2012 in New York. (Photo: Award recipients, from left, Asmaa al-Ghoul, Zubeida Mustafa and Khadija Ismayilova/by Stan Honda/IWMF)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Several years ago in Addis Ababa, when a young, idealistic woman named Reeyot Alemu, who was working as a high school English teacher, began contributing part-time to local independent newspapers and writing mostly opinion articles that were critical of various government policies, she knew that she could potentially upset those in power. Reeyot, however, had no idea that her courage would one day earn her prestigious international recognition, albeit while in Kality prison.

Reeyot, now 31, is currently serving a five-year term on terror charges, and was among four women who where honored last week by the International Women’s Media Foundation for their courageous work in journalism. Reeyot, a former columnist for the the publications Awramba Times (now in exile and online) and the Amharic weekly Feteh (now blocked), was given the 2012 “Courage in Journalism” award at a ceremony held in Manhattan on Wednesday, October 24th.

“When I nominated Reeyot for the Award, I wanted to show the face of courage in her, so that girls in our country will not be discouraged from becoming a voice to the voiceless,” said Elias Wondimu, who accepted the award on her behalf and read a letter penned by her for the occasion.

“When I became politically aware, I understood that being a supporter or member of the ruling party is a prerequisite to living safely and to get a job,” Reeyot wrote in a letter sent from prison. “I knew I would pay the price for my courage and was willing to pay the price.”

Mohammed Ademo, a New York-based freelance journalist, who is the Co-founder and Editor-In-Chief of OPride.com, as well as a graduate student at Columbia University, attended the luncheon and covered the ceremony for the Columbia Journalism Review.

“I thought the event was great. The courageous journalists honored here today inspire all of us who are in the business of storytelling,” Ademo told Tadias Magazine. “These are but few of those brave souls who are committed to exposing corruption, informing the public, and holding autocratic regimes accountable, often at a great personal peril.” Ademo continued: “This award means so much to journalists like Reeyot Alemu, who are silenced for simply speaking truth to power.”

In his widely publicized interview with Voice of America last month, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn took a hardline stance on the subject, strongly defending the continued imprisonment of a number of journalists. “Our national security interest cannot be compromised by somebody having two hats,” PM Hailemariam said, echoing the official claims, which accuses the prisoners of being “double-agents” for terrorist organizations. “We have to tell them they can have only one hat which is legal and the legal way of doing things, be it in journalism or opposition discourse, but if they opt to have two mixed functions, we are clear to differentiate the two,” the PM told VOA’s Peter Heinlein.

“How on earth can we compare a person who criticizes a government’s policy through writing and accuse them of being terrorists?” Elias asked.

Ademo said: “Reeyot’s only crime is carrying out her journalistic responsibility, being a voice for the voiceless. I wish her good health, perseverance, and peace of mind.”

Elias added: “Due to lack of proper training, our journalists are not and can not be perfect, but the way to remedy this should not be criminalizing their perceived mistakes, but to correct and educate them.”

Reeyot’s former colleague, the award-winning exiled journalist Dawit B. Kebede – Managing Editor of Awramba Times, said, for him, the award is personal. “I am very happy for Reeyot and for many reasons,” Dawit said in a phone interview. “But the number one reason is because Reeyot deserves it. This award is an important recognition not only of Reeyot’s personal struggles, but it is also a way to inspire young people to understand the unfairness of silencing those with critical voices.” Dawit added: “It also encourages those that are incarcerated along with her, including my friend Wubishet Taye, Deputy Editor of Awramba Times, and Eskinder Nega.”

Dawit pointed out that Wubishet had applied for pardon at the same time as the recently released two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, but was not granted similar clemency. “In my opinion, it was the most discriminatory and shameful pardon process,” Dawit said. “As an Ethiopian it is embarrassing to bypass your own people because they happen not to be backed by powerful Western influence. So the foreigners receive forgiveness, but not the Ethiopians.”


Reeyot Alemu, recipient of the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award. (Photo: International Women’s Media Foundation)

Regarding Reeyot, Mohamed Keita, Africa Advocacy Coordinator for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), said this Ethiopian is now part of an exclusive club of extraordinary women whose life stories are seen as role models for young people around the world. “With the IWMF award, the world’s leading women journalists are embracing Reeyot Alemu as one of their own,” Keita said. “The Courage in Journalism award validates Reeyot’s legitimate right to write critically about her government and its policies, as she did, and recognizes not only the injustice of her imprisonment but her improbability as a terrorist suspect.”

For former judge Birtukan Midekssa, who is currently the Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow at Harvard University Law School with a joint appointment at W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Reeyot is both a friend and an inspiration.

“It took me only a short while to get fascinated by her defiant spirit and her determination to be true to herself — both as journalist and as a responsible citizen — after I came to know my good friend Reeyot,” Birtukan said. “It is obvious that she did not commit any offence that could lead to lock her up except saying no to the menace of EPRDF government to silence her journalistic voice while it intensifies its forceful coercion against Ethiopian citizens.” She added: “She fiercely opposed the unacceptable authoritarianism which pervades the political sphere; she criticized the officials for incarcerating political prisoners including myself; she shed light on unaccountable and irresponsible transactions of the government.”

Birtukan said it is particularly striking to her that Reeyot knew in advance what she was getting into. “But she chose to bear the consequence instead of refraining from freely expressing herself,” she said. “Though it is enormously painful for me to see her young life confined by illegitimate use of government power.”

Birtukan added: “Her persistence, strength, courage and the international recognition she earned as a result, lead me to have more faith in Ethiopian youth that they will take charge of the destiny of our nation to eventually lead it to free and prosperous life.”

Government officials maintain all the jailed journalists have broken the law and are guilty of the crimes under which they were convicted.

Meanwhile, IWMF noted it’s concerned about Reeyot’s health. “Recently, she has fallen ill; in April of this year she underwent surgery at a nearby hospital to remove a tumor from her breast,” the organization said.

Related:
L.A. Times November 1, 2012: Reporter jailed in Ethiopia among women journalists honored in Beverly Hills, California.
Azerbaijan, Gaza, Ethiopia Women Win Media Awards (AP via ABC News)
Portraits Of Courage: Female Journalists Honored At International Women’s Media Foundation Awards (The Daily Beast)

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Reeyot Alemu Honored At International Women’s Media Foundation Awards

The International Women’s Media Foundation has honored imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu with its 2012 Courage in Journalism Award. Reeyot, who is currently serving a five year term on terror charges, is among four international female writers and reporters recognized at a ceremony held in New York on Wednesday, October 24th. (Photo: IWMF)

By Associated Press

NEW YORK — A columnist imprisoned under Ethiopia’s controversial anti-terrorism laws, an Azerbaijani investigative radio reporter who had surveillance cameras planted in her apartment and a Palestinian blogger who has been beaten and tortured for reporting on abuses and protests in Gaza each received Courage in Journalism awards Wednesday from a women’s media group.

Alemu, 31, is serving a five-year-prison sentence in Ethiopia for the communication of a terrorist act. The IWMF said the only evidence presented against her at trial were articles she wrote criticizing the government and telephone conversations she had regarding peaceful protests. She was initially sentenced in January to 14 years in prison but the sentence was reduced later this year when most of the terrorism charges against her were dropped.

Elias Wondimu, an exiled Ethiopian journalist, accepted the award on Alemu’s behalf and read a handwritten letter she penned from prison.

“When I became politically aware, I understood that being a supporter or member of the ruling party is a prerequisite to living safely and to get a job,” Alemu wrote in the letter. “I knew I would pay the price for my courage and was willing to pay the price.”

Read the full article.
—-
Related:
Friends and Supporters React to Reeyot Alemu’s Media Award (TADIAS)
Imprisoned Ethiopian reporter wins a Courage in Journalism award (Columbia Journalism Review)
Azerbaijan, Gaza, Ethiopia Women Win Media Awards (AP via ABC News)
Portraits Of Courage: Female Journalists Honored At International Women’s Media Foundation Awards (The Daily Beast)

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