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Friday, June 01, 2007

Serkalem Fasil of Ethiopia wins 2007 'Courage in Journalism' Award

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day


[Audio] Serkalem reads statement to the VOA, donates winnings to CPJ and Amnesty


Also in the news:
[Ethiopia prosecution seeks death sentence for Mengistu] - [AU seeks Nato air support in Somalia] - [WB attempting to buy cooperation at the expense of human rights?] - [U.S to fund Somalia reconciliation conference] - [Sport - Ethiopia beat group leaders DR Congo in Nations Cup qualifier match]

[Iraq Sunnis Revolting Against al-Qaida] - [US-Russia relations sink to near Cold War depths] - [video footage of kidnapped BBC reporter released] - ['Legendary' only word to describe LeBron James' performance ] and more of today's top stories!


Ethiopia: Break the silence on Human Rights violations
(Appeal to the Media and Policymakers to Break the Silence concerning the Gross Human Rights Violations in Ethiopia)

Serkalem Fasil of Ethiopia wins 2007 'Courage in Journalism' Award

[Audio] Serkalem reads statement to the VOA, donates winnings to CPJ and Amnesty


ETP - Journalist Serkalem Fasil of Ethiopia, a publisher who gave birth to a son while confined to a vermin-infested jail cell, has been named winner of the IWMF Courage in Journalism Award - signifying a growling international interest in the plight of free press journalists of Ethiopia.


(Serkalem Fasil - Picture by CapitalEthiopia)

Other winners of the award include Six Iraqi women journalists of McClatchy’s Baghdad bureau who every day risk their lives to cover the war in Iraq and Lydia Cacho of Mexico, who travels with guards because of ongoing threats to her life, statement said.

Judy Woodruff, chair of the IWMF Courage in Journalism Awards said that the winners were chosen for their dedication and bravery in reporting and for their commitment to journalism.

Journalist Serkalem Fasil was one of 14 editors and reporters of independent and privately-owned newspapers arrested after publishing articles critical of the government’s actions during the May 2005 parliamentary elections. The journalists were accused of genocide and treason, charges that could bring life imprisonment or the death penalty.

While in jail, Fasil gave birth to and cared for a son, who was premature and underweight due to inhumane conditions and lack of proper medical attention, press release said. She was released from prison in April 2007.

In January of this Year ETP named Serkalem Fasil’ giving birth while incarcerated one of the top 20 significant news stories of 2006.

[See IWMF’s press release]

EU, WB attempting to buy cooperation at the expense of human rights?

(Reprint 5/17/07)

ETP -- The EU has granted about 180 million euros (1.8 billion birr) to the Ethiopian Government for "PBS" (Protection of Basic Services). That is, in addition to the 150m given last year for "road construction". The WB has also agreed to grant more than half the above amount in aid.

So much for the oversold idea of "aid suspension" that followed the post-election human rights crisis in Ethiopia.

One wonders what could be the progress that these two institutions saw and the majority of Ethiopians couldn't.

This news comes a week after we learnt that a genorous grant was extended by the EU to the Eritrean Government and - the UN issued a statement saying it is concerned about the "highetened tension" between the two countries.

Are they attempting to buy cooperation and stability at the expense of human rights and democracy? Is that still the MO? Is it possible?

As we see throughout history, the unspoken approval of the crimes of despots will only encouraged more crimes which lead to instability.

What incentives are left now for these two regimes to become peaceful or respect human rights if they get all they wanted with no strings attached?

Here is what Ishac Diwan (seen here), World Bank director for Ethiopia had to say:

"The Ethiopian government has worked hard to meet the stringent requirements of reporting and financial accountability.....The main reason we switched (the type of grant) is that in direct support you put the money in the budget and the decisions on how to spend it are done by the government"

Below, some examples of the Financial accountability Mr. Diwan speaks of:

-7.2 Billion Birr Unaccounted for from Ethiopia's Budget
-Prime Minister Meles fires auditor who exposed corruption

Other sponsors of the grant include the African Development Bank, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Britain.

The opportunistic philosophy of supporting dictators when it suits one’s plans - and denouncing them when it doesn’t - is not only morally wrong, but also has the tendency to backfire in the end.

Also see:
-World Bank, donors commit $780 million to Ethiopia
-Is aid in Ethiopia a tool for, or a hindrance to, poverty reduction?
-The World Bank – Resuscitating a Bully
-World Bank vs Ethiopia: Response to Dr. Ishac Diwan's letter

Ethiopia prosecution seeks death sentence for Mengistu

Prosecutors in Ethiopia are seeking to raise a life imprisonment sentence for former Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam to the death penalty after a genocide conviction for crimes during his bloody 17-year rule.

ADDIS ABABA, June 1 (Reuters) - The government's special prosecutor Joseph Kiros told Reuters a court would hear an appeal on June 12 in the case of Mengistu and scores of his henchmen sentenced in January.

"The penalty they received was not commensurate to the crimes they committed," he said. "The court has accepted our appeal and the defendants are ordered to appear in court on June 12, 2007."

While dozens of former Mengistu officials will appear personally, it is highly unlikely the nearly 70-year-old former leader will himself face justice in Ethiopia. Zimbabwe, where he has been exiled for 16 years, says it will not extradite him.(More...)

AU seeks NATO air support in Somalia

Nato allies are studying a request from the African Union to provide air support for its troops in Somalia, an alliance official said on Wednesday.

"We are seeking military advice on how to respond to the request. There is an intention among allies to help," said the official of an AU request he said Nato received in recent days.

The official said he understood the support would be similar to that provided to AU peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region, where Nato planes have since 2005 helped troop reinforcements and rotations.(More...)

U.S to fund Somalia reconciliation conference

In an inclusive interview with Shabelle Media Network, US special envoy for Somalia, John Yates said he was hopeful that Somalia national reconciliation conference which is due to happen on 14 June, as pronounced by Somalia president, Abdulahi Yusuf, would be affective and would lead to a new government by 2009 when Somalis would be able to vote for their leader.

He said the US government has had extensive contacts with top interim government officials and chairman of the conference, Ali Mhadi Mohammed over the importance of all-inclusive reconciliation convention which would conduce to a new constitution in Somalia.

Asked if the American government was not satisfied with the current transitional institutions and intending to impose a new leadership on Somalia, Yates pointed out that the US never aimed to replace or change the Somali leaders.(More...)

Also see:
-$8.5 million donated to Somalia reconciliation conference

Ethiopia beat group leaders DR Congo in Nations Cup qualifier match

Ethiopia threw Group Ten wide open on Friday when beating table-toppers DR Congo 1-0 in Addis Ababa

Saladine Said settled the contest with the only goal of the game after 30 minutes. The win takes Ethiopia off the bottom of the table and into second place. Their tally of six points is just one behind the Congolese.

However, Libya now have the chance to draw level with DR Congo should they beat Namibia in Windhoek on Saturday. Congolese preparations for the game were far from perfect with Belgian coach Henri Depireux complaining he has not been paid his whole salary by the federation.(More...)

Dibaba Has Sights Set On Defar's Record

Tirunesh Dibaba, the double world champion at 5000m and 10,000m in Helsinki two summers ago, is looking to take a bite out of the Big Apple (New York) by attacking Meseret Defar's world 5000m record at Saturday's Reebok Grand Prix on Randall's Island.

(Picture - Tirunesh Dibaba)

At last year's meet with the track still puddled from heavy rains, Defar mustered a 61.5 second closing lap to cross the finish line in 14:24.53, toppling Elvan Abeylegesse's world record by 15/100ths of a second. Dibaba, who set the world indoor 5000m record of 14:27.42 at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games last January, would like nothing more than easing aside her compatriot to have both the indoor and outdoor world records next to her name, instead.

(Picture - Meseret Defar)

"I'm planning to run a fast time for Saturday," said the still baby-faced Dibaba, now 21 years-old, through a translator. "I can't say what kind of time, but it will be fast," she added, trying hard to supress a girlish grin.(More...)

Sunnis Revolt Against al-Qaida in Iraq

U.S. troops battled al-Qaida in west Baghdad on Thursday after Sunni Arab residents challenged the militants and called for American help to end furious gunfire that kept students from final exams and forced people in the neighborhood to huddle indoors.

(Picture - A woman cries at the site of a bomb attack near a Sunni mosque in Baghdad May 28, 2007. 24 people were killed and 68 were wounded.REUTERS/Ali Jasim)

Backed by helicopter gunships, U.S. troops joined the two-day battle in the Amariyah district, according to a councilman and other residents of the Sunni district.

The fight reflects a trend that U.S. and Iraqi officials have been trumpeting recently to the west in Anbar province, once considered the heartland of the Sunni insurgency. Many Sunni tribes in the province have banded together to fight al-Qaida, claiming the terrorist group is more dangerous than American forces.

Three more U.S. soldiers were reported killed in combat, raising the number of American deaths to at least 122 for May, making it the third deadliest month for Americans in the conflict. The military said two soldiers died Wednesday from a roadside bomb in Baghdad and one died of wounds inflicted by a bomb attack northwest of the capital Tuesday.(More...)

Also see:
-Sunnis revolting against terror organization
-Sunnis challenge Al Qaeda militants
-Moderate Sunnis rise against al-Qaida

US-Russia relations sink to near Cold War depths

WASHINGTON -- On the eve of next week's G-8 summit meeting, relations between the United States and Russia have ebbed to their lowest level since the Cold War, fueled by Moscow's growing confidence and an apparent Russian perception of U.S. weakness.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded to American plans for a European-based missile-defense system by testing a new intercontinental missile, publicly blasted a U.S.-backed initiative to give independence to the Serbian province of Kosovo and frustrated American diplomatic initiatives on several fronts.

Putin, alluding to U.S. "imperialism," said Thursday that the missile test was a response to the Bush administration's plans to put a missile-defense radar and 10 interceptors in Poland and the Czech Republic.

"We are not the initiators of this new round of the arms race," Putin told a Kremlin news conference. "Our partners are stuffing eastern Europe with new weapons," he said. "What are we supposed to do? We cannot just observe all this."(More...)

Also see:
-Bush Reaches to Putin as Relations Continue to Slide
-Putin accuses US of starting new arms race

Today's Top International Stories

-Blair backs S.Africa's Mbeki on Zimbabwe
-Army of Islam releases video footage of kidnapped BBC reporter
-Iran Promises To Discuss Nuke Activities
-Lebanese army closes on refugee camp militants
-Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect on way to Hague
-'Legendary' only word to describe LeBron James' performance
-Kevorkian to be released from prison Friday