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Friday, January 12, 2007

Somalia: Death toll rises, nine killed eight wounded in Mogadishu

Also in the news: [Georgetown University to honor first lady Azeb Mesfin: historic blunder?] - [Ethiopia: Human Rights Watch World Report 2007] - [U.S. Says African Troops Needed in Somalia Urgently] - [Somali conflict raises spectre of new refugee crisis]

International: [Child Warriors Lured Into Somali Conflict] - [McCain Defends Bush's Iraq Strategy] - [Al-Qaeda 'rebuilding' in Pakistan] - [Chinese facing shortage of wives] - [Beckham hailed as league's saviour by U.S. media] and more of today's top stories

Dead and wounded Somali men lie on the ground after clan gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade and briefly exchanged gunfire with government troops outside the presidential residence in Mogadishu, Friday, Jan.12, 2007 (AP Photo/Str)

(Video)Ana Maria GOMES, Member of the European Parliament, Speech for the Human Rights Symposium in Atlanta, GA - January 2007

Georgetown University to honor first lady Azeb Mesfin: historic blunder?

ETP - First lady Azeb Mesfin will be awarded the “John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award” for leadership and service toward the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Georgetown University, Monday, January 15, 2006 at 6:00 p.m.

Now, if Mrs. Azeb was only the first lady, most Ethiopians probably will not mind her receiving this award. However, first lady Azeb Mesfin is also a prominent member of the EPRDF political party. The EPRDF, currently in power in Ethiopia, is led by Mrs. Azeb’s husband Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and has one of the worst records in the world when it comes to human rights issues.

Amnesty international, Human rights watch (newly released 2007 report below), reporters without borders, the Committee to protect journalists and the European Union have all condemned the government of Meles Zenawi, for its blatant disregard of international human rights laws.

The EPRDF government is currently ranked in 4th place as the worst jailer of journalists in the world. Thousands of Ethiopian citizens are currently imprisoned only because of their political views. Human rights activists within the country are currently facing treason charges.

When Georgetown gives this award to Mrs. Azeb Mesfin; knowingly or unknowingly it is sending a message to millions of Ethiopians and oppressed people around the globe; that they don’t matter.

This historic mistake/blunder Georgetown is about to commit; which is giving an award with the title “leadership and service toward the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” to an EPRDF member - may be one the future Georgetown administration and students will look back at in shame.

Contact Georgetown let them know what you think:
Andy Pino

Ethiopia: Human Rights Watch World Report 2007
Suppression of Free Expression and Attacks on Civil Society

Following the 2005 elections the government sharply reversed a liberalizing trend and subjected independent newspapers and their editors, publishers, and reporters to renewed harassment, intimidation, and criminal charges solely because of their reporting and editorials. In addition to the 18 journalists facing treason and genocide charges, journalists were convicted under the pre-1991 military government press law, which makes alleged defamation and the printing of “false” information criminal offenses.

Beginning in September 2006, security forces detained individuals caught with copies of a political manifesto by imprisoned Mayor Berhanu published in Uganda after the manuscript was smuggled out of prison. Also arrested were people found to have copies of an anonymous civil disobedience “calendar” containing pictures of the “treason” defendants and calls to non-violent action, such as boycotts of government-controlled businesses, to win their release. The government blocked access to internet blogs critical of its policies.

The government has long tried unsuccessfully to outlaw the Ethiopian Teachers Association, the largest independent membership organization in the country. ETA’s president was one of those charged with “treason” (but avoided imprisonment by being outside the country); the chair of ETA’s Addis Ababa branch was also named as a defendant and is jailed. In September the government arrested two ETA officers after ETA had complained to the International Labour Organization of unlawful interference with its ability to represent its members. (More...)

Somalia: Death toll rises, nine killed eight wounded in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU - Details are emerging on today's deadly confrontation outside of the main presidential residence in the Somalia capital Mogadishu between government forces and militia loyal to former warlords – as Somalia president sent his condolences to the relatives of the victims.

The death toll rises to nine mostly were militiamen loyal to Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, member of the transitional parliament, medical sources confirmed.

Eight more others were wounded in the gun battle. The wounded include civilians, hit by astray bullets. The government spokesman confirmed the injury of government soldiers who involved in the gun battle.

The shootouts erupted when the militiamen refused to keep away their battlewagons from the gate of the presidential palace where the Somalia president, Abdulahi Yusuf Ahmed and premier Ali Mohamed Gedi were having close doors meeting over stabilizing the capital with the former warlords, some of them MPs.(More...)

U.S. Says African Troops Needed in Somalia Urgently

Jan. 12 -- African peacekeeping troops must be deployed in Somalia immediately to prevent a power vacuum from forming when Ethiopian forces withdraw from the country, said Michael Ranneberger, the U.S. ambassador to Kenya.

At least two people were killed and seven wounded in a gun battle today in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, between guards of President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and fighters loyal to a warlord, Agence France-Presse reported, citing witnesses. The shooting occurred outside the Villa Somalia residence of the president.

``Deploying an African stabilization force into Somalia quickly is vitally important to support efforts to achieve stability,'' Ranneberger said in a statement published today in the Daily Nation, a Nairobi-based newspaper. (More....)

Somali conflict raises spectre of new refugee crisis

Conflict in Somalia is fuelling fears of a new refugee crisis, according to one of Christian Aid’s sister organisations working in the region.

Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), said sporadic violence – including a recent US bombing raid continues to rock Mogadishu, the country’s capital. An NCA spokesman said there have been violent demonstrations against the presence of the Ethiopian army, which entered the capital recently, overthrowing the government of the Union of Islamic Courts.

A number of people have been reported killed, including three children, in various violent incidents recently.

Fighting between rival clans and revenge killings have been reported in many parts of Somalia. Clashes between militia groups are a daily occurrence in many parts of southern Somalia, according to NCA and United Nations reports.(More...)

Today's Top Stories

-Child Warriors Lured Into Somali Conflict
-McCain Defends Bush's Iraq Strategy
-Southeast Asian Leaders' Summit Opens
-Al-Qaeda 'rebuilding' in Pakistan
-Pakistan Rejects US Assertion of New Al-Qaida Headquarters
-Chinese facing shortage of wives
-Beckham hailed as league's saviour by U.S. media