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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Deki-Alula: When Winning in a Free Election becomes a Crime!

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[Witnesses Say Ethiopian Troops Killed at Least 8 in Mogadishu] - [Sounding the Horn: Portland woman fights for her country] - [Ethiopian Airlines - The Purse of Ethiopia's Dictatorship] - [Somalia Needs Power-Sharing, Expert Tells U.S., EU Lawmakers]

[First S Leone war crimes verdicts] - [NYC mayor leaves GOP amid White House speculation] - [Women, children evacuate Gaza ] - [abcnews: U.S. Using BlackBerries to Spy on France?] and more of today's top stories!

(Ethiopian refugees, Who left their country due to economic hardship and/or government harassment, perform a dance during celebrations to mark "World Refugee Day" in Nairobi, June 20, 2007. Last year was one of the worst on record for refugees and the crisis is deepening in 2007. REUTERS) [The reasons for World Refugee Day]


(On the Addis Millennium Celebrations)

Kinijit Australia Press Release


[AUDIO] - Statement on the June 11 verdict and Badme, Vancouver Ethiopians

The perfectly legal civil disobedience at the Ethiopian Embassy-U.S (June 18), is worthy of imitation in other major cities
(By Seblework Tadesse, CUDP member and former prisoner of conscience)


Letter to the Editor

(Seyoum Mesfin on Jeffrey Gettleman and The New York Times)

Dear Editor,

The remarkable rebuttal by Seyoum Mesfin regarding Jeffery Gettleman's expose is absolutely laughable... I would call it the-opposite-of-reality rebuttal.

I hope other people recognize this for exactly what it is... an apologist of the regime who is willing to say anything on the world stage no matter how deceptive, fallacious, or convoluted to give the appearance of a fair and just government of the people that has, in his own words:
"gradually moved through various stages of democracy in the last 16 years, culminating in the first real competitive multi-party elections in 2005. Despite some controversial elements, including the deeply regretted riots and deaths in June and November 2005, these were largely successful. We now have a functional, indeed, lively, opposition in parliament, and a parliamentary body to which the administration is now answerable."
This reconstructed fabrication of a well documented history is such a bold-faced lie that it totally undermines Mr. Mesfin's credibility and brings into question the validity of anything and everything he asserts in his letter.

If the government is so supportive and benevolent to the people of the Ogaden, for example, then please except my request, now, to visit the region freely and unobstructed to document all of these services the government is supplying so that I may indeed attest to Seyoum Mesfin's claims. If militaristic genocidal rape is truly a wild claim that the "Ethiopian army takes very seriously... and investigates any and all accusations that are made against its troops," then please allow me to verify that, as well.

I'm not a journalist "seeking my name in bold" as a by-line. I am just the one of the world citizens that Seyoum Mesfin is trying to convince. I'd be happy to verify any of his claims by my own presence. AND, if denied this opportunity "for my own personal safety," then I know all too well by this tired old excuse, that the government is indeed trying to hide the facts.

It appears that Seyoum Mesfin and the administration he represents is either delusional or desperate.

Keif Schleifer
Executive Director
The Empowerment Initiative
Human Rights, Social Justice, Non-Violence Advocacy

When Winning in a Free Election becomes a Crime!


The article presented here may not entirely reflect the views of ETP; nevertheless, it is extremely well written and offers outstanding insight on the significance of the May 2005 elections
__________________________ - Solomon Medhanie

"...Addis Ababa, a metropolitan city where people of different ethnics and politically informed citizens reside, because of their relative access to private media outlets, were considered by many election observers, including EPRDF’s election team, to be a leading indicator of the overall winner of the election.

....The court, without any fear of repercussion, should repent this mayhem, drop the charges and set the elected officials free; order mayor Dr. Birhanu Nega to take his responsibility and form the administration of the city of Addis; and instruct all political parties to settle their differences through negotiation and reconciliation with good faith, and in the spirit of the new millennium for the unity of our CHILDREN, GRAND CHILDREN, and for the future of our country, ETHIOPIA, for heaven sake."(More...)

Ethiopian Airlines - The Purse of Ethiopia's Dictatorship

It does not require anyone to be a rocket scientist to understand some very simple issues that follow from logic and facts. Ethiopian Airlines is government owned, that naturally means 100% owned by the government of Ethiopia. Ethiopia's foreign minister no less is the chairman of Ethiopian Airlines.

Ethiopian Airlines is the major single source of hard currency income to the Ethiopian govt. Being the airline with the most routes throughout Africa, it makes, even in declared figures, hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

It's executives are paid salaries in the declared region of $100,000 in a country where less than $100 a month is the average per capita income.

The government is accused by all human rights groups of gross violation of human rights in the areas of democracy, elections, incarceration of political opponents, press freedom, and in engaging in large scale oppression of national minorities or even majorities in other parts of the country.(More...)

Sounding the Horn

A Portland woman fights to focus Americans' attention on her native Ethiopia

On June 11, 38 prominent opposition leaders in Ethiopia were found guilty of multiple capital crimes, including treason and "outrages against the constitution."

The developments were the latest outrage in Africa's third most populous nation. Since contested elections in May 2005 resulted in surprisingly strong showings by opposition parties, hundreds of opposition political leaders, students, lawyers and others have been killed or arrested.

The most recent convictions and the overall human-rights crackdown since the 2005 elections have been condemned by worldwide human-rights groups (Reporters without Borders recently ranked Ethiopia second worst on the African continent for press freedoms behind Eritrea). But that's been largely overshadowed in major U.S. media more focused on Ethiopia's military intervention in Somalia against the Islamic Union of Courts—with U.S. military support.(More...)

VOA: Witnesses Say Ethiopian Troops Killed at Least 8 in Mogadishu

Ethiopian troops opened fire on a minibus, killing two passengers, and shot several youths in the area, including three brothers

Witnesses in Somalia's capital say Ethiopian troops shot and killed at least eight people late Tuesday, following a roadside bomb attack. The witnesses say the bomb hit an Ethiopian military convoy, damaging a truck and causing an unknown number of casualties.

They say after the blast, Ethiopian troops opened fire on a minibus, killing two passengers, and shot several youths in the area, including three brothers. Attacks on Somali government officials and their Ethiopian allies have increased in recent weeks despite a government claim of victory over Islamist insurgents in late April.

On Tuesday, the interim government offered amnesty to some of the insurgents, although fighters who engage in what officials called "international terrorism" were excluded from the offer.(More...)

Also see:
-Ethiopian forces 'kill 5 boys'
-Ethiopian troops kill five youths in Somalia
-Gunmen launch attacks on Somali police stations
-Somalia prime minister flies to US for UN conference
-Somalia's Opposition Regrouping, Planning

Somalia Needs Power-Sharing, Expert Tells U.S., EU Lawmakers

United States Department of State

Washington -- The main hope for a nonmilitary solution to the Somalia crisis is for the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to share power with moderate opposition groups, making national reconciliation a prime goal, a former ambassador told U.S. and European lawmakers.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn, now an adjunct professor at George Washington University, spoke June 8 at a meeting with members of the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress, sponsored by the House Subcommittee on Africa.

Shinn said most observers agree that power-sharing is the key to sustainable peace in Somalia, and therefore "political reconciliation … is the most urgent task." The question, he said, is how to achieve that reconciliation.(More...)

Ethiopia’s Tiananmen Square

(Excerpt from the New York Times report)

(Doctors and Ethiopian students display dead bodies at the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Up to 100 people in their twenties were also being treated for serious gun shot wounds and other injuries at the hospital in the third day of clashes between protesters and police on the streets of Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa 08 June 2005. Andrew Heavens)

Its (Ethiopia's) leaders, many whom were once rebels themselves, from a neglected patch of northern Ethiopia, are widely known as some of the savviest officials on the continent. They had promised to let some air into a very stultified political system during the national elections of 2005, which were billed as a milestone on the road to democracy.

Instead, they turned into Ethiopia’s version of Tiananmen Square. With the opposition poised to win a record number of seats in Parliament, the government cracked down brutally, opening fire on demonstrators, rounding up tens of thousands of opposition supporters and students and leveling charges of treason and even attempted to kill top opposition leaders, including the man elected mayor of Addis Ababa.

Many opposition members are now in jail or in exile. The rest seem demoralized.

There are no real steps toward democracy,” said Merera Gudina, vice president of the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, a leading opposition party. “No real steps toward opening up space, no real steps toward ending repression.(More...)
Tiananmen square, what is it ?
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989

At least three journalists a month flee their home countries to escape threats of violence, imprisonment, or harassment. CPJ has documented 243 cases of journalists forced into exile over the past six years. The 243 journalists surveyed by CPJ came from 36 countries, with more than half hailing from just five. Ethiopia is second in the world, next to Zimbabwe, where journalists are forced into exile to escape harassment.(More...)

Today's Top International Stories

-First S Leone war crimes verdicts (Three men have been convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone's decade-long war)
-Libya Court to Rule July 11 on AIDS Case
-NYC mayor leaves GOP amid White House speculation
-Women, children evacuate Gaza
-Malaysians, Taliban, protest at Rushdie honor
-U.S. Using BlackBerries to Spy on France?
-Berlin hotel recreates East Germany