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Monday, March 05, 2007

California Joint resolution to Urge Bush, Congress to support human rights in Ethiopia

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[Adjourned...again] - [Ethiopia kidnapping: Vehicles found, manhunt intensifies ] - [Britain prepares SAS raid to free Ethiopia hostages ] - [World Council of Churches Calls for International Action in Horn of Africa Crisis] - [ION: Sebhat Nega’s double language]

[Obama, Clinton reach out to black voters ] - [Chavez calls Negroponte 'professional killer'] - [World stock drop hits second week ] - [Beckham to discover injury fate ] and more of today's top stories!

Map locating where a group of Western tourists were kidnapped in Ethiopia. Britain has prepared a crack Special Air Service (SAS) team to rescue five Britons feared kidnapped in Ethopia, if diplomatic efforts to release them fail.(AFP graphic) More on this below...



The Coalition for H.R. 5680: If you live in California, please contact your state assembly member or senator and ask for their support in co-sponsoring and/or voting for AJR 12.

For Sample Letters and the California Assembly Member Roster [Click here....] (word doc.)




Today’s session was incredibly brief. All requested documents have been compiled and translated; the judges apparently now require another 10 days to decide whether to allow the defendants a chance to present a defense or release them.

And so the countdown begins...

EZ: Court adjourned

Translation of documents by Walta Information Center

The court is adjourned again for March 23. The court confirmed that the document it required to be translated(Hailu Shawel's press statement at American Press Club) was handed to it. The translation was made by Walta Information Center, the government's propaganda machine. Lawyers for the Civil society leaders told the court that they couldn't be sure of the accuracy of the translation by Walta. (More...)

California Joint resolution to Urge Bush, Congress to support human rights in Ethiopia

Majority Leader Karen Bass of the California State Assembly (D-Los Angeles), whose legislative district encompasses Little Ethiopia, recently introduced a joint resolution on human rights in Ethiopia .

Assembly Joint Resolution (A.J.R.) 12 “urges the Congress and the President of the United States to demand that the Ethiopian government immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and journalists, and fulfill its obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and urge the California delegation in the House of Representatives and the Senate to support and cosponsor ‘The Ethiopian Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Act of 2006’ in the 110th Congress.”

The Coalition for H.R. 5680 expressed its deep gratitude to Majority Leader Bass for her continued interest and deep commitment to the cause of human rights in Ethiopia. Prof. Al Mariam, speaking on behalf of the Coalition, commented: “Majority Leader Karen Bass has been extraordinarily responsive to her Ethiopian American constituents in Los Angeles.

By introducing this resolution, Majority Leader Bass reflects the deep concerns shared by her constituents over gross human rights abuses in Ethiopia, and the need for swift action by the U.S. Government to alleviate the situation. All Ethiopian Americans are all profoundly indebted to Majority Leader Karen Bass.” (More...)

Also see:
-Assembly Joint Resolution (A.J.R.) 12

Ethiopia kidnapping: Vehicles found, manhunt intensifies

(Bullet holes lined the doors of the abandoned vehicles)

MEKELE, Ethiopia (AP) -- Two shot-up British Embassy vehicles were seen abandoned by the side of the road Monday in a remote village where five Britons linked to the embassy disappeared, providing what appears to be a chilling glimpse into the group's mysterious kidnapping last week.

An Associated Press television cameraman saw the two vehicles in Hamedali, a remote village that is the last staging post before the region's famous salt lakes. The vehicles -- a Toyota Land Cruiser and a Land Rover Discovery -- still had luggage, shoes and mobile phones inside.

(The two British embassy vehicles were found in Hamedali)

The tour group, which also includes 13 Ethiopian drivers and translators, went missing Thursday while traveling in Ethiopia's Afar region, a barren expanse of salt mines and volcanoes 800 kilometers (500 miles) northeast of the capital, Addis Ababa. The Britons are employees of the British Embassy in Addis Ababa or their relatives.(More...)

Britain prepares SAS raid to free Ethiopia hostages

LONDON (AFP) - Britain has prepared a crack Special Air Service (SAS) team to rescue five Britons feared kidnapped in Ethopia, if diplomatic efforts to release them fail.

Some 60 SAS troops have already been dispatched to neighbouring Djibouti, the Daily Mirror reported Monday, while the Times talked of a "substantial" team and the Guardian said special forces were already in Ethiopia itself.

The missing people, all linked to Britain's embassy in Addis Ababa, were kidnapped last Thursday in the remote Afar desert region near the Eritrean border, according to the Ethiopian state news agency.(More...)

World Council of Churches Calls for International Action in Horn of Africa Crisis

The World Council of Churches (WCC) executive committee has expressed worries about the "deteriorating human rights situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea", while encouraging the establishment of a "joint Christian and Muslim Peace Committee for Somalia"

The statement appeals to the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea to "foster dialogue with opposition political parties to establish democracy, human rights and the rule of law".

It reiterates that the UN and donor countries should impress upon those governments the need to "reengage in efforts to resolve their long-standing border dispute in a peaceful and amicable manner".

The WCC governing body praises the "religious communities in Ethiopia, Eritrea and the wider ecumenical fellowship" for their efforts to help resolve the border dispute between the two countries. It also commends the churches and related agencies for their "witness and response to the crisis" in the region.(More...)

Sebhat Nega’s double language
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1209 03/03/2007

Although he does sometimes needle Meles Zenawi, Sebhat Nega is still a steadfast defender of the present government team.

An executive of the Endowment Fund For the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT), a consortium of companies supporting the government, and a member of the central committee of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, hard core of the coalition in power in Addis Ababa), even though he did leave this party’s executive committee in September 2006, Sebhat Nega has for a long time been the grey eminence of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

He is currently on a trip to Washington, where he is staying in his late brother’s large house, and has taken advantage of his presence there to meet some members of the Ethiopian Diaspora from Tigray (in the North of Ethiopia).

According to information obtained by The Indian Ocean Newsletter in Washington from a well-informed source about these meetings, Sebhat Nega discussed mainly the “dangers which face the TPLF and the Tigrayans”.

He did not always have the same language during his private conversations with various people, blowing sometimes hot, sometimes cold about the opposition. But his overall message was to call the expatriate Tigrayans not to be duped by the “chauvinistic” Amhara, citing the name of the owner of the web site.

Justifying Meles Zenawi’s policies, he told his audience that he considered that letting the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUPD, opposition) win the election in 2005 would have come down to letting the partisans of the old regime come back to the surface, which would have led to a massacre of Tigrayans.

He reiterated that “enemies like the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party” should be neutralised “by all possible means” and did not hide that he was personally in favour of condemning Hailu Shawel and the other opposition leaders imprisoned.

Still speaking in informal discussion with members of the Tigrayan Diaspora, Sebhat Nega considered that the military incursion into Somalia had been necessary to keep the support of the United States, but that the Ethiopian forces would leave Mogadishu as soon as possible.

He admitted that differences of opinion had appeared with President Hassan Omar el Bashir of Sudan due to this Ethiopian military intervention in Somalia and due to the fact that Meles Zenawi had not supported Bashir’s candidature to the presidency of the African Union (AU).

He also pointed out that at the same time the Eritrean President Issayas Afeworki had got closer to Bashir.

Nevertheless, for Sebhat Nega, the EPRDF, in power in Addis Ababa, must maintain good relations with Bashir to stop the Ethiopian opposition from having the slightest chance of using Sudan as a base.

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