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Monday, June 18, 2007

NYT: In Ethiopian Desert, Fear and Cries of Army Brutality

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[TPLF takes festival in hand] - [Islamists oppose reconciliation conference, discredit Ethiopia's role] - [Explosion Rocks Somali Capital] - [Sebhat Nega stirs things up in Ethiopia]

[Zimbabwe ruling party (Zanu-PF) starts talks with opposition leaders] - [Rushdie made a British knight] - [EU, Bush express support to Abbas] - [Chicago's biggest mob trial in years set] and more of today's top stories!


Shame on Zenawi

by Tumusiime Kabwende
(spokesman for the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network)

"It is unbelievable that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has turned himself into one of Africa’s nascent dictators, yet no international body has come out strongly condemn him"(More...)


Town Hall meeting LA, June 24 - Kinijit LA

JEFFREY GETTLEMAN is the New York times reporter who was arrested by the Ethiopian military on May 16, 2007 in the Ogaden region. He was held for five days, interrogated at gunpoint, and then released without any charges.

In Ethiopian Desert, Fear and Cries of Army Brutality


[watch video]

IN THE OGADEN DESERT, Ethiopia — The rebels march 300 strong across the crunchy earth, young men with dreadlocks and AK-47s slung over their shoulders.

Often when they pass through a village, the entire village lines up, one sunken cheekbone to the next, to squint at them. “May God bring you victory,” one woman whispered.

This is the Ogaden, a spindle-legged corner of Ethiopia that the urbane officials in Addis Ababa, the capital, would rather outsiders never see. It is the epicenter of a separatist war pitting impoverished nomads against one of the biggest armies in Africa.

What goes on here seems to be starkly different from the carefully constructed up-and-coming image that Ethiopia — a country that the United States increasingly relies on to fight militant Islam in the Horn of Africa — tries to project.(More...)

TOP STORIES FROM THE PAST WEEK____________________________________

The following articles are by Seblework Tadesse, CUDP member and former prisoner of conscience at Kality penitentiary

A Personal Call to Action (Part 1)
A Personal Call to Action (Part 2)


[audio] IEWO Interview with Seblework Tadesse - June 17


Explosion Rocks Somali Capital

VOA - Authorities in Somalia say a roadside bomb blast has rocked the capital, Mogadishu. Authorities say the bomb was intended for a military convoy passing through northern Mogadishu Monday.

Some reports say two children were killed in the attack. Other sources say the victims were wounded. Officials say five suspects have been detained. Their identities have not been released.

Sympathizers of the country's Islamist movement frequently attack Somali troops and their Ethiopian allies in Mogadishu.(More...)

Also see:
-Blast hits government compound in Mogadishu
-Blast strikes Mogadishu
-Grenade attack on Somali bank kills one, wounds three
-Blast kills 2 children in Somali capital

TPLF takes festival in hand
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1216 16/06/2007

The millennium committee preparing the 11 September festivities has been taken under the wing of the TPLF.

The most unpopular of the officials on the Ethiopian millennium committee, Mulugeta Asrate Kassa, is now in the firing line. This partisan of the EPRDF (governing party) who was based in London and is the son of the late Ras Asrate Kassa, is no longer on the committee, which has a budget of 240 million birrs ($26 million) to prepare the 11 September festivities.

Two new people join the committee: Gifty Abasiya as manager and Netsanet Asfaw as head of public relations. The first is an executive in the OPDO and is a loyal supporter of the government; the latter is a leader of the TPLF (hard core of the EPRDF), is very aggressive and well into his sixties.

Seyoum Bereded retains his function of chairman of the committee, but will be supervised by the two newcomers. Bereded is the cousin of the chief of security Getachew Assefa.

Islamists oppose reconciliation conference, discredit Ethiopia's role

The much anticipated Somalia national reconciliation conference may not take place after all because of inter-clan suspicion and the stand taken by the ousted Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) that it must be held on neutral grounds.

As the conference failed to take place for the second time, The EastAfrican obtained a communiqué issued by UIC leaders in Doha, Qatar, on June 7 during a two day conference, in which the Islamists insisted that there would be no genuine reconciliation until Ethiopian troops left Somalia.

Ethiopian embassy officials in Nairobi, however, insisted that Addis Ababa will only act according to bilateral agreements with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) led by President Abdullahi Yusuf.(More...)

Sebhat Nega stirs things up in Ethiopia
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1216 16/06/2007

The interview of a leader of the governing party broadcast on 28 May by Radio Dimtse, owned by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, government), has made significant waves in Addis Ababa.

Sebhat Nega tried in this interview to put himself over as the voice of Ethiopian nationalism. He hence defended a very hard line against the Ethiopian opposition, while nevertheless presenting the TPLF as the spearhead and guarantor of Eritrean independence. He went as far as to state that the current Ethiopian government was “the sole force able to defend Eritrean independence”.

This extreme position came over as the expression of a muffled power struggle at the top of the TPLF, in which Sebhat Nega was positioning himself as an alternative to the present Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Accordingly, Sebhat Nega, who holds a post of responsibility in the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (Effort), could be the target of an investigation into the financial management of this consortium of companies with links to the government coalition. Certain Ethiopian MPs have already called for precisely such an investigation.

He has therefore mobilised his sister Kidusan Nega, the mayor of Mekele, her husband Tsegaye Berhe the President of the Tigray Regional State, and other members of his family and friends to prepare to fireback against a possible accusation of corruption that could be levelled against him. Such a tactic had already been used a few years ago against the TPLF dissident Seye Abraha.

The mobilisation of his partisans confirms Sebhat Nega is planning to return to the limelight of the political scene. They have been fuelling the reproaches made against Meles Zenawi for keeping Seye Abraha, “a TPLF hero” in prison and call for him to be freed. Sebhat Nega has tested the feeling of the Tigrayan Diaspora about him by gaining the support of a former TPLF dissident now living in exile in Ohio (USA), Bisrat Amare, who went back to the TPLF after the general election in July 2005.

Zimbabwe ruling party (Zanu-PF) starts talks with opposition leaders

Zimbabwe's opposition and ruling parties are holding talks aimed at solving the country's economic and political crisis, officials say. The first talks since South African President Thabo Mbeki was tasked with mediating between the rivals began in South Africa at the weekend.

An opposition spokesman confirmed the talks but refused to give any details. The economy is in meltdown, with the world highest inflation rate - 3,700% - and just one adult in five in work. Last week, a report said the economy would collapse within six months.

"I can only confirm that we have representatives in South Africa attending roundtable discussions with the country's other political players," Nelson Chamisa spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told the AFP news agency.(More...)

EU, Bush express support to Abbas

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The emergency government Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas installed after Islamic militants seized control of Gaza reaped its first windfall Monday with the European Union promising to restore hundreds of millions of dollars in crucial aid.

President Bush also lent critical support in a phone call to Abbas, who called for a resumption of Mideast peace talks. The Bush administration is expected to soon lift its sanctions on the Palestinian government now that it no longer includes the Islamic Hamas.

Russia also said it supported Abbas's move to form an emergency government, but urged him and Islamic Hamas to seek a "wide-ranging dialogue."(More...)

Also see:
-Abbas vows to press on with peace process
-Hamas grip on Gaza limits Fatah's options
-Fatah loyalists hurry to escape Gaza

Rushdie made a British knight

CNN reporter, KGB double agent also to be honoured

LONDON -- Author Salman Rushdie, who was forced into hiding for a decade after the leader of Iran's revolution ordered his assassination, has been made a knight, Buckingham Palace will announce today.

The author of The Satanic Verses, along with CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, a KGB double agent and perhaps the government's toughest human-rights critic, were on the list of honours marking the Queen's official birthday.

Mr. Rushdie, one of the most prominent novelists of the late 20th century, went into hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomaini issued a 1989 fatwa, ordering Muslims to kill the author because The Satanic Verses allegedly insulted Islam. The Iranian government declared in 1998 that it would not support but could not rescind the fatwa.(More...)

Also see:
-Tehran slams Britain for knighting Salman Rushdie
-Pakistani parliament condemns British title for Rushdie

Today's Top International Stories

-Security worsens in eight African states
-Coalition raids target flow of Iranian aid to insurgents
-Sarkozy Party Wins, But Not In Landslide
-In video, group threatens to kill BBC reporter
-Migration and the changing face of Europe
-North Korea plans to shut reactor in July: report
-Chicago's biggest mob trial in years set