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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Prosecutors wrap up case against CUD leaders – verdict expected in February

Also in the news: 311 to 90 its official - we are going to war!, Ethiopian military truck blown up in southern Somalia, Breaking news:Car bomb blast rocks Somali town

International: Rwanda, Burundi join East Africa Community , Iraq Study Group Strikes A Compromise, Traces of radiation at a dozen British sites, Physicist Stephen Hawking wins Copley medal and more of today's top stories

Qaliti qalkidan Urgent Petition - Sign it!

At least 10,000 signatures needed before the Christmas holiday break

Prosecutors wrap up case against CUD leaders – verdict expected in February

(ETP) Novemeber 30, 2006 – Reminiscent of a scene right out of the movies, a witness broke down in court yesterday and admitted he was instructed by the prosecution on what to say.

The witness was accusing some of the defendants of physically assaulting him when one of the accused stood up and asked “have I really done all these things to you?” to the astonishment of courtroom attendees and the prosecutors themselves - the witness replied “You didn’t do anything to me; it was the prosecutor who told me to say so.”

The Prosecutors were caught in public with their pants down and attempted to amend their blunder - to no avail. Prosecutors argued that the witness has suffered mental problems as a result of the injuries he sustained thus he is unreliable; questioning the sanity and credibility of their own witness. Many in the courtroom were surprised by the courage of this witness in opting to tell the truth.

The embattled prosecution wrapped up its case against the democratically elected MP’s of Ethiopia; verdict is expected in mid February. The court is expected to decide on whether to dismiss the case or to proceed to hear argument from the defense.

If the court decides to hear arguments for the defense, no one is sure what will happen since most of the accused have refused to enter pleas saying the country's justice system is not independent and that the trial was politically motivated.

Ethiopia's parliament has authorised military action
311 to 90 - its official, we are going to war!

Ethiopia's parliament has authorised military action in the event of an attack on the country by Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts.

On Thursday the Ethiopian parliament passed a resolution to let the government take "all necessary" steps in response to what it said were plans for an invasion by the Islamic Courts movement. Parliament approved the resolution by 311 votes to 90 against and 16 abstentions.

The resolution states that: "Parliament hereby authorises the government to take all necessary and legal steps to stave off a declaration of holy war and invasion by the Union of Islamic Courts against the country."

Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia, said his country had already suffered attacks by groups working closely with Eritrea and the Islamic Courts forces in Somalia. (More...)

An Ethiopian military truck blown up in southern Somalia

Union of Islamic Courts claimed Thursday that their backers in Bai province, southern Somalia, have blown up an Ethiopian military pickup truck passing between Gofgadud and Manas areas on the edge of Baidoa, a seat for the transitional government.

Sheik Muktar Rbow, head of Islamic Courts security section, said pro-Islamist groups around Baidoa town had ambushed an Ethiopian convoy, destroying one pickup truck. Robow did not say the casualties. The Islamic Courts claim could not be verified, however.

Number of Ethiopian battlewagons were blown up in the past after they crossed Somalia’s southern border with Ethiopia to reach the government’s base in Baidoa where thousands of Ethiopian troops are reported lingering.(More...)

Physicist Stephen Hawking wins Copley medal

LONDON - Physicist Stephen Hawking received the highest award for scientific achievement Thursday for his work in theoretical physics and cosmology.

The Copley medal first was awarded in 1731 by the Royal Society, Britain's elite scientific academy. Previous recipients have included Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Louis Pasteur and Capt. James Cook.

"This is a very distinguished medal," Hawking said in a statement. "It was awarded to Darwin, Einstein and (Francis) Crick. I am honored to be in their company."... Stephen Hawking has contributed as much as anyone since Einstein to our understanding of gravity," said the society's president, Lord Rees. "This medal is a fitting recognition of an astonishing research career spanning more than 40 years."

Today's Top Stories

-Car bomb blast rocks Somali town
-Rwanda, Burundi join East Africa Community
-Iraq Study Group Strikes A Compromise
-Talks On Palestinian Unity Government Fail
-Traces of radiation at a dozen British sites
-Kidman tops actress earning list

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ethiopian government spends $3 ANNUALLY per person on health - Third Worst in Africa

Also in the news: PM Meles asks jailed CUD leaders to quit politics, Kenya opposes military intervention in Somalia, U.S. Peacekeeping Plan for Somalia Criticized, Commission gives Ethiopia-Eritrea a year on border

International: More efforts surfacing to draft Obama as presidential candidate, Iraqi Leader Arrives in Jordan for Talks With Bush, Sick Castro misses 80th birthday celebrations, Ahmadinejad sends letter to American people, Minister speaks out on spy death and more of today's top stories

Qaliti qalkidan Urgent Petition - Sign it!

At least 10,000 signatures needed before the Christmas holiday break

Ethiopian government spends $3 ANNUALLY per person on health - Third Worst in Africa
By Andualem Sisay

Ethiopian government's expenditure on health is so low that the country ranks among the last on the list of World Health Organization Africa member countries. Ethiopia ranks 44th out of 46 member states, says the 2006 WHO report.

According to the report, the Ethiopian government's per capita expenditure on health is only three dollars per annum for a person, making the country the worst, followed only by Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo whose government per capita expenditure on health is just one dollar.

Seychelles ranks at the top with its government allocating 382 dollars annually for health for a person followed by Botswana that spends 135 dollars and Gabon third with 130 dollars per person per year.

The WHO Commission for Macroeconomics and Health estimates that a minimum expenditure of 34 dollars per person per year was required to provide an essential package of public health interventions in order to achieve both the relevant Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the New Partnership for Africa 's Development (NEPAD) targets.

Currently 35 African member states of WHO spend less than 34 dollars on health.

According to the First African Regional Health Report launched Monday, African countries in 2003 spent on average 5% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on health, 51% of which were expenditures by the government.

African heads of state made a commitment in Abuja in 2001 to allocate at least 15% of their annual budgets to the health sector. By the end of 2003, out of the 46 only one country Seychelles allocated 15% or more of its national budget on health.

In 2005, the Abuja pledge to allocate 15% of national budgets to health was reconfirmed by African heads of state in the Gaborone Declaration at the October 2005 session of the Conference of African Ministers of Health in Botswana .

PM Meles asks jailed CUD leaders to quit politics

Meles Zenawi would release CUD leaders who had been held at Kaliti prison for the last thirteen months if they agreed to quit politics. According to prison sources, Meles sent the message to the prisoners through Professor Ephrem Isaac (seen here). The prominent linguist and historian met the prisoners at least twice this week and heard a firm rejection from some of the top leaders. (More...)

Kenya opposes military intervention in Somalia

Kenyan foreign minister Raphael Taju revealed yesterday that his country will never agree to foreign countries deploying military troops in Somalia.

The minister invited Somalis in Kenya to a banquet in Nairobi where they have discussed over Kenya’s stance in Somalia, as Taju stated that he does not believe military intervention is the solution for the political discord between the Union of Islamic Courts and the transitional government.

Somalis who have convened with the minister were combined of businesspeople and traditional elders.

“The Kenyan government is always looking for a peaceful solution for Somalia. Kenya does not believe that military intervention in Somalia will produce good results”, he said.

A committee of 12 persons was appointed in the meeting to assess the developments in neighboring Somalia, where fears of war are running high.

Taju has told Somalis he met that Kenyan government would not take for granted what view they present to the government over the worsening situation in their country.(More...)

U.S. Peacekeeping Plan for Somalia Criticized
washington post

..European and U.N. officials have privately voiced concern that the establishment of the force, which the militias oppose, could provoke a new military offensive against the government. They have also expressed fears that the conflict could reignite fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which ended their border war in 2000.

"We need to . . . encourage the Somali parties to continue the dialogue," said U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. "What is also important is we need to make sure that neighboring countries do not get drawn in, because there is a tendency for some of the neighboring countries to get drawn in."

The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, issued a warning Monday that the U.S. resolution "could trigger all-out war in Somalia" and destabilize the Horn of Africa.

"You don't win in Somalia by picking one side and support it and funneling arms to it," said Nick Grono, an expert on Africa at the organization. He said the Islamic militias have warned that they would respond to foreign intervention with the declaration of a holy war. "That is a recipe for jihad," he said.

France and other European governments have asked the United States to consider amendments designed to assure the Islamic militias that they are not taking sides in the war. For instance, they are calling for the exclusion of the countries bordering Somalia -- Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya -- from participating in the force.(More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Commission gives Ethiopia, Eritrea a year on border
-More efforts surfacing to draft Obama as presidential candidate
-White House in losing battle over semantic war of words
-Iraqi Leader Arrives in Jordan for Talks With Bush
-Ahmadinejad sends letter to American people
-Sick Castro misses 80th birthday celebrations
-Minister speaks out on spy death
-US rapper Snoop Dogg arrested again
-Father hangs onto roof pursuing car thief

Monday, November 27, 2006

EPRDF troops clash with Islamists

Also in the news: Troops shelling central town, Questions raised by University Students, ANALYSIS-U.S. may be heading for new setback in Somalia, In response to Dr. Maru Gubena’s article

International: Bemba accepts DR Congo poll loss, Gaddafi in Nigeria airport drama, official Leftist wins Ecuador presidency, Face transplant woman able to smile and more of today's top stories

Qaliti qalkidan (Covenant) Petition - Sign it!

At least 10,000 signatures needed before the Christmas holiday break

On November 16, 2006, Representatives Donald Payne of New Jersey and Michael Honda of California held a historic briefing in the United States House of Representatives to expose the truth about the massive human rights violations in Ethiopia. All Ethiopians deeply appreciate the extraordinary efforts of Representatives Payne and Honda and their outstanding staff in coordinating this briefing.(More...)

-Also visit Qaliti Covenant’s website For:
  • Video Excerpt of the Inquiry Commission’s deliberations presented at the briefing Which shows the Inquiry Commission clearly voting 8-2 against the government of Ethiopia for having used excessive force on civilians. You will also find additional material regarding the inquiry commission’s report on the website
Questions raised by University Students (Amharic)


EPRDF troops 'clash' with Islamists

Ethiopian forces have exchanged fire with Islamists in a strategic town north of Somalia's capital, officials of the powerful Islamic movement say. The Union of Islamic Courts chairman Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed told a rally in Mogadishu that Ethiopian forces began shelling Bandiradley at 0300 GMT.

Earlier this month, Islamists captured the town near semi-autonomous Puntland, which has strong ties to Ethiopia. There is no independent confirmation of the fighting and no Ethiopian reaction.(More...)

ANALYSIS-U.S. may be heading for new setback in Somalia

NAIROBI, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Twice badly burned in Somalia, the United States appears to be pursuing a third intervention that many Western and regional diplomats say could set off a disastrous war in the Horn of Africa.

Sent into a policy tailspin by its backing of Mogadishu warlords toppled by Islamists earlier this year, Washington has resurrected a two-year-old plan to send African peacekeepers into Somalia.

Peacekeeping, Somalia and the United States have proved a volatile mix. Washington abandoned a joint operation with the United Nations after 18 U.S. soldiers were killed and hundreds of Somalis slaughtered in the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" incident.

U.N. diplomats say Washington is expected this week to unveil a draft Security Council resolution authorising the peacekeeping mission.(More...)

Somali Islamists accuse Ethiopia of shelling central town

MOGADISHU (AFP) - Somalia's powerful Islamist movement has accused neighboring Ethiopia of shelling an Islamist-held central Somali town, ratcheting up tension and fears for all-out war.

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, leader of the executive wing of the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia (SICS), said Tuesday that Ethiopian forces were attacking Bandiradley, about 630 kilometers (394 miles) north of Mogadishu.

"Ethiopian soldiers have massed around Bandiradley and started firing missiles toward our positions," he told a crowd of more than 10,000 people in the capital, denouncing the Ethiopian presence in Somalia and the United States.

"Their tanks are trying to surround the area and now they are about 10 kilometers (six miles) away from the town where our fighters are based," Ahmed said.(More...)

In response to Dr. Maru Gubena’s article
Yinegal Belachew

I read Dr. Maru Gubena’s article with a lot of interest. This interest came because we both belong to the same generation he called “ Golden Period Generation” and share more or less the same experiences. It would have been wise and scientific to wait until Part II come out and read what is in it to conclude and learn what Dr. Maru Gubena wants us to. I chose not to wait.

I agree to most of the analysis given by Dr. Maru Gubena and do agree on the historical part of the analysis. Two foundations he based his analysis on put their weight on the other side of the scale. (More...)

Gaddafi in Nigeria airport drama

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has been involved in a diplomatic incident as he arrived in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, for a summit.

Nigerian officials say Col Gaddafi was accompanied by more than 200 heavily armed Libyan bodyguards.

When security officers refused to allow them to keep their weapons, an argument ensued and Col Gaddafi stormed off.

Only when Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo intervened did the bodyguards agree to hand in their weapons. (More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Bemba accepts DR Congo poll loss
-NBC to use 'civil war' to describe Iraq
-Prime minister opts to see visiting pope
-Leftist wins Ecuador presidency, official says
-Face transplant woman can smile
-Wrong turn puts driver on the rails

Protests In Khartoum Enter Second Week - BLOGS STILL BLOCKED IN ETHIOPIA!

ETP - In continuation of its repressive undemocratic policies; the Ethiopian Government has blocked all blogs yet again. This attempt by the government to completely sensor all information in and out of Ethiopia is a desperate effort to keep citizens ignorant and unaware of atrocities that are currently being committed .

Also in the news: CUD Trial Update, Letters that sparked US Somalia alert fake, The Great Ethiopian Run scam: URAEL, Fanning the flames of war, Solution to the Quagmire in Somalia:Enset, US to suspend visa services in Eritrea

International: Stakes high as Iraq-Iran officials meet, Diplomatic Row Brews Over Spy's Radiation Death, UK to cut Iraq troops by "thousands" by end-2007, Leftist Chavez ally winning Ecuador presidential race and more of today's top stories

Ethiopians’ protest at the UNHCR gate in Khartoum entered its second week. Two are seriously sick.The protest started november 20, 2006 when the rounding up and arresting of Ethiopians with no valid IDs was at its pick. According to their representative their number is 212. Among the protesters is a woman with a six month baby and another with a two years old. Debteraw.(More...)

Letters that sparked US Somalia alert fake

MOGADISHU, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Somali Islamists on Monday dismissed as fake two letters purportedly signed by their most influential leader and which led to a U.S. warning of possible suicide attacks in Kenya and Ethiopia.

"An assassin will not write a letter and say I will carry out a plan. Even in the copy we saw, they could not get the letterhead right," Ibrahim Hassan Addow (seen here), in charge of foreign affairs for the Islamists, told Reuters.

"Those who want attack us and bring foreign troops to Somalia want to use this cheap tactic to get American support ... It is unfortunate that a State Department official accepted this and used it in American foreign policy towards Somalia."

The letters surfaced amid belligerent rhetoric and heightened fears that a standoff between Somalia's interim government and rival Islamists may spiral into a regional war, sucking in neighbouring countries.(More...)

CUD Trial Update

Shimelis Kemal, co-author of the EPRDF court drama requested the court today to abandon the appearance of his remaining 289 trained witnesses. Of the total expected fake witnesses of 367 only 59 appeared in court so far; and 19 have not witnessed for the prosecutor himself claimed their substance is redundant.

Shimelis claimed that the substance of the remaining 289 witnesses is not different from those so far appeared; and his office wants to help justice to be made as soon as possible (“yetefaten fitih”). However the co-authors appeal to bring 15 new witnesses that were not mentioned in the original list of witnesses due to different reasons. The court accepted both questions and adjourned for Wednesday. The authors seems to end their series so short. Why?

Meanwhile, Muluneh Eyoel, Sisay Agena and Eskindir Nega were brought back to Kality jail from their solitary confinement last week. Prison sources confirmed that the three were in solitary confinement as a punishment for their “behavior” which is demanding their basic rights of discussing with their prison mates. source

The Great Ethiopian Run scam


The television trucks are already at their place. Tens of thousands of enthusiastic amateur athletes are trying their best to compete, or in some cases to complete, the 6.5 miles through Addis Ababa's city center. Last years edition was just three weeks after the general strike and the murders and mass arrests following the election fraud. I watched the run nearby one of the trucks of the Ethiopian Television Corporation.

In a nearby buna bet people were following the event on television. When the competitive athletes finished the crowds came passing by. Whenever they passed the truck of the ETC with a camera on its roof, the V sign was made and large groups shouted 'Leba, leba'.

You could read the uneasiness from the faces of the camera men. What to do? There was no way to avoid the shouting and signaling runners but filming it, was against all the codes that are valid at the national television. Which means we show what the gang wants us to. And they knew that the government did no even want to admit that the opposition was alive and kicking, even with many thousands suffering in concentration camps.

The other thing was that the camera men and other technical people felt that the 'Leba, leba' yells were not only meant for the thieves that stole the elections, but also was aimed at the ETV itself.

Day in day out broadcasting lies does not make you popular. I must admit that I enjoyed this spectacle. After weeks of tension, somehow I escaped from the attention of the security people, it was a relieve to see that so many felt the same as me. For a moment we could share our feelings of anger and frustration. May be even a tear dropped out of my eyes.

After a while I went in to the buna bet for a refreshment. Ethiopian television was still showing pictures of thousands of people running. But there was something strange. All of them were wearing the T shirt, that the organization provides, of the run the year before.

And no pictures of people outing their frustration with the recent atrocities. Then I understood; to avoid showing the angry crowd on TV, ETV was showing the footage of the year before. While the reporting went on for another hour, the television people had packed their things and were long gone.

Fanning the flames of war

Conor Foley, Guardian

Plans by the US government to authorise intervention in Somalia are likely to be counterproductive, as history warns us.

...Deploying frontline states, such as Ethiopia, in Somalia, without the consent of all warring parties, would be the equivalent of pouring petrol on a fire. Intervening under the banner of the UN will also weaken the organisation's neutrality and legitimacy. The ICG has instead called on the UN to reinforce its arms embargo against all sides and to push for a negotiated end to the conflict. It states that "any UN-sponsored military deployment should be designed to support an agreed ceasefire, not undermine it"...(More)

Solution to the Quagmire in Somalia


...In her article, the feminist Mire (cousin of the leader of the Islamists, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys) argues that what Somalis needed the most at this time is a sense of security in their own country and she was prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to the Islamists, even though she is convinced that Somali women will not fare any better under Islamic Sharia law.

In an email conversation I had with Mire after reading her article, she related to me that the central reason for the lack of political stability in Somalia in the last 16 years was Ethiopian interference in Somali affairs. She also seemed to attribute the ills of Somali society such as warlordism and the consumption of the mild narcotics khat (tchat) on Ethiopia. While I agreed with Mire that interference by the Meles regime was, indeed, one of the reasons for the political instability in Somalia today, I indicated to her that the premium that Somali society places on clan loyalty over and above everything else is the main culprit.(More...)

US to suspend visa services in Eritrea

ASMARA (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday it was temporarily suspending visa services in Eritrea until the Red Sea state let its new consular officer enter the country.

The current U.S. consul is set to leave Eritrea early next month, but in a sign of worsening diplomatic relations the U.S. embassy said it had been unable to get a visa for her replacement.(More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Stakes high as Iraq, Iran officials meet
-Olmert says ready to free Palestinian prisoners
-Diplomatic Row Brews Over Spy's Radiation Death
-UK to cut Iraq troops by "thousands" by end-2007
-Leftist Chavez ally winning Ecuador presidential race
-Turkish PM to meet Pope after all
-Splash into cash: Rome's Trevi coins fund market for poor

Sunday, November 26, 2006


ETP - In continuation of its repressive undemocratic policies; the Ethiopian Government has blocked all blogs yet again. This attempt by the government to completely sensor all information in and out of Ethiopia is a desperate effort to keep citizens ignorant and unaware.

Ethiopians Have woken up; they are demanding democracy and freedom to say, read and listen to what they want With out any government interference!

Also in the news:

Great Ethiopian Run Provides Avenue for Peaceful Protest


Today at 8:30am, an estimated 25 000 people gathered in Meskel Square to participate in the annual Great Ethiopian Run. However, almost immediately after the race began, the crowd seized the long-awaited opportunity to peacefully protest the escalating brutality of the EPRDF regime--demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners and an end to the dictatorial rule of Meles Zenawi.

Shouts of “Kinijit is back!” and “Give power to the educated!” mingled with slogans denouncing the Somalian invasion, and strains of peaceful hymns filled the air. Local police officers looked on in amazement as crowds swarmed the front of the ETV building, peacefully expressing their dissatisfaction and thanking Haile Gebre-Selassie for providing the opportunity to speak out against the mounting political oppression.(More...)


There have been reports that the Great Ethiopian Run was used as a platform for protesting the governments policy on the threatened war with Somalia.
I can say that I saw groups of runners showing the V sign and chanting. The V sign is typically used by the opposition. To my ears the chant sounded like "thief, thief" but my lack of Amharic means that I can not say what other slogans were chanted if any.

What I do know is that all there is a blocking action against a large number of Ethiopian blog sites [both on and from]. I can not access any of the internationally hosted blogs from here in Addis. This is a strangulation of the freedom of speech and an obvious attempt to stop the flow of information on and about Ethiopia to its citizens.

It is not the first time this tactic has been used.

This is not surprising perhaps in a country where sending SMS/text messages has been stopped since the protests after the 2005 elections.

As the Ethiopian government and its economy rely to such a large extent on international donors, there need to be pressure brought from them to see that a democratic right to information is both required and enforced. The International Federation of Journalists migt also let their voice be heard.(More...)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Teshome TOGA defends human rights abuses in Ethiopia

Also in the news:

211 Ethiopians on hunger strike at UNHCR gate in Khartoum

Washington Update, The head of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts said his forces are ready to face Ethiopian troops within Somalia

International:Rwanda recalls envoy to France over arrest warrants, Poisoned ex-spy accuses Putin from beyond grave, Iran agrees to open nuclear books, Chavez has big lead before Venezuela vote and more of today's top stories
Betrayal of Democracy Toronto Canada
Saturday December 2 , 2005
4:00 pm
235 Queens Quay W.
For more information contact (416) 732-7446

211 Ethiopians on hunger strike at UNHCR gate in Khartoum

Khartoum (22 November 2006): Arresting, deporting and harassing Ethiopians is continued. The house to house search in selected areas of Khartoum is still going on. This has paved the way for crooks, hooligans and all other types of cheats who pretend as authorized search teams. According to reliable sources reaching this reporter rapes, attempted rapes, flogging, entering houses by force, confiscating properties are rampant. (More...)

(Audio) DW radio report on the strike

Teshome TOGA defends human rights abuses in Ethiopia

ETP - The EU-ACP(African, Caribbean, Pacific) Joint Parliamentary Assembly met in Bridgetown ( Barbados) from 20 to 23 November. A resolution was tabled by the European side calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all political detainees. the ACP resisted and rejected this resolution on East Africa which addressed human rights issues. 53 EU Delegates voted for the resolution with one voting against it while eleven ACP states supported it and twenty-seven voted against it. Below is the debate on the resolution concerning east Africa in which Teshome TOGA (Ethiopia's Speaker of the House of Representatives) defends human rights abuses in Ethiopia saying it is in the interest of the people


Michael GAHLER (EPP-ED, DE) one of the sponsors of the resolution recalled that he had visited the country just one month ago and he found an “unsatisfactory situation.” Mr Gahler underlined that lawyers, human rights activists and opposition Members of Parliament had all been brought before the courts. National reconciliation was needed.

Ana GOMES (PES, PT) said that she did not advocate cutting ties with Ethiopia because of human rights abuses. She advocated the opposite approach with full engagement to press the regime to release political prisoners. She said the EU had made a difference in the past in Ethiopia and could do so again. Pressure needed to be put on certain officials and against Prime Minister Meles. It was important, she said, to see the bigger picture and for human rights to be protected and respected. The actions of the Ethiopian government were providing an excuse for the Eritreans to undermine some human rights.

Teshome TOGA (Ethiopia) disagreed with the campaign by some EU parliamentarians. They were acting for an external interest and this interference had contributed to violence after the elections. He stressed that Ethiopia had the right to choose independence and would not kneel down to external pressure.(More...)

Washington Update

Mesfin Mekonen

On Sunday, Nov. 19, Dr. Taye Woldesmiat, president of the Ethiopian Teachers Association and Ato Kifle Mulat, president of the Ethiopian Free Press Association addressed a Town Hall meeting in Washington, D.C.

They provided updates on the situation in Ethiopia and discussed future plans for restoring democracy and improving the human rights situation.

Dr. Taye Woldesmiat emphasized the need for all Ethiopians to work together to use peaceful means to bring about democratic change. He called for a halt to unnecessary fighting among those who are united in their pursuit of democracy. He called for an immediate focus on the release of political prisoners, journalists, and leaders of civic society. He warned that the structure of Ethiopian society is unraveling as the educational system disintegrates, children drop out of school and there are no economic opportunities. Students will continue to play a key role in efforts to bring democracy to Ethiopia, he said. Dr. Taye also stressed the important role that women must play.

Ato Kilfle described the important role the free press played during and after the elections to inform the Ethiopian public. He added, however, that the Ethiopian press has paid a heavy price. Most independent-minded journalists are suffering in jail, although they are guilty of nothing other than reporting the truth. His hands were chained together in remembrance of the Ethiopian journalists who are in jail, as well as those who have been killed. He expressed strong disappointment with the lack of interest in the international community, and the failure of governments and organizations in free countries to intervene to help Ethiopian journalist. Those suffering in Ethiopian jails include Sirkalem Fasil, a journalists who was pregnant when she was arrested and who delivered her baby in prison.

The large number of Ethiopians who attended the meeting applauded Dr. Taye and Ato Kilfle. They also loudly and clearly requested that they work hard to organize a conference bringing together all Ethiopian political and civic organizations to craft unified positions. There was strong agreement among audience members representing a variety of political groups, as well as by Dr. Taye and Ato Kilfle, that democratic change can only be achieved if civic organizations are involved in the effort.

Following a very active question and answer session, Dr. Taye proposed the following basic elements for future action:

Civil society must play an active, constructive role in transforming Ethiopian society from dictatorship to democracy.

All of the political parties must work together.

Ethiopian intellectuals must work for the common good of Ethiopia society; they should network among themselves.

A civil society support committee should be organized.

There should be strong links between those working for democracy inside Ethiopia and those in the rest of the world.

Ethnic and religious conflict must be avoided.

*Orqanized by Addis Dimitse radio, ENC/EAC and other civic groups

The head of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts said his forces are ready to face Ethiopian troops within Somalia

The Islamic body that controls much of Somalia has reacted angrily to comments by Ethiopia that it is prepared for an attack by its eastern neighbour. The head of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, said his forces were ready to face Ethiopian troops within Somalia.

On Thursday Ethiopia's PM said the UIC had declared holy war on his country. Ethiopia denies allegations by the UIC that Ethiopian troops are backing Somalia's weak transitional government.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has denied these claims but admits to having hundreds of military trainers in Somalia. On Thursday he told MPs that Somalia's UIC represented a "clear threat".(More...)

Poisoned ex-spy accuses Putin from beyond grave

LONDON (Reuters) - An ex-KGB spy accused Vladimir Putin of his murder in a statement read out on Friday after his death from radiation poisoning, but the Russian president brushed off the accusation as "political provocation".

British authorities said large quantities of polonium 210, a radioactive isotope, had been discovered in Alexander Litvinenko's body. Police were studying how it got there and experts searched for traces of it at several locations.

"You may succeed in silencing one man. But a howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life," the ex-spy said in a statement read out by friends in front of the London hospital where he died overnight of organ failure.
"May God forgive you for what you have done, not only to me but to beloved Russia and its people." (More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Rwanda recalls envoy to France over arrest warrants
-U.N.: Iran agrees to open nuclear books
-Palestinians propose truce, Israel rejects it
-Poll: Chavez has big lead before Venezuela vote
-German police get their phoney U.S. Highway Patrolman

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ethiopian troops impose curfew on a Somali town

Also in the news: Eritrea refuses to rule out a new war with Ethiopia, Why is the International community silent?, Ethiopia one of the most dangerous place for newborns, Ethiopia's lion cubs being poisoned at a zoo in Addis Ababa

International: EU-Africa Summit Addresses European Migration, Passport rules for entering U.S. to change, Tension rises in Lebanon after assassination, Israeli troops advance into Gaza towns and more of today's top stories

Two rare Ethiopian lion cub's rest inside their enclosure at the Lion Zoo in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2006. The zoo is poisoning rare lion cubs and selling the corpses to be stuffed because it doesn't have enough money to care for the animals, which are the national symbol, the zoo's administrator said Wednesday. 'These animals are the pride of our country,' Muhedin Abdulaziz of the Lion Zoo told The Associated Press. 'But our only alternative right now is to send them to the taxidermist.' Ethiopia's lions, famous for their black manes, adorn statues and the local currency. Wildlife experts estimate that only 1,000 Ethiopian lions,, remain in the wild. (AP Photo/Les Neuhaus)

Hailu Shawel; less rhetoric and more Truth

Political pragmatism isn't usually inspired by exotic nature. It grows from an attempt to make sense of the quiddities thrown by human existence. Kinijit's charismatic chairman Hailu Shawel though isn't your normal pragmatic politician.

He switches from idealism to the most practical aspects of politics as effortlessly as children absorb their native tongue.The Greek root of the Latin Natura means "to give birth", to be The public life of Hailu Shawel was born of nature's inspiration.

In 1958, as an adventurous 22 year old Hailu returned to Ethiopia barely weeks after he graduated from Wayne State in Civil engineering. His destination was the world's most marvelous water -the Blue Nile. There, as a chief Hydrologist in Blue Nile Investigation Project, he reviled the bewildering contrast between Ethiopia's great potential and its failure. Where the beautiful Nile snaked around with arrogance and grace, the soil was lost to erosion and wildlife decimated. Nature vanishes when development surges.(More...)

Ethiopia one of the most dangerous places for newborns

Up to half a million African babies die on the day they are born, with Liberia having the world's highest neonatal mortality rate at 66 deaths per 1,000 births, compared with fewer than two deaths for 1,000 births in Japan.

Half of Africa's 1.16 million neonatal deaths occur in Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, the report said.

Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Madagascar, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda had made significant progress in reducing infant deaths over the last 10 years, thanks to increased government spending on basic health care.

The report said opportunities to save the lives of newborns within existing programmes were often missed, with only one-tenth of women in Africa attending antenatal care receiving preventive treatment for malaria.

Only one percent of mothers with HIV had treatment to avoid transmitting the virus to their babies during childbirth.

"Up to 800,000 babies a year could be saved if 90 percent of women and babies received feasible, low-cost health interventions," the report said, adding this would cost about $1 billion per year.(More...)

Ethiopian troops impose curfew on a Somali town

Mogadishu 22, Nov.06 ( Sh.M.Network) –– Ethiopian forces in Balanballe in Galgaduud province in central Somalia have imposed curfew on the town.

Reliable sources told Shabelle Radio in Mogadishu that Balanballe, a Somali district, which has become a military base for Ethiopian troops, have been imposed on curfew by Ethiopian forces that began searching residents going in and out of the town.

Earlier UN revealed that thousands of Ethiopian troops are in Somalia as Ethiopian government insisted that the troops were in the country to train forces and protect the weak government based in the small town of Baidoa, 245 km southwest of the capital.

The transitional government was formed in Kenya in 2004 after protracted negotiations but remained largely powerless ever since it moved to Somalia.(More...)

Why is the International community silent? (Amharic)


Eritrea refuses to rule out a new war with Ethiopia

ASMARA (AFP) - Eritrea has warned that the current stalemate over its tense border with Ethiopia was "not sustainable" and refused to rule out a new war with its arch-foe Horn of Africa neighbor.

At the same time, Asmara repeated denials that Somalia had become a proxy battleground for it and Addis Ababa amid reports the two countries are backing rival factions there to settle scores from their bloody 1998-2000 conflict.

Two days after Eritrea and Ethiopia both rejected plans by a UN-appointed border panel to demarcate their contentious frontier on paper, further raising tensions, a senior Eritrean official said that all options were on the table.

"Eritrea is a sovereign country and we cannot accept the reality of our territory being occupied by a foreign power indefinitely," said Yemane Gebremeskel, director of Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki's office Wednesday.

"I don't want to speculate on what can happen, but I can only tell you this situation is not sustainable, it cannot be acceptable legally and there is no reason why it should stay this way," he told reporters in an interview here.

On Monday, the two nations boycotted a meeting of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission in The Hague designed to gather comment about a proposal to delineate the border on maps without marking it on the ground.(More...)

Rare Abyssinian lion cubs are being poisoned at a zoo in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa

The zoo, founded by Ethiopia's former Emperor Haile Selassie, says it poisons a number of cubs each year because it does not have the space or money to look after them. "We can send them to the forest and to some governmental palaces but most of the time we send them to the taxidermists," said the Lion Zoo administrator Muhedin Abdulaziz.

He said the taxidermists paid about $175 (£90) for each cub and they were then sold for $400 (£210). No-one at the zoo is happy about the situation and local conservationists are angry.

One Ethiopian conservationist, who did not want to be named, said he had been offered 11 cubs last year."They told me I could take and keep them but I don't have land to keep them... and it was not easy to get land." (More...)

Today's Top Stories

-EU-Africa Summit Addresses European Migration
-Passport rules for entering U.S. to change
-Israeli troops advance into Gaza towns
-Tension rises in Lebanon after assassination
-UK troops may hand over Basra ‘by spring’
-Study: Surgery Just One Option for Herniated Disk
-Drunken bus driver asks to continue school run

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Negotiated Settlement is the Way to go!

*Amharic version of statement below

International News: HIV epidemic 'is getting worse', Lebanese Christian leader killed, Syrian-Iraq relations to resume after 24 years, Ex-KGB agent's illness vexes experts, Mobile phones are closer to becoming smart wallets and more of today's top stories

The Seattle Kinijit Support Chapter Resolution on the Current Leadership Crisis

The Seattle Kinijit Support Chapter held its first extraordinary general assembly on November 4, 2006, to discuss and deliberate on the current controversy involving the leadership of the Diaspora Kinijit movement. Early on, members and supporters were briefed on what has transpired so far leading to the current crisis where the organization is now on the verge of splitting into two contending groups.

Almost all who addressed the gathering expressed their disbelief, anger and frustration on why such a situation was left to spin out of control when our jailed leaders and through them the Ethiopian people need our unity and coordinated efforts more than ever. The crisis did not only paralyze our overall activities for over six months now but has also serious repercussions which may not be remedied easily unless a conscious and responsible effort is undertaken by both sides. The only beneficiaries of the current morass and gridlock are the tyrant dictator, its agents and enemies of the Ethiopian people. (More...)

Negotiated Settlement is the Way to go - Seattle (Amharic)


Today's top stories

-HIV epidemic 'is getting worse'
-Lebanese Christian leader killed
-Italian aid workers kidnapped
-Syrian-Iraq relations to resume after 24 years
-Ex-KGB agent's illness vexes experts
-India, China target $40bn trade by 2010
-Mobile phones are closer to becoming smart wallets

Monday, November 20, 2006

Getz # 10 – And In Conclusion . . .

Also in the news: Text of Judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha's Speech to the US congress , Clarification from Qaliti Qalkidan, Ethiopia says it will reject Eritrea border ruling, U.N. envoy urges Somali govt to talk to Islamists

International: Eyewitness: 'We are living in the trees', Israeli forces launch raids in Gaza, Poisoned Russian spy moved to intensive care, Masked gunman injures 20 at German school raid and more of today's top stories

Ethiopian Jewish men use umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun during a prayer of the Sigd holiday on a hill overlooking Jerusalem, Monday, Nov. 20, 2006. The prayer is performed by Ethiopian Jews every year to celebrate their community's connection and commitment to Israel. About 80,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, many of them came in massive Israeli airlifts during times of crisis in Ethiopia in 1984 and 1991. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Clarification from Qaliti Qalkidan

Qaliti Qalkidan, a network of Ethiopians who are committed to the cause of the immediate and unconditional release of the prisoners, held a meeting in Washington DC immediately following the NA meeting on November 18, 2006. It is Qaliti Qalkidan, and not KNA who hosted the members of the Inquiry Commission, Judge Frehiywot Samuel and Ato Mitiku Meshesha. This meeting was open to all concerned about the human rights situation and not only to members and supporters of the KNA, although both meetings were held in the same venue.

Ethiopia says it will reject Eritrea border ruling

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Ethiopia said on Monday it would not recognise any demarcation of its contested border with rival Eritrea, telling an independent commission its plans would be illegal and "must be rejected".

The Horn of Africa neighbours fought a 1998-2000 war over a frontier area of dusty villages and scrubby plains, in which 70,000 people were killed. Although a 2000 agreement ended the conflict, the peace process soon ground to a halt after Ethiopia rejected the commission's border. (More...)

Getz # 10 – And In Conclusion . . .

November 2006. One year later. One year since the breakdown of summit talks between GOE and CUD leaders. One year since the call for another round of nonviolent protests, which triggered rounds of indiscriminate killings.

One year since the Government arrested more than a hundred Ethiopian critics and charged them with crimes punishable by death in a trial marred by unfair procedures and inexcusable delays. One year since the Government called for an investigation into the killings that has resulted in defections of two high-ranking judges and a report that identifies no particular wrongdoers.

One year, in which 50% of Ethiopia's children continue to live in diagnostic levels of serious malnutrition; tens of thousands died of AIDS; more than one thousand Ethiopians perished from floods due in part to environmental degradation, floods which left another 280,000 homeless. And the misery grinds on.

It was a year in which Ethiopian Americans organized effectively to launch a controversial bill designed to promote democratization efforts, thereby provoking the Government of Ethiopia to fight back by spending a huge amount on lobbyists. What all those resources diverted to American legislative processes might have done for Ethiopian relief and, yes, Ethiopia's own democratic processes! (Indeed, what good might have been done if all Diaspora Ethiopians had also made a serious contribution to improve life at home in an area like medicine, engineering, education, IT, or water resources?)(More...)

Text of Presentation of Judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha, Vice-Chairman of the Inquiry Commission on Post-Electoral Violence

Mr. Chairman, I would have liked to come and make my presentation in person. I regret that I could not have made it.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with you the work of the Inquiry Commission, which was set up to investigate the 2005 post-electoral violence in Ethiopia. I am particularly grateful for Congressman Donald Payne who initiated this briefing which I believe would help Members of Congress and friends of Ethiopian to understand the process which the Inquiry Commission followed to reach to its conclusions. It is also important what happened once the Commission completed its work. The Government of Ethiopia first attempted to suppress and then to revise the conclusions of the Commission. (More..)

Today's top stories

-U.N. envoy urges Somali govt to talk to Islamists
-Eyewitness: 'We are living in the trees'
-Israeli forces launch raids in Gaza
-Poisoned Russian spy moved to intensive care
-Iraq Reopens Diplomatic Relations With Syria
-Masked gunman injures 20 at German school raid
-Play it again and again and again, Sam..

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Week in Review

Look for ‘the week in review’ segment below

*Video: Europe protest (EMF)*

6 Ethiopian soldiers killed in ambush by Somalia's Islamic fighters

MOGADISHU, Somalia: Islamic fighters ambushed an Ethiopian military convoy on Sunday, killing six Ethiopian soldiers and wounding 20 others, eyewitnesses said, in the first known skirmish between the rival forces maneuvering for control in Somalia. (More...)

weekend news

ION report: The Ethiopian auditor general
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1202 18/11/2006

The Ethiopian auditor general was sacked from his post on 10 Nov., just a short time after he had presented Parliament with a report that was very severe on the government's management of funds.

Lemma Argaw had estimated that the government had spent 7.2 billion birrs (about $900 million) without giving justification. 4.8 billion birrs of this was by the regional administrations alone.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had responded angrily, stating that regional administrations even had the right to ”burn the money" from federal subsidies if they felt like it. Zenawi relieved him of his functions, even though only Parliament is supposed to have the power to do so.

Also see ETP's report November 14, 2006: Prime Minister Meles gets rid of auditor who exposed government’s corruption

-Ethiopia girds for war
-Thousands demand release of immigrant convicted of mutilation
-Djiboutian president backs Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy

The Week in Review

  • Monday- Friday- 13, 2006

  • Review needed of the way Irish aid is channelled through Ethiopian regime, URGE YOUR CONGRESSIONAL MEMBERS/STAFFERS TO ATTEND BRIEFING, The Artful Dodgers: Vickie Huddleston and the International Donor Community, ONLF requests Lundin to distance itself from Ethiopia’s oil, In pictures: Flood help in Ethiopia

  • Tuesday- November 14, 2006

  • Prime Minister Meles gets rid of auditor who exposed government’s corruption, the famous Peaceful civil disobedience calendar, Commission to demarcate Ethiopia-Eritrea border, Eritrea: Three journalists dead in prison

  • Wednesday- November 15, 2006

  • Human Rights in Ethiopia - The Urgent Need to Pass H.R. 5680, Annan tells neighbours: Stay out of Somalia, Stagnant Water Hampering Aid Efforts in Flood-Hit Areas, One Year Has Passed (lewit)..., 'Betrayal of Democracy' in Winnipeg Canada, The famous Peaceful civil disobedience calendar

  • Thursday- November 16, 2006

  • European Parliament condemns EU Commission's invitation to Prime Minister Meles, Letter to Commissioner Louis Michel, More than 70,000 sign Oxfam petition, Somali tensions mount after Ethiopian troop movement

  • Friday- November 17, 2006

  • Prime Minister faces protesters at EC conference, CUD Trial Update, Rising Tensions: Three Generals purged, *Is Ethiopia’s Economy really growing? (amharic), Nearly 2 million flee floods in East Africa, African leaders want EU aid, not meddling

Friday, November 17, 2006

Prime Minister faces protesters at EC conference

Ethiotribune on Major General Alemshet Degife (Chief of the Air force), Brigadier General Kumera and Brigadier General Asaminew Tsige's Removal below

Also in the news: CUD Trial Update, Rising Tensions: Three Generals purged, *Is Ethiopia’s Economy really growing? (amharic), Nearly 2 million flee floods in East Africa, African leaders want EU aid, not meddling

International: Sudan Says It Will Accept U.N.-African Peace Force in Darfur, U.S. says China building military beyond its needs , Socialists Back Woman in Race to be next president of France, Israel developing anti-militant "bionic hornet" and more of today's top stories

Meles Zenawi gives a speech at the European Development days conference in Brussels (today) November 17, 2006.REUTERS/Yves Herman (BELGIUM).

BRUSSELS - According to deutsche welle radio, numerous Ethiopians were in Brussels protesting Prime Minister Meles’s visit. When it came turn for the prime minister to speak Ethiopians who were already in the hall, raising protest signs and shouting slogans displayed their disapproval. Sources are reporting that the prime minister may have cut his speech short because of the fierce opposition he faced in the auditorium. Listen to DW’s report courtesy of addisvoice

CUD Trial Update

Early this week, prosecutors Shiemels Kemal, Michael Teklu, and Abreha Tetemke again failed to prove that widespread violence was instigated by the defendants on November 1st, 2005. Seven witnesses were presented as victims of said riots, apparently in relation to the charge of “attempting to incite genocide”.

The majority of the witnesses claimed lasting psychological damage--lamenting the alleged destruction of property and ongoing subjugation to “local stigma”; however, the connection between the complaints and this serious charge remains yet to be seen. (...Understandably, however, the psyche of witness Mebrat Tesfaye, 39 MUST be irrevocably damaged if, in fact, the stones reportedly thrown at his house by “unknown individuals” truly were intended "to disturb me to do not sleep peacefully”! )(More..)

Rising Tensions: Three Generals purged

Addis Ababa - the government-owned Ethiopian Television last night reported that three generals of the Ethiopian Army, Major General Alemshet Degife, Brigadiers Kumera and Asaminew Tsige, are suspended from their duties.

Although the announcement was made by the Defense Council, at the Ministry of Defense, the instruction is said to come right from the Prime Minister himself.

Major General Alemshet has been the Chief of the Air force. He was assigned this post after a similar purge in 2001 following the division within the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the dominant party within the rump EPRDF.

After the defection of other senior military commanders, the Ethiopian Prime Minister is facing strong upheaval from the armed force. Analysts believe that after the defection and dismissal of so many senior officers, maintaining control over the army will be highly problematic.

Before coming to power in 1991, the TPLF manufactured PDOs to give a more multinational image. Lately this ruse is falling apart and the EPRDF, the ruling coalition, is increasingly being reduced to its Tigrean core with the defection, resignation, arrest and disappearance of several Oromo and Amhara dignitaries. (More...)

Today's Top Stories

-*Is Ethiopia’s Economy really growing?
-African leaders want EU aid, not meddling
-Nearly 2 million flee floods in East Africa
-Sudan Says It Will Accept U.N.-African Peace Force in Darfur
-Congo election loser vows legal fight
-U.S.: China building military beyond its needs
-Socialists Back Woman in Race to be next president of France
-Rome hosts major anti-mafia forum
-Israel developing anti-militant "bionic hornet"
-Beauty queen puts down arms to save legs

Thursday, November 16, 2006

European Parliament condemns EU Commission's invitation to Prime Minister Meles

**Breaking news: Meles suspends air force chief** (EZ)

Also in the news: Letter to Commissioner Louis Michel, More than 70,000 sign Oxfam petition, Somali tensions mount after Ethiopian troop movement

International: Darfur woes spread, Somalis protest Khat ban, Democrats defy Pelosi-elect Hoyer House leader, Iraq ministry hostages 'tortured', Scientists unravel DNA of 38,000-year-old Neanderthal, Nobel prize-winning US economist dead, Jacko on stage at awards ceremony and more of today's top stories

European Parliament condemns EU Commission's invitation to Prime Minister Meles - demand unconditional release of all political prisoners

In a strong message from MEPs to a fellow EU institution, the resolution "deeply regrets the EU Commission's invitation to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to address the European Development Days" (being held from 13 to 17 November 2006 in Brussels), "especially on governance issues, a decision which sends out the wrong signal with regard to EU policy on respect for human rights, democratic principles, the rule of law and good governance".

Lastly the resolution points out that Ethiopia is a signatory to the ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement, "which stipulates that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential element of ACP-EU cooperation". It therefore "asks the Commission and Council to closely monitor the situation in Ethiopia, and considers that development cooperation programmes under the Cotonou Agreement should be contingent on respect for human rights and good governance".[Read Resolution]

To Commissioner Louis Michel

Dear Commissioner,

We are writing this letter to express our puzzlement and indignation in view of the policy of the European Union concerning the flagrant human rights violation in Ethiopia.

Those of us who happen to have the privilege to live in Belgium have admired your courage and political engagement while you were the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Your position on the Iraq war, your stand on human rights and forthrightness had led us to believe that you are a principled politician. As such, we had welcomed your appointment to the post of the European Commissioner in charge of development cooperation with a lot of enthusiasm and hope. We saw the opening of a new era where respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law will be central to EU's policy on cooperation and development.

However, our enthusiasm has unfortunately given way to disillusionment. As you know, the Ethiopian government, having refused to accept the verdict of the May 2005 elections, has proceeded with massive detention of elected opposition deputies, leaders of the opposition, human rights defenders, journalists, educators, members of local and international NGOs, and thousands of ordinary citizens.(More...)

More than 70,000 sign Oxfam petition calling on Starbucks to sign licensing agreement to recognise Ethiopia’s ownership rights to coffee names

As of today over 70,000 people have taken Oxfam’s online action urging coffee giant Starbucks to review its position in relation to Ethiopia’s attempts to claim ownership of the country’s most famous coffee names.

The public has mobilised impressively since Oxfam revealed the obstacles faced by Ethiopia to gain more value from its high quality coffee beans.

Ethiopia, an extremely poor country that produces some of the best coffee in the world, is trying to gain greater leverage in a supply chain that is weighed down by injustice and inequity and biased against producers. Control of its coffee names through trademarking would give Ethiopia a fairer share of the profits of the global coffee trade.

“It’s amazing to see how many people have been moved to take action,” said Seth Petchers, Oxfam International’s Make Trade Fair campaign coffee lead. “Engaging the public on this issue has been critical. People are not only showing their support of Ethiopian coffee farmers, they are also supporting Ethiopia’s ground breaking approach of using intellectual property rights to alleviate poverty.” (more...)

Somali tensions mount after Ethiopian troop movement

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Heavily armed Ethiopian troops propping up Somalia's weak government have retreated after an advance towards Islamist fighters amid fears of war in the Horn of Africa nation, witnesses said on Thursday.

Tensions have mounted between the Western-backed interim administration and the powerful Islamists whose control over most of southern Somalia has challenged the government's plans to impose central rule on a country in chaos since 1991.

The Islamists are just 30 kms (18 miles) away from the government's sole outpost Baidoa, where residents say Ethiopian troops are protecting President Abdullahi Yusuf's government and have dug trenches around its nearby military camp.

Residents said Ethiopian soldiers had advanced on Wednesday from the camp to man a checkpoint in Modmodey, a remote village surrounded by maize fields and within striking distance from the Islamists' defence line in Buur Hakaba. (More...)

Congress will Hold Human Rights Briefing on Ethiopia today

(Audio) *VOA Interview with Congressman Payne*

An Ethiopian Commission of Inquiry report last month found that 193 people were killed in post-election violence in 2005. Some members of the commission who have defected said security forces used excessive force and even committed massacre. But the final report submitted to the Ethiopian parliament said security forces did not use excessive force.

Democratic Congressman Donald Payne is a member of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations. He talks with VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty about a briefing he and other members of congress are sponsoring today (Thursday) on human rights in Ethiopia.

“The briefing is going to listen to members of the Ethiopian Commission Inquiry. This was a commission that was established in Ethiopia to review the violence in the post-election period after May 2005. They will brief the members and the public about their report. As you know, the report found that the government used excessive force in dealing with post-election unrest,” Payne said.

Some Ethiopian government sources have called today’s briefing an interference in Ethiopian affairs. But the New Jersey congressman says he and other members of Congress and the public simply want to see whether the two versions of the commission’s report coincide.(More...)

Also see:
-“According to our investigation 193 civilians were shot dead by the security forces": Judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha
-Summary Report on Panel Discussions on Human Rights in Ethiopia - The Urgent Need to Pass H.R. 5680

Nobel prize-winning US economist Milton Friedman has died at the age of 94

His death was confirmed by the Friedman family, and by the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank. Mr Friedman, who coined the phrase "there's no such thing as a free lunch", was awarded the Nobel Prize for economics in 1976.

Known as the high priest of monetarism, his ideas gained popularity in the 1980s when they influenced the policies of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

The leaders were won over by Mr Friedman's idea that the supply of money was the key factor in determining economic growth and the rate of inflation.(More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Somalis protest ban on the popular narcotic leaf khat
-U.N. mulls central Africa force as Darfur woes spread
-Marine jailed for killing
-Democrats defy Pelosi, elect Hoyer House leader
-Iraq ministry hostages 'tortured'
-Scientists unravel DNA of 38,000-year-old Neanderthal
-Jacko on stage at awards ceremony, disappoints fans
-Remote chance to catch a thief

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Human Rights in Ethiopia - The Urgent Need to Pass H.R. 5680

Also in the news: Annan tells neighbours: Stay out of Somalia, Stagnant Water Hampering Aid Efforts in Flood-Hit Areas, One Year Has Passed (lewit)..., 'Betrayal of Democracy' in Winnipeg Canada, The famous Peaceful civil disobedience calendar

International: DRC Provisional Results Give Kabila Victory, Sudan accused of invading Chad, US: Senate Democrats elect leaders, Al Jazeera Takes on CNN BBC, Japan Russia on tsunami alert and more of today's top stories

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, center, is greeted by a welcoming committee at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2006. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in an attempt to give new momentum to the stalled peace process in Darfur, is convening a meeting Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, of senior officials from the African Union, the Arab League, the European Union, Sudan, the United States, China, Russia, Egypt, France, and half a dozen African countries.(AP Photo/Guy Calaf)

Annan tells neighbours: Stay out of Somalia

Nairobi - Neighbouring states should not meddle in Somalia, where their support for the government or its Islamist rivals risks inflaming an already volatile situation, says United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

A study commissioned by the UN accused 10 countries and various established militant groups of fuelling a rapid military build-up in the Horn of Africa nation.

Annan said: "An already difficult and volatile situation could be further complicated by neighbouring countries rushing in with troops or guns to support one side or the other. (More...)

Summary Report on Panel Discussions on Human Rights in Ethiopia - The Urgent Need to Pass H.R. 5680

Sponsored by the Coalition for HR 5680 – a grassroots alliance of groups, organizations and individuals who are deeply concerned about events in Ethiopia and are committed to work collectively for the passage of HR 5680

Summary of Professor Chuck Schaefer's Presentation:

Professor Schaefer began his talk by pointing out that in January 2006 he has acepted a volunteer position as Country Specialist for Ethiopia for Amnesty International-USA, and is currently devoting considerable time to this responsibility. He proceeded by discussing the wide ranging violations of human rights that have taken place in Ethiopia, including torture, extra judicial killings and imprisonment of political dissidents and opponents. (More...)

Summary of Mr. Ted Dagne's Presentation:

Mr. Dagne expressed his appreciation to the organizers of the event and began his presentation on Ethiopia ’s current human rights situation and the role of Congress. He briefed the audience on Congressman Donald Payne's visit to Ethiopia this past August. Mr. Dagne and Congressman Payne had discussions with the prime minister and other regime officials. They met with civil society leaders and groups. They also visited opposition leaders held in Kality prison and had discussions with a number of them. The delegation also met with family members of the prisoners.(More...)

Summary of Mr. Gregory Simpkins presentation:

Mr. Simpkins discussion topic was “Prospects of HR 5680 in the Lame Duck Session of the 109th Congress”. He began his presentation by offering his overall assessment that an effective grassroots Ethiopian American advocacy group has evolved around H.R. 5680. He congratulated Ethiopian Americans from diverse groups and backgrounds for working together to promote issues of common interest to all Ethiopian. He noted that the Ethiopian American community has made a lasting impression on members of congress.(More...)

Summary of Prof. Alemayehu Gebre Mariam’s Presentation:

Professor Alemayehu's presentation was aimed at developing a common understanding of the core issues of human rights in the Ethiopian American community. He suggested that Ethiopian in the Diaspora can not be effective advocates of human rights in Ethiopia unless they share a common understanding of core human rights values.(More...)

One Year Has Passed...

...One year has passed, and I awake to find myself living in a society where the words “mass imprisonment”, “torture” and “murder” sprinkle casual conversation, and the sight of camoflauged soldiers--armed with AK-47s and walking four and five abreast--no longer chills the blood.

It is because one year has passed, that I fear the exemplary resilience so often required of people here will slowly allow adaptation, even to such horrors. Are we not all , to varying degress, already learning to gather and refashion our lives from the remmnants of former freedoms—continually surrendering to the endless concessions of our most basic human rights? Are we not all already speaking less..trusting less..hoping less?

Ethiopia: Stagnant Water Hampering Aid Efforts in Flood-Hit Areas

Water levels are receding in southeast Ethiopia but humanitarian efforts to help thousands of people displaced by floods are being hindered by stagnant water, amid fears of increased risk of water-borne diseases.

About 68 people died and thousands fled their homes in the Somali region after the Wabe Shebelle river burst its banks in early November, washing away livestock and damaging infrastructure, including bridges and roads. The towns of Mustahil and Kelafo, south of Gode, the regional capital, have been worst hit by the floods.

"Inaccessibility to flood-affected areas, particularly Mustahil and Kelafo woredas, is still a challenge; this coupled with a shortage of fuel is hampering the emergency response," the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a situation report on Monday.

A total of 145,000 people have been affected in the two woredas, according to OCHA. Approximately 11,000 people were reported displaced in Mustahil. "These areas are still inaccessible by road," the report noted. "Transportation has been partly hampered because of poor road conditions following heavy rains in the region and several trucks loaded with emergency relief items are stranded due to the floods and heavy rains. Transportation, including helicopters and boats, is among the pressing needs."(More...)

DRC Provisional Results Give Kabila Victory

Results from Congo's Independent Electoral Commission show presidential incumbent Joseph Kabila has 58 percent of the vote to Jean-Pierre Bemba's 42 percent.

Election officials say they will formally present these results to both candidates. The commission is already looking into allegations of fraud in certain voting areas. Before results are official, the Supreme Court has to certify them.

Wednesday, Transitional President Joseph Kabila called for calm. Mr. Kabila, the son of a slain former coup leader, also said the country's army and police were loyal to him. (More...)


The famous Peaceful civil disobedience calendar, click on picture to see full size.

Today's Top Stories

-Prime Minister Meles gets rid of auditor who exposed government’s corruption
-Betrayal of Democracy in Winnipeg Canada
-Sudan accused of invading Chad
-Senate Democrats elect leaders
-Iraqi govt at odds over missing hostages
-Al Jazeera Takes on CNN, BBC With English Language News Channel
-Japan, Russia on tsunami alert
-Physics promises an end to plugs and cables for your laptop
-Man fined for saying four-letter-word on flight