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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mass detentions in Addis

Also in the news: [ION: Somalia as a backdrop] - [Internet Anti-Jamming Technology Companies Reach Milestone Agreement] - [In the Name of...Justice?] - [Guns silent as Somali Islamists' deadline passes]

International: [Europe Condemns Libya's Death Penalty for Foreign Medics] - [Pentagon: Al-Sadr more dangerous than al Qaeda] - [Israeli PM Makes Surprise Trip To Jordan] - [Scientists find over 50 new species in Borneo]

Somalia as a backdrop
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1204 16/12/2006

Meles Zenawi is trying to moderate his internal opposition so as to have his hands free to handle the inevitable armed conflict with Somalian Islamists.

Several initiatives are currently under way to find a way out of the internal political crisis in Ethiopia. Thus, Ephraim Isaac (seen here), a Falasha living in the United States where he heads the Institute of Semitic Studies at Princeton University and is chairman of the Peace and Development Committee for Ethiopia and the Yemenite Jewish Federation of America, last month visited the leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP) in prison in Addis-Ababa.

He presented himself to them as a “non-partisan” emissary, sent by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to ask them to dissociate themselves officially from the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF, armed opposition). In return they would be freed before the end of the year.

Furthermore, also according to our sources, discreet negotiations are under way between pro and anti-government Ethiopian intellectuals. These informal discussions have set the members of the Citizens’ Charter Group (CCG) against the intellectuals with ties to the regime in place, such as Professor Bahru Zewde in Addis Ababa.

Last week Zewde went to Paris for a meeting with, among others, Pr Mammo Muchie and Tecle Zerihun from Unesco. Some of these intellectuals have ties with Ephraim Isaac.

At the end of the 1999s, Ephraim Isaac had founded an Elders Peace Committee and undertook mediation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, without being able to prevent an armed border conflict from breaking out.

Internet Anti-Jamming Technology Companies Reach Milestone Agreement

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Four world-leading companies in Internet anti-jamming technologies reached an agreement today that starts full-scale cooperation in their technology and business operations. The four companies are the World’s Gate, Inc., the Dynamic Internet Technology, Inc., the UltraReach Internet Corp, and the Garden Networks for Freedom of Information Inc.

Internet users in China are unable to access blocked overseas web sites without outside help from the free world. Several companies, including the above four, have successfully developed and implemented technologies (anti-jamming services, also known as anti-blockade services) to enable Chinese users to break through the blockade and access overseas web sites.

The companies’ technologies will help users not only in mainland China, but also other authoritarian regimes, including Belarus, Cuba, Ethiopia, Iran, Laos, North Korea, Tunisia, and Vietnam -- thanks to the borderless nature of Internet.

At the same time, these tools also effectively protect user privacy and online safety by providing a secure Internet access mechanism for the users. (More...)

Guns silent as Somali Islamists' deadline passes

BAIDOA, Somalia, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Guns were silent in the sole stronghold of Somalia's interim government on Tuesday as an Islamist deadline to Ethiopian troops to leave or face holy war passed with conciliatory signs.

Around the dusty agricultural trading post where Somalia's shaky government conducts business from a converted warehouse, residents reported calm despite the threat by the country's Islamist movement.

Nonetheless, the Islamists and Ethiopian-backed government troops remained dug in along a tense frontline just kilometres (miles) apart.

Baidoa is a potential ground zero in what many fear will become a regional war, sucking in Horn of Africa rivals Ethiopia and Eritrea and spawning suicide bombings in east Africa.

The Somali Islamic Courts Council (SICC) said they wanted peace talks, and backed off a threat by defence chief Yusuf Mohamed Siad "Inda'ade" that gave the Ethiopians a week to leave -- thrusting war fears into overdrive. (More...)

In the Name of...Justice?

Amidst reports of war and attempted negotiation with the political prisoners, life in Ethiopia is becoming far more confusing for this ferenj!

It seems that everyone has a different opinion regarding the outcome of the political trial these days, as the next court session (February 19, 2007) draws closer by the day. Some say that Meles must be under pressure from the international community to release the prisoners immediately, while others argue that the Americans need them to remain behind bars in order to successfully wage this proxy “War on Terror”.

There are also those who suggest that, due to mounting civil dissent, the Prime Minister is left with no choice but to release the leaders (in hopes of rallying support for the war and preventing armed struggle); still others insist it cannot be that simple—and fear this dictator has something far more sinister up his sleeve.

Regardless, should the trial actually reach February’s scheduled hearing, a handful of men will be of particular interest; as much has already been disclosed about head Prosecutor Shemiels Kemal by far more competant bloggers here, I will stick with the three High Court Judges--Mohammad Abdulsani, Leul Gebremariam and Adil Ahmed.

Judge Mohammad seems to have the least suspicious CV of the three and is generally considered apolitical. Currently in is his late-30s, he graduated in law from the Civil Service College in Addis Ababa and practiced as a prosecutor in the SNNPR region for years before being appointed as a federal high court judge.(More...)

Mass detentions in Addis Abeba

Police is rounding up young men from the streets of Addis.

In what some think parallels the Derg's "Affesa era", hundreds had been detained while walking on the streets of the city, standing in their neighborhood or watching European football in little sports bars on Saturday and Monday.

Some were released from detention on Monday after they presented ID cards which proved that either they were students or government workers. Those who worked for private employers were told that their status would be further investigated.

"We didn't know what crime we committed. We were returning to out neighborhood after watching the Manchester United game on Sunday. They encircled us and ordered us to jump onto a truck. We were taken to woreda 10 police station," a teenager who was released the next day said.

He claims that hundreds still remain there. Some eye witnesses said street kids were being beaten by police men while they were rounded up. (More...)

Today's Top Stories

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