Podcast Section

To This Ethiopian American Singer, ‘Home is Always in Flux’

Meklit Hadero performing at Artisphere in Washington, D.C. on January 18, 2014. (Courtesy Malik photo)

Public Radio International

By MONICA CAMPBELL

Like a lot of immigrants in the United States, Meklit Hadero’s family arrived to a place unknown, with a single connection drawing them. For Hadero, that place was Iowa, where her dad knew a professor.

It was the early ‘80s, and Ethiopia was still feeling the aftermath of the 1974 revolution.

“There was a lot of kindness and community,” says Hadero, a singer and songwriter now based in San Francisco. “We were adjusting to living in this country. At the same time it was very challenging. There weren’t many immigrants at all, let alone immigrants from East Africa or Ethiopia.”

In fact, she remembers, there was one other Ethiopian family in town. “They heard through the grapevine that we had moved there and people said, ‘Oh, they live in that apartment complex.’ And they knocked on every door until they found us and we’re still friends today.”

Her parents were physicians who had to redo their residencies in the US in order to work. It took a long time. Five years. And the jobs they got brought the Hadero family to Brooklyn.

She returned to Ethiopia when she was 21 with her mom, carrying with her a body of stories, those highs and lows her family had talked about for years regarding life back in Ethiopia. Hadero says when she got to Ethiopia, she started to “see the holes” in her parents’ memories.

“I started to see the people who were maybe only hinted at filled into whole three-dimensional personalities,” she says. She also remembers her mom shifting between what she called “home” or “back home,” toggling between Ethiopia and the United States.

“Home is always in flux,” Hadero says.

Those journeys, and discovering more about Ethiopian music, have influenced Hadero’s music and can be heard in “We are Alive,” her latest album. It includes “I Like Your Afro,” Hadero’s modern twist on a traditional Amharic-language Ethiopian love song called “Kemekem,” which means “the perfect Afro.”

“This is a very flirtatious love song, where the lyrics say, ‘Oh, my dear, with the perfect Afro, you live at the top of the hill, I live at the bottom of the hill, just roll on down and meet me there.’”

She calls it her version of a “countryside song that, at the core of it, is something that people all over the world can connect with.”

She also sees how people don’t always know how to classify her. “When I play my music for the world music, they say, ‘Well, this is too jazz.’ When I play it for the jazz people, they say, ‘Well, this is kind of pop.’ And when I play it for the pop people they say, ‘What is this?’”


Learn more about the artist at www.meklitmusic.com.

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UN Demands Andargachew Tsige Release

Yemi Hailemariam campaigns in London to demand the immediate release of her partner, British citizen Andargachew Tsege, who has been held in Ethiopia since June 2014. (Photograph: Alamy)

The Guardian

By Mark Townsend

The UN has demanded the immediate release of a Briton held on death row in Ethiopia for more than a year, an intervention that campaigners say exposes Britain’s poor diplomacy towards the case.

Experts from the UN Human Rights Council have advised Ethiopia to pay Andargachew Tsige “adequate compensation” before sending him home to London, an abrupt hardening of its position on the case at a time when Britain pursues a softly, softly approach with no tangible reward.

Internal Foreign Office emails, disclosed for the first time, reveal that even before Tsige was kidnapped and jailed in an unknown location in June 2014, British officials had voiced fears at “the real risk of torture if [Tsige is] returned to Ethiopia”, along with “fair trial concerns”.

An eight-page judgment from the UNHRC’s working group on arbitrary detention handed to Ethiopia suggests such fears have been realised, saying that there is “reliable evidence on a possible situation of physical abuse and mistreatment which could amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

Tsige, 60, a father of three from London, and known to friends as Andy, was arrested in Yemen’s main airport while in transit and forcibly removed to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

He is prominent in Ethiopian politics, having been leader of opposition party Ginbot 7, which has called for democracy, free elections and civil rights. The government has accused him of being a terrorist and in 2009 he was tried in his absence and sentenced to death.

Foreign secretary Philip Hammond has refused to demand his urgent release, preferring to push for consular access, a request rejected by Ethiopia. Tsige’s partner, Yemi Hailemariam, also a British national, who lives in London with their children, has spoken to him just once by telephone since his abduction.

Read more at The Guardian »

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US and Cuba to Reopen Embassies

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, left, announced today the U.S. and Cuba have agreed to reopen embassies in each other's capitals in Washington and Havana later this month. (AP)

VOA News

By Luis Ramirez

July 01, 2015

WHITE HOUSE — President Barack Obama said Wednesday the United States and Cuba have agreed to reestablish diplomatic relations and plan to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana later this month, in the latest move to end years of hostility between the two countries.

Obama said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Havana this summer to raise the U.S. flag over the first American embassy in over five decades.

The U.S. trade embargo and Cuba’s human rights record are among the issues still blocking normalizing relations broken following Fidel Castro’s revolution.

Speaking in Vienna, where he was attending nuclear talks with Iran, Kerry didn’t give a precise date for opening the embassy, but he called the announcement of normalized diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba “long overdue.”

“The United States and Cuba continue to have sharp differences over democracy, human rights and related issues,” Kerry said. But the two countries have identified areas for cooperation, including law enforcement, emergency response, environmental protection and migration, he added.

Earlier Wednesday, the top U.S. diplomat in Havana delivered a letter from the White House to Cuba about restoring embassies in the countries’ respective capitals.

U.S. Interests Section chief Jeffrey DeLaurentis arrived at the Cuban Foreign Ministry in Havana Wednesday morning to hand-deliver the message.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Vienna, Austria, for Iran nuclear discussions, spoke to President Barack Obama’s announcement that the U.S. and Cuba had agreed to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals, July 1, 2015.

In his own response, Cuban President Raul Castro said he is “pleased” to confirm his country will resume diplomatic ties with the United States, writing to Obama that Cuba is doing so because it is “encouraged by the reciprocal intention to develop respectful relations and cooperation between our people and governments.”

However, a separate statement from the Havana government said reopening embassies is just the first step in “a long and complex process toward normalization of bilateral ties.” It then demanded an end to the U.S. embargo, the return of the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, a halt to U.S. radio and TV broadcasts aimed at the island, and other grievances.

Castro’s letter and the government statement were read on state television Wednesday morning. Obama’s announcement was also broadcast on state television.

December announcement

Restoration of official ties is the latest step in the process since Presidents Obama and Castro announced in December the two countries were renewing diplomatic relations.

The leaders held face-to-face talks at April’s Summit of the Americas in Panama.

In May, the United States removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move seen as crucial to restoring diplomatic ties.​

Speaking through an interpreter Tuesday at the White House, visiting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff welcomed warming relations and its impact on the rest of Latin America.

“It is really about putting an end to the last lingering vestiges of the Cold War, and it ultimately elevates the relations between the U.S. and the entire region,” Rousseff said.

“May I acknowledge the importance of that gesture to all of Latin America and to world peace at large. It is an important example of relations to be followed,” she added.


Chief of Mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana Jeffrey DeLaurentis, left, delivers a letter, from U.S President Barack Obama to Cuban President Raul Castro regarding restoration of diplomatic relations, to Cuba’s interim Foreign Minister Marceli. (Photo: Reuters)

Geoff Thale, director of programs for the Washington Office on Latin America, said Wednesday, “This announcement is a positive step for the United States and the hemisphere. It’s a long overdue policy change, and opens up the prospects for practical collaboration while allowing us to discuss our differences in a serious way.”

“Though Congress still needs to remove the embargo on trade and travel to Cuba, this announcement is historic and the result of President Obama’s deeper process of updating U.S. policy towards Cuba for the 21st century,” Thale said.

Restoration of services (Click here to see White House Cuba Fact Sheet)

Commercial air and ferry service between the two countries have been, or are being, restored and communications restrictions have been eased, although U.S. citizens can only travel to Cuba under limited guidelines.

However, obstacles remain, including a decades-long U.S. trade embargo of Cuba that only Congress can remove.

Just last week, Washington released its annual human rights report, which cited Cuba for violating basic freedoms in 2014, including the arbitrary arrest of dissidents and limiting access to uncensored, independent information.


Fernando Rodriguez, left, uses his cellphone to take a selfie as workers from Eastern Shores Flagpoles raise a flagpole at the Cuban Interest Section in Washington in preparation for re-opening of embassies in Havana and Washington, June 10, 2015. (AP Photo)

Reopening embassies

Latin America analyst Mark Jones of Rice University said he thinks reopening embassies will help both countries grapple with such issues.

“What the establishment of formal diplomatic relations and an embassy will do is allow the countries to begin addressing this host of issues that face both countries — be it human rights violations in Cuba and issues regarding compensation for U.S. citizens and also issues related to fugitives from U.S. justice who are residing presently in Cuba and doing something about that for people who have been accused of capital crimes, murder for instance, in the United States and have fled to Cuba,” Jones said.

“Cuba is likely to be less and less a safe haven for those individuals in the years to come,” he added.

However, Jones said he does not necessarily expect warming ties to change Cuba’s one-party Communist system.

He said other Westerners have been visiting the Caribbean island nation for decades with no change in the governmental system.


The United States Interests Section diplomatic mission is seen in Havana, Cuba. (AP photo)

Embassies criticized

In a statement, Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, denounced the move to reopen an embassy as emboldening the Castro regime “to continue its attacks against the Cuban people.”

Ros-Lehtinen said opening the embassy “will do nothing to help the Cuban people and is just another trivial attempt for President Obama to go legacy shopping.”

However, Ted Henken, Cuba analyst at Baruch College in New York, said the anti-regime policies Ros-Lehtinen supports have done nothing to improve the human rights of the Cuban people.

“Her strategy, the one that she favors, has failed. She’s on the wrong side of this issue,” Henken said.

“Having diplomatic relations with Cuba doesn’t mean we approve of the Cuban government nor do we approve of their treatment of the Cuban people. I think we’ll have a better chance of having some kind of influence in Cuba with a relationship that’s engaging, empowering [rather] than one that is isolating and impoverishing the government and the people,” he said.

US influence

​Henken said changing policy toward Cuba is about American interests and influence, not about regime change.

“This is not a silver bullet – it’s not a concession to the [Cuban] dictatorship. It’s a concession to the U.S. people – it’s a concession to pragmatism and to common sense,” he said.

Henken said normal ties can foster cooperation on matters such as the environment, drug interdiction, refugees and family reunions.


Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. turns his camera on reporters after a news conference in Havana, Cuba, June 27, 2015. (AP Photo)

Growing pressure

Henken added that with improved relations, the Cuban government will no longer be able to use U.S. hostility as a scapegoat for suppressing the Cuban people and it will be under growing pressure to meet their demands.

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, echoed the sentiment, saying in a statement Wednesday: “It’s long past time for U.S. policy toward Cuba to be associated with something other than five decades of failure.

“It is difficult to overstate the importance of resuming diplomatic relations ‎with Cuba, in furthering our own national interests, benefiting our relations in the region, and encouraging a positive future for the Cuban people. I am confident that this move will lead to increased travel and contact between U.S. citizens and everyday Cubans, to the benefit of both,” Flake said.

Some information for this report came from AP and Reuters.


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Ethiopia: Focus on Zone9′s Abel Wabela

Abel Wabela. (Drawing by Melody Sundberg)

Global Voices Online

In April 2014, nine bloggers and journalists were arrested in Ethiopia. Several of these men and women had worked with Zone9, a collective blog that covered social and political issues in Ethiopia and promoted human rights and government accountability. Four of them were Global Voices authors. In July, they were charged under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. They have been behind bars ever since and their trial has only recently begun.

This marks the sixth post in our series – “They Have Names” – that seeks to highlight the individual bloggers who are currently in jail. We wish to humanize them, to tell their particular and peculiar stories. This week, Swedish blogger and artist Melody Sundberg writes about Abel Wabela, a member of Zone9 and the manager of Global Voices’ Amharic site.

I have never been to Ethiopia, but I have followed the never-ending trials of the bloggers closely through social media and conversations. A name often mentioned is that of Abel Wabela, a 28-year-old blogger, author and translator for Global Voices. During the first three months of the bloggers’ detention in Maekelawi*, Abel refused to sign a prepared confession paper in which he, together with the other bloggers, were incriminated. For this, Abel underwent extreme torture. According to the Ethiopian Human Rights Project (EHRP), he was beaten by a person using a stick, and his feet were whipped by someone using a computer plug cable. He was forced to lay on the floor while interrogators stomped on his back, neck and face. Since then, he has had to use a hearing aid as a result of worsened hearing impairment.

According to Endalk Chala, co-founder of the blogging group, Abel had suffered poor treatment even before his arrest. One day, three weeks before the arrest, Abel was beaten as he was walking home from work. Several people appeared and beat him so severely that he lost his consciousness, and they took his cell phone and laptop. He feared beating was a threat, intended to make him stop blogging. But Abel continued his work.


Abel Wabela. (Photo courtesy of family)

I wanted to know more about Abel, so I asked some of those close to him to describe their friend. Endalk Chala describes Abel as the most kindhearted and wonderful soul. Abel is a man of knowledge and a great conversationalist, and he believes in open and honest discussions. Jomanex Kasaye describes Abel as being straight forward and knowing what he stands for. At the same time, he is very humble. Abel is always hungry for more knowledge. He likes to spend his time in discussions with historians, university lecturers and authors. His faith is important to him. He loves attending in church. He often visited prisoners, having the country and its people in his heart. He always thinks of others rather than himself.

Read more at Global Voices Online »


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Seven Passengers on Inaugural Flight From Ethiopia Claim Asylum in Dublin

(Photo: Ethiopian Airlines)

Irish Independent

June 26, 2015

A Garda spokeswoman this morning confirmed that it was five adults and two children that claimed asylum.
“We are working with Ethiopian Airlines to ensure proper processes are in place for people coming into the country,” she said.

The new service from Addis Ababa stops in Dublin en route to Los Angeles and the maiden flight took place on Saturday.

It is understood that the passengers disembarked and made their way to Dublin Airport’s immigration gates where they claimed asylum.

They reportedly arrived at the desk without ID or travel documentation.

A spokeswoman for Ethiopian Airlines this morning insisted that all passengers on the flight had full legal documents when they boarded in Addis Ababa but said that the airline does not comment on individual cases.

“Ethiopian Airlines has been operating for over 40 years in Europe and Dublin is its 11th City.
“We only carry passengers with full legal documents and appropriate visas. We also carry out extra checks when in doubt and take guidance from appropriate immigration teams of the destination country we operate to, if needed,” she said.

An event to mark the airline’s first flight through Dublin had been taking place at the Departures gate a DAA spokeswoman said.

Read more at Irish Independent »


Related:
Photos: Ethiopian Airlines Inaugurates Flight Connecting Addis, LA, Dublin

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Court Health Ruling Seals Obama Legacy

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 25, 2015, in Washington, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld his health care law. (AP photo)

VOA News

By Luis Ramirez

WHITE HOUSE — For President Barack Obama, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to uphold his signature health care law represents a victory for him and his legacy.

Signing a national health care law that would guarantee coverage for all Americans was a cornerstone of Obama’s bid for the presidency seven years ago. Now the Supreme Court’s ruling means that law has survived yet another challenge.

How the president reacted when he heard the news


President Barack Obama celebrates the Supreme Court ruling on Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies, with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough in the Outer Oval Office. June 25, 2015. (Photo by Pete Souza)

“This was a good day for America,” the president remarked, celebrating the court’s upholding of the law – known unofficially as “Obamacare” – in a statement in the White House Rose Garden shortly after the ruling was announced.

“Today, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law, after a presidential election based in part on preserving or repealing this law, after multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” he said.

With many Americans who were previously excluded from health plans because of pre-existing conditions now covered, the president said he believes there can be no doubt the law is working, and described it as part of the fabric of America that can not be undone.

The president sought to counter any remaining opposition from those who see the law as a government overreach and warn of future skyrocketing health care costs, saying the law does not represent a government takeover of health care in the country.

Obama on Thursday offered to work with Republicans to further improve health care, as House Speaker John Boehner warned he would continue efforts to do everything possible to – “put the American people back in charge of their own health care, “and not the federal government.”


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Icon and Rule-Breaker Asnaketch Worku

Asnaketch Worku. (Photo from the film Asni)

BBC News

The Fifth Floor, a weekly programme of the BBC World Service, features Icon and rule-breaker Asnaketch Worku and why the singer and actress who mesmerised 50s and 60s Ethiopia is still loved today.

Listen to the program here:


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Blue Party Leader Killed in Debre Markos

A 29-year-old Blue Party candidate, Samuel Awoke, who is said to have challenged last month's election results in his region, was clubbed and stabbed to death in Debre Markos, Bloomberg News reports.

Bloomberg News

By William Davison

An Ethiopian parliamentary candidate for the opposition Blue Party died after being assaulted in Debre Markos, a town in the country’s northwest, the group said.

Two people attacked Samuel Awoke, 29, with a club and knife as he returned home alone from a night out with friends, spokesman Yonatan Tesfaye said by phone Tuesday from the capital, Addis Ababa.

“We are trying to figure out who are the killers and the reasons,” he said, citing suspicions it was politically motivated. Ethiopian Communications Minister Redwan Hussien said in a text message that a suspect has been apprehended and the attack may have stemmed from a legal dispute.

Samuel reported previous death threats and a beating during campaigning for the polls that were held May 24, Yonatan said. The lawyer had been active in challenging election procedures and results in the Amhara region town, 295 kilometers (183 miles) northwest of the capital, he said.

Read more »


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Bashir Defies Court Order, Leaves S. Africa

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, second from right, stands with other African leaders during a photo op at the AU summit in Johannesburg, June 14, 2015. (AP photo)

VOA News

By James Butty and Chris Hannas

Last updated on: June 15, 2015

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir flew home from South Africa Monday, defying a Pretoria court order to remain in the country until it decided whether he should be arrested on war crimes and genocide charges.

Bashir had been in Johannesburg for an African Union summit, but the International Criminal Court sought to compel his arrest while he was there. The ICC has charged him with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for sending the army and backing Arab militias to put down an armed uprising in the Darfur conflict in 2003, but Mr. Bashir has long resisted the court’s authority.

Sudan’s official news agency said Bashir would hold a news conference at the Khartoum airport when he arrives there Monday night.

Before Bashir left South Africa, both the United Nations and the United States called for his arrest.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “The authority of the ICC must be respected and its decision implemented.”

Earlier Monday, Sudanese Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman told VOA that the president “is not a criminal” and attended the summit after getting assurances from South African President Zuma.

“We have very good relations with the government of South Africa,” Osman said. “We know that they are not going to arrest the president and nothing will happen.”

ICC criticism

Osman also criticized the ICC, which has active cases involving Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya and Ivory Coast.

“The ICC is a court practically directed toward punishment of the African leaders. A lot of crimes have been now committed around the world and these countries have gotten an immunity,” Osman said, specifically citing Israel and the United States.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield told VOA that for the United States, having Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attend the AU summit was a “controversy.” But she added that it did not seem controversial to many of the Africans at the meeting.

Speaking on the sidelines of the summit in Johannesburg, Thomas-Greenfield said United States has supported efforts of the ICC, which issued a warrant for Bashir’s arrest. She added that the United States has encouraged African countries and other nations that are signatores to the ICC to turn him over for prosecution.

Late Sunday, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that while the U.S. is not a part of the International Criminal Court, it strongly supports efforts to hold accountable the perpetrators of genocide and war crimes.

“In light of the atrocities in Darfur, we call on the government of South Africa to support the international community’s efforts to provide justice for the victims of these heinous crimes,” Kirby said in a statement.

Caroline James, a lawyer from the Southern Africa Litigation Center that petitioned for the courts to force Bashir’s arrest, said many of the ICC’s cases came from requests by the nations involved.

“The other thing that is important to note is that although you can argue that the ICC is targeting African leaders, you can also argue that it is taking special efforts to ensure that African victims of human rights violations are given access to justice,” James said. “Because all of the situations in Africa that the ICC is investigating involve crimes committed against African citizens.”

The United Nations says fighting in the impoverished Darfur region has killed 300,000 people and created more than 2 million refugees. Most of the victims were civilians.

ICC President Sidiki Kaba said South Africa, which “has always contributed to the strengthening of the Court,” should “spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrants.”

AU group photo

Despite calls for his arrest, Bashir took part in a group photo with other African leaders at the summit in Johannesburg on Sunday.

In a message posted on Twitter, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party said it was calling upon the government to challenge the order against Bashir. It says immunity was granted to all participants of the summit as part of the international norms for countries hosting such gatherings.

Bashir was sworn in earlier this month for another five-year presidential term.

He promised to fight corruption, improve the economy and bring relations with the West back to what he calls their “natural state.”

He also vowed to bring peace to three separate regions where armed groups are fighting to topple his government — Blue Nile, Darfur and Kordofan. The president repeated his offer of total amnesty to any armed rebel who joins peace talks.

Bashir has ruled Sudan for 25 years. The country has not only been battered by armed rebellion, but by international sanctions and the loss of oil revenue when South Sudan gained independence.


Related:
Bid by Omar al-Bashir of Sudan to Avoid Arrest is Tested in South Africa (NY Times)

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U.S. House Approves AGOA Extension

(Image courtesy: AAFA)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, June 12th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted in favor of approving a 10-year extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Lawmakers from both parties supported the legislation during a vote held on Thursday, June 11th, but the Senate still needs to pass the House Bill before President Obama can sign it into law.

“Yesterday was truly a landmark day,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass, the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, in a statement. “Nearly 400 members of the House of Representatives voted to support extending AGOA.” She added: “This incredible bipartisan vote was the result of years of work.”

The campaign to extend the bill was led by a “combination of AGOA stakeholders that included African governments, the African Union, the African Diplomatic Corps, members of the U.S. and African private sectors, members of the African and U.S. civil society, countless members of the Diaspora as well as the Obama Administration — all of whom spoke to members of Congress about the significance of AGOA and its critical role in strengthening commercial and economic relations between the United States and the nations of Africa,” Bass said.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act was first approved in 2000 and is a trade program allowing eligible Sub-Saharan African countries to export duty free goods to the United States.


Related:
Interview with Dr. Gezahegne Bekele: AGOA Renewal in 2015

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In Ethiopia, Fight Against Child Labor Continues (Video)

(Image: Screenshot from VOA video)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

June 12, 2015

ADDIS ABABA — As countries observe World Day Against Child Labor on June 12, many children in developing countries below the age of 18 have to work to help their families or just to take care of themselves.

In Ethiopia many children are helping their parents on the land or roaming the streets trying to sell goods or shining shoes.

Alula Pankhurst, who has done years of research on the subject, said it’s culturally accepted for Ethiopian children to support their families. Pankhurst said this differs from kids who have to do worse forms of labor.

“Children get pushed into working due to the poverty in the household. But also when the household faces a shock with the death of family member, particularly the breadwinner,” he said.

A center on the outskirts of Addis Ababa was set up by the local organization Forum on Sustainable Child Empowerment. It takes in under-aged girls who have had to prostitute themselves for a living.

In Ethiopia’s capital city, they are less visible than the shoe shiners and more vulnerable than those children who are working to support their families.

Belaynesh, 17, came from a rural village and became a domestic worker in the capital city. But she decided to leave her job as a maid because her employer treated her badly.

“As a housemaid I didn’t like my job. Back then I had friends who were in the business of prostitution and they told me of the high income,” she explained. “So I quit my job and joined them.”

The Forum on Sustainable Child Empowerment makes sure the girls are taken care of and receive an education. They are also taught skills. Endalelgn, 18, just received her certificate, and now works in a barbershop – despite earning only a third of what she earned on the street. Endalelgn said she will never go back.

“There may be a lot of money involved in what we did but it was not healthy. Now we earn little money but life is good now. I do not want to return to what I did in the past,” she said.

Several Ethiopian organizations, though, said that working on rights issues is limited due to the country’s 2009 Civil Societies law, which makes it more difficult to improve conditions for those children caught up in child labor.


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New Data on Who Most Travels to Ethiopia

The survey shows that the bulk of international travellers (including Ethiopian diaspora) to Ethiopia are from the United States followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa and Kenya respectively. (M&G)

Mail & Guardian Africa

MORE than 96 million people are counted as Ethiopian, accounting for 1.3% of the total world population and making the country the 13th most-populated globally.

The country is also as diverse as it is populated, home to cross-cultural civilisations from North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, giving it a rich heritage and enticing visitors from all over the world.

To further explore visitor behaviour into and within the country, hotel booking website Jovago recently surveyed Ethiopia’s travellers. Some of the findings are fascinating.

Read more »


Related:
Archaeologists Uncover Stunning Aksumite & Roman Artefacts in Ethiopia (The Guardian)

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As FIFA Scandal Unfolds Obama Urges Integrity in Soccer

U.S. President Barack Obama holds a news conference at the conclusion of the G-7 Summit in the Bavarian town of Kruen, Germany, June 8, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

June 08, 2015

President Barack Obama weighed in on the deepening corruption scandal involving world soccer’s governing body Monday, saying it was essential that the sport’s integrity be ensured.

U.S. prosecutors last month unveiled indictments that painted a picture of endemic corruption and bribery among some officials at FIFA, the Swiss-based organization that runs soccer tournaments around the world. That includes the quadrennial World Cup, by many accounts the most-watched sporting event in the world.

Speaking at a news conference in Germany, where he attended a meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized nations, Obama offered his first public comments on the ongoing investigation and the problems afflicting FIFA.

People in Europe and elsewhere want FIFA to operate with “integrity, transparency and accountability,” Obama said in response to a reporter’s question.

It’s important, he said, “to keep in mind that although football, soccer … is a game, but it’s also a massive business, a source of incredible national pride and people want to make sure that it operates with integrity.”

“The United States … we want to make sure that a sport that’s gaining popularity is conducted in an upright manner,” he said.

The indictments unsealed on May 27 in New York targeted 14 soccer executives and sport marketing officials, and revealed guilty pleas by four other executives.

Seismic changes

The charges rocked the soccer world and ultimately pushed FIFA’s chief, Sepp Blatter, to resign after he initially defied calls to leave. Blatter has not been charged. His resignation likely won’t take effect until at least December, the earliest date for a new FIFA election, according to Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee.

The indictments also detailed the process for the awarding of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

To gain the rights to host the tournament, the indictments allege, South Africa’s soccer federation allegedly funneled $10 million in bribes to Jack Warner, the former head of the regional soccer organization for North and Central America and the Caribbean. Warner was arrested at a hotel in Switzerland and released on bail. He has denied the charges.

The news has stoked speculation that the FIFA decisions awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively, could also be reviewed.

In a report last week, Reuters, citing an unnamed U.S. law enforcement official, said the FBI’s investigation includes scrutiny of how the organization awarded those tournaments.

Swiss prosecutors have also said they were investigating the 2018 and 2022 bids. The decision on Qatar, a tiny desert country with no domestic tradition of soccer, was particularly criticized by soccer officials in Western countries.

A Swiss newspaper reported Scala as saying that Russia and Qatar could lose the right to host the tournaments if evidence is found of corruption in the bidding process.

“If evidence exists that Qatar and Russia received the [World Cup] awards only thanks to bribes, then the awards could be annulled,” he was quoted by Sonntagszeitung in a report published Sunday.


Related:
African Union Chair Dlamini-Zuma Implicated in Fifa World Cup Bribe Scandal (Mail & Guardian)
Fifa Corruption: Documents Show South Africa’s World Cup Bribe Payments (BBC News)
Gedion Zelalem to play for U.S. at FIFA Under-20 World Cup (Fox Soccer)

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Archaeologists Uncover Stunning Aksumite & Roman Artefacts in Ethiopia

The artefacts were discovered by a British archaeology team in Northern Ethiopia. (Photo: Graeme Laidlaw)

The Guardian

Dazzling jewels from an Ethiopian grave reveal 2,000-year-old link to Rome

Spectacular 2,000-year-old treasures from the Roman empire and the Aksumite kingdom, which ruled parts of north-east Africa for several centuries before 940AD, have been discovered by British archaeologists in northern Ethiopia.

Louise Schofield, a former British Museum curator, headed a major six-week excavation of the ancient city of Aksum where her team of 11 uncovered graves with “extraordinary” artefacts dating from the first and second centuries. They offer evidence that the Romans were trading there hundreds of years earlier than previously thought.

Schofield told the Observer: “Every day we had shed-loads of treasure coming out of all the graves. I was blown away: I’d been confident we’d find something, but not on this scale.”

Read more at The Guardian »

Related:
Study: Ethiopian Fossils Indicate New Forerunner of Humans (AP)

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Meet the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia

(Photos courtesy: Mandela Washington Fellowship)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — Below are the names and biographies of the 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows from Ethiopia. The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is the flagship program of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

The fourteen fellows from Ethiopia, all under the age of 35, are part of 500 other promising young leaders from across Africa who are selected to attend top U.S. universities over the summer for a six-week academic and leadership institute in one of three areas: business and entrepreneurship; civic leadership; or public management.

According to YALI: “Immediately following the academic institutes, Mandela Washington Fellows convene in Washington, D.C. for a Summit. During the Summit, participants interact with President Barack Obama and other prominent U.S. government, business, and civic leaders. 100 Fellows will remain in the United States for an additional six to eight weeks after their academic institute and Summit to participate in internships in the public, private and non-profit sectors with organizations throughout the United States.”

Here are this year’s fellows from Ethiopia:

Helen Abelle Melesse

Helen Abelle has over five years’ experience in various fields of the legal sector. Currently, she is a researcher and trainer in the Southern Nations Nationalities and People Regional State Justice Organs Professionals Training and Legal Research Centre, where she focuses on conducting research and training on current legal, social, and human rights issues. Helen obtained a Master’s degree in Human Rights from Addis Ababa University, managed to get some of her research published, and is a volunteer for the Ethiopian Red Cross Society and Ethiopian Human Rights Council. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue her work in the development of human rights protection and good governance in her community.

Abdela Alite

Abdela Alite has over seven years of experience in different departments of South Omo zone health department, first in drug supply and distribution expert for about a year, then as a quality control process coordinator for another two years. Currently he is head of the department, coordinating about 33 health centers, 247 health posts and one general hospital. He also volunteers in fund-raising activities for helpless children to continue education, as part of a local organization called Male Development Organization. Abdela holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Arbaminch. Upon completion of the Fellowship, Abdela wants to continue working on the education of maternal and child death and also on combating communicable diseases.

Hana Bekele Ayele

Hana has over 7 years’ experience in the area of disability, particularly in leadership positions and the teaching of basic computer skills for blind persons. At present, she is working as general manager in the Ethiopian National Disability Action Network, where she gives due attention to strengthening collaboration and creating a united voice among disability-based organizations. She volunteers in associations for women with disabilities, is board vice-chair and a member of the general assembly enabling her to give advice, design projects, and reflect the issues of persons with disabilities at different stages. She has certificate in Basic Computer Skills, a diploma in teaching English, and graduated from the Addis Ababa University with a first in sociology. After completing the Fellowship, she plans to share her experience with the disability community, and facilitate ways where persons with disabilities can access equal opportunities and participate in every sphere of society.

Hilina Berhanu Degefa

Hilina Berhanu Degefa has four years’ experience as a women’s rights advocate. She has been working in the area of human rights for women with a particular focus on grassroots advocacy, gender-based violence, and empowerment of women in educational institutions. She is co-founder of the Yellow Movement AAU and Women for Change in Ethiopia as well as youth-led organizations that promote women’s rights. She is responsible for having managed campaigns and run online activism in support of women’s rights, serves as the president of Women for Change in Ethiopia, and is also involved in the Sanitation for Education project. Hilina holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law from Addis Ababa University, School of Law. Upon completion of the fellowship she plans to work on youth mentorship and expand the Sanitation for Education project by setting up sanitary booths and selling or giving sanitary pads for free all across Ethiopia.

Dagnachew Bogale Wakene (Dag)

Dag has been working for over nine years as an advocate, educator, and research consultant with a focus on disability rights and inclusive development. He holds a Bachelor of Law degree from the Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, and a Master’s of Philosophy majoring in Rehabilitation and Development Studies from Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He is currently the Africa Regional Coordinator at Disability Rights Promotion International, a project run by York University, Canada to establish a monitoring system that addresses disability discrimination globally. He’s also co-founder of ThisAbility Consulting, an initiative which aims to bridge existing gaps of participatory disability research in Africa. A childhood polio-survivor, Dag embraces an outstanding blend of lived experience and professional excellence in his fields of expertise. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he will continue his robust contributions to efforts of creating an inclusive society in Ethiopia and the continent.

Maji Hailemariam Debena

Maji is a social work and mental health professional with over five years’ experience working with different academic and research institutions. Her major areas of interest include mental health, poverty, migration, food security, and gender. As an educator and researcher, she is working with Hawassa University in Ethiopia and currently pursuing her PhD in Mental Health Epidemiology. Her doctoral dissertation combines an intervention and research on understanding barriers to equitable access to mental health care. In her undergraduate, she majored in Philosophy with a minor specialization in Sociology. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work. Her long-term career plans include initiating a regional research and training collaboration involving five East African countries. Upon return, she aspires to invest on equipping the next generation of social activists in Ethiopia.

Yordanos Jembere Dessalegn

Yordanos has over seven years’ experience working with coffee farmers’ cooperatives in different positions, particularly the export department. She established her own coffee exporting company, Coffee Culture Coffee Export PLC, where she is the manager. Yordanos also serves as a chairperson of women organized to support each other to address socio-economic problems. She volunteers at Give Hope Ethiopia, a charity helping orphaned and vulnerable children, youth, and women in Ethiopia to which 10% of her company’s revenue goes. She has long-term plans to be one of the top coffee exporters, with her own coffee farm and processing plant producing traceable and quality coffee, creating more jobs for others, mainly women. After the completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Yordanos plans to apply the knowledge and skills obtained from the opportunities she gains to improve her business and enhance the community she serves.

Meron Kassahun Asfaw

Meron Asfaw is an architect, lecturer, and researcher at the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC) of Addis Ababa University. She is currently involved in research related to sustainable rural housing initiatives, Sustainable Rural Dwelling Unit (SRDU). In collaboration with her colleagues, she spearheaded the SRDU research and has been closely involved in it for the past four years as an author and point person for the management of documentation, publication, and design as well as construction tasks. She strongly believes that real change in rural areas will come when modern science and traditional knowledge learn from each other. Upon completing the Fellowship she plans to continue working on sustainable building practices that will enhance the livelihoods of farmers, particularly in Ethiopia but even more importantly across the African continent.

Dawud Mohammed Ali

Dawud has over six years’ experience in teaching, research, international relations, and community service. He is currently a lecturer and researcher at Samara University of Ethiopia, where he also serves as an executive director for the international and public relation affairs directorate of the university. He has been serving in different senior leadership positions of the university for many years and is the founder and president of a NGO called the Afar Development and Scholarship Fund which is dedicated to the advancement of education and development affairs in Afar state of Ethiopia. Dawud holds a Master’s degree in business administration from Andhra University in India, where he focused on international business and leadership aspects of management. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Dawud plans to continue serving his University and to work in promoting development and education to eradicate poverty focusing on activism for youth education and empowerment.

Balayneh Nekatibeb Begna

Balayneh holds Master’s degree in Development Studies from Addis Ababa University. For over 10 years, he has designed and managed a number of agricultural growth and economic development programs and projects with NGOs, donor agencies and the Ethiopian Government. He is currently working in Ethiopia as capacity development advisor to the Department of Foreign Affairs Trade and Development of Canada. He volunteers as a board member for KMG Ethiopia, a community-based organization that helps thousands of rural women, girls, and marginalized communities to emancipate themselves from violence and discrimination. His experiences, beyond developing his skills and capacities in development management, have enlightened him to learn about business opportunities that can hugely benefit smallholder farmers in Ethiopia and beyond. He believes that the Mandela Washington Fellowship will help him acquire the skills, networks, and resources he needs to establish a socially viable, prototype Agribusiness Centre in Ethiopia on his return.

Israel Tibebu Taye

Israel Taye is young pan-African lawyer from Ethiopia, passionate about African renaissance, youth empowerment, sustainable development, and human rights. He aspires to fast-track youth participation in continental and international development initiatives and has over three years’ experience in various fields in the public management sector, in human rights in particular. Currently, he serves as a legal assistant for the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights under the African Union’s youth volunteer program. In this capacity, he focuses on issues relating to extractive industries and environmental rights, as well as other human rights violations in Africa. Israel holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and volunteers for community initiatives aimed at youth empowerment through life-skills development and career guidance. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to engage in youth empowerment and development forums both nationally and within the African Union system.

Marta Tsehay Sewasew

Marta Tsehay Sewasew has six years’ experience and involvement in several developmental programs on girl’s education, women economic empowerment, youth leadership, adolescent and youth reproductive health, and orphan and vulnerable children support projects. Currently, Marta is working for the Development Fund of Norway in Ethiopia as a program coordinator on the Girls Education and Youth Participation program, where she focuses on program design and development, management, monitoring, and evaluation. Further, Marta initiated a program called Mobile for Students Reproductive Health (M4SRH) for University students, which uses mobile technology to convey reproductive health messages. She also played an important role in the preparation of a national life-skills manual for students in Ethiopia. Marta has a Master’s degree in Social Work with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She plans to continue her effort on scaling up girl’s education and the M4SRH initiative on completion of Fellowship.

Ethiopia Wondimu Robi (Ethiopi)

Ethiopi has over three years’ experience in various fields in the real estate sector and works passionately towards introducing green buildings to Ethiopia, and developing a culture of sustainability within the real estate sector. Currently, she is the principal founding member and general manager of Olympus Real Estate P.L.C, a green company committed to developing eco-friendly homes. Ethiopia holds a Master of Science degree in Real Estate Management from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden where she focused on rapid urbanization and housing shortage in Africa while reflecting on the opportunities within the problem facing her country. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue her work in her real estate company with a focus on building green, and establishing a positive influence on her fellow professionals in the industry into becoming more environmentally consciously, ensuring a better future for all.

Hermella Wondimu Woldehana (Hermi)

Hermi has spent five years working with rural communities in Ethiopia focused on the provision of clean water and promotion of hygiene and sanitation. She is currently the general manager of Drop Of Water, the NGO she co-founded as a university student, and believes it is the honor and moral obligation of all university students to stand for the betterment of their community. Demonstrating the power of grass root volunteerism, Drop Of Water has provided clean water access to tens of thousands of rural communities in Ethiopia. Hermi has a degree in civil engineering from Mekelle University, and has completed training certifications on emergency water and sanitation and water safety plans. Through people working together, she believes the water crisis can be ended, and upon completion of the Fellowship plans to continue her work with volunteers with a focus on community leadership and fundraising.

—-
Related:
Meet the 2014 Mandela Washington Fellows From Ethiopia

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Dangerous Myths Lure Ethiopian Migrants

An overcrowded detention centre in Sana’a, Yemen holds Ethiopian migrants making their way to Saudi Arabia seeking work opportunities (Photo by Anna Surinyach/MSF)

The Seattle Globalist

By Goorish Wibneh

Seattle has become one of the preferred destinations for Ethiopian immigrants. Some estimates say there are as many as ten thousand Ethiopians living in the Seattle area.

Talking to one of us Ethiopian Americans here in Seattle you might never realize how big the worldwide Ethiopian diaspora is or what people go through to find a new home.

“I see and hear stories of people coming here as refugees, through the [Diversity Visa Lottery],” Said Haile Kiros, an Ethiopian immigrant who’s lived in Seattle for about a year. “They find what they expected is different from the reality here… they decide to take their own lives.”

He says he’s heard many such sad stories.

“Some have sold their houses [to come to the U.S.], some are living with a lot of stress here, others have big problems with the language.”

The stress induced by culture shock is not to be underestimated. Even something as simple as maintaining eye contact while speaking — which is normal here but comes off as confrontational for many culturally inhibited Ethiopians — can complicate simple communication.

So with all these troubles, you might wonder why those with the resources to leave Ethiopia don’t invest in their home country instead.

According to one account told to an Al Jazeera reporter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopians look outside of their country for opportunities because “our families can’t give us money while we’re here. They only help when there’s a plan to leave, because they’re more certain that eventually [we’ll be able to] send the money back.”

Read more at The Seattle Globalist »


Related:
Adega 911: New Website Launched to Assist Ethiopian Migrants in Danger
Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis

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British TV Peers into Hamar Family Life

Stars of The Tribe include (centre) Kerri Bodo and husband Ayke Muko. (Photograph: Channel4)

Daily Mail

By TIM MACFARLAN

Channel Four has turned its cameras on an Ethiopian tribal family for its latest fly-on-the-wall documentary.

The Tribe follows the everyday lives of a rambunctious family of Hamar people in the south of the country.

The show uses fixed-rig cameras and tiny microphones installed in four huts and communal space belonging to the family of Ayke Muko, the outspoken patriarch and grandfather.

British viewers have recently been invited to eavesdrop on the lives of soldiers, midwives and teachers, but never before on a family quite like this.

Read more and watch video at Daily Mail »


Related:
‘Fly-on-wall’ TV show captures family life, Ethiopian style (The Guardian)

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Daily Life in Ethiopia – In Pictures

A girl is seen in a bakery. (Photo by Siegfried Modola)

The Guardian

Reuters photographer Siegfried Modola looks at life inside the capital Addis Ababa and the city of Harar. The East African nation, brimming with churches and mosques, coffee shops and markets, is home to nearly 100 million people.


Boys ride horses used to carry visitors for short rides. (Photo by Siegfried Modola)


People walk through a spice and vegetable market. (Photo by Siegfried Modola)


A waiter stands in a coffee shop. (Photo by Siegfried Modola)

See more photo at The Guardian »


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As Expected Ruling Party Claims Big Win in Early Ethiopia Election Results

As expected the ruling party in Ethiopia, EPRDF, is claiming big win in last Sunday's election. (AP Photograph)

VOA News

BY Marthe van der Wolf

Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Wins Big in Early Election Results

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopia’s ruling party won Sunday’s election with an overwhelming majority, according to preliminary results released by the country’s electoral commission.

The electoral board says the ruling EPRDF party and its allies have won all the parliamentary seats decided so far – 442 out of 547.

The Ethiopian Political Revolutionary Democratic Front won all of the seats in the capital city, Addis Ababa.

Final tally pending

Opposition parties only won a single parliamentary seat in the 2010 elections. It is not yet clear if they won more seats this time around, according to Merga Bekana of the electoral board.

“Regarding the remaining results, we have to wait. According to our timetable we have time to gather, to collect and then publish it according to our schedule. But I cannot actually tell you actually how many remaining seats will be occupied by opposition or ruling party,” said Merga.

Final results are expected on June 22.

Leaders of the two largest opposition parties, Blue Party and Medrek, could not be immediately reached to comment on the preliminary results. Both have accused the government of harassing and intimidating their supporters before and during the elections.

African Union observers judged the elections as calm, peaceful and credible but significantly, did not use the terms “free and fair.”

‘Continued restrictions’ concerning

The U.S. State Department commended Ethiopia for holding peaceful elections, but also said it is deeply concerned by “continued restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and view.”

Ethiopia’s National Electoral Board said an equal platform was created for all political parties, and the government has denied accusations of obstructing the opposition in any manner.

Merga said opposition parties should accept the reality, and said their accusations are baseless.

The new parliament will convene in October, and EPRDF already has said that if the party wins again, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn likely will be appointed to serve another five years in office.

The EPRDF has been in power since ousting the regime of former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. The preliminary results came out one day before Ethiopia officially celebrates the downfall of the former regime.


Related:
Statement From US State Dept on Ethiopia May 24th Elections (Press Release)
AU Observers Avoid Words ‘Free & Fair’ In Ethiopia Election Assessment (VOA)
African Observers Say Ethiopia Poll Credible, Opposition Cries Foul (Reuters)
No Suspense in Ethiopia Election Results (Photos)
Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Is Expected to Keep Grip on Power (NY Times)
Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters (VOA News)
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

In Ethiopia, ‘Are You a Journalist?’ Is a Loaded Question

A woman leaves after casting her vote at a polling station, as Ethiopia's national election kicks off in capital Addis Ababa, May 24, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Anita Powell

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Are you a journalist?” the young man asks me as we board the elevator.

In Ethiopia, this is a loaded question. It earned me an extra 45-minute wait at airport immigration as officials thumbed through my passport, pawed through my luggage and asked me what my intentions were.

Several international human rights groups have documented the systematic repression of Ethiopian journalists who were openly critical of the ruling party. About a dozen journalists and bloggers are in Ethiopian prison, accused of terrorism. Many more have fled into exile and are covering this year’s election from afar.

“Yes,” I sigh.

“I’m not happy with this election,” he blurts out. “There is no democracy in Ethiopia.”

Bold, I think admiringly. This is new – when I was assigned to Ethiopia eight years ago, in the aftermath of the government’s violent reaction to an opposition gains in the 2005 election, those sentiments were rarely spoken aloud – and certainly not to random journalists.

Is he trying to bait me? I wonder.

“Oh?” I say, cautiously. “Yes, I’ve heard people say that.”

I get off at my floor, rattled.


People take part in a Blue Party election rally in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, May 21, 2015. (Photo Reuters)

On the campaign trail, the nation’s newest opposition party winds its way through Addis Ababa. Crowds emerge to watch the procession.

“Please, I am journalist from America,” I say in Amharic at every stop, waving at my camera theatrically. “Do you have opinion on the election please? Will you give interview?”

No one volunteers. One man covers his face when he sees me filming the street. The guy next to him takes his phone out and points it in my direction. I remove my sunglasses and stare at him.

Opposition members say they’re confident of getting support at the polling booth. Blue Party spokesman Yonatan Tesfaye even predicts the various opposition parties will grab as many as 100 parliamentary seats, out of more than 500. This would indeed be a triumph: in 2010, the opposition won just a single seat.

One opposition candidate, Yidinakachaw Addis, tells me he was arrested while trying to take food to his imprisoned friends, also opposition supporters.

“I know it’s very difficult to participate in politics, especially in our country,” he says. “I know, even I will be in prison one day. So I am happy, even if I will join my friends in prison, I will be happy for that. I think I did something best for my country.”

Later, the internet has failed in my hotel room, sending me frantically down to the lobby to try to transmit a TV story on the opposition campaign.

Another young man on the elevator. I gesture to my laptop, explain in Amharic, “There is no internet in my house.” (I don’t know the word for hotel room.)

“It’s the government,” he responds, to my surprise. “There’s an election coming and they want to stop the internet.”

Overcome, I show him a snippet of my story. “If you don’t follow them and if you don’t join them and if you don’t do what they need, you can’t do what you need,” says Abdurahim Jemal Araya, a self-described political refugee living in South Africa. “And you need to follow them, each and every thing they are telling you, because there is no democracy at all in our country.”

The young man nods.

“That is my feeling too,” he says grimly.


A woman casts her vote at a polling station, as Ethiopia’s national election kicks off in capital Addis Ababa, May 24, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Election day starts before dawn. People line up at a typical Addis Ababa polling station. It is calm, orderly, polite. I go from station to station, and at all but one of them my election badge allows me easy access.

“What are you doing here?” asks a burly dude in a leather jacket at that one station.

I’m tempted to tell him I’m on vacation, and just thought it might be fun to, you know, drop by a polling station at 6 a.m. with a video camera. But more burly dudes come over. They tell me to wait, order me to point my camera at the ground.

Finally an election official comes out and scrutinizes my badge.

After a long wait, he tells me, “It’s okay, you are allowed.”

“I know,” I say tartly.

I have little trouble finding ruling party voters. They are, after all, the majority. But I approach voter after voter in an attempt to get a variety of views. Several actually run away from me.

The next day, I meet someone who knows one of the nine jailed bloggers and journalists. He asks not to be identified for fear of reprisal. He says he fears that talking to me so soon after the election could make things worse for the group.

I grill the poor man. “Is it possible,” I ask, “that any one of the nine could have links to actual groups trying to overthrow the Ethiopian government?” That’s the ostensible reason for their imprisonment. Could his friend, who he swears is innocent, have been accidentally pulled in over her head?

He shakes his head and notes that the prosecution hasn’t presented any evidence of terrorism.

“I think it’s a fear of the future rather than a crime of their past that they were arrested for,” he says, explaining that the longtime ruling EPRDF party fears reprisals if they ever lose power.

There’s no obvious sign of this repression he’s talking about. As we sit and talk in a cafe, we both look nervously at a succession of lone men who fill up the tables near us, studying their phones.

I later drop in to see a local business owner, who tells me that three of his workers called in to say they were too afraid to come to work. They refused, he says, to say more.

We talk about rampant rumors that the ruling party has won 100 percent of the vote this time, and I stress that only official results count.

He raises an eyebrow at me, as if to say, “Really?”


A boy sits outside a polling station, as Ethiopia’s national election kicks off in capital Addis Ababa, May 24, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

As journalists, we are limited to the attributed, the concrete, the verifiable, and the achievable. And so, my stories from this election show orderly polling stations, happy voters, and government supporters.

They also include mild endorsement from the only foreign observer mission, the African Union, which said the election was peaceful and credible, although they not use the words “free and fair.”

But my stories on this election are largely missing a silent, and silenced, group. I have no idea how big this group really is, as many won’t speak to me once the video camera or voice recorder come out.

Those who told me they didn’t bother to vote insisted that information was off the record. The blogger-journalist group tried to vote, the friend says, as they have not been convicted of anything and therefore are still eligible. But prison authorities told them there was no nearby polling station.

Opposition campaigner Ephraim Sahle Selassie says he believes that free expression is unstoppable, with the growth of technology and social media.

But for now, in Ethiopia, free expression is just a dream for the future.

WATCH: Anita Powell’s video report on Ethiopian election


Related:
As Expected Ruling Party Claims Big Win in Early Ethiopia Election Results (VOA)
Statement From US State Dept on Ethiopia May 24th Elections (Press Release)
AU Observers Avoid Words ‘Free & Fair’ In Ethiopia Election Assessment (VOA)
African Observers Say Ethiopia Poll Credible, Opposition Cries Foul (Reuters)
No Suspense in Ethiopia Election Results (Photos)
Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Is Expected to Keep Grip on Power (NY Times)
Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters (VOA News)
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

AU Observers Avoid Words ‘Free & Fair’ In Ethiopia Election Assessment

African Union observers have declared Ethiopia's recent election "Calm, peaceful and credible," but they stayed away from using the words 'Free and Fair" to describe the national poll held on May 24, 2015. (VOA)

VOA News

By Anita Powell

AU Observers: Ethiopian Poll Was ‘Calm, Peaceful and Credible’

ADDIS ABABA— Calm, peaceful and credible: Those are three of the key words the African Union election observer mission used to describe Ethiopia’s national election, which is widely expected to produce yet another landslide for the nation’s longtime ruling party.

But “free and fair,” two critical adjectives, were missing from the assessment by the only foreign election observer mission present as tens of millions of Ethiopians voted Sunday.

“The AU Election Observers’ Mission concludes that the parliamentary elections were calm, peaceful and credible as it provided an opportunity for the Ethiopian people to express their choices at the polls,” said mission head Hifikepunye Pohamba, a former Namibian president.

Pohamba said the mission did not hear any reports of major violence or problems on election day. But he said observers saw ruling party allies openly urging voters inside the polling station and some stations opened before the stipulated 6 a.m. start time. He added the dark canvas ballot boxes in many stations were insufficiently transparent.

When VOA asked if the election was fair, free and transparent, AU observer Chika Charles Aniekwe did not answer directly. “We want you be guided by our pronouncement. We do not want to pronounce on what we have not seen. So our judgement on the election is that it was peaceful, it was calm and credible. So we do not want to delve into all we have not pronounced,” said Aniekwe.

Preliminary results due soon

This is the first vote since the 2012 death of Meles Zenawi, who had led the nation since 1991, first as president, then as prime minister. Meles’ successor, former academic Hailemariam Desalegn, is widely expected to stay in charge as head of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.

Meles encountered an electoral roadblock in 2005, when an swell of support for the opposition overflowed into street protests. Government security forces opened fire on opposition supporters who accused officials of vote-rigging.

A public inquiry determined that 200 people were killed. Tens of thousands of opposition leaders and supporters were jailed.

The ruling party then won all but a single seat in parliament in the 2010 polls, though European Union observers criticized the ruling party for creating an unfair playing field for the opposition.

Before this election, the opposition accused the government of hindering their campaigns through arrests, harassment, intimidation and unequal access to funding. The government has denied the allegations.

AU observer chief Pohamba urged calm. “The AU Electoral Mission encourages political parties, candidates, their supporters and the electorate to maintain the prevailing atmosphere of peace that characterized pre-election and election day and urges for the use of the legal channels of complaints and appeals should there be any post-electoral disputes,” he said.

Ethiopia’s election board says it will soon release preliminary results. Final results are due June 22.


Related:
African Observers Say Ethiopia Poll Credible, Opposition Cries Foul (Reuters)
No Suspense in Ethiopia Election Results (Photos)
Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Is Expected to Keep Grip on Power (NY Times)
Ethiopia Election Met With Silence From Ordinary Voters (VOA News)
Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’ (The Guardian)
With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark (CPJ)
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

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The Plight of Ethiopian Jews in Israel (BBC)

Israelis from the Ethiopian community protest in Haifa. (AFP/Getty Images)

BBC News

By Prof Yossi Mekelberg

The story of the immigration and absorption of Ethiopian Jews in Israel epitomises the best and the worst of Israeli society.

True to its Zionist dream of being a haven for Jews, the Jewish state embarked on risky and expensive rescue operations in the 1980s and 1990s.

These brought tens of thousands of Jews from remote parts of Ethiopia, who had suffered from religious persecution, famine and civil wars.

Yet, when they arrived in Israel, these distinctive people faced appalling discrimination, racism and a lack of empathy for their hardships in Ethiopia and during their journey to Israel.

Moreover, this was exacerbated by a mixture of bureaucratic insensitivity and incompetence.

The uncharacteristic violence, seen recently during demonstrations by members of the Ethiopian community in Israel, was a direct result of years of accumulated frustration against the state and especially the police.

The unprovoked beating up by policemen of Demas Fekadeh, an Ethiopian Israeli soldier in uniform, could well serve as a much necessary wake-up call for Israeli society to change, quickly and radically, its treatment of the 130,000 Israeli citizens and their descendants who immigrated from Ethiopia.

Read more at BBC News »

Related:
As Ethiopian-Israeli Protests Continue, Where Do Women Fit In?
Netanyahu, President Rivlin Show Strong Support to Ethiopian Jews in Israel
Ethiopian-Israelis Demand Ministerial Committees to Help Community
A Message from Tebeka – Legal Aid & Advocacy for Ethiopian Israelis (Press Release)
Soldier Becomes Unlikely Face of Ethiopian-Israeli Discontent (Video)
Ethiopian-Israeli Protest in Tel Aviv Turns Unusually Violent (Raw Video)
Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem (The Associated Press)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Saving Coffee From Extinction

(Photo: Jenny Williams/RBG Kew)

BBC News

By Julian Siddle and Vibeke Venema

Two billion cups of coffee are drunk around the world every day and 25 million families rely on growing coffee for a living. Over the past 15 years, consumption of the drink has risen by 43% – but researchers are warning that the world’s most popular coffee, Arabica, is under threat…

“If we don’t do anything now and over the next 20 years, by end of the century, wild Arabica in Ethiopia could be extinct – that’s in the worst-case scenario,” says Dr Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at Kew, who led the project.

The report made headlines around the world and spurred the industry into action. Since then, the team from Kew and their partners in Ethiopia have covered 25,000km in Ethiopia, visiting coffee producing areas to compare their predictions with what is happening in reality. “It’s important to see what’s happening on the ground, observing what influence climate change is having on coffee now, and talking to farmers. They can tell us what has happened, sometimes taking us back many decades, with several generations of farmers involved,” says Davis.

Read more at BBC News »


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With Limited Independent Press, Ethiopians Left Voting in the Dark

The author of the following article, Simegnish "Lily" Mengesha, is an Ethiopian journalist and media consultant who is currently a Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy in DC. (Image: BBC video)

CPJ

By Simegnish “Lily” Mengesha

On Sunday Ethiopians go to the polls in the country’s fifth general election since the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power more than 20 years ago. Citizens are expected to choose the right party to lead them for the next five years. To do so, they need to have a clear understanding of their country’s political, social, and economic situation. They need to know which parties have the candidates and policies best suited to their own hopes and aspirations. But in a country with limited independent media, many Ethiopians struggle to find the information needed to help them make informed decisions.

A number of human right reports showed 2014 as the most dangerous year for the Ethiopian press, with government attacks on the media starting a year before the election. It appeared that government forces were purposely clearing the media out of the way. Seventeen journalists are currently in prison, most of them facing terrorism charges, and more than 30 have been forced into exile, according to CPJ research. This makes Ethiopia the second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Eritrea.

Five independent magazines and one weekly newspaper were charged last year with publishing false information, inciting violence, and undermining public confidence in the government, according to CPJ research. The charges highlighted the narrowed media space, and led to the closure of several more outlets out of fear that they may face the same fate.

Ethiopia is the fourth most censored country in the world, according to CPJ. Besides state-run publications, only a handful of privately owned publications remain in the country and, according to a couple of Ethiopian journalists I spoke to, they operate under heavy self-censorship. Because of financial constraints caused by the paper and printing costs, nearly all independent publications circulate only in the capital, Addis Ababa. This leaves the majority of the population dependent on the state-run TV and radio stations.

Based on my own experiences, and that of fellow journalists in Ethiopia, who asked not to be named out of security concerns, journalists work in fear of the government’s reaction to what they say and write. They make sure no word they put down on paper and no word they speak will buy them a ticket to the prisons where their friends are held. Covering the election makes journalists feel even more unsafe. It exposes them to such levels of harassment that they even fear moving around the city alone, I was told.

Digital media is a new platform in Ethiopia. While Internet penetration remains under 2 per cent, according to Freedom House figures, the number of social media users has been growing rapidly. However, the arrest of the Zone 9 bloggers for their social media activity one year ago, served as a warning among the online community not to openly criticize the government, I was told.

Fear dominates not only journalists but also any citizen who is unhappy with the government and wishes to criticize its policies. After the 2005 election, which was comparatively open but, according to reports, ended with violence and killings, the government appears to have little tolerance for criticism. And, in the 2010 election five years later, that fear appeared to linger, with little reporting on anyone saying they planned to vote for the opposition. This will be a challenge for local and international journalists covering the election this weekend. It will not be easy to find anyone willing to admit publicly that they voted against the ruling party.

The African Union (AU) will be the only international body monitoring the election, according to reports. Its purpose is to observe, collect and analyze data from the lead-up to the election to the post-election period. In a statement, the AU said its observation will be in line with AU policy and other international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that its observers will remain independent and objective.

However, according to journalists I spoke to, the sole presence of the AU does not make Ethiopia’s press feel protected. Most said they believe the AU or ambassadors will reflect only what the ruling party wants them to say. Others said they do not think they will be able to get fair and balanced comments, even from independent bodies.

The press plays an important role in the electoral process. It provides a platform for political parties and candidates to present their manifestos. The press also allows citizens to express their opinions and needs, so that they can be a part of any democratic process. When such a platform is denied, citizens are left out of the process. This is not democracy.

This is the malady from which Ethiopia suffers. People are deprived of any explanation of their country’s situation; their government expects them to feed only on what they are given through state media. This makes citizens into mere spectators to the “development” about which the government proudly preaches, instead of making them an integral part of the process.


Related:
Opponents Question Ethiopia’s Democracy (VOA)
Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia (Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights)
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Imperiling the Right to Vote in Ethiopia — RFK Human Rights Analysis

(Photo: BBC News)

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Press Release — Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

Washington, D.C. — Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFK Human Rights) released today a briefing paper documenting a range of human rights violations that have taken place in the context of Ethiopia’s upcoming parliamentary election, scheduled for May 24, and calls upon African Union (AU) election observers to both implement and follow a human rights based approach to their monitoring efforts. The briefing paper outlines severe restrictions to civic space – including the systematic suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association – in the lead up to the election that amount to a violation of the right to vote and the right to participate in government for all Ethiopians.

“The criminalization of dissent in Ethiopia is readily apparent,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of RFK Human Rights. “Regardless of the ultimate results on polling day, the electoral period has been severely compromised by a persistent crackdown on human rights defenders, journalists, and opposition supporters who have dared to express views critical of the Ethiopian government.”

In the lead up to the election, the Ethiopian government routinely used the 2012 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (“Anti-terrorism law”) to prosecute human rights defenders, independent journalists and bloggers, and opposition supporters in violation of their right to freedom of expression, which effectively prevented the free flow of information to Ethiopian voters. Also in recent months, a series of crackdowns on the peaceful demonstrations of opposition supporters and civic activists have resulted in widespread violations of the right to freedom of assembly. Since its enactment in 2009, the Charities and Societies Proclamation (“CSO law”) has violated the right to freedom of association and decimated the ability of independent civil society in Ethiopia to carry out its legitimate work, including voter education activities, human rights reporting, and political advocacy, each of which are critical to ensure free debate.

“The rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association are fundamental to any democracy and critical to ensuring the meaningful fulfillment of the right to vote under international law,” said Santiago A. Canton, Executive Director of RFK Partners for Human Rights. “As the region and the world look to Ethiopia in the coming days and weeks, it is critical that the AU election observers document the undeniable link between the repression of civic space and Ethiopia’s international human rights obligation to respect the rights to vote and participate in government.”

The AU will be the only international body to monitor the May 24 election. The long-term observers arrived on April 19 and a larger delegation of observers landed in the capital Addis-Ababa on May 17. The AU election observers have a mandate to observe, collect, and analyze data in the lead up to the election, in line with AU and other international instruments such as the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In addition to technical requirements for elections, the AU observers must also take into account binding international law, which includes the right to vote and the right to participate in government.

Click here to read the full report »


Related:
Is Ethiopia About to Get More Than One Opposition MP? (BBC)
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

2015 Ethiopia Election Preview (BBC)

The ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which has been in power for a quarter of a century, is likely to win Sunday's elections. (Getty Images)

BBC News

The current parliament in Ethiopia has only one opposition representative. Could this all change when up to 36 million voters head for the polls this Sunday?

These will be the first elections since the death of the long-term Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2012. His Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has been in power for almost a quarter of a century, and faces no reasonable prospect of defeat.

Who is participating in the polls?

There are 57 political groups which have registered for the election. Many of them are organised along ethnic lines.

Apart from the EPRDF, some of the main contenders include the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum; a coalition popularly known as Medrek (the Forum); Unity For Democracy And Justice; and the Semayawi (Blue) Party, which was established in 2012, and has earned itself a reputation for organizing protest rallies and which draws support from young people.

Why have these elections caused controversy in the US?


US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. (Getty Images)

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman has praised Ethiopia as a democracy, prompting outrage among human rights organisations.

Speaking during a press briefing in Addis Ababa in April, Ms Sherman said: “Ethiopia is a democracy that is moving forward in an election that we expect to be free, fair and credible and open and inclusive in ways that Ethiopia has moved forward in strengthening its democracy. Every time there is an election it gets better and better.”

In a joint letter, various groups, including Amnesty International USA, said that through her statement the US endorsed ”a government that systematically suppresses the fundamental rights of its citizens. Political pluralism and the ability of Ethiopians to freely express themselves, associate, and participate in peaceful assembly is far more restricted today than ten years ago under the same government.”

What happened in previous elections?

In 2005, 174 opposition politicians won seats in the 547-seat parliament, but many did not take them up after pronouncing the vote rigged.

In the 2010 polls, Girma Seifu, of the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), was the sole opponent to win, while the ruling EPRDF garnered 99.6% of all parliamentary seats. An independent candidate was also elected.

What do opposition parties say about these polls?
The fractured opposition groups have accused the government of harassing their members and carrying out illegal detentions ahead of the elections.

One politician, Yonathan Tesfaye, spokesman for the Blue Party, told journalists that some party members had been beaten, especially in the southern region.

Which outsiders are monitoring the polls?

The African Union has sent election monitors, but the European Union won’t be sending observers. The EU said it hasn’t been invited.

Read more at BBC News »


Related:
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Washington Enables Authoritarianism in Ethiopia (Aljazeera America)
Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever (VOA News)
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo: Cool Sighting at Walia in San Jose

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, pose for a photo with Walia restaurant staff in San Jose, California on Friday, May 15th, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, May 20th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — You may remember our highlight of Mark Zuckerberg, Founder & CEO of Facebook, who was spotted enjoying a hearty Ethiopian dinner at Walia restaurant in San Jose, California last June. Zuckerberg, who had waited ten minutes to be seated, also took his time to pose for a photo with the Walia staff.

Last week Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and his wife, Chirlane McCray, followed suit and posed for a photo in front of Walia’s now famous Red, Green and Yellow side-wall.

“A visit to the restaurant by such personalities is a testament to the popularity of Ethiopian food in the U.S.” The owner said. “Walia is blessed by attracting the Mayor of America’s big city and financial center of the world.”

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



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Ethiopian PM Faces His First Election Ever

Hailemariam Desalegn is seen during a visit to Khartoum, Sudan, March 23, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

VOA News

By Marthe van der Wolf

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who assumed power in 2012 after the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, has never had to participate in an election before.

He took over the office and the leadership of the ruling party, the EPRDF, after the death of Zenawi, who ruled the East African nation for 21 years.

Special Adviser to the Prime Minister Getachew Redda had already worked closely with Hailemariam when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs. He described Ethiopia’s leader as dedicated and committed.

“The first achievement that Hailemariam has is as leader of EPRDF,” he said. “He presided over an organization, which many thought would be in crisis following the death of an important [figure] such as Meles Zenawi. So that by itself is an important achievement on his right.”

Ethiopia will be voting Sunday, May 24. It is widely expected that the ruling party — the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democracy Front — will win for the fifth consecutive time and that Hailemariam will continue in his current position.

Parliament member Girma Seifu of opposition party UDJ, Unity for Democracy and Justice, experienced both Meles and the current prime minister.

He said he was optimistic when Hailemariam assumed office.

“The very good reason that makes me optimist was his civil nature, because he was not in the fight with the Derg regime,” Girma said. “Rather he was a civil employee in the Derg regime. So that he has no negative attitude or any other revenge mentality.”

Meles came to power in 1991 after being part of the guerilla movement that overthrew the former Derg regime, a military junta led by Mengistu Hailemariam.

Desalegn was not part of the struggle. He trained as an engineer and worked as a university dean and administrator of the Southern Regions in Ethiopia before becoming a special adviser to Meles and then foreign minister in 2010.

He also comes from a small Southern ethnic group, the Wolayta. He is openly Protestant in a party with a communist background and in a country where most citizens are Orthodox or Muslim.

Despite his different background, opposition leader Girma said Hailemariam did not meet his expectations:

“In all matters, he didn’t make any change in the Ethiopian democratic process,” Girma said. “So he failed us.”

During pre-election weeks in Ethiopia, there are no large posters with the prime minister’s face around the capital city, Addis Ababa.

Political analyst Hallelujah Lulie of the Institute for Security Studies says that while Meles essentially led the government on his own, a collective leadership was put in place after Hailemariam was inaugurated in 2012.

Therefore he believes it is too early to clearly define what kind of leader the current prime minister is.

“Now I see Hailemariam as a person who is just finishing and serving another person’s term,” he said. “So if Hailemariam comes out, I think we should judge his legacy, his competence and accomplishments after the formation of the new government, after the election. Now I think his major priority, I believe, at this specific point is continuity.”

Ethiopia’s government policy is focused on an agricultural-led economic transformation aimed at lifting the country to middle-income status by 2025.

Special adviser Getachew said no major changes should be expected if the EPRDF rules for another five years. He said the current policies are working.

Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa after Nigeria. It is the seat of the African Union and is often applauded for its economic performance and military intervention against the militant group al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia.

At the same time, almost 30 percent of its citizens live below the poverty line, according to the United Nations Development Program. And international organizations frequently criticize the government for repressing critical voices.

Related:
No Western Observers for Ethiopian Elections (VOA)
As Ethiopia Votes, What’s ‘Free and Fair’ Got to Do With It? — The Washington Post
Wendy Sherman Says Editorial on US-Ethiopia ‘Mischaracterized My Remarks’ (The Washington Post)
The United States’ Irresponsible Praise of Ethiopia’s Regime — The Washington Post
U.S. Wrong to Endorse Ethiopia’s Elections (Freedom House)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

As Ethiopian-Israeli Protests Continue, Where Do Women Fit In?

(Getty Images)

The Forward

By Sarah Breger

On Monday, hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv to protest police brutality and discrimination against the Ethiopian-Israeli community. Two weeks ago, protests by Israel’s Ethiopian minority against police brutality and discrimination in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv drew international attention.

While the protests were sparked by a video of an Ethiopian soldier in uniform being attacked by police officers, the demonstrations also signify the frustrations of the 135,000-Ethiopian Jews currently living in Israel toward the pervasive discrimination and continuing segregation from Israeli society. Since then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the formation of a ministerial committee to investigate issues concerning Ethiopian Israelis.

The Sisterhood spoke with Dorit Roer-Strier, a professor at Hebrew University’s School of Social Work, about the current protests and specific barriers Ethiopian women face.

Read more at Forward.com »


Related:
Netanyahu, President Rivlin Show Strong Support to Ethiopian Jews in Israel
Ethiopian-Israelis Demand Ministerial Committees to Help Community
A Message from Tebeka – Legal Aid & Advocacy for Ethiopian Israelis (Press Release)
Soldier Becomes Unlikely Face of Ethiopian-Israeli Discontent (Video)
Ethiopian-Israeli Protest in Tel Aviv Turns Unusually Violent (Raw Video)
Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem (The Associated Press)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Eritirean Diplomat Defects to Ethiopia

Mohammed Idris, an Eritrean diplomat in Addis Ababa for the past five years, has defected to Ethiopia.

Reuters

BY AARON MAASHO

ADDIS ABABA — An Eritrean diplomat from the Red Sea state’s mission to the African Union is seeking asylum in Ethiopia, state-run media said, citing rights abuses at home.

Mohammed Idris, a member of the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), had served with Eritrea’s diplomatic mission in Addis Ababa for the past five years, the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) said in a report.

“A people that for a long time fought for justice and freedom are now being subjected to injustice,” Mohammed told the outlet on Tuesday. “This forced me to take this decision.”

Rights groups and critics accuse Eritrea of rights abuses, including imposing indefinite military service with poor pay. Many of those fleeing the country, which won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year war, say they are escaping conscription.

Eritrean officials could not immediately be reached to comment on the case of Idris. But the government in Asmara routinely denies charges of rights abuses and has in the past blamed lengthy military service on an unresolved border dispute with Ethiopia.

Read more at Reuters.com »


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Cop Who Beat Ethio-Israeli Soldier Fired

As Ethiopian Israeli activists are set to return to Tel Aviv, police chief says officer who attacked soldier may be indicted. (Times of IsraeL)

Times of IsraeL

BY DANIEL BERNSTEIN

Police officer caught on video beating Ethiopian-born soldier Damas Pakada will be fired and may face criminal charges, police chief Yohanan Danino announced Wednesday.

The news came as police geared up for fresh protests against police brutality in Tel Aviv planned for next week, after a previous protest sparked by a video of Pakada’s beating turned into a violent melee earlier this month.

Danino said the officer was fired following a dismissal hearing on Tuesday. “[The officer] made many claims, and there was a thorough discussion on this matter, which included the legal counsel, the department of discipline, the attorney general and the head of human resources,” he said during a conference in a northern Israeli college.

“After listening to everyone, I decided to fire him from the police force.”

The beating of Pakada was among the catalysts for Ethiopian-Israeli protests against police brutality and racism that turned violent in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv this month. Activists have repeatedly called for the officer’s dismissal.

The police chief added that the officer’s layoff was independent of the criminal investigation he is currently facing.

“If [the police investigation unit] decides there is sufficient evidence, he will be indicted and will receive his punishment,” he said.

Read more and watch video at timesofisrael.com »

Related:
Ethiopian-Israelis Want Police Officer Who Beat Soldier To Go On Trial
Ethiopian-Israelis Demand Ministerial Committees to Help Community
A Message from Tebeka – Legal Aid & Advocacy for Ethiopian Israelis (Press Release)
Soldier Becomes Unlikely Face of Ethiopian-Israeli Discontent (Video)
Ethiopian-Israeli Protest in Tel Aviv Turns Unusually Violent (Raw Video)
Israel’s Ethiopians Protest in Jerusalem (The Associated Press)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Egypt: Ethiopians Rescued From Libya

Ethiopians holding an Egyptian national flag walk down from a plane at the Cairo International Airport in Cairo, Egypt, on May 7, 2015. (Photo: Xinhuanet)

Mail & Guardian Africa

Egypt’s Sisi Continues to Woo Addis Ababa, Says Ethiopians ‘rescued’ from Libya

Unlike his predecessors, the Egyptian leader has courted sub-Saharan Africa rather vigorously.

EGYPT’S president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said his country “rescued” 27 Ethiopians from war-torn Libya.

It was not immediately clear how the Ethiopians were rescued, but Sisi’s office said the group flown in on an Egyptian plane was “liberated by Egyptian and Libyan security services”.

“All efforts were made to bring the Ethiopians to Egypt safely… Egyptian services participated in this effort to protect, rescue and secure our Ethiopian brothers,” Sisi told reporters at Cairo airport.

Clearly, though, there was more to the rescue of the Ethiopians than a rescue.

Their release comes weeks after a purported video released by the Islamic State jihadist group showed the executions of some 30 Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya.

Sisi said Egypt was “pained by the gruesome beheading of innocent Ethiopians in Libya” and that the rescued Ethiopians were living in dire conditions in the war-strewn country.

“What is happening in Libya is a matter that concerns us and we tell the whole world that Libya should return to be a safe and stable country for its people and even to its visitors,” Sisi said.

Libya has plunged into chaos since the toppling of long-time autocrat Moamer Kadhafi, with rival militias fighting for the control of country’s oilfields and territories.

The killing of Ethiopians came weeks after the jihadists posted a similar video showing the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians, all but one of them Egyptians, on a beach in Libya.

Read more mgafrica.com »

Related:
Photos: New York Ethiopians Hold Vigil in Times Square for Victims of ISIL Violence (Tadias)
In Pictures: Washington, D.C Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims in Libya (Tadias)
Vigil Held in Nashville for Ethiopian Christians Killed by ISIS (WSMV-TV Nashville)
Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
In Atlanta Suburb of Clarkston, Georgia Christians, Muslims Honor ISIS Victims (WABE Radio)
Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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A Stop at Tsion: Harlem’s Food Scene

Tsion Cafe in Harlem reflects the owner's Ethiopian Israeli background. (Photograph: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Liben Eabisa

Published: Thursday, May 7th, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The thriving dining scene in Harlem will be in full display this month as local restaurateurs launch the first ever Harlem EatUp Festival in May highlighting the uptown neighborhood’s eclectic food taste along with music, art and cultural celebrations. So far celebrity chefs, including Marcus Samuelsson, Joseph “JJ” Johnson, Melba Wilson, and Frank Pellegrino Jr., have announced that they will take part in the festivities scheduled to take place from May 14th to May 17th.

As the food festival approaches, we made a stop at Tsion Cafe, one of Harlem’s newest establishments that serves Ethiopian and Israeli cuisine, and hosts spoken word sessions, book talks and art shows.


Related:
From Ethiopia to Israel to Harlem: Q&A with Beejhy Barhany, Owner of Tsion Cafe

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US Air Force Says Looking for Alleged Deserter in Ethiopia for Questioning

Staff Sgt. Tefera Melaku Workneh is wanted for questioning by the U.S. Air Force. (Photo: OSI)

Air Force Times

By Jeff Schogol, Staff writer

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations is looking for an alleged deserter whose last known location is in Ethiopia.

Staff Sgt. Tefera Melaku Workneh is wanted for questioning, according to an April post on OSI’s Facebook page. He is assigned to the 60th Comptroller Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California.

Workneh is described as standing 70 inches tall and weighing 149 pounds. He is originally from Ethiopia, where he was believed to be as of March 31.

According to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a member of the armed forces is guilty of desertion if he:

  • “Without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently.
  • “Quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or

  • “Without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another on of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States.”

    Investigators have no information about Workneh’s current whereabouts, OSI spokeswoman Linda Card said.

    “My understanding is that Airman Workneh is from Ethiopia and that is his last known location,” Card said in an email to Air Force Times. “Where in Ethiopia, we don’t know. And what he’s doing there other than it’s his home, we don’t know.”

    Card also said she has not heard any information indicating that Workneh has gone missing or been kidnapped.

    “Nobody knows where he is or what he’s doing until we get some leads and find him,” she said.

    OSI asks that anyone with information about Workneh’s current whereabouts call 707-424-6904.

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

  • Girma Yifrashewa’s Blend of European Piano and Ethiopian Music

    Ethiopian composer & pianist Girma Yifrashewa live at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Maryland on July 30th, 2014. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

    The Washington Post

    By Michael J. West

    “There is no place in Ethiopia where Girma could do this!” an immigrant from Addis Ababa explained during Sunday night’s intermission at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. “People there don’t pay attenton to classical music. It’s all cultural, traditional music.” Pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa, then, is as unique in his homeland as he is in the United States: a man who has studied the European piano repertoire and has applied its devices to Ethiopian traditional music. At the club, he showcased both traditions in one of this year’s most mesmerizing concerts.

    Yifrashewa made headway in the States with the release of 2014’s “Love & Peace,” featuring five original compositions for solo piano. (NPR named one piece, “Sememen,” its song of the year for classical and jazz.) But with the exception of the opener, a somber new piece dedicated to the recent Ethiopian victims of the Islamic State, his first set on Sunday was all repertory. His choices, though, were very revealing: heavy on Chopin (who wrote three of the seven selections), with his static harmony and dense latticework, and nearly all waltzes, including Tchaikovsky’s “Autumn” and Liszt’s “Consolation No. 3,” as well as his own composition.

    This formed important context; waltz time (3/4 and 6/8) is very important in Ethiopian music, and Chopin, as became clear in the second half, is a major influence on Yifrashewa’s composing. They were also beautiful performances in their own right, Yifrashewa employing a tenderness of tone and light rhythmic touch that added heft to his more emphatic attack on pieces by Chopin and Schumann.

    Read more at The Washington Post »



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    ‘Straight Talk’ on South Africa Xenophobia

    Photo from South Africa. (Twitter)

    VOA News

    By Paul Sisco

    Xenophobia is defined as the unreasoned fear or hatred of foreigners. And that’s the name being given to a recent outbreak of violence against foreigners in South Africa – blamed for at least seven deaths and the departure of hundreds of mostly African immigrants. Paul Sisco has more from the most recent edition of VOA’s Straight Talk Africa.



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    Decision to Prosecute Baltimore Police Officers Sparks Celebrations (Video)

    Maryland State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announces charges against Baltimore police officers in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, in Baltimore, May 1, 2015. (Photo: V. Macchi / VOA)

    VOA News

    Updated: May 02, 2015

    The decision to bring charges against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray set off jubilant reactions across the city Friday, in stark contrast to Monday’s violence.

    Maryland state prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby announced that the officers would face charges ranging from second-degree murder to assault and manslaughter in Gray’s death.

    A large crowd in a festive mood marched through downtown early in the evening, passing lines of police officers at intersections and other officers on horseback. Armored National Guardsmen and police in riot gear waited some distance away.

    The line of mostly young, racially diverse marchers stretched for several blocks, making the demonstration one of Baltimore’s largest since Gray’s death. It moved quickly, punctuated by shouted chants and the honking horns of passing motorists’ vehicles.

    The procession began at Baltimore’s harbor and at one point passed the intersection of Pennsylvania and North avenues, where Monday’s violent protest largely took place. By dusk, the crowd had grown to more than 1,000 people. One marcher called the mood “joyous.”

    WATCH: Celebration Erupts in Baltimore After Police Officers Charged in Freddie Gray’s Death

    Marchers eventually gathered at City Hall. As a 10 p.m. curfew approached, the mood was still jubilant.

    However, Baltimore police arrested a group of protesters who remained in a plaza near City Hall after the curfew took effect. Scuffles occurred, but the situation remained largely peaceful.

    The protesters who defied the curfew complained there was no longer a need for the curfew following the charges against the police officers were announced.

    Some observers said the police took a more aggressive posture Friday night with demonstrators than they had earlier in the week before the charges were announced.

    Elsewhere, hundreds of people rallied in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Friday afternoon in support of the Baltimore protesters, as well as in defense of protesters who were charged in a demonstration by the organization Black Lives Matter in December.

    In Chicago, parents took children to a demonstration to teach them how to them to react to police officers.

    In other cities, traditional May Day demonstrations were expected to be rededicated to support Black Lives Matter. May Day has traditionally been a day when the labor movement demonstrated for workers’ rights.

    More protests were expected Friday night.

    ‘Ecstatic’ about the charges


    Residents of the Sandtown neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland react to the State’s Attorney’s announcement ruling Freddie Gray’s death a homicide, May 1, 2015. (Photo: C. Simkins / VOA)

    Earlier in the day in Baltimore, at the location of Monday’s worst rioting, there were also horns honking and people in the streets cheering.

    Among those cheering was Keona, one of the citizens who videotaped Gray’s arrest. She said she was very pleased with the decision to charge the police officers.

    WATCH: Keona talks to VOA’s Victoria Macchi:

    “I am shocked that they were charged, but I am happy they were charged,” James Crump, 46, a medical technician, told the Associated Press. “People are happy and celebrating, and it’s not even New Year’s Eve.”

    Ciara Ford of Baltimore told AP she was surprised by the decision to prosecute the police suspects.

    “I’m ecstatic,” she said. “I hope this can restore some peace.”

    Ted Sutton, a community activist, was surprised by how quickly the decision to prosecute was made.

    “She took the time to critique the evidence,” he told AP, referring to the prosecutor. “To have each person charged with what they actually did, to have it come out this quick … this is something else.”

    However, not all Baltimore residents were satisfied with the charges.

    Renee Mikins, a Baltimore resident, told VOA that the charges should have been more severe. She said the charges were a “whitewashing” and that the officers should have been charged with first- and second-degree murder.

    VOA’s Chris Simkins and Victoria Macchi contributed to this report from Baltimore. Some information for this report came from the Associated Press.


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    Meskerem DC Closes After 30 Years

    Meskerem was located at 2434 18th Street in Washington, D,C. since the mid-1980s. (Photo: Urban Turf)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Thursday, April 30th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Meskerem, one of the first Ethiopian restaurants to open in the United States, has closed. The historic restaurant had been in operation for three decades in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

    According to the real estate company Redfin, the building that housed the long-running Ethiopian eatery was sold on April 16th for $1.7 million.

    The Washington Post’s Tim Carman notes: “The establishment had been holding down the same address on 18th Street NW since the mid-1980s (some say 1985, others say 1986) when its owners were among the first wave of Ethiopian immigrants who fled after a Marxist military junta overthrew the emperor in 1974. The East African newcomers quickly established a foothold in Adams Morgan, which was the unofficial Little Ethiopia long before savvy Ninth Street restaurateurs lobbied for the name in 2005.”


    The former Meskerem Ethiopian restaurant in Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C. (Photo: DC Urban Turf)


    Meskerem’s three floors interior was decorated with traditional Ethiopian symbols throughout the restaurant. (Photo: MRIS 2014)


    Meskerem Ethiopian restaurant in Washington, D.C. (Photograph: Brian Oh)


    Requiem for an Adams Morgan original: Meskerem has called it quits after 30 years. (The Washington Post)


    Related:
    Meskerem’s closing signals the end of an era for Ethiopian dining (The Washington Post)

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    Ethiopia Drafts New Human Trafficking Law

    File photo of Ethiopian Migrants in Yemen, near the Saudi border. (Photograph courtesy BBC News)

    Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia is drafting a new law to stiffen punishments for human trafficking in an attempt to stem a wave of dangerous migrations to Europe, the Ministry of Justice said.

    Ethiopian officials said they are working through their embassies in Khartoum, Sudan, and in Cairo to bring migrants back home. The Ethiopian ambassador in Egypt, Mohammed Dirir, said more than 190 Ethiopian migrants in the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi have so far registered to return home.

    “We are also working with local authorities to secure the release of 40 Ethiopian migrants that are currently in a prison called Koyfiya around Benghazi (Libya),” Dirir told state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate.

    Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Tedros Adhanom, told Parliament last week that most smugglers of Ethiopian migrants are Ethiopians. He said the smugglers have established networks in different migration routes.

    The Ministry said human smuggling is increasing alarmingly despite measure taken previously by the government against people involved in trafficking people.

    “The main reason for this is measures taken against individuals that are involved in human smuggling have not been severe enough,” Minister of Justice Getachew Ambaye told Fana. “We have established that smugglers are responsible for the current rise of migrants from the country.”

    Ethiopia’s current laws stipulate prison terms ranging from five to 20 years for crimes related to human smuggling and a maximum fine of $2,500.

    “These law provisions don’t go in line with the level of crime that is being committed by the smugglers so we are drafting a new law that will have severe terms,” Getachew said.

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    Vigil Held in Nashville for ISIS Victims

    The vigil was held on Sunday, April 26th, 2015 at the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee. (WSMV)

    WSMV-TV Nashville

    By Cody Engdahl

    NASHVILLE, TN — Hundreds showed up at a vigil along the Cumberland River on Sunday to stand up for the Ethiopian Christians who were executed by ISIS radicals because they would not convert to Islam.

    Middle Tennessee has a large population of people of Ethiopian descent, many of whom still have family in Africa and in the Middle East, so for them, the threat is very real.

    “ISIS is the cruelest, the worst group that the humankind has ever seen,” said Tewodros Tashu, who grew up in Ethiopia.

    Tashu said he remembers a time when people loved each other as neighbors.

    “When I was a little boy, we never had any distinction between Muslims and Christians. We grew up together without any differences, but right now, what’s going on is division,” he said.

    Dary Hamz, who also grew up in Ethiopia, said the news of the killings was shocking to him.

    “As a Muslim, it’s totally against what we believe,” he said.

    Protesters said they hope that standing together here shows we can get past our differences.

    “The only way this will stop, in my opinion, is if the people from all sides come together without going to the extremes,” Tashu said.

    This was just one of many vigils held around the world. Ethiopia held three official days of mourning for the victims.

    Read more and watch video at WSMV.com »

    Related:
    Photos: New York Ethiopians Hold Vigil in Times Square for Victims of ISIL Violence (Tadias)
    In Pictures: Washington, D.C Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims in Libya (Tadias)
    Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
    In Atlanta Suburb of Clarkston, Georgia Christians, Muslims Honor ISIS Victims (WABE Radio)
    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
    Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
    Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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    Skateboarding New Hobby for Addis’ Young

    Skating has become a way to escape trouble on the streets of the Ethiopian capital for many of Addis Ababa's young. (Photo: By Zacharias Abubeker/AFP)

    ABC Australia

    Swerving around potholes and speeding through chaotic traffic makes skateboarding the crowded streets of Ethiopia’s capital a risky game.

    Yet growing numbers of fans are taking up this once unknown sport in Addis Ababa and attracting the support of skateboarders worldwide.

    In the bustling market district of Shiro Meda, gangs of children rattle down the hills, flipping boards painted in the colours of Ethiopia – green, yellow and red – as they show off the latest tricks they have learnt.

    It is a tough area, and skateboarding offers moments of fun and escape for the young people living here.

    “There’s nothing for the kids in the neighbourhood, nothing to inspire them,” said Israel Dejene, founder of a local skateboarding group, who said he was inspired by watching children slide down the pavements with bits of plastic fixed to the bottom of their shoes for fun.

    “These skate sessions are the only positive thing they can do,” added Israel, who named his “Megabiskate” project after the Ethiopian word “megabi”, meaning someone who “gives life to others”.

    The group aims to use the sport to help the children, as “a tool to engage the kids, to develop self-esteem, confidence and an alternative lifestyle to the troubles” on the streets.

    “Skateboarding creates a positive community, it teaches them to teach each other tricks and promotes a good self-image,” added the dreadlocked Rastafarian musician, who discovered the sport during a visit to Sweden, where he was fascinated by “this board that seemed attached to the feet in the air”.

    The project has won international admirers: American professional skateboarders Tony Hawk and Nyjah Huston visited in February bringing with them dozens of boards.

    Their visit was excitedly reported on social media, putting the spotlight on Ethiopia’s small but growing community of skateboarders and inspiring still more to join.

    Read more »


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    Denver Ethiopians Mourn IS Killings in Libya

    Congregants of St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Denver, Colorado held a vigil for the more than 30 Ethiopian Christians who were shot and beheaded by Islamic State militants on Saturday, April 25, 2015.

    The Denver Post

    By Bruce Finley

    The beheading and shooting of 30 Ethiopian migrants by Islamic State fighters last week in Libya is tormenting metro Denver’s 30,000-strong Ethiopian-American community.

    Some say they couldn’t eat or sleep after watching horrific videos.

    On Saturday night, more than 500 gathered at St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church to mourn. They held candles, sang, wept and prayed before photos of the victims.

    “It is incomprehensible for our minds to understand how any human being could do such a thing to another. We stand together to mourn our brethren and pray for peace,” community spokesman Neb Asfaw said. “The terrorists will not break our spirit. We stand together with our faith strengthened by the courage our brothers showed.”


    Sefne Eshete Worku prays with fellow congregants at St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Church honoring the 30 Ethiopian Christians were killed by ISIL in Libya on Saturday, April 25, 2015. (The Denver Post)

    A 29-minute video circulated last Sunday by the Islamic State showed dozens of militants holding separate groups of migrants captive in Libya. Islamic State operatives described the captives as “followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church.” They were lined up and shot in a desert. A dozen were filmed as militants marched them along a beach before beheading them. Images of bloody severed heads appeared on Internet videos. Some videos now have been removed from websites.

    Read more at The Denver Post »


    Related:
    Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims to be Held in NY & Photos From DC (Tadias)
    Vigil Held in Nashville for Ethiopian Christians Killed by ISIS (WSMV-TV Nashville)
    In Atlanta Suburb of Clarkston, Georgia Christians, Muslims Honor ISIS Victims (WABE Radio)
    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
    Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
    Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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    In Atlanta Suburb of Clarkston, Georgia Christians, Muslims Honor ISIS Victims

    Hundreds came out to honor Ethiopians killed by ISIS in Libya on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 in In Atlanta suburb of Clarkston, Georgia. (Photo: Alison Guillory)

    WABE Atlanta Radio

    Alison Guillory

    Thursday night, the Ethiopian community held a candlelight vigil in Clarkston, Georgia. The event was in remembrance of Ethiopian Christians killed by ISIS in Libya over the weekend.

    Safi Ahmed is Muslim. He’s speaking to the crowd of 200 to 300 people gathered for the vigil. You don’t have to understand Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, to hear the passion in his voice.

    Afterwards, he loosely translated his words.

    “I was mentioning the way they [were] killed,” he said. “I also mentioned Libya and also, finally, I mentioned South Africa.”

    Ahmed is talking about recent violence toward immigrants in South Africa which resulted in several deaths. That bothers a lot of people here — as much as the Libya killings.

    But they’re also bothered by the stereotype that Christians and Muslims can’t live harmoniously.

    Abdella Ahmed is also Muslim. He says ISIS, or the self-named “Islamic State,” has hijacked his faith.

    “Islam is not about killing,” he says. “It’s about loving, and in Ethiopia for centuries, 3,000 years before, we’ve been living together side by side with our Christian brothers and sisters.”

    Solomon Gizaw agrees. He’s a Christian, and he chairs the board of the Ethiopian Community Association in Atlanta. Gizaw says in Ethiopians of different faiths do more than just tolerate each other.

    “For instance, if somebody’s going to give his daughter in marriage for another person, and he happens to be a Muslim, he prepares a special dish for Christians coming to that feast,” he says. “And vice-versa.”

    That kind of mutual respect seems to exist in Clarkston, a small city in DeKalb County where refugees from all over the world have resettled.

    “If Clarkston can do it, where you have so many different Muslim faiths, from 10 different countries, and you have Ethiopians that have Muslims and Christians, and all these other faiths and here we are able to co-exist in one square mile,” says Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry. “That gives me a little bit of hope for the future.”

    Despite religious differences, Clarkston’s Ethiopian community is embracing each other as one big family during this time of grief.

    Click here to listen to broadcast version of this story »

    Related:
    Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims to be Held in NY & Photos From DC (Tadias)
    Vigil Held in Nashville for Ethiopian Christians Killed by ISIS (WSMV-TV Nashville)
    Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
    Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
    Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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    As Injera Goes Global, Teff Gets Expensive

    Injera being made at Mama Fresh, Ethiopia’s large-scale producer of teff products. (Photo: James Jeffrey)

    Aljazeera America

    By James Jeffrey

    Six days a week, an Ethiopian Airlines flight departs for Washington, D.C., with a fresh batch of 3,000 injera on board…Outside Ethiopian diaspora communities — and Ethiopian restaurants — teff remained largely anonymous for decades. But growing appetites for traditional crops and nutritious foods mean customers ranging from families to hipsters in New York and London are now seeking their fix too. The crop is now grown in about 25 U.S. states, but Ethiopians claim you can’t beat teff grown in its homeland for flavor and quality.

    Previously heralded so-called superfoods, however, such as Andean quinoa, have illustrated hidden consequences for locals when their indigenous staples find eager customers in more affluent countries. Even before the growth in international demand, poor Ethiopians were struggling to afford increasingly expensive teff.

    “A piece of injera used to cost about 50 santeem ($0.02), but now it’s nearly four Ethiopian birr ($0.19),” said Nathaniel, the manager of a hotel in the eastern Ethiopian town of Dire Dawa. It’s estimated that 29 percent of Ethiopia’s population lives on less than $2 a day.

    Nathaniel said that the tables on the hotel terrace lacked lunch patrons because people can’t afford to eat out and that many locals, faced with low incomes and high food prices, skip breakfast each day and eat only a midmorning snack followed by an injera-based meal later in the afternoon

    Read more at America.Aljazeera.com »


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    The Gatekeepers of Ethiopia’s Forests

    (Photo: ©Raïsa Mirz)

    Africa Geographic Magazine

    By Lori Robinson

    24 April 2015

    In the highlands of Ethiopia, American scientist Meg Lowman is working with local forest ecologist Alemayehu Wassie to protect ancient church forests.

    As in many developing countries, much of Ethiopia’s original forests have been cleared for subsistence agriculture and for harvesting timber and firewood, diminishing northern Ethiopia’s forest cover from 45% of its territory in the early 20th century to less than 5 percent today.

    A large portion of the remaining forests is concentrated in the northern part of the country, especially in the Lake Tana area. There, bright-green patches of trees surround 3,500 Orthodox Tewahido Churches – a consequence of the Church’s belief in maintaining a woodland home for all God’s creatures around the place of worship.

    The forests are said to be necklaces around the church, and the tree canopy is believed to prevent prayers from being lost to the sky. According to the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, an estimated five to ten percent of wild lands across the globe are currently held by religious organisations.

    Ranging in size from five acres to more than 1,000, some of Ethiopia’s church forests are more than 1,500 years old. All are remnants of the country’s Afromontane forests, are cooler and more humid than the surrounding lowlands, and many have fresh water springs. These church forests have become the centerpiece in the struggle to conserve what remains of northern Ethiopia’s biodiversity.

    “They are native seed banks for the future of that landscape,” says Dr. Wassie.

    Read more and see photos at magazine.africageographic.com »

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    Zone 9 Bloggers Mark One Year in Prison

    The founding members of Zone9 blogging collective. This photo was taken right after they had participated in digital security training in Ethiopia in December, 2012. (Credit: Endalk.chala)

    CPJ

    By Kerry Paterson/CPJ Africa Research Associate

    It will be one year this weekend since six bloggers were arrested in Addis Ababa, just days after the group announced on Facebook that their Zone 9 blog would resume publishing after seven months of inactivity. As the anniversary of the arrests approaches on Saturday, Soleyana S. Gebremichale, one of the Zone 9 founders who was charged in absentia, told me the situation was not hopeless.

    “International advocacy is important not only to pressure the Ethiopian government but also to show solidarity for people in prison,” Soleyana, who is currently based in Washington, D.C., said. “The words and support that we show them are their strength in prison.”

    The six Zone 9 bloggers, arrested along with three journalists not connected to the blog, were held in detention until mid-July when a court in Addis Ababa charged all those being held, and Soleyana, with terrorism. Working with human rights organizations and participating in an email encryption training session were among the activities that led to the charges, according to reports. Their charge sheet, translated into English from Amharic, can be found here in full.

    The Zone 9 bloggers–Befekadu Hailu, Atnaf Berhane, Natnail Feleke, Mahlet Fantahun, Zelalem Kibret, and Abel Wabella–and three journalists–Edom Kassaye, Tesfalem Waldyes, and Asmamaw Hailegeorgis–have now spent a full year in prison.

    Among them is a lawyer and lecturer, an economist, and an IT specialist. One of them is a data expert in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health, another is an engineer for Ethiopian Airlines. They are writers, advocates, and activists, but the Zone 9 bloggers are not terrorists.

    According to reports, these young professionals from a range of backgrounds were united by a desire for a more just, transparent, and democratic Ethiopia. The Zone 9 bloggers used their blog, which is still running, as a platform to write about social justice, democracy, and human rights. They spoke out about censorship and challenged corruption.

    “Zone 9 existed because we had a hope that we could contribute for the public discourse,” Soleyana told me.

    The trial has been adjourned 26 times, most recently on April 8, according to a site that tracks its progress. The proceedings are scheduled to resume on May 26.

    Read more at cpj.org »


    Related:
    Ethiopian bloggers on trial in case seen as crackdown on free expression (Washington Post)
    Media Crackdown in Ethiopia By JASON MCLURE (Audio)
    U.S. Students Feature Ethiopia’s Reeyot Alemu in ‘Press Uncuffed’ Campaign
    Crackdown on Media & Opposition Costs Ethiopia Development Aid Money
    As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths

    Relatives of the victims attended a rally at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

    The New York Times

    By Jacey Fortin

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — In a downtrodden neighborhood called Cherkos, not far from the headquarters of the African Union, an olive-green tent stands as a tangible symbol of this nation’s grief.

    Two bereft families have gathered under its shade to mourn the loss of Eyasu Yikunoamlak and Balcha Belete, Ethiopian migrants who were killed in Libya by militants claiming to represent the Islamic State.

    “Eyasu was a good person who just wanted to make money to help our mother, who is very sick,” said the victim’s brother, Seyoum Yikunoamlak, as women in black scarves wailed around him. “He was a follower of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and that is why they slaughtered him.”

    Mr. Seyoum said he had helped his brother pay $4,400 to a smuggler for an illegal journey to Italy. But on Sunday, a video surfaced online revealing that his brother was among about 30 people who appeared to have been shot or beheaded by masked militants in Libya. The Ethiopian government is trying to determine how many were Ethiopian citizens.

    The killings are the latest warning to Ethiopians seeking passage to foreign countries for economic opportunity.

    People trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea risk drowning en route, as happened just days ago when a boat carrying hundreds capsized off the Libyan coast.

    Ethiopians traveling to the Middle East for work have faced mistreatment, mass deportations or, as in Yemen, outbreaks of war.

    Immigrants to South Africa have endured a surge of xenophobic attacks this month.

    Read more at The New York Times »

    Related:
    Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims to be Held in NY & Photos From DC (Tadias)
    Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
    Ethiopian Mass Protest Against IS Killings (BBC News)
    Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopian Mass Protest Against IS Killings

    Police fired rounds of tear gas at some towards the end of a demonstration in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015, AFP reports. (Photo: Reuters)

    BBC News

    22 April 2015

    Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have attended a rally in the capital, Addis Ababa, condemning the murders of Ethiopians by Islamic State militants.

    More than 20 migrant workers – most thought to be Ethiopian Christians – were killed by the Libyan branch of IS.

    It released videos on Sunday of some of the men being beheaded and others shot.

    Ethiopia’s prime minister warned the protesters about the dangers of illegal immigration and described the killings as “Satanic”.

    IS and other jihadist groups are active in many towns in Libya, which has been torn by civil conflict since last year – and has been unstable since long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.

    Read more at BBC News »

    Protest Held in Ethiopia Over Killings by Islamic Extremists (AP)


    Relatives and friends mourn for the Ethiopians who were held captive in Libya and killed by the Islamic State group, in the poor Cherkos neighborhood of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Monday, April 20, 2015. (AP)

    Associated Press

    BY ELIAS MESERET

    ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Hundreds of Ethiopians in Addis Ababa on Tuesday protested the killings of dozens of Ethiopian Christians by Islamic extremists in Libya as parliament weighed a response to the killings.

    The killings have roiled this predominantly Christian country in East Africa. Hundreds of protesters departed from the homes of two of the victims and tried to reach Meskel Square, the Ethiopian capital’s main gathering place, but police blocked them. They also tried to go to the Parliament but were blocked again.

    Most of the dozens of Ethiopians shot or beheaded by the extremists linked to the so-called Islamic State were migrants. Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom told lawmakers that the government will take “all necessary action” to protect citizens and will start repatriating those who wish to come home. He said most of the human traffickers of Ethiopian migrants are themselves Ethiopians.

    Some here believe many other Ethiopians are still being held captive in Libya, which has recently become a major transit point for Africans hoping to use a boat to reach Europe — a dangerous journey in which increasingly many migrants are killed at sea.

    After the Islamic State video showing the Ethiopian victims was released on Sunday, some here recognized the faces of two men who left an Addis Ababa slum two months ago hoping to reach Europe.

    Relatives and friends who spoke during a wake for the men, Eyasu Yikunoamlak and Balcha Belete, said they are believed to have traveled via Sudan and then Libya, where they fell into the hands of the militants who slaughtered them.

    The Islamic State video starts with what it called a history of Christian-Muslim relations, followed by scenes of militants destroying churches, graves and icons. A masked fighter brandishing a pistol delivers a long statement, saying Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special tax prescribed by the Quran.

    Although Ethiopian lawmakers on Tuesday were debating a possible response to the killings, it remains unclear if military action is an option.
    —-
    Related:
    Candlelight Vigil for Ethiopian ISIL Victims to be Held in NY & Photos From DC (Tadias)
    Denver’s Ethiopian Community Mourns Countrymen Killed by Islamic State (The Denver Post)
    Addressing Ethiopia’s Migrant Crisis (Tadias)
    Grief Mixes With Anger Over Christian Ethiopian Deaths (NY Times)
    Anti-ISIL rally turns violent in Ethiopia (AlJazeera)
    Ethiopian police tear-gas crowds protesting against Libya killings (Reuters)
    Protest held in Ethiopia over killings by Islamic extremists (AP)
    Ethiopians struggle to come to terms with beheadings of compatriots in Libya (Reuters)
    Ethiopians Shocked by Islamic State Killings (AP)
    Ethiopia in Mourning for Victims of Islamic State Violence (BBC)
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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    South Africa Turns on Its Immigrants

    A man washes his face outside a shelter for displaced foreigners in east of Johannesburg, South Africa, April 21, 2015. (AP photo)

    The New York Times

    By DANIEL MAGAZINER and SEAN JACOBS

    Updated: APRIL 24, 2015

    For the third time in seven years, violence against immigrants has broken out across South Africa. Pogroms that began in late March in Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal Province, have now spread to Johannesburg.

    Since the end of apartheid in 1994, approximately five million immigrants have settled in South Africa; most are Africans from further north pursuing economic opportunity or refugees seeking the political stability of the continent’s most highly developed nation.

    Black South Africans, most of whom remain poor and marginalized in the post-apartheid era, have watched warily for years as networks of Malawians, Somalis, Ethiopians, Zimbabweans, Nigerians and Mozambicans have begun to build small businesses and take advantage of South Africa’s opportunities.

    The most recent paroxysm of violence appears to have been prompted by derogatory remarks by the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, who demanded that foreigners leave the country, insinuating that they are “lice” and “ants.” The king has since issued a half-apology, saying his statements were taken out of context. Many of his subjects, though, took his words literally.

    Read more at NYTimes.com »

    Related:
    Strong Words Start, May End, South African Xenophobic Attacks (VOA)
    South Africans Protest Xenophobia, Violence on Social Media (CNN)
    South Africa: Foreign-owned Shops Looted Despite Zuma Call for Peace (BBC News)
    South Africa Mob Sets Two Ethiopian Brothers on Fire Inside Shipping Container
    Thousands flee after South Africa mobs attack immigrants (CNN)
    South Africa grapples with outbreak of anti-immigrant violence (The Los Angeles Times)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Lelisa Desisa Wins Boston Marathon

    Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia (Left) reclaimed the title he won two years ago, winning the Boston Marathon by a 31-second margin Monday. Caroline Rotich of Kenya (Right) won the women's race. (Photo: USA Today)

    The Boston Globe

    By John Powers

    APRIL 20, 2015

    Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa ran away from the pack to post his second Boston Marathon men’s victory in three years, outkicking countryman Yemane Tsegay Monday to win by 31 seconds in a time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, and 17 seconds on a breezy and overcast day.

    “I am happy to win and for a strong Boston 2013,” said the 25-year-old Desisa, who two years won the race that was shattered by terrorist bombings near the Boylston Street finish line.

    Desisa, who dropped out of last year’s event that was won by Meb Keflezighi, was content to run with nine rivals into a headwind through the Newton hills. But once he came onto the flats, he pulled away from Tsegay and Kenya’s Wilson Chebet, last year’s runner-up, to win by the largest margin since Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot in 2010.

    US Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein finished seventh in his Boston debut in 2:11:20 while Keflezighi was eighth in 2:12:42.

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    Ethiopia Mourns Victims of IS Violence

    Islamic State militants control large swathes of both Iraq and Syria. (AP photo)

    BBC News

    April 20th, 2015

    Ethiopia has declared three days of mourning following the killing by the Islamic State (IS) of more than 20 Ethiopian Christians in Libya.

    The Libyan branch of IS on Sunday released a video showing one group of men being beheaded on a beach and another group being shot in a desert.

    Ethiopia’s government has now confirmed that the people shown being killed were Ethiopian migrant workers.

    IS and other jihadist groups are present in several Libyan towns.

    Ethiopians have taken to social media to express their shock, anger and grief following the killings, reports the BBC’s Anne Soy.

    The country’s parliament is expected to hold an emergency session.

    The African Union, the European Union and the US have also expressed their solidarity with Ethiopia.

    Read more at BBC News »

    Related:
    Ethiopia Declares 3 Days of Mourning for Citizens Killed by Islamic State in Libya (VOA)
    Ethiopia Condemns Purported Executions in Libya of Christians (AFP)
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Condemns IS Killings of Christians

    Men described as Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya kneeling on the ground in front of masked militants before their execution in a desert area at an undisclosed location in Libya (AFP Photo)

    April 19th, 2015

    Addis Ababa – Ethiopia condemned Sunday the reported killing of Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya, and vowed to continue its fight against Islamist extremists.

    “We strongly condemn such atrocities, whether they are Ethiopians are not,” Ethiopian Minster of Communications Redwan Hussein told AFP.

    Ethiopia’s embassy in Egypt was working to verify if those killed were indeed Ethiopians, he added.

    The Islamic State jihadist group on Sunday released a video purportedly showing the executions of some 30 Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya.

    The 29-minute video purports to show militants holding two groups of captives, described in a text on the screen as “followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church”.

    A masked fighter in black brandishing a pistol makes a statement threatening Christians if they do not convert to Islam.

    A large number of Ethiopians leave their country — Africa’s second largest in terms of population with more than 90 million people — seeking work elsewhere.

    Many travel to Libya and other north African nations for jobs, as well as to use it as a stepping stone before risking the dangerous sea crossing to Europe.

    Read more »

    Related:
    Video: Islamic State kills Ethiopian Christians in Libya (AP)
    ISIS ‘executes’ Ethiopia Christians in Libya (Al-Arabiya‎)
    ISIS Video Purports to Show Killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya (NY Times)

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    Media Crackdown & Election in Ethiopia

    Ethiopian federal police in Addis Ababa prior to the country's last general election in 2010. (AP photo)

    KBIA Radio

    By JASON MCLURE

    Ethiopia’s parliamentary elections are set to be held May 24th, but there is little doubt the ruling party will win an overwhelming majority amidst a crackdown on independent media and political dissidents. This week on Global Journalist, we look at why and how the restrictions on the media in Africa’s second-most populous country began, and speak with a journalist who spent more than a year in prison for reporting.


    Related:
    U.S. Students Feature Ethiopia’s Reeyot Alemu in ‘Press Uncuffed’ Campaign
    Crackdown on Media & Opposition Costs Ethiopia Development Aid Money
    As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

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    Strong Words Start, May End, South African Xenophobic Attacks

    South Africa's President Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Reuters)

    VOA News

    By Anita Powell

    JOHANNESBURG — After a protracted silence, South African President Jacob Zuma publicly has condemned a rise in attacks on foreign nationals in two major cities. But critics point out that the leadership in the Rainbow Nation — including Zuma himself — has been less than welcoming to foreign residents, and that a war of words started this conflagration. And the perpetual thorn in Zuma’s side, opposition rabblerouser Julius Malema, says Zuma is to blame for the fact that South Africans increasingly see violence as the solution to their problems.

    “We condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms,” Zuma said. “The attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies, especially the respect for human life, human rights, human dignity and Ubuntu. Our country stands firmly against all intolerances such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism.”

    Strong words from President Jacob Zuma before a nation in the throes of violence against African immigrants. In recent weeks, his nation has seen an upswing in attacks against foreign residents — particularly lower-income residents originally from Ethiopia, Malawi, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

    Criticism

    The violence started in the coastal city of Durban and then spread to the economic hub, Johannesburg. But Zuma’s words before parliament failed to satisfy his critics, who immediately pounced on him.

    Zuma’s biggest critic, far-left politician Julius Malema, delivered a rousing speech that highlighted — in more ways than one — that the president’s stoic, often stilted rhetoric is an impediment to his message.

    “Mr. President, you come here, you want to condemn violence against xenophobia. But the Cubans have taught us that body language speaks volumes than prepared speech,” he said.

    “You come with a prepared speech, your body doesn’t suggest any other leader who is concerned about the killings in KwaZulu-Natal. But when you were defending the spending in Nkandla, your body language was very stronger than when you were condemning the violence … activities in the country. Fellow South Africans, we need each other, let us not kill each other. There is no country in Africa that can survive in isolation.”

    Fanning the flames

    After all, it was a speech that may have sparked this latest round of xenophobic attacks. In late March, the king of the Zulu people, Goodwill Zwelithini, delivered a speech that many construed as being derisive of foreign residents. Zuma’s son later publicly supported and added to the king’s sentiments, adding fuel to the fire.

    Among the king’s reported remarks: “We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and go back to their countries.”

    The king claims his words were poorly translated from isiZulu and that he was misinterpreted. He now faces a charge of hate speech.

    Activist Tim Flack this week laid a complaint against the king. Flack’s day job is as an organizer for the South African National Defense Union, but he says he laid the hate speech charge in his personal capacity. He says that hate speech is imbedded in South African society.

    Apartheid mentality lingers

    “South Africa’s come from a very very, sort of, racist past, coming from the apartheid regime and moving over into democracy,” said Flack. “People have still got wounds from all those years back and now those guys that were young then have now had children, it’s sort of carrying on. It’s going to take a very long time before that sort of mentality of us and them … it’s always us and them. And this is mentality that’s been coded into us by the apartheid regime and it’s very difficult, it seems like it’s been very difficult for people to sort of let that go.”

    More worrying, Malema says, is the tendency of South Africa’s leadership to react violently — as an example, he mentioned the 2012 mineworkers’ strike in the town of Marikana that led police to shoot dead 34 protesters.

    Malema put the blame for this squarely on Zuma.

    “It was through the state that our people were taught that the resolution to differences will be through violence,” he said. “It was under your leadership that when you disagreed with people in Marikana, you killed them. Because you never believed in peaceful resolution of differences.”

    Rainbow Nation at risk?

    This is not the South Africa that many people hoped for in 1994, when the nation ended its racist regime and dubbed itself the inclusive Rainbow Nation. And it’s not the nation that so many immigrants — from Africa and beyond — flocked to in search of a new life and better opportunities.

    This, in the words of former President Nelson Mandela, is what that nation was about.

    “Let be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. Let freedom reign. I thank you,” Mandela said.


    Related:
    South Africans Protest Xenophobia, Violence on Social Media (CNN)
    South Africa: Foreign-owned Shops Looted Despite Zuma Call for Peace (BBC News)
    South Africa Mob Sets Two Ethiopian Brothers on Fire Inside Shipping Container
    Thousands flee after South Africa mobs attack immigrants (CNN)
    South Africa grapples with outbreak of anti-immigrant violence (The Los Angeles Times)

    Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

    Ethiopia Fires Coach Mariano Barreto

    The Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) says it is terminating the contract of head coach Mariano Barreto.

    BBC Sport

    By Betemariam Hailu

    The Portuguese, a former Ghana coach, took charge of the Walia Antelopes last year, signing a two year contract.

    But a disappointing reign saw Ethiopia finish bottom of their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group.

    An official statement, sent to BBC Sport, says the EFF will pay an undisclosed amount of money to Baretto for ending the contract early.

    Local media have reported on deep divisions between Barreto and the EFF’s technical department.

    Ethiopia are drawn with Algeria, Lesotho and Seychelles in their 2017 Nations Cup qualifying group.
    They kick off their campaign against Lesotho in June.

    The EFF have declined to suggest who may be in the frame to take charge of the national side for the qualifiers.

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    Ethiopia’s Economic Miracle Is Running Out of Steam (Foreign Policy)

    (Getty Images)

    Foreign Policy

    BY ROBERT LOONEY

    Just over 30 years ago, Ethiopia’s famine regularly made the news. Gruesome accounts of up to a million deaths stemming from drought and civil war captured the attention of aid agencies, sympathetic governments, and humanitarian groups around the world. Contrast that with the past decade, when Ethiopia averaged an economic growth rate of slightly better than 10 percent. The about-face has been so dramatic that some seasoned observers have gone so far as to call Ethiopia’s progress an economic miracle, dubbing the country an “African lion” whose success recalls that of Asia’s economic tigers.

    Encouraged by its accomplishments, the governing Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) continues to focus on a high-growth strategy aimed at making Ethiopia a middle-income country by 2025. To the casual observer, this goal appears increasingly within reach. Ethiopia is not just growing, but has already met or is coming close to meeting some of its important Millennium Development Goals, including universal primary education and reductions in infant mortality. The country’s poverty rate fell from 44 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2011. Unemployment rates, though still high, have been coming down. And the number of Ethiopian millionaires has increased faster than in any other African country.

    But these successes have come at a price. The government’s obsession with meeting high growth targets at any cost has resulted in widespread popular anger and discontent, much of it along regional and ethnic lines. The Ethiopian government claims its practice of cheaply leasing out large tracts of land to major agribusinesses after resettling or displacing the local population are necessary to sustain economic growth. Instead, these “land grabs” have led only to disappointing output levels, human rights violations, and abuses of power. As a result, despite the economic boom, if the EPRDF claims victory in the upcoming May 25 national and regional elections, it will be due only to its repressive political tactics: harassment of the opposition, harsh crackdowns on protests, and jailing of critical journalists in record numbers.

    Read more at foreignpolicy.com »

    Related:
    Africa’s Hegemon: Ethiopia’s Power Plays (Foreign Affairs)

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    Ethiopian Airlines Flight From China to Ethiopia Forced to Land Twice in India

    A 10-hour flight from China turned into a lengthy delay as an Ethiopian plane diverted twice to India.

    Daily Mail

    By CHRIS KITCHING FOR MAILONLINE

    Ethiopian Airlines passengers were forced to endure a frustrating experience when their plane had to divert to Mumbai’s primary airport twice on the same day.

    Indian media reported that the Boeing 777-300ER first diverted to Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport to refuel about eight hours into its flight from southern China to Addis Ababa.

    After topping up it departed for Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital, but was forced to return after the flight crew declared an emergency shortly after take-off.

    Flight ET607 was carrying 283 passengers and 14 crew members from Guangzhou, China when it had to change course and refuel in Mumbai at about 4:15am local time yesterday.

    The twin-engine plane departed for Ethiopia at 7:30am, but was forced to turn back as it flew over the Arabian Sea.

    It made an emergency landing in Mumbai due to engine trouble, Mid-Day reported.

    The plane was taken out of service for an inspection and any necessary repairs, meaning passengers were forced to disembark and enter the airport terminal.

    Read more at DailyMail.com »

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    New Evidence Ties World Bank to Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia

    (Photographs courtesy of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)

    The Huffington Post

    By Sasha Chavkin

    Thursday, APRIL 16, 2015

    The soldiers pointed their guns at Odoge Otiri and led the 22-year-old student into the forest outside his village in western Ethiopia. Then, he says, they began pounding him with their nightsticks, leaving him bloody and unmoving.

    “I was unconscious,” he recalls. “The reason they left me is they thought I was going to die.”

    That night, soldiers arrested his wife, Aduma Omot.

    “The soldiers took me to their camp,” she says. “Then they mistreated me, they raped me.”
    They held her for two days, she says, before they let her go.

    The soldiers attacked them, Otiri says, because he opposed Ethiopian authorities’ efforts to force him and his neighbors from their homes as part of the country’s so-called “villagization” effort — a massive social engineering project that sought to move almost 2 million poor people to newly built sites selected by the government.

    Otiri and Omot are among thousands of Anuak, a mostly Christian indigenous group from the rural Ethiopian state of Gambella, who have fled from Ethiopia’s mass relocation campaign.

    The Ethiopian government financed the evictions in part by tapping into a pool of aid money from the world’s most influential development lender, the World Bank, two former Ethiopian officials who helped carry out the relocation program told the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The money, the former officials said, was diverted from the $2 billion in funding that the World Bank had put into a health and education initiative.

    The World Bank strongly disputes that its money supported the mass evictions in western Ethiopia. Even as Anuak refugees and human rights groups have publicly charged that World Bank money has been used to bankroll brutal evictions, the bank has continued to send hundreds of millions of dollars into the same health and education program.

    “We are confident that the money was used for the purposes intended,” Greg Toulmin, the World Bank’s country program coordinator for Ethiopia, told ICIJ in March. “We remain confident that there was no link.”

    New evidence gathered by ICIJ undermines the bank’s continuing denials that its money bankrolled the evictions.

    Read more and watch video at huffingtonpost.com »

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    Sisay Lemma Dominates Vienna Marathon

    Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia crosses the finish line to win the Vienna City Marathon in Vienna, Austria on Sunday, April 12th, 2015. (AP photo)

    Associated Press

    By Eric Willemsen

    April 12th, 2015

    VIENNA — Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia dominated the Vienna City Marathon Sunday, running on his own for the last 15 kilometers after other pre-race favorites struggled with the wind and injuries.

    Lemma surged ahead of the leading group after the final pacemaker had left the race and finished in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 31 seconds, missing out by 25 seconds on his personal best he set in Doha in January.

    “I had to go and run alone because they were not running for me,” Lemma said about the pacesetters, who weren’t fast enough to help reach a target time of 2:06:35.

    Despite fierce head winds on the final section, Lemma clocked the third-fastest time in the 32-year history of the event and comfortably beat second-placed Duncan Koech of Kenya by 4:43. Siraj Gena of Ethiopia was another 34 seconds back in third.

    “I am very happy to win this marathon. I’ve come here for the first time,” Lemma said. “The people were very good. They said ‘hop, hop’ all the time and they pushed me to run harder.”

    It was Lemma’s third marathon victory after winning in Carpi in 2012 and Warsaw the following year.

    Getu Feleke of Ethiopia, who set a course record while winning here last year, quit the race after 50 minutes with an apparent right thigh injury.

    Feleke was part of a leading group of five, which quickly reduced to three as Beraki Beyene of Eritrea fell behind shortly after Feleke pulled out.

    Read more »

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    Noh Balcha, Architect From Ethiopia, Wins 2015 African Digital Art Challenge

    The winning art work by Ethiopian architect Noh Balcha. (Courtesy photo)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Saturday, April 11th, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Noh Balcha, a 30-year-old architect from Ethiopia, has won the 2015 African Digital Art Challenge prize. Balcha received the most votes via Facebook to beat the seven top competitors. Second place was awarded to Fatoumata Tioye, a 22 year old photographer and artist from Mali.

    Noh and Fatoumata will now be headed to Morocco in May to present their work at the annual “Innovation Prize for Africa” conference where they will join innovators from across the continent expected to attend the inaugural award ceremony at the event.

    The competition was organized by the non-profit organization the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) and featured contestants who used photography, graphic design and other visual productions to “showcase the innovation ecosystem” in Africa.

    “A heartfelt congratulations to all the finalists and a big thank you to all those who decided to vote,” AIF said. “Their work will be shown at the IPA awards event venue in Morocco, and they will have the chance to continue working with AIF on the Foundation’s creative material.”

    Noh describes his digital art submission as a reflection “into the future and seeing a very different Africa where we have taken care of all the difficulties and finally started thinking of other goals to pursue for the first time in our history.”

    Below is the final Facebook vote tally:

    Noh Balcha – 826 likes
    Fatoumata Tioye – 667 likes
    Kunle Afolayan’s I Makoko floating school – 272 likes
    Mariona Lloreta – 72 likes
    Ntombi Kunye – 41 likes
    Bumba studio – 30 likes
    NJB Zebu v 3 EN – 2 likes

    Related:
    Ethiopian Architect Noh Balcha: A Finalist for 2015 African Digital Art Challenge

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    Thailand Police Say Maid’s Claim Against UN Health Official Dr. Yonas Tegegn False

    Ethiopian Dr. Yonas Tegegn of the World Health Organisation, seen here while receiving a five-million baht donation to WHO from Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimapragorn last September. (Photo: Chiang Rai Times)

    The Bangkok Post

    11 Apr 2015

    An Ethiopian housemaid who claimed her employer Dr Yonas Tegegn, the World Health Organisation’s representative to Thailand, treated her like a slave, made false allegations, police say.

    Dr Tegegn and his wife reported to Pak Kret police in Nonthaburi yesterday, Pol Col Mana Tienmaungpak said.

    The Ethiopian couple earlier faced claims they had treated their former housemaid, Annet, as a slave.

    Dr Tegegn however gave documents to police as proof that Annet was treated as a family member. The papers included receipts of dental and mobile phone service fees Dr Tegegn had paid for Annet, which showed she was free to go out and communicate with others, Pol Col Mana said.

    Five witnesses, two foreign neighbours and three guards were questioned, said Pol Col Mana. All said the housemaid lived freely in the house.

    Dr Tegegn said he decided to terminate Annet’s contract which ends on June 13 as he wanted a better maid. But Annet ran away, Pol Col Mana said.

    He also told police that a lawyer who claimed to represent Annet asked for 500,000 baht in mid-March after she ran away. She then went to file a complaint with police after he refused to pay.

    Dr Tegegn also told police they did not keep her passport but she must have forgotten it when she fled.

    After questioning, the employers also left US$4,300 (about 139,000 baht), an air ticket to Ethiopia, and Annet’s passport with police to give to Annet.

    No charges have been filed so far, but Annet may face charges related to her expired visa to Thailand and filing false claims to incriminate others, Pol Col Mana said. Annet could not be reached for comment yesterday.

    Read more »

    Related:
    WHO Chief in Thailand Dr. Yonas Tegegn Snared in Maid Abuse Probe

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    Setbacks Press Somalia’s Shabab Fighters to Kill Inexpensively in Kenya (NY Times)

    Ethiopian troops as part of an international force in Somalia. (Photo: The New York Times)

    The New York Times

    By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

    APRIL 6, 2015

    NAIROBI, Kenya — They have lost their leader, their ports, their checkpoints and their territory.

    They have lost thousands of men and much of their money.

    They have no fleet of armored personnel carriers like Boko Haram’s. Or poppy fields like the Taliban’s. Or oil fields like the Islamic State’s.

    In the pecking order of the world’s leading terrorist groups, the Shabab militants, based in Somalia, operate on a shoestring budget. But as the attack on a Kenyan university last week showed, they have become proficient in something terrible: mass murder on the cheap.

    In the past two years alone, bare-bones Shabab teams of young gunmen have struck across Kenya, at a mall, on buses, at a quarry, in a coastal village and last week at a university, where four militants with rudimentary assault rifles killed 142 students.

    In all, they have slaughtered hundreds of people and shaken Kenya, an economic powerhouse and cornerstone of stability in this part of Africa, with just a few men and a handful of light weapons.

    Read more »

    Also at NYT: Kenya Bombs Shabab Training Camps in Somalia

    —-
    UPDATE: Son of Kenyan Official Identified Among Gunmen in Garissa Terror Attack


    A nun prays during the service at the Our Lady of Consolation Church, which was attacked with grenades by militants almost three years ago, in Garissa, Kenya Sunday, April 5, 2015. (AP photo)

    VOA News

    The son of a Kenyan government official was one of the masked al-Shabab gunmen who massacred 148 people at Garissa University College.

    Kenya’s Interior Ministry said Abdirahim Abdullahi was among four attackers killed Thursday during the attack. A spokesman said the government official had earlier reported his son missing.

    The news came as Kenyans dedicated Easter Sunday services to the massacre victims and Pope Francis prayed for those killed by Islamist gunmen who hunted down Christians while sparing Muslims.

    Many churches in Kenya hired armed guards to protect their Easter congregations. The country also began a three day mourning period.

    Somalia president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told VOA Somali Service on Sunday that Somalia-based al-Shabab is a regional enemy that needs to be confronted. He says al-Shabab’s aim to target mostly Christians in Kenya is intended to separate Muslims and Christians, but he says that objective has failed as Kenyans understand the militants’ tactics.

    President Mohamud says al-Shabab “has no dignity” and can only attack “vulnerable targets.” He told VOA there is nowhere in Islam that says“kill non-Muslims.”

    For the several hundred members of Garissa’s Christian minority, which is fearful following the attack by the al-Shabab militants, Sunday’s service was laden with emotion. The gunmen who attacked Garissa University College on Thursday singled out Christians for killing, though al-Shabab has a long record of killing Muslims over the years.

    “We just keep on praying that God can help us, to comfort us in this difficult time,” said Dominick Odhiambo, a worshipper who said he planned to abandon his job as a plumber in Garissa and leave for his hometown because he was afraid.

    In Garissa, where masked gunmen in 2012 killed more than a dozen people in simultaneous gun and grenade raids on two churches, six soldiers guarded the town’s main Christian church and about 100 worshippers ahead of Sunday mass.

    “Thank you for coming, so many of you,” Bishop Joseph Alessandro said to the congregation at Our Lady of Consolation Church. He said some of those who died in Thursday’s attack would have been at the service, and he read condolence messages from around the world.

    Video: Picking up the Pieces in Garissa After Terror Attack (VOA)

    ‘Nowhere is safe’

    “Nowhere is safe, but here at church you can be with God and console yourself,” said Meli Muasya at Garissa’s walled Catholic Church.

    In Mombasa, “we are very concerned about the security of our churches and worshippers, especially this Easter period, and also because it is clear that these attackers are targeting Christians,” Willybard Lagho, a Mombasa-based Catholic priest and chairman of the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics (CICC), told Reuters.

    Lagho said churches in the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa were hiring armed police and private security guards for mass on Easter Sunday. Christians make up 83 percent of Kenya’s 44 million population.

    During a televised address Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared a three-day mourning period to begin Sunday, appealing to Kenyans to safeguard the nation’s “peace and stability.”

    Kenyatta stressed his belief that “Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance.” He said “the radicalization that breeds terrorism” is conducted “in the full glare of day.”

    Criticism of special forces

    Also Sunday, Kenya’s security chief defended the response by special forces to the attacks.

    The French news agency AFP reported that it took at least seven hours for special forces to arrive at the scene of the massacre after flying from the capital, Nairobi, hours after other security personnel fought with the militants.

    Some journalists who drove the same 365-kilometer distance are reported to have arrived before the special forces.

    Several Kenyan newspapers on Sunday were strongly critical of the government’s response.

    “This is negligence on a scale that borders on the criminal,” the Nation wrote in its editorial on Sunday, recalling how survivors said “the gunmen, who killed scores of students with obvious relish, took their time.”

    Interior Minster Joseph Nkaissery has said the attack was “one of those incidents which can surprise any country,” while President Kenyatta paid his tribute to the three police and three soldiers killed, who paid “the ultimate price in their selfless service to Kenya.”

    But newspapers on Sunday were deeply critical of the government response.

    But Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed defended the response, telling AFP on Saturday that “fighting terrorism … is like being a goalkeeper. You have 100 saves, and nobody remembers them. They remember that one that went past you.”

    Interior spokesman Njoka also dismissed the criticism.

    “If you look at how we responded it was not bad at all, say, compared to Westgate,” Njoka told the Nation.

    “It takes time to assess and make the decisions, escalating it from National Security Advisory Committee to the National Security Council and then to scramble the elite units, get them to the airport and fly them to Garissa which is a two hour flight. There were many moving parts,” he added.

    Four masked militants from the Somali Islamist group stormed the university campus in Garissa on Thursday, seeking out Christian students to kill while sparing some Muslims.

    Revenge attack

    Al-Shabab group said the assault on Garissa, some 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the Somali border, was revenge for Kenya sending troops into Somalia to fight alongside African Union peacekeepers against the al Qaeda-aligned group.

    The militants have threatened to turn Kenyan cities “red with blood” with more attacks. Police have stepped up security at shopping malls and public buildings in the capital Nairobi, and in the eastern coastal region which has been prone to al Shabaab attacks.

    Kenya has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in four counties along its 700-kilometer (420-mile) border with Somalia and deployed helicopters along its palm-fringed coast, popular with Western tourists and the scene of Islamist attacks in the past.

    Coastal Region police chief Robert Kitur told Reuters extra uniformed and plain-clothes police officers had been deployed.

    “What happened in Garissa must never be seen in Mombasa or anywhere else in the region and country,” he said.

    Late on Saturday, 613 students and 50 staff from Garissa University College arrived in Nairobi to an emotional welcome by parents and relatives. Parents of missing students attempted to identify bodies at the city’s mortuary.

    Some material for this report came from AP, Reuters and AFP.

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    Harar: Ethiopia’s City of Mosques (CNN)

    Harar, Ethiopia. (Photo: CNN)

    CNN

    By James Jeffrey

    The ancient walled city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia is a hard place to forget: the silent maze-like alleys, the scents of the markets, the handsome women carrying intricately woven baskets atop heads, the muezzins calling the Muslim faithful to prayer.

    It’s remained seared in my consciousness since my first visit in 2004.

    I wasn’t the only one impressed; the city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.

    A decade later, following much development and change in Ethiopia, I was curious to see if the city still retained its exotic finesse and character that so affected me before.

    So I returned.

    From my hotel room’s small balcony I could see the Asmaddin Beri (beri means gate, as well as, rather more grandly, portal).

    It’s one of six punctuating the thick five-meter-high walls running 3.5 kilometers around the Jugal, the name for the 16th-century fortification that lies within the modern town that developed from the 19th century onward.

    Once through the Asmaddin portal the 21st century vanished, replaced by a sense of antiquity and a heaving, shambolic outdoor market, one of many dotted around the Jugal.

    Harari women in colorful dresses squatted beside neat piles of onions, tomatoes, green peppers, bananas and more.

    Sweet smells wafted from where women sold pots of itan (incense), while samosas cooking on small stoves and baskets full of fresh bread rolls added to the pleasant stimulation.

    “Feranju! Feranju! Amantekhi?!” the women called in the local Harari dialect, which roughly translates as: “Foreign guy, foreign guy, how are things?!”

    Read more and see photos at CNN.com »

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    Feedel Band, Reviving a Robust Sound

    Feedel Band performs every month at Bossa Bistro and Lounge in DC's Adams Morgan. (Courtesy photo)

    The Washington Post

    By Aaron Leitko

    By the second half of Feedel Band’s gig at Bossa in January, you could tell the group had struck a chord with the audience. It was past 11 p.m. on a cold Thursday night, yet nobody was leaving. Glasses continued to clink and it was a struggle to find an open seat — not exactly a small feat for a work night.

    The band, which takes heavy inspiration from the sounds of Ethio­pian jazz during the 1960s and ’70s, a style that some of its members had a formative role in developing, managed to summon the feel of a geographically distant time and place, but also a lost moment that hit closer to home. There was something about Feedel Band’s set that made Adams Morgan feel a little more like its old self.

    Stylistically speaking, there’s not much out there like Ethiopian jazz. The songs are a moody hybrid of classic R&B grooves and harmonies built atop distinctive minor-key Ethiopian scales. It’s the kind of music that has become rare in the post-Internet everybody-knows-about-everything world — a hybrid born of cultural exchange but nursed and enhanced by isolation. These could be the backing tracks for James Brown in a bizarro reality in which Brown was reserved and moody rather than explosive and effusive.

    Read more »



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    Ethiopia: Holy Days & Highland Churches

    Bet Giyorgis Church, Lalibela. (Photo: Alamy)

    The Telegraph

    By Anna Murphy

    You know you are somewhere very special when even a drive to the airport is enrapturing. It was our last day in Ethiopia, and we were on our way to catch an internal flight from Lalibela to Addis Ababa, en route to London.

    We had been to Lalibela – one of the most celebrated stops on the so-called northern circuit of the Ethiopian Highlands – to see its stone churches. And remarkable they were, carved into and out of the pink-hued rock between the 12th and 15th centuries, both delicate and monumental, and still very much alive – full of priests and monks and nuns and hermits and worshippers, all of them wrapped in white, as every good Ethiopian Christian is when he or she visits church.

    Virtually every day of the year there will be a church somewhere in Ethiopia celebrating its saint’s day, but it’s best to time your visit to coincide with one of the great Orthodox Christian festivals, such as Easter. Known as Fasika, it usually occurs a week to two weeks after the Western Church’s Easter. It follows eight weeks of fasting from meat and dairy, and culminates in a church service on Easter eve lasting several hours and ending at 3am. Afterwards, worshippers break their fast and celebrate the risen Christ.

    My own visit coincided with Timkat, in January, one of the most important festivals of the year. It’s a kind of mass baptism in which locals gather early in the morning by their church’s pool (each church has one) to be splashed and sprayed with holy water. It was such a joyous thing to witness, as everyone – from very young to very old – excitedly waited en masse for jugs of water to be thrown out over the crowd.


    Faithful dressed with traditional clothes attend the Timkat celebration on January 18, 2015 in Addis Ababa. (Photo: Alamy)

    Read and see more photo at Telegraph.co.uk »

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    African Elections & Governance in 2015

    (Courtesy photos)

    Tadis Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

    Washington, D.C (TADIAS) — U.S. Congressmember Karen Bass announced that the April 2015 Africa Policy Breakfast, hosted by the U.S. House of Representatives, will focus on “African elections and governance in 2015 and beyond.”

    “With over two dozen elections taking place in Africa in 2015 and 2016, African governments face the challenge of administering peaceful and credible elections; while journalists and citizens continent-wide call for increased political space for dissent and debate,” the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Congresswoman Bass, said in a press release.

    “Please join us for a discussion of the electoral landscape in Africa; including assessments of continental elections taking place in 2015 and beyond; as well as the prospects for peaceful transitions and democratic governance with senior representatives from leading U.S. agencies, international non-governmental Organizations and the African diaspora.”


    If You Go:
    THURSDAY, April 23, 2015
    8:30 am – 10:30 am
    The Members Room (LJ162)
    Library of Congress
    Washington, DC 20515
    Click here to RSVP

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    President Obama to Visit Kenya

    President Barack Obama. (AP photo)

    VOA News

    March 30, 2015

    President Barack Obama is planning to visit his ancestral homeland of Kenya, in what would be his first visit there as president.

    White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters Monday that Obama will go to Kenya at the end of July to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

    Schultz said the president will hold bilateral meetings while in Kenya, but had no information on the exact dates of the trip, or whether Obama plans to see family members while in the country.

    President Obama has made three trips to Africa as president but never to Kenya, where his father, Barack Obama, Senior, was born and spent the majority of his life.

    The president went to Kenya before winning the White House, including a visit while he was a U.S. senator.

    Related:
    Brookings Institution Recommends Obama Visit Kenya, Ethiopia & Nigeria

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    Birhanu Legese Wins Berlin Half Marathon

    Birhanu Legese wins Berlin half marathon on Sunday, March 29th, 2015. (AFP)

    AFP

    March 29, 2015

    Berlin – Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese won the Berlin half marathon on Sunday as African runners dominated the top ten finishers in the men’s race.

    Legese came home in a winning time of 59 mins 45 seconds having held off the challenge of Kenya’s David Kogei, who finished just a second behind, and fellow Kenyan Abraham Cheroben, who crossed the line three seconds back in third.

    In the women’s race, Kenya’s Cynthia Chepchirchir Kosgei won in one hour, 10 mins and 52 seconds with compatriot Elizeba Cherono second at four seconds back and Sweden’s Isabellah Andersson in third at 39 seconds back.

    Read more »

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    Ethiopia Eyes Gas Exports by 2017 – PM

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. (File Photo: REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)

    Reuters

    By Aaron Maasho

    ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia expects to start producing and exporting natural gas from under-developed reserves in its southeast by 2017, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on Friday.

    Several firms have already acquired licenses to explore more than 40 blocks throughout Ethiopia in the past four years, the vast majority of them in the southeastern Somali Region.

    “Studies show the existence of natural gas reserves in several places, and they will all be gradually developed,” Hailemariam told a press conference in the Ethiopian capital.

    Officials from the mines ministry say the Calub and Hilala fields in the Ogaden Basin have deposits of 4.7 trillion cubic feet of gas and 13.6 million barrels of associated liquids, both discovered in the 1970s but not yet exploited.

    “For the time being, a Chinese firm is carrying out activities on the Calub and Hilala reserves,” Hailemariam said. “In the next two years, we plan to start exporting and using the natural gas from these areas.”

    Read more »

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    With Big Projects, Ethiopia Shedding Famine Stereotype

    Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 787 Dreamliner prepares to take off from the airport in Addis Ababa. (AP photo)

    Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s planned new airport on the outskirts of the capital is still years from becoming a reality but Tewodros Dawit can already envision how grand it will look.

    “The airport we are planning to build is going to be huge. Very huge,” Tewodros said one recent afternoon as he examined project plans in his office in Addis Ababa. “It will be one of the biggest airports in the world. I don’t know what other countries are planning in this regard for the future but no country has created this much capacity so far in Africa.”

    Ethiopia, once known for epic famines that sparked global appeals for help, has a booming economy and big plans these days. The planned airport is one of several muscular, forward-looking infrastructure projects undertaken by the government that have fueled talk of this East African country as a rising African giant.

    Addis Ababa increasingly looks like an enormous construction site, with cranes and building blocks springing up in many corners of the city. Britain, long a source of charitable aid for Ethiopia, announced last month that Ethiopia’s growing economy means the time has come for “transitioning support toward economic development to help generate jobs, income and growth.”

    Over the last decade Ethiopia’s economy has grown at an average of 11 percent, more than double the rate for sub-Saharan Africa, according to U.N. figures. The growth is fueled in part by huge public expenditure on energy and infrastructure projects that make the country attractive to long-term private investment. The projects are being funded mostly through loans obtained from partners such as China, India and the World Bank.

    Tewodros, the chief executive of the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise, said the planned new airport would have the capacity to handle up to 100 million travelers per year, a figure that he said dovetails with the ambitious plans of national carrier Ethiopian Airlines.

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    Don’t Torpedo The Dam, Full Speed Ahead For Ethiopia’s Nile Project (NPR)

    The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is under construction near Assosa, Ethiopia. (AP Photo)

    NPR

    Gregory Warner

    I once met a popular spoken word poet in Ethiopia who was asked by a government official to write a poem about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. (He politely explained that he didn’t do poetry about infrastructure.) But it’s not surprising that Ethiopia would like to inscribe this dam into the Ethiopian epic.

    When completed, the Renaissance Dam promises to be the largest hydro-electric project in Africa. Funded without help from America or the West, the “renaissance” in the dam’s title refers to a 70-year-old vision of Africa rising on the strength of its own abundant resources. Independence and self-reliance in the so-called “dark continent” begins with electricity.

    But since Ethiopia began construction in 2011, Egypt has spun the dam as a threat. Egypt’s way of life depends on the Nile River. Former president Mohammed Morsi once warned that every drop of water stolen from the Nile would be defended by a drop of Egyptian blood.

    In fact, a hydropower dam doesn’t steal water from downstream. It only draws power from its flow. Except during one crucial period: just after the dam is built and the reservoir is filled. A reservoir this huge will hold 63 billion cubic meters — roughly as much water as Egypt gets from the Nile over the course of a year. If the basin were to be filled too fast, Egypt’s farmers would plunge into drought and its own hydropower dams would stop producing electricity.

    Fear of that scenario is why Egypt’s former president almost went to war with Ethiopia over the dam.

    Instead, on Monday, Egypt’s current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn signed a “Declaration of Principles” with Sudan’s president as broker. Egypt approved the project and will have rights to some of the electricity that will be generated. The key negotiations to come will be over the pace of filling that giant reservoir when it’s completed in the next few years. Fast enough to satisfy Ethiopia’s grand ambitions but slow enough not to hobble Egypt’s economy.

    Read more at NPR »

    Related:
    Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan Sign Deal to End Nile Dispute (Video)
    Egypt’s President Addresses Ethiopian Parliament

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    9 Ethiopian Artists on World Music Scene

    The website Culture Trip highlights nine Ethiopian international musicians . (Theculturetrip.com)

    The Culture Trip

    By Simon Ayalew

    Ethiopia is home to a wealth of promising artists, especially musicians, who look to redefine the quintessential narrative of Ethiopia to more inclusively portray the culture and talent of its people. We look at 9 modern day artists who lend a progressive edge to the country’s music, pushing boundaries and exploring the nuances of its distinct and diverse sounds.

    Formal practice of music in Ethiopia is believed to be one of the oldest in Africa – in an interview with Afropop.com, Kay Kaufman Shelemay, a Harvard professor of ethnomusicology and a scholar of Ethiopian music, says ‘Ethiopia is the only African country with an indigenous system of musical writing and musical notation’. And just as the history of Ethiopian music is extensive, its modern day adaptations are wide ranging and defies being siphoned into a single category.

    The evolution of Ethiopia’s music has had its share of ups and downs, but it has proved to be resilient in adapting to the times. This is evident in the works of visionary artists such as the father of Ethio-jazz, Mulatu Astatke, who promulgated Ethiopia’s mostly pentatonic scale-style music when he established Ethio-jazz as a standalone genre back in the 1970s, proving that Ethiopian grooves can be popular worldwide.

    Read more »

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    Interview: Vital Collaboration with Migrant Community Center in Lebanon (Part Two)

    This is the second in a two part interview with Farah Salka of the Migrant Community Center in Lebanon. (Photo courtesy of MCC)

    Huffington Post

    By Kumera Genet

    The attack and subsequent suicide in 2012 of Alem Dechasa-Desisa–an Ethiopian Domestic worker in Lebanon–was a turning point in the consciousness of the Ethiopian and African Diaspora. The video of Ali Mafuz–Alem’s employer beating her in front of the Ethiopian Consulate in Beirut was one of the first widely shared visual examples of the exploitation that faces many African migrants in the Middle East. Due to a lack of resources and political organization, there have been few coordinated efforts by the African Diaspora to directly support migrant workers in the Middle East in three years since Alem’s death.

    Often lost in the discourse around migrant rights is that there are local efforts in Lebanon–led by activists and the migrant worker themselves–to support the migrant worker community. I feel this is important context to better understand how individuals living outside of the Middle East can assist in improving the lives of migrants. The news that reaches the Diaspora is normally about the tragedies. This is an unsustainable way of engaging in the issue and in the interim between public abuses, there is little real relationship building with potential allies.

    To this end, I spoke recently with Farah Salka who is the general coordinator of the Anti-Racism Movement in Lebanon which manages the Migrant Community Center in Beirut. The Migrant Community Center is one of the few open spaces for the migrant communities and domestic workers in Lebanon. There are more than 800,000 migrant workers in Lebanon and more than 250,000 serve as domestic workers.

    They are currently fundraising to keep up, and hopefully expand, the services offered and donations can be made on their IndieGogo page:

    Read the interview at Huffingtonpost.com »

    Related:
    Interview: Vital Collaboration with Migrant Community Center in Lebanon (Part One)

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    African History Scholar Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannan Has Passed Away at Age 97

    Dr. Yosef ben-Jochannan was a scholar of ancient African History. (Photo: Melanindvds)

    Tadias Magazine
    By Tadias Staff

    Published: Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

    New York (TADIAS) — Dr. Ben-Jochannan, a renowned scholar of ancient African history, passed away on Thursday, March 19th in New York at the age of 97. Dr. Ben was a professor of history at Cornell University and at City College in New York City, and the author of nearly 50 books mostly covering the Nile Valley.

    The American historian and prolific writer was born in Ethiopia. His mother was Puerto Rican and his father was an Ethiopian. Before immigrating to the United States in the 1940s Dr. Ben attended school in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cuba and Spain, and has obtained degrees in Engineering, Architectural Engineering and Cultural Anthropology.

    “He lived almost a century to teach and he taught us right,” said Professor Ayele Bekerie, who was one of Dr. Ben’s students at Cornell University. “I learned how to focus on the original rather than the copy. He showed me how to pursue knowledge that empowers, knowledge that provides agency.”

    Professor Bekerie added: “Dr. Ben shifted the paradigm back to Africa and declared once and for all that the origin of Ancient Egyptian history lies in the deep south, and that is in and of Africa, namely in Nubia and Ethiopia. He, together with John Henry Clarke and Cheikh Anta Diop shattered the long-held myth of the Egyptologists, who moved the Pyramids out of Africa and placed them in the so-called Middle East. The contemporary and global African-centered movement has its foundations in the teachings and writings of Dr. Ben. He was truly an intellectual giant. His intellectual legacy is going to remain with us forever.”

    Professor Bekerie noted that “Dr. Ben was a fellow Ethiopian. His father was the Ethiopian Ambassador to Brazil in the time of Lij Iyasu and his Ethiopian relations come from the great historic city of Gondar.”

    “As the Ethiopians say Igzabeher Nefsachewen Yemar.”


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    Ethiopia Burns 1.6 Tonnes of Ivory – Video

    Over six tonnes of ivory was burned in Addis Ababa on Friday in what the government said was an effort to deter elephant poaching. (AP photo)

    Associated Press

    By ELIAS MESERET

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Black smoke billowed into the air of the Ethiopian capital Friday as 6.1 tons of illegal elephant tusks, ivory trinkets, carvings and various forms of jewelry went up in flames on a wooden pyre. Government officials had started the blaze to discourage poaching and the ivory trade.

    Ethiopia becomes the second African country this year to burn its ivory stockpile as global efforts increase for the conservation of elephants, a vulnerable species whose numbers are quickly dwindling as they are killed for their ivory tusks.

    Dawud Mome, Director General of the Ethiopian Wildlife and Conservation Authority, said the ivory being burnt was confiscated from various people in the last 20 years. Most of the ivory was being smuggled through Ethiopia to a third country, he says.

    Read more at ABC News »

    Video: Ethiopia burns 1.6 tonnes of ivory (The Guardian)


    Related:
    Ethiopia destroys six-tonne stockpile of poached ivory (BBC News)

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    Meet Chef Chane, Ethiopia’s Version Of The Infamous ‘Soup Nazi’

    Customers enjoy a meal at Chef Chane's in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He runs his restaurant like a fiefdom, dispensing food and insults majestically from the kitchen, which doubles as a serving station. (NPR)

    NPR

    By Gregory Warner

    I didn’t travel all the way to Ethiopia just to meet a character out of the sitcom Seinfeld.

    But when I heard Ethiopians describe a particular popular restaurant called Chane’s, I couldn’t help recognize a resemblance, in its owner and lead chef, to the famously brusque soup man.

    Just like his New York doppelganger, the 71-year-old Chef Chane runs a restaurant with its own unwritten rules. Rule No. 1: Come on time. Lunch is served only from 12 to 1 and he always runs out of food. Rule No. 2: Don’t ask for a menu. You’ll eat whatever dish the chef decided to cook that day. Rule No. 3: When you step up to the counter and face the imperious chef in his tall white hat, don’t, whatever you do, hold up the line.

    When I arrived at his restaurant — in the Kazanchis neighborhood of Addis Ababa — well before the noon open, I found the line already 40 long, snaking inside a crumbling courtyard across from a bunch of new high-rises. In the line, Nebiat Mebea is prepping his girlfriend, Kehalit Nikusei, for her first visit, like Seinfeld preps Elaine. He warns her that the 71-year-old Chef Chane might suddenly berate his assistant when the spongy sourdough, called injera, isn’t placed perfectly on the plate. Or he’ll tell talkative customers to “praise God and eat!” (In super-polite Ethiopian culture, this apparently equates to “shut up and get out of my kitchen.”)

    “He’s mean in a good way!” says Nebiat, with a grin.

    Read more at NPR.org »

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    Ethiopia Denies Temesghen Desalegn Access to Medical Care in Jail

    Temesghen Desalegn is jailed in connection with a 2012 defamation case. (CPJ)

    CPJ

    Nairobi — Authorities in Ethiopia have denied medical attention to Ethiopian journalist Temesghen Desalegn, who has been imprisoned since October, according to sources close to the journalist.

    Temesghen Desalegn, owner of the now-defunct newsmagazine Feteh (Justice), is serving a three-year term in Ziway Prison, outside Addis Ababa, on charges of defamation, incitement, and false publication in connection with a series of opinion pieces he wrote in Feteh in 2012, according to news reports and a translation of the charge sheet that CPJ reviewed.

    Sources close to Temesghen, including two who visit him in prison, told CPJ that Temesghen suffers from stomach and back pain for which he used to receive weekly medical support before he was jailed. The sources said that Temesghen has been denied medical access since he was imprisoned and that his back pain has worsened to the point that walking is difficult for him.

    Read more »

    Related:
    Ethiopian Editor Convicted for Inciting Public With Articles (Bloomberg)

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    Ethiopian Airlines Pilot Found Guilty of Hijacking His Plane

    Passengers evacuated from Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET-702 on February 17th, 2014 in Geneva after it was hijacked by its co-pilot Hailemedhin Abera and diverted there with 202 people aboard. (Getty Images)

    Reuters

    ADDIS ABABA – An Ethiopian Airlines pilot has been convicted in absentia of hijacking his own plane and flying it to Geneva, 13 months after he surrendered to police there and sought asylum.

    The high court in Addis Ababa issued its ruling on Monday and said it would sentence Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn on Friday. If he ever returns to his home country he could face up to 20 years in jail.

    Hailemedhin, second-in-command on the Feb. 17, 2014 flight to Rome, took control of the aircraft when the main pilot left the cockpit for a toilet break, Swiss police said.

    He then sent a coded signal announcing he had hijacked his own plane.

    With the jet on the tarmac, an unarmed Hailemedhin scrambled down an emergency rope and surrendered to police without harming the 193 passengers on board the Boeing aircraft, 139 of them Italians, 11 Americans and four French.

    Swiss police have said Hailemedhin asked for asylum because he did not feel safe in Ethiopia.

    Opposition politicians and rights campaigners often accuse the government of stifling dissent, a charge dismissed by the government.

    Authorities say there have been growing numbers of people from north and east Africa travelling to Europe to flee poverty and conflicts — though Hailemedhin left behind a well-paid job on the flagship airline in one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

    Ethiopian officials said at the time Addis Ababa may ask for his extradition.

    There were no details on his current whereabouts.

    Video: Co-Pilot Hijacks Ethiopian Airlines Plane


    Related:
    Ethiopia Pilot Was Distraught Over Death in Family (AP)
    Hear Cockpit Audio From ET-702 Hijacking (CNN Video)
    Evacuation of Ethiopian Airlines plane ‘went well’ (BBC News)
    Rome-bound Ethiopian flight hijacked by co-pilot (AP)

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    Ethiopia’s Unique Lions Facing Extinction

    A group of lions at the Addis Ababa Zoo in Ethiopia have dark manes that cover their chest and belly. (Photo: Livescience.com)

    News24

    Holeta – Ethiopia’s black-maned lions once represented a former emperor, “Lion of Judah” Haile Selassie, and were immortalised in a song by reggae legend Bob Marley. Today, they struggle for survival.

    A booming human population, widespread habitat destruction and growing livestock numbers mean the animal that once graced Ethiopia’s flag, and is still a potent symbol for Rastafarians through the song ‘Iron Lion Zion’ is on the wane.

    They live on in only small pockets of the Horn of Africa nation, and conservationists warn that without action, all that will remain of the powerful creatures are the stone sculptures and statues dotted in the flourishing capital, Addis Ababa.

    “There were lions everywhere in Ethiopia, but their habitat is shrinking,” said Zelealem Tefera, country head of the Born Free Foundation, a conservation group.

    “Human settlements are expanding, prey is disappearing and there is nothing to eat for the lions,” he said.

    In decline across Africa, lions have been put on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “red list” of threatened species, but Ethiopia’s rare lions, seen as unique though debate continues over their DNA are even more vulnerable.

    Read more at News24: Ethiopia’s ‘Iron Lion Zion’ cats fading fast »

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    Spyware Vendor Again Helps Ethiopian Government Target US-Based Journalists

    (Photo: Reuters/Kacper Pempel/Files)

    The Washington Post

    By Andrea Peterson

    The Ethiopian government appears again to be using Internet spying tools to attempt to eavesdrop on journalists based in suburban Washington, said security researchers who call such high-tech intrusions a serious threat to human rights and press freedoms worldwide.

    The journalists, who work for Ethiopian Satellite Television in Alexandria, Va., provide one of the few independent news sources to their homeland through regular television and radio feeds — to the irritation of the government there, which has accused journalists of “terrorism” and repeatedly jammed the signals of foreign broadcasters.

    The struggle increasingly has stretched into cyberspace, where malicious software sold to governments for law enforcement purposes has been observed targeting the journalists, researchers said. The most recent documented case, from December, came several months after The Washington Post first detailed the government’s apparent deployment of the Internet spying tools, which though far cruder, offer some of the same snooping capabilities enjoyed by the National Security Agency and the intelligence services of other advanced nations.

    Read more at The Washington Post »

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    Ethiopia’s Growth Program Cuts Out Dissent — The Wall Street Journal

    Girma Seifu Maru, the sole opposition-party representative in Ethiopia’s 547-member Parliament, in a cafeteria near his private office in Addis Ababa. (Photo: Petterik Wiggers for The Wall Street Journal)

    The Wall Street Journal

    By HEIDI VOGT

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—The sole voice of opposition in Ethiopia’s 547-member national legislature will soon fall silent—the latest in a long line of people who have given up the fight as the government actively mutes dissent while pursuing populist economic expansion.

    Since 2010, Girma Seifu Maru has tried to raise his voice against political abuses while 546 fellow legislators consistently support the government.

    But in February, the government electoral board replaced the leadership of Mr. Girma’s Unity for Democracy and Justice party with its own people, effectively making him a man without a party and further weakening an enfeebled opposition.

    The board said the party violated its own internal bylaws for appointing leaders. Mr. Girma said the government wanted to break the party, as it has so many others, before campaigning for an election in May kicked off last month.

    “The ruling party has already completed the election,” said Mr. Girma, who has decided he won’t run again for a seat in the legislature.

    Read more at The Wall Street Journal »

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    Ethiopia’s $5bn Project That Could Turn It Into Africa’s Water Powerhouse (CNN)

    Each week, CNN's "Africa View" explores the trends, figures and initiatives shaping Africa, it showcases topics and influential sectors driving countries on the continent. (CNN)

    CNN

    It’s called the Grand Renaissance Dam — and the clue is in the name.

    With some 8,500 laborers working around the clock on its construction, the imposingly-named dam is surely one of Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure projects, reaffirming Ethiopia’s ambitions of becoming a big regional player and a major exporter of power.

    When completed, the project will generate around 6,000 megawatts of electricity for both domestic use and exports.

    The most striking aspect of the nearly $5 billion enterprise is, however, that it is entirely funded by Ethiopia, without any foreign investment. According to the authorities, 20% of the project is financed from bond offerings to Ethiopians, and the remaining 80% from tax collection.

    “It was seen as a strategically important initiative that the government and the Ethiopian people are financing it 100%,” says Zemedeneh Negatu, managing partner at Ernst & Young Ethiopia.

    “They have come up with a very creative and innovative way that I think will be a lesson for other African countries who want to embark on such large infrastructure projects, and want to have the flexibility to do it themselves,” he adds.

    Read more at CNN.com »

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    Ethiopia, Long Mired In Poverty, Rides an Economic Boom – The New York Times

    Construction at a station on a metro line through Addis Ababa, one of a series of infrastructure projects that Ethiopia, once mired in poverty, hopes will help it mimic Asia’s industrial rise. (Photo: Reuters)

    The New York Times

    By ISMA’IL KUSHKUSH

    MARCH 3, 2015

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The bulldozers, tractors and cranes are busy day and night, paving new roads, building tall glass buildings and constructing a new light rail system to stitch together the city’s ends.

    In less than five years, the city’s skyline has changed drastically. Above the dust, in a seven-story building overlooking Meskel Square, sits Abiy Gebeyehu, a real estate development manager at the Sunshine Construction Company. He is going through files and figures, looking down at the spot where Ethiopia’s former communist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, once smashed to the ground three bottles of what was supposedly blood as a warning to his opponents.

    “The government changed its policy,” Mr. Gebeyehu said, explaining how his company became part of Ethiopia’s economic growth. “They are engaging private business.”

    Read more at The New York Times »

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    Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia’s Image (VOA Video)

    Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image. (VOA News)

    VOA News

    By Marthe van der Wolf

    March 03, 2015

    ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Not long ago, media reports about Ethiopia focused on war, poverty, famine and drought. Now, the headlines focus more often on the East African nation’s fast-growing economy.

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Dina Mufti said the Ethiopian government actively contributed to changing its negative reputation.

    “It is a phenomenon that we have had once in the past; it’s something that we have put behind us effectively,” Mufti said. “Everybody works to make sure that that agony won’t recur, won’t come back again.”

    And it’s not only the double-digit gross domestic product numbers of the past decade that attract positive headlines. Ethiopia’s role as peace negotiator for regional conflicts, such as in South Sudan, is boosting the country’s diplomatic reputation as well.

    And the reputation of being a relatively stable country with an emerging economy and a growing middle class is reaping fruits, bringing back home Ethiopians from the diaspora.

    Henock Assefa is one of them, running a consultancy firm called Precise Consult. He said foreign firms still need a bit of convincing to believe Ethiopia is also a place for business:

    “Investors that have never been to Ethiopia, it takes a while to convince them, because their mindset is that this is a poor country where you go and help people live a better life,” he said. “They don’t see it as an opportunity so much.”

    But not all lives are improving. The U.N. Development Program estimates that a third of Ethiopians still live in poverty. And rights groups frequently criticize the country’s human rights record.

    Opposition parties, such as the Blue Party, accuse the government of violating basic democratic principles.

    Blue Party spokesman Yonathan Tesfaye said Ethiopia’s new and improved image is an illusion fabricated by the authorities.

    “The information comes from the statistics agency, and those guys are not to be trusted,” he said. “The growth that we are having, or the development or the boom or whatever it is, it’s all concentrated in Addis Ababa. If you go to the rural areas, they’re lagging behind. And that’s going to be very problematic in the future.”

    Images of poverty have damaged Ethiopia’s reputation for decades. The famine of the early 1980s was made famous through BandAid, a collective of pop music stars raising money by singing “feed the world” while showing images of Ethiopia.



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    Dutch Brewer’s Ethiopia Unit to Start Sales

    Advertisements for beer brewers Heineken (far left) Brand, owned by Heineken, Bavaria, (center) and Grolsch (far right), are seen in the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oct. 1, 2007. (AP Photo)

    Reuters

    March 02, 2015

    ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopian greenfield brewer Habesha, majority-owned by Dutch brewer Bavaria NV, said it plans to start selling beer in the second quarter of this year to tap rising domestic demand that has attracted global brands.

    Bavaria NV is the latest beer maker lured by Ethiopia’s expanding middle class over the last five years and will compete with breweries owned by Heineken and Diageo.

    The world’s leading brewers have turned their focus on emerging markets such as Africa as consumer demand in Europe has stagnated and the United States offers limited expansion opportunities.

    “We expect to start selling beer in the second quarter of 2015. Say two or three months from now,” Thijs Kleijwegt, Habesha Breweries’ finance director, told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit.

    Ethiopia’s average annual beer consumption of less than five liters per capita is about half the average for sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, offering scope for expansion among the population of 94 million, more than 60 percent of whom are Christian.

    Bavaria NV bought a stake in Habesha Breweries in 2012, and has since increased its holding to 60 percent.

    Read more at VOA News »

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    Zimna Brahani, the Mossad Operative Who Risked His Life for Ethiopian Jewry

    Zimna Brahani, a Mossad agent and driving force to bring the Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Brahani was born in Gondar in 1940 and died in Israel in February 2015. (Photo by Menachem Waldman)

    Haaretz

    By Ofer Aderet

    Many honorifics were awarded to Mossad operative Zimna Brahani, who was buried on February 22 in Lod.Thousands of people from Israel’s Ethiopian community came to pay their last respects to the man they called “hero,” “saint,” and “angel..

    Senior citizens, adults and robed kessim (priests) holding colorful umbrellas mingled with young people in jeans and trendy shirts, remembering the man who had embraced and extended a hand to them on their difficult and dangerous journey from Ethiopia and who for decades acted on the community’s behalf.

    “Nearly the entire Ethiopian immigration passed through his hands. He was a classic example of the real Zionist,” said Micha Feldman, who was head of the Jewish Agency delegation to Ethiopia and the Israeli consul in Addis Ababa.

    Among the mourners at the funeral were also a number of Israelis who did not come from Ethiopia but had been working there. Some were Mossad people who bid farewell to their colleague, who took to his grave many stories about the operations to rescue Ethiopian Jews.

    Read more at Haaretz.com »


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    Video: NED Presents Dr. Negasso Gidada

    Dr. Negasso Gidada held a presentation on February 24th, 2015 at National Endowment for Democracy in DC entitled “A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia.” (Getty)

    NED

    Dr. Negaso Gidada Solan is an esteemed statesman and scholar who has served as president of Ethiopia (1995–2001), member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–2010), and most recently, as chair of the United for Democracy and Justice Party, one of Ethiopia’s main opposition parties (2012–2013). A life-long proponent of human rights, ethnic inclusion, and democracy, he participated in the student movement of the 1960s, led the Aira School demonstrations against the Wallaga feudal system in the 1970s, and advocated for the rights of the Oromo people, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. While living in Germany, Dr. Solan worked to unite the Oromo community, both internally and with other Ethiopian groups, in their struggle against military rule. Returning to his homeland in 1991, he helped to draft a new constitution, chaired the 1994 Constitutional Assembly, and signed the constitution in 1995 as first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. During his fellowship, Dr. Solan is writing an article addressing the role of democracy in settling controversies around the Ethiopian ethnic federalist system. His primary focus will be recommendations on how to build a democratic, multi-ethnic state in Ethiopia.

    Presentations

    Georgetown University, “The Role of Democracy Building in a Multi-Ethnic State: The Case of Ethiopia,” February 11, 2015.

    University of Maryland School of Public Policy, “CISSM Forum/Development Circle | ‘The Role of Democracy in Building a Multi-Ethnic State: The Case of Ethiopia’,” February 19, 2015.

    National Endowment for Democracy, “A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia,” February 24, 2015.

    Related:
    NED Presents Ethiopian Statesman & Scholar Dr. Negasso Gidada

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    UK Withdraws Funds Amid Abuse Allegations in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region

    An Anuak woman at work in Abobo, a village in Ethiopia’s Gambella region. It has been claimed that UK money has funded abuses against Anuak people in the area. (Photograph: Alamy)

    The Guardian

    The UK has ended its financial support for a controversial development project alleged to have helped the Ethiopian government fund a brutal resettlement programme. Hundreds of people have been forced from their land as a result of the scheme, while there have also been reports of torture, rape and beatings.

    Until last month, Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) was the primary funder of the promotion of basic services (PBS) programme, a $4.9bn (£3.2bn) project run by the World Bank and designed to boost education, health and water services in Ethiopia.

    On Thursday, DfID said it had ended its PBS contributions because of Ethiopia’s “growing success”, adding that financial decisions of this nature were routinely made after considering a recipient country’s “commitment to partnership principles”.

    It has been alleged that programme funds have been used to bankroll the Ethiopian government’s push to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new “model” villages across the country.

    Read more at The Guardian »


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    Human Rights Watch Tells World Bank to Come Clean on Ethiopia Findings

    The new village of Bildak in Gambella region that was quickly abandoned by the town's forcibly relocated residents because there was no water source for their cattle. (Photo: © 2011 Human Rights Watch)

    HRW

    Press Release

    Washington, DC – The World Bank should fully address serious human rights issues raised by the bank’s internal investigation into a project in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the bank’s vice president for Africa. The bank’s response to the investigation findings attempts to distance the bank from the many problems confirmed by the investigation and should be revised. The World Bank board of directors is to consider the investigation report and management’s response, which includes an Action Plan, on February 26, 2015.

    The Inspection Panel, the World Bank’s independent accountability mechanism, found that the bank violated its own policies in Ethiopia. The investigation was prompted by a formal complaint brought by refugees from Ethiopia’s Gambella region concerning the Promoting Basic Services (PBS) projects funded by the World Bank, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the African Development Bank, and several other donors.

    “The Inspection Panel’s report shows that the World Bank has largely ignored human rights risks evident in its projects in Ethiopia,” said Jessica Evans, senior international financial institutions researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The bank has the opportunity and responsibility to adjust course on its Ethiopia programming and provide redress to those who were harmed. But management’s Action Plan achieves neither of these goals.”

    The report, leaked to the media in January, determined that “there is an operational link” between the World Bank projects in Ethiopia and a government relocation program known as “villagization.” It concluded that the bank had violated its policy that is intended to protect indigenous peoples’ rights. It also found that the bank “did not carry out the required full risk analysis, nor were its mitigation measures adequate to manage the concurrent rollout of the villagisation programme.” These findings should prompt the World Bank and other donors to take all necessary measures to prevent and address links between its programs and abusive government initiatives, Human Rights Watch said.

    Read more at hrw.org »

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    Ethiopian Duo Endeshaw Negesse & Berhane Dibaba Win 2015 Tokyo Marathon

    Endeshaw Negesse and Birhane Dibaba won the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, February 22nd, 2015. (IAAF)

    IAAF

    Ethiopian runners Endeshaw Negesse and Berhane Dibaba took the honours at the 2015 Tokyo Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, winning in 2:06:00 and 2:23:15 respectively on Sunday (22).

    It was the first time that runners from the same nation had won both the men’s and women’s titles in the nine year history of the event.

    Negesse broke away from Kenya’s defending champion Dickson Chumba just before 40km to become only the second Ethiopian man, after Hailu Mekonnen in 2011, to win Japan’s most prestigious road race.

    It was third fastest time in Tokyo Marathon, but just fell short of the twin goals of beating the Japanese all-comers best of 2:05:18, which belongs to Tsegaye Kebede from the 2009 Fukuoka Marathon and who was also in this year’s Tokyo race, and the course record of 2:05:42, which was set by Chumba in 2014.

    “It was a good race, although the condition was little bit tough because it was rainy and cold (with temperatures around 5 degrees Celsius),” reflected Negesse.

    “The pacing was little slow. If it had been faster, then I could have run faster,” he added. “I knew that the field is formidable when I saw the start list. However, I did not dwell on it. I have done good training including good speed work. So I knew I could win the race.”

    Read more at iaaf.org »

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    Genzebe Dibaba Sets World Record in Indoor 5000-Meters in Stockholm

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    When Fascists Tried to Remake Ethiopia

    Picture of Benito Mussolini and Fascist Blackshirt youth in 1935 in Rome. (The American Conservative)

    The American Conservative

    By JONATHAN COPPAGE

    When Mussolini’s army invaded and ultimately occupied Ethiopia, the Italian fascists did more than expand Italy’s African empire; in their eyes, they obtained an opportunity to build a capital from scratch.

    As Rixt Woudstra details at Failed Architecture,

    The idea of Ethiopia as a tabula rasa — a blank slate — was omnipresent in the writings of architects and urban planners occupied with the designs of the colonial capital between 1936 and 1939, who considered the country devoid of any structures of architectural significance. Contrary to the fascination of Libyan whitewashed courtyard house – their simplicity, colours and volumes perfectly in tune with modern taste – the round houses of the Ethiopians were regarded by Italian architects as irrational and unhygienic.

    Modernist architecture’s obsession with rationality and supreme planning looked askance at a city even as relatively new as Addis Ababa for not proceeding out of the geometries and ideals en vogue in Europe. Within months of the Ethiopian capital’s conquest, no less an architect than Le Corbusier, one of the icons and pioneers of modernism, composed a sketch to accompany a letter he sent to Mussolini instructing “how a city for the modern times is born,” and offering his services as a midwife.

    Woudstra writes,

    Le Corbusier’s sketch shows Addis Ababa literally as a tabula rasa: the rigorously superimposed plan cleared the land of all signs of humanity and centuries of urban culture. In his letter, Le Corbusier described his drawing perfectly by writing that he was attracted by ‘…models so severe, that one might think the colony was a space without time, and therefore, without history, and without any particular geographical meaning.’ Further in his letter he added: ‘…the city is direct dominion; the city becomes the city of government, in which the Palace of the Governor must stand overall…’

    As Robare explained the other week, these grand rational plannings have not died with their blackshirted allies. China’s construction of cities out of whole cloth may sometimes be painted with green sustainability, but they neither have the human appeal nor the natural sustainability of an incrementally grown, walkable city.

    Addis Ababa was spared a Corbusier-inspired revamp by a combination of bureaucratic foot-dragging and rapid British troop movements that eventually freed the capital from fascist control. The grand colonialism would proceed apace, however, back in the very Western countries that had previously so frustrated Corbusier and his followers.


    Plan Voisin for Paris, 1922-1925. photo: Fondation Le Corbusier

    Read more »

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    Zon 9 Bloggers Not Forgotten (BBC News)

    (Photo via Twitter)

    BBC News

    In April 2014 BBC Trending covered the arrest of six bloggers and three journalists in Ethiopia. The bloggers are part of a group known as Zone 9, and are well known for campaigning around censorship and human rights issues in Ethiopia. Ten months on from their arrest, the hashtag #FreeZone9Bloggers continues to be used in the country as the trials continue.

    That’s not typical – campaigning hashtags often tail off over time. This one is being kept alive by activists both inside and out of Ethiopia who are challenging the government’s decision. The total number of tweets is still only in the tens of thousands, but that is enough to be noticed on the global map (Twitter does not produce an official trending topics list for Ethiopia).

    Why are they so focussed on social media? It certainly isn’t the best way to reach the Ethiopian people: the internet is estimated to reach just over 1% of the population there. But it does allow them to network with the global blogging fraternity and the international media. Recently a blog began in support of the nine prisoners, and to report on the hearings. A campaign video has also been released in which complaints are raised over the conditions of Kalinto prison and Kality prison, where the bloggers are being held.

    Read more at BBC.com: Ethiopia’s imprisoned bloggers have not been forgotten »

    Related:
    As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

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    How a Trip to Ethiopia Shattered Stereotypes, Spurred Documentary

    Amen Gibreab, right, the director of a documentary about Ethiopia, sits next to Fanaye Debalke at Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant in Seattle. (Alex Stonehill/The Seattle Globalist)

    The Seattle Times

    By Sarah Stuteville

    Many Americans think in broad, and often grim, generalizations about Ethiopia specifically and Africa overall. One local Ethiopian-American filmmaker and a small group of college students are hoping to challenge those stereotypes….

    Traveling to Ethiopia changed me forever. In the two months I worked there in 2008, I met a proud country that had fought off Italian colonialists, a diverse nation that communicates in more than 80 languages and a complex people who challenged my assumptions and helped shape how I see the world today.

    But that wasn’t what I was expecting. I grew up in the 1980s and ’90s, decades that saw famine and political unrest in Ethiopia, as well as growth to our region’s significant Ethiopian-American population. For me, Ethiopia was a country that evoked images of starving children, refugees and war.

    And I’m not alone. Many Americans think in broad, and often grim, generalizations about Ethiopia specifically and Africa overall. One local Ethiopian-American filmmaker and a small group of college students are hoping to challenge those stereotypes.

    “Some students … all they knew of Africa was famine, terrorism, a lion and a tree,” says 25-year-old Amen Gibreab over strong cups of Ethiopian coffee at Gojo — an incense-saturated restaurant tucked into a strip mall in North Seattle.

    Two years ago, a group of 15 UW Bothell students met with Gibreab and the founder of the program, professor Panagiotis “Panos” Hatziandreas, in this very spot to discuss the first Seattle-area study-abroad program to Ethiopia. It was a trip that would focus on re-imagining Ethiopia for a new generation, and Gibreab, a media and communication major and aspiring filmmaker, knew he had to document it.

    Read more at The Seattle Times »

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    Why Immigrant Rights Advocates Aren’t Worried About Texas Judge’s Ruling

    (Photo credit: NAM)

    New America Media

    By Elena Shore

    A federal judge this week blocked Obama’s executive actions from going into effect, a move immigration reform advocates are calling only a “temporary setback.”

    Texas U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued a temporary injunction on Monday, siding with Texas and 25 other states that signed on to a lawsuit against Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The White House announced on Tuesday that the Department of Justice is appealing the decision.

    The judge’s ruling was released just two days before the expanded version of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was slated to go into effect.

    It means that — until the ruling is blocked or overturned by a higher court — individuals will not be able to apply for the new programs announced by President Obama on Nov. 20, 2014. These include the expanded version of DACA, which was slated to start Wednesday, and the new program for parents of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), which was expected to start in May.

    Together the programs could protect over 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation and provide them with temporary work authorization.

    Monday’s ruling does not affect so-called Dreamers, who can still apply for (and renew) DACA under the program that was announced in 2012.

    The chess game

    The federal lawsuit in Texas is the latest move in a broader political chess match now being played out between Republicans and Democrats over the president’s recent steps on immigration reform.

    Since Obama’s announcement in November, Republicans have attempted to block his initiatives in Congress. But the legislation has not gotten passed the Senate (and even if it did, it would be vetoed by the president).

    That left one pathway for the GOP to challenge Obama’s executive actions: through the courts…The case is expected to go next to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel known for its conservative bent. After that, the case would go to a full U.S. court of appeals and even potentially all the way to the Supreme Court.

    “The wheels of justice are slow,” said Marshall Fitz [vice president of immigration policy at the Center for American Progress], “but at the end of the track, we will have confirmed legality and the program will be implemented.”

    Immigration advocates have several reasons to be confident.

    Read the full article at newamericamedia.org »

    Related:
    US Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Obama Immigration Directives (Video)

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    Amharic Hip-hop Finds its Voice in Ethiopia

    Mainstream rappers embrace the country’s dominant language while trying not to upset the government.

    Aljazeera

    By James Jeffrey

    February 19, 2015

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopian rapper DJ Same took out a smartphone and played a clip of a man proclaiming passionately in a traditional Amharic style called fukera, used during feudal militaristic times to rouse the populace to go to war.

    Then he started to beatbox along to the oration before saying, “Sounds like rap, doesn’t it?”

    Nowadays, Ethiopia’s rappers aren’t concerned with stirring people to take up arms, but they still want to have an impact as they explore modern forms of music.

    It is a complex picture that is emerging. When Ethiopian rappers perform in English, the comparisons with American rap are clear to see and hear. But when voiced in Amharic, the language of the second-largest ethnic and linguistic group in the country and used as Ethiopia’s official language, Ethiopian rap moves out of America’s shadow toward establishing its own unmistakable voice.

    Yet there is a limit to how far that voice can go. Like many forms of artistic expression in Ethiopia, most rap artists use self-censorship when it comes to rapping about domestic politics. Amharic rap can, as a result, seem fairly apolitical compared with some Western rap. But that does not mean Ethiopian rap is without passion or lacking a desire to bear a worthwhile message to audiences.

    “The government thinks we have a bad message, but they don’t understand what we are trying to do,” said 22-year-old rapper Ella Man. “A lot of foreign rap is about ‘I have this, I got this,” but we want to present a constructive message. We represent Ethiopia.”

    Read more at america.aljazeera.com »



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    As Election Nears, Increased Focus on the State of Media in Ethiopia

    “Ethiopia’s media should be playing a crucial role in the May elections, but instead many journalists fear that their next article could get them thrown in jail.” (The Guardian Africa network)


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    Aurora Delegates Head to Adama, Ethiopia

    “A lot of this first trip is to formalize the relationship,” Karlyn Shorb, the executive director of Aurora Sister Cities, said as one of 20 people who left for Ethiopia Feb. 12 for a six-day tour of Adama, Ethiopia. (AS)

    Aurora Sentinel

    By RACHEL SAPIN

    AURORA | The card game is called “Five Tricks.” There is no talking allowed and each team gets a different set of rules to play by. After a few minutes, some members switch to the other team, not even knowing the rules the other team has been told to follow.

    Sound impossible? It’s supposed to be, said Karlyn Shorb, the executive director of Aurora Sister Cities.

    Shorb was part of a group who took part in the card game as a communication-building exercise at Aurora city hall to prepare for a trip to Adama, Ethiopia — Aurora’s first partner sister city in nearly a decade.

    “A lot of this first trip is to formalize the relationship,” Shorb said as one of 20 people who left for Ethiopia Feb. 12 for a six-day tour of Adama. “We’re doing a number of tours so we can get to know the city, their needs, and things we can help them with and work together on.”

    Last August, delegates from Adama, which included the city’s mayor, visited Aurora and took part in Global Fest at the Aurora Municipal Center, a celebration of Aurora’s sizable and growing international community.

    Read more »

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

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    Djibouti, Ethiopia Accuse Eritrea of Sabotaging Stability

    All three neighbors have been involved in armed conflict in the region. (Photo: Ethiopian peacekeepers/MG)

    Bloomberg

    By Paul Richardson

    Ethiopia and Djibouti accused Eritrea of sabotaging regional stability, a charge denied by the Horn of Africa nation which has fought with both neighbors.

    Eritrea’s government has a “continuous destabilization policy” and the international community should tighten sanctions, the leaders of Ethiopia and Djibouti said in a statement following a week of talks that ended on Feb. 9. They didn’t give further details on the accusations. The United Nations in 2009 imposed sanctions on Eritrea after allegations it supported insurgents in Somalia.

    The UN Security Council in December 2009 voted to ban the travel and freeze the assets of selected Eritrean government and army leaders accused of being allied with al-Qaeda-linked militants attempting to topple the government in Somalia. The measure imposed an arms embargo on Eritrea and authorized inspection of cargo going to or from the country on the Red Sea.

    The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea said in a report submitted to the Security Council in October that it had found no evidence of Eritrean support for al-Shabaab.

    Read more at Bloomberg News »

    Related:
    Siblings spat as Djibouti, Ethiopia accuse Eritrea of sabotaging Horn of Africa

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    Friends of Selamneh Techane Raising Money to Send Body Back to Ethiopia

    Selamneh Techane, of Ethiopia, disappeared about five years ago, according to his friend, Jennifer Zilliac. Selamneh's body was found last Sunday in an apartment in Fredericton, Canada. (Photo: Facebook)

    Global News

    By Richard Dooley and Emily Baron Cadloff

    FREDERICTON – A body discovered in the attic of a Fredericton apartment building by firefighters Sunday night may have been in the crawlspace for nearly five years.

    Friends of the dead man have identified him as Selamneh Techane, a former Ethiopian taxi driver who sometimes worked with families adopting Ethiopian orphans.

    He came to New Brunswick in 2008 and his friends say he lived in the province for two years.

    “He was the kindest, hardest working man, for sure. He was a sweet man, and we’re obviously sad to hear that news,” said Louise Reid.

    Read more »

    Related:
    Canada: Body Found in Fredericton Fire IDed as Ethiopian Man (CBC News)

    By Shaun Waters

    The body discovered in a suspicious house fire in Fredericton over the weekend has been identified as a man from Ethiopia, who seemed to disappear about five years ago, according to a friend.

    Jennifer Zilliac, of Oakland, Calif., says she was shocked and heartbroken to learn the body found in the attic of a house on Aberdeen Street on Sunday evening was that of Selamneh Techane.

    Zilliac says she received a call from the New Brunswick coroner’s office on Monday after identification was discovered on the body. Officials are still using DNA and medical records to confirm the identity, she said.

    Fredericton Police Cpl. Sean Clark has said the body was unrelated to the fire and that foul play was not suspected in the person’s death.

    Zilliac had put up a Facebook site dedicated to finding Techane after he seemed to disappear five years ago. She says he was instrumental in helping her adopt a daughter from Ethiopia in 2005.

    ‘He was loved by so many’

    “He was a taxi driver in [Ethiopia's capital city] Addis Ababa and he was connected with people who were adopting children from Ethiopia and connected to everybody,” she told CBC News in a telephone interview from her home in Oakland.

    “I don’t know if you’ve ever gone to a foreign country and not spoken the language and not known the culture and needed to rely on somebody to help you with that. Selamneh was that person for me and for a lot of people.”

    Zilliac says Techane would translate for people and help them find family members in Ethiopia. She spent two months with him as he took her from home to home and to the embassy, helping pave the way for the adoption of her daughter.

    Read more at CBC News »

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    Worku Abiy: Ethiopian Israeli Orphan Fulfills Dream of Becoming IDF Officer

    Worku Abiy, 23, from Ethiopia in his Israel Defense Forces uniform. (Photo: IDF Spokesman's Unit)

    Ynetnews

    By Omri Efraim

    Among hundreds of excited cadets at an officer training course graduation ceremony on Wednesday stood one soldier who felt that his presence there was a victory against all odds. Worku Abiy, 23, a lone soldier and orphan from Ethiopia who arrived in Israel at the age of 15, never imagined he would one day wear an IDF uniform.

    “If someone would have told me a decade ago, when I was a lonely orphan in Ethiopia, that I would stand here one day with this uniform and these ranks, I would not believe it,” says Abiy

    Abiy underwent a long journey to get to where he is today. When he was 3 years-old, his mother died and he lived with his father until the age of 14 – when his father passed away too. Without any parents, Abiy wandered between the houses of various distant family members until 2007. At the time, Abiy was living with his cousin and his family who decided that they were moving to Israel and took Abiy with them.

    When they arrived in Israel, Abiy and his relatives were transferred to an absorption center in Afula in northern Israel. Two years later, when Abiy’s relatives left the absorption center, Abiy began to study at the Yemin Orde boarding school near Zikhron Ya’akov.

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