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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ethiopia leaves key Somali town

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

- Today's Top HEADLINES


Ethiopia leaves key Somali town

Ethiopian troops have withdrawn from a key town in central Somalia.
Islamist insurgents say they now control Guriel, where Ethiopia had a big military base to secure the road linking the two countries.(More...)

Ethiopia cracks down on rebels

The Ethiopian army has inflicted losses on rebel fighters in the restive Ogaden region where the government is cracking down on insurgents, Colonel Tsegaye Gebretensae said in a statement today.(More...)

UNMEE expresses concern about firing incident between Eritrea and Ethiopia

On 26 December, 2007 at 3:30 hours, the Indian Battalion (Indbatt) Post and UN Military Observer Team Site located at Tsorena inside the Temporary Security Zone, Eritrea, heard firing sounds in the general direction of Gergera, southeast of Tsorena in the border area.

A Welcome Home and A Look Forward
Meron Wondwosen , cousin of Daniel Bekele

The guilty verdict followed by a two and a half year sentence rendered against my cousin Daniel Bekele and his partner Netsanet Demissie is not a victory for the military junta's court system. Nor is it evidence that the "justice" system with its abundant delays, draconian laws, sick judges and arbitrary detention rules actually functions. No. If there is a victory to be claimed, then it belongs to those who persevered against all adversity and defended Daniel and Netsanet.(More...)

Eritrea accuses Ethiopia of border attack

Firing on Eritrea-Ethiopia border sparks UN concern

Ethiopia government praises Burundi deployment in Somalia

Ethiopia activists get 2 1/2 years but to walk free

Two human rights activists received a two-and-a-half year jail sentence on Wednesday for inciting post-election violence in 2005, but will walk free within days as they have already served their prison time.(More...)

Also see: Press Release from CIVICUS & GCAP

Ethiopia: Prisoners of conscience unfairly convicted; face possible 10-year prison terms

Amnesty International

(A Supporter signs petition demanding the release of Human rights defenders and antipoverty activists, Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie, currently jailed by the government of Ethiopia)

Amnesty International today condemned the convictions of two human rights defenders in Ethiopia on charges of provoking and preparing "outrages against the Constitution", saying that the two men are prisoners of conscience arrested solely for their peaceful human rights work. Both have been held in prison since November 2005.(More...)

Ethiopian govt. convicts activists

An Ethiopian court has convicted two rights activists of inciting an uprising against the government. Judge Mohammed Aminsani, said on Monday: "Despite the lack of evidence proving their involvement in leadership and participation during the unrest, no evidence could be found to refute accusations of incitement."(More...)

Ethiopia activists found guilty BBC News
Activists convicted in Ethiopia UPI
Ethiopian Court Convicts Anti-Poverty Campaigners

Monkey Trial in Kangaroo Kourt: Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demessie in the “Lions’ Den”

Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam

It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction. The grotesque prosecution of Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie is much stranger than the grim and chilling fictional story of Joseph K., in Franz Kafka’s The Trial.(More...)

One of the Most Important Bills of the Decade - A Bill with Global Ramification

Ethiopia: Draft Parties Registration Law Raises Controversy

Ethiopia’s opposition party denounces Sudan border demarcation

10 Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories Of 2007

Heavy fighting rocks Somali capital

Burundi peacekeepers arrive in Somalia: AU


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

CIVICUS & GCAP Press Release

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation & Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP)


26 December 2007 – Ethiopian activists Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie may face brief additional time behind bars, as the court today sentenced them to two years and six months in prison on charges of incitement, despite demands by the prosecution that they receive the maximum sentence of 10 years.

"While we welcome the fact that Daniel and Netsanet may soon be reunited with their friends, families and colleagues in civil society, we are perplexed and dismayed by the additional sentence. Everyday they have spent and possibly will spend in prison is a deep injustice. They are true heroes of Ethiopia, true heroes of Africa and for everyone around the world who supports democracy, justice and the fight against poverty ," said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and Co-Chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) who was present at the sentencing this morning.

Daniel and Netsanet, coordinators of GCAP in Ethiopia, were today sentenced to two years and six months in prison by the Federal High Court in Addis Ababa for provocation and preparing incitement in the aftermath of the May 2005 elections. On Monday, they were acquitted of conspiracy to overthrow the constitutional order, but were found guilty on the lesser charge. CIVICUS and GCAP anticipate that they will soon be released, given the two years and two months they have already spent behind bars, as well as their good behaviour and their willingness to cooperate with the court.

Before sentencing them this morning, the judges read a statement recognising their contributions to peace, democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia. The presiding judge dissented from the verdict and has consistently maintained they are innocent of the charges, finding their actions to be fully within the constitution.

"The judges' statement today read more like a citation for the Nobel Peace Prize than justification for even a single day they have spent in prison ," said Kumi Naidoo.

Since Daniel and Netsanet's arrest in November 2005, civil society organisations in Ethiopia have come under increasing scrutiny, and many have been forced into silence on controversial issues for fear of meeting the same fate as Daniel and Netsanet.

Speaking from Ethiopian Federal court, Kumi Naidoo said, " This case has significance beyond the travesty of justice against Daniel and Netsanet. Their continued detention has had a chilling effect on civil society in Ethiopia. It is extremely important that the judges stated none of their actions were against the constitution and were in fact legitimate civil society activities. We hope that this vindication will enable civil society to fully exercise its role, including advocacy for human rights, democracy, peace and the eradication of poverty ."

Aside from their work with GCAP, Daniel is also head of the policy department at ActionAid International Ethiopia. Netsanet is also the founder of local human rights group Organisation for Social Justice in Ethiopia.

At the start of the trial in May 2006, 131 opposition politicians, journalists, civil society leaders and organisations stood accused of a range of charges from genocide to treason. They were among thousands who were detained following protests accusing the government of rigging the 15 May 2005 parliamentary elections. Many of the accused were acquitted during the course of the trial. Others were convicted but pardoned in July and August 2007 – all of whom signed a confession, admitting use of "unconstitutional means to change the constitutionally established government functions" following the 2005 elections.

Although they were asked to sign a similar statement, Daniel and Netsanet declined. They argued that their activities in 2005 were entirely legal and did not serve to undermine, but rather to protect and promote Ethiopia's constitutional order.

Recognised as Amnesty International prisoners of conscience, Daniel and Netsanet were consistently denied bail, even after seven attempts, including an appeal to the Supreme Court.


For more information or interviews, please contact:

Ciara O'Sullivan, GCAP – in the UK: +44 776 724 6880,

Kumi Naidoo, CIVICUS - in Ethiopia: +251 911 926 295

Julie Middleton, CIVICUS – in South Africa: +27 403 6040

For more information on CIVICUS:

For more information on GCAP:

A Welcome Home and A Look Forward

Meron Wondwosen

"That justice is a blind goddess is a thing to which we [Ethiopians] are wise. Her bandage hides two festering sores that once perhaps were eyes." Langston Hughes

To speak of justice in Ethiopia is to speak of a farce. To expect justice is to imagine a fairy godmother. To wish for that elusive pot of gold. At the end of our rainbow there isn't a green creature with promises of riches but rather a cruel and merciless dictator whose iron fists rule over Ethiopia.

The guilty verdict followed by a two and a half year sentence rendered against my cousin Daniel Bekele and his partner Netsanet Demissie is not a victory for the military junta's court system. Nor is it evidence that the "justice" system with its abundant delays, draconian laws, sick judges and arbitrary detention rules actually functions. No. If there is a victory to be claimed, then it belongs to those who persevered against all adversity and defended Daniel and Netsanet. Victory, bittersweet as it may be, belongs to Daniel and Netsanet. Its hard to imagine what is on the minds of these courageous men who lost more than two years of their lives in the depressing, barbed wire existence that is Kality prison. What is irrefutable is that they exemplify dignity to the highest degree. They had nothing—no wealth, no political aspirations—nothing at all except their dignity and their principles. And in the tradition of many African women and men before them, they stuck to truth—come hell or Meles Zenawi's kangaroo court.

The ordeal of these two men has always had larger implications. The struggle for their freedom has been about the right of all Ethiopians to live without fear that our houses will be raided, our newspapers and radios silenced, our young men arrested en masse and our courageous women, incarcerated and some forced to give birth in prison.

Through this trial, the rest of the world began to see, some albeit begrudgingly, the rampant human rights violations committed by the current regime. During the span of this trial, Somalia was invaded by Zenawi's army and is currently mired in a humanitarian crisis; Ogaden burned as fellow Ethiopians were slaughtered under the Prime Minister's orders; Finally Ethiopia's integrity was compromised as the dictator allowed the CIA to operate its extraordinary rendition (read: torture) programs on our soil. As for the economy, well, measured on any index, the country lags behind and is an utter development disaster.

So it is in the midst of the continuing struggle for the liberation of Ethiopia that we welcome Daniel and Netsanet back into our arms and into the community of people all over the world who worked every single day since November 2005 to free them.

Eighty million Ethiopians suffer daily under a ruthless dictatorship. Let us rise and speak on their behalf as we did for Daniel and Netsanet. While we won this battle, the war rages on. The work is not done until we have freed Ethiopia from the clutches of this brutal cabal.

A La Luta Continua!

Meron Wondwosen is an attorney, human rights activist and cousin of prisoner of conscience Daniel Bekele.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Divide and Rule: Ethnic Federalism in Benishangul Gumuz Region of Ethiopia

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

- Today's Top HEADLINES



Divide and Rule: Ethnic Federalism in Benishangul Gumuz Region of Ethiopia

Berhanu G. Balcha, NES-Scandinavian Chapter

Since 1991 the political power in the regional state has been characterized by unpredictability and ineffectiveness. Though immaturity in political leadership could be cited as a cause, other factors such as inter-ethnic as well as intra-ethnic rivalries, and the intriguing and self-serving role of the TPLF have played a significant role in creating turmoil and unpredictability in the regional state political structure.(More...)

Ethiopia, UN accuse each other on Somalia - VIDEO

UN 'not exaggerating crisis in Somalia'

The United Nations has rejected Ethiopian claims that it is exaggerating the severity of the crisis in Somalia. The UN says fighting between insurgents and Ethiopian-backed government forces in the capital, Mogadishu, has forced 600,000 people to flee the capital. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi says that is just hype.(More...)

Eritrean opposition urges overthrow of government

Somalia: Hawiye elders welcome UN position

Ethiopia PM attacks UN on Somalia

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has accused the UN of playing a damaging role in the Somali crisis. "The situation there - as hard as it is - it could do with less hype and exaggeration," he told the BBC. (More...)

New generation steps up battle for equality in wake of school segregation incident

Recounting how officials in this central-Israel city stonewalled complaints this month about the segregation of four Ethiopian schoolgirls, Daniel Uoria paused to answer his cell phone. It was an adviser to the deputy mayor.(More...)

Ethiopian immigrants protest plans to halt Falash Mura aliyah

(Picture-reuters) Ethiopian immigrants hold a demonstration outside the office of Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem December 18, 2007. Some 1,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent took part in a demonstration on Tuesday calling on the Israeli government to grant permission for their relatives living in Ethiopia to immigrate.(More...)

--French journalist held in Somalia said to be "fine"
--Rebels say killed 215 Ethiopian troops but government denies
--As people flee Somalia and Ethiopia, 56 dead are found on the shores of Yemen
--Somalian cabinet dissolved after 2 weeks
--VOA: interview with Dr. Hailu Araya and Eng. Hailu Shawl on current developments within Kinijit (Part I)
--VOA: interview with Dr. Hailu Araya and Eng. Hailu Shawl on current developments within Kinijit (Part II)
--Ethiopian roses cast shadow over coffee


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

GCAP, CIVICUS: Bring Ethiopian campaigners home for the holidays

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

- Today's Top HEADLINES


-Somalia descends into Africa's worst crisis (McClatchy)
-HRW's Letter to US Secretary of Defense on Somalia
-Somali Islamists Said to Be Regrouping
-At least 17 killed in Somalia attacks

Bring Ethiopian campaigners home for the holidays

For Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie, This could be their third holiday season behind bars and away from their loved ones. Join GCAP and CIVICUS by:

1) sending a message of hope to Daniel and Netsanet and their families;
2) sending a letter of appeal to the Ethiopian authorities, urging them to bring Daniel and Netsanet home for the holidays.
3) sending a greeting card by post to Daniel and Netsanet, via the Ministry of Justice (MORE...)


Our World: Condi's African holiday

...THE CONFLICTS in the Horn of Africa have regional and global dimensions. Regionally, Egypt has played a central role in sponsoring and fomenting conflicts. Egypt's meddling advances its interest of preventing the African nations from mounting a unified challenge to Egypt's colonial legacy of extraordinary rights to the waters of the Nile River which flows through all countries of the region.(More...)



PINR Analysis: ''Somalia Completes its Devolutionary Cycle''

As a political community, Somalia has disintegrated. The country has now reached the limit of its devolutionary cycle, which began in December 2006, when Ethiopia mounted a military intervention that ousted the Islamic Courts Council (I.C.C.) from control over most of southern and central Somalia.(More...)

Rights Group Accuses Sudan of Deporting Eritrean Refugees

(Audio Report)

An Eritrean human rights group is accusing the governments of Sudan and Eritrea of working together to round up and deport Eritreans who have sought refuge from Eritrea's authoritarian government. Nick Wadhams has the story from Nairobi.(More...)

EHRCO: Press Release on the Occasion of the International Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December to honor and commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly on this date in 1948. This year on Human Rights Day, the United Nations launches a year-long campaign in the lead up to the 60th anniversary of the UDHR under the theme ‘Dignity and Justice for all of us’.(More...)

PM Olmert promises to fight racism in Israel

The Israeli prime minister opened Sunday's Cabinet meeting with grave remarks in response to a newspaper expose last week about a religious school in Petah Tikva at which girls of Ethiopian descent are segregated from their peers.(More...)

Somali Islamists seize town from government troops

Masked fighters occupied a key business district and residential neighborhood in the Somali capital Saturday, saying they had forced Ethiopian troops to withdraw and urging locals to return home.(More...)

UK, Australian aid staff ordered out of Ogaden

Australian and a Briton working for Save the Children UK have been ordered out of Ethiopia's troubled Ogaden region, aid sources said on Friday. "They have been working in Ogaden on business visas, but were then refused additional work permits and asked to leave," said an aid worker in Addis Ababa, who asked not to be named.(More...)


December 7, 2007

...The vast majority of Ethiopian-Americans who support the bill have been asking us; his constituents, how Senator Inhofe can, in clear conscience, oppose the bill after refusing to meet with the gross human rights abuses victims to whom H.R. 2003, the “Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007” is directed to?(More...)

Somalia's leader leaves hospital

Somalia's interim President Abdullahi Yusuf has been discharged from hospital in Kenya after three days' treatment for respiratory problems. A frail-looking Mr Yusuf, 72, who had a liver transplant 13 years ago, said he would now be travelling to London for a routine check-up.(More...)

Ethiopian-American wins Guardian First Book Award

A novel that tackles fraught questions of identity, dislocation and loneliness through the life of an Ethiopian émigré in the US has taken this year's Guardian First Book Award. Dinaw Mengestu's Children of the Revolution tells the story of a man who fled to America to escape the violence of Ethiopia's communist revolution.(More...)

Rice tells Ethiopia to ease tensions with Eritrea

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Ethiopia on Wednesday to avoid acts that would raise tensions with Eritrea but got new promises from Africa's Great Lakes nations to end fighting in eastern Congo.(More...)

Reporters Without Borders names Eritrean Seyoum Tsehaye journalist of 2007

An Eritrean who has never been allowed a family visit or a lawyer and has never been charged during six years of imprisonment was named "Journalist of the Year" by Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday.(More...)

Somali Leader Reportedly Has Bronchitis

Somalia's president is suffering from bronchitis and is using an oxygen mask, an official said Wednesday as the African leader spent a second day in the hospital in Kenya.(More...)

Rice's visit to Ethiopia puts focus on ally accused of human rights abuses

McClatchy Newspapers

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Ethiopia this week puts a spotlight on the tight but troubled relationship between the United States and the volatile Horn of Africa nation.

Rice's arrival Wednesday comes as Ethiopian troops are bogged down against Islamist-led insurgents in Somalia and face a growing outcry over alleged human rights abuses against Muslims in the restive Ogaden region — two conflicts that experts believe could serve as a rallying cry for Islamic fundamentalists.(More...)

CPJ asks Rice to discuss Ethiopian press freedom

CPJ's letter to Secretary Rice

Dear Secretary Rice:

In advance of your meeting with Ethiopian officials in Addis Ababa , the Committee to Protect Journalists would like to draw your attention to our concerns regarding press freedom conditions there.

You may know that 15 Ethiopian journalists were recently released from prison, but this development belies the country’s sustained record of contempt for independent media, which manifests itself in a variety of legal and administrative restraints. The 15 jailed journalists were sentenced on trumped-up charges such as genocide in connection with the media’s coverage of Ethopia’s 2005 post-election unrest.(More...)

BBC: SOMALI LEADER RUSHED TO HOSPITAL IN SERIOUS CONDITION - Somalia's interim President Abdullahi Yusuf has been taken to hospital in the Kenyan capital, the BBC has learnt. His condition is said to be "serious".(More...)

Also see: Somali gov't denies president in serious condition


The escalating conflict in Somalia is generating debate inside the Bush administration over whether the United States should continue to back the shaky transitional government in Mogadishu or shift support to Somaliland.(More...)

Ethiopian govt. says world disinterest in Somalia peace

Ethiopia has warned that the world's disinterest in sending peacekeepers to Somalia was dampening hopes of achieving peace in the country.(More...)


(Ethiopian-Americans and Friends of Ethiopia in Oklahoma for H.R.2003)

...Senator Inhofe, despite his 6-day stay in Ethiopia, chose to meet with only 2 individuals (20 minutes each) out of the 28 he was requested to meet by us, his constituents, in order to enable him to reach an informed decision on H.R. 2003.(More...)

EU Annual Report on Human Rights 2007: ETHIOPIA

The EU has called on the government (Ethiopia) to stop the harassment of the opposition and civil society organizations, and to carry out a permanent and inclusive dialogue with the opposition to implement democratic provisions in practice.(More...)


-'Humanitarian crisis' facing Ethiopia, says UN
-UN Should Press Ethiopia and Somali (human rights watch)
-Five killed in Mogadishu violence
-Somali PM unveils new cabinet
-US official Gates in Djibouti to discuss Africa operations


-Sudanese President Pardons British Teacher
-Monitors say Russian vote unfair
-Sharif's candidacy papers rejected
-Israel Releases 429 Palestinian Captives
-Dinosaur mummy tells secrets