September 30, 2007

Coffee, Colonialism and Capitalism; Introduction to ‘Ethiopian’ Tyranny

Coffee, Colonialism and Capitalism; Introduction to ‘Ethiopian’ Tyranny

The Sidama Intellectual Side Goodo amalyzes the reasons of poverty in the occupied - by the alien Amhara invaders - Sidama Land and highlights the methods employed by the Amhara / Tigray rulers in Abyssinia's most appalling business: the illegitimate exploitation of the Sidama Coffee.

In an earlier article under the title ‘Coffee, Colonialism and Capitalism; Introduction to African Crisis’, we published the first part of the Sidama Intellectual Side Goodo’s article on ‘Sidama Land – Coffee Economics, Politics and Poverty’.

It was an introduction to the economic crisis that has permanently characterized Africa since the beginning of the Colonial Times, and to the purely colonial structures of modern Abyssinia, fallaciously re-baptized ‘Ethiopia’, which is the result of the Amhara barbaric kingdom invasions and the totalitarian rule of the cruel and inhuman Amhara and Tigray dictators.

The article was mainly articulated around two parts, namely Part 1. Poverty, Hunger and Underdevelopment in Africa, and Part 2. Poverty and Underdevelopment in ‘Ethiopia’. In the present article, we will publish Mr. Side Goodo’s main parts of analysis.

Sidama Land – Coffee Economics, Politics and Poverty

By Side Goodo, Sidama Intellectual

Part 3. Poverty in Sidama Region

The Sidama region with estimated total population of 5 million which makes Sidama the 5th largest ethnic group in ‘Ethiopia’ after Oromo, Amhara, Ogaden and Tigray, is one of the least developed regions in the country already at the bottom of the fourth world.

Only about 8% of the inhabitants of Sidama have access to electricity. The average rural household has only 0.3 hectare of land (compared to the national average of 1.01 hectare of land) and the equivalent of 0.5 heads of livestock. Most cattle in Sidama particularly in the low lands died due to tsetse fly infestations in the early 1980s.

Only 15.4% of the population is in non-farm related jobs, compared to the national average of 25% and a southern average of 32%. Primary school enrollment has improved since recently to reach about 68% of all eligible children while enrollment in secondary school is one of the lowest (18%).

These figures are inflated because of highly deflated population figure for Sidama of 3 million. Continued changes in climatic conditions due to global warming increased land areas in Sidama exposed to malaria to about 72% (World Bank, Country Memorandum, 2004).

All indictors reflect the glaring poverty in Sidama region. Sidama is predominantly rural society. 91 % of the total pupation in Sidama lives in rural areas. Thus it is primarily the peasant farmers who languish in poverty in the Sidama region. Fragmented land holdings, less than 0.3 hectares per household, coupled with very high population density of over 430 persons per sq km, implies a huge reservoirs of redundant labour force that needs to be employed out side of the subsistence farming. And yet the proportion of the total population engaged in non-farm related jobs in the Sidama region is only about 15%.

Sidama is endowed with various natural resources. Rivers such as Ganale that form Wabeshebelle river in Somalia originates in Sidama high lands of Harbagona. Lakes Awassa in the northwest, and Abaya in the south west, offer great tourism potentials for the region.

On top of all these, Sidama is endowed with the resources that make the Sidama name a global household name- that is, its black gold- coffee. Sidama produces abundant high quality organic (speciality) Sidama (Sidamo is a bastardised name given by the Amhara rulers) coffee that fetches the highest international retail prices for food chain multinationals such as Starbucks.

Part 4. Sidama: Coffee and Poverty

Coffee, believed to have been discovered a 1000 years ago by a Kaffa goatherd, in the Kaffa region of the country, is one of the most important cash crops in the Sidama region. In the year 2005, Sidama and Gedeo alone produced over 63,562 tons of coffee (Central Statistical Agency, 2005). This is 1/3 of the total coffee output for the country during the year.

Sidama is very well known for its production of garden coffee. Speciality Coffee is grown in many villages. Sidama has ideal soil type and climatic conditions-including altitude, rainfall and temperature for the production of Arabica coffee. Coffee is predominantly produced in villages organized in 39 primary coffee cooperatives in Shabadino, Dalle, Aleta Wondo, Darra and Bansa districts.

However, almost every household in rural Sidama outside of extremely hot lowlands of Awassa, Shabadino and Dalle and very cold highlands of Hula and Harbagona produces coffee. Over half of the total population in Sidama directly or indirectly depend on coffee for livelihoods.

Over 60% coffee produced in Sidama region is washed coffee and ready for export while half of the country’s coffee output of about 200,000 tones is consumed domestically. There are over 89 coffee washing stations in Sidama alone. Thus, over 40% of washed coffee destined to the export market comes directly from the Sidama region.

Coffee is the single most important export commodity for ‘Ethiopia’ providing about 65% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. ‘Ethiopian’ coffee exports currently account for about $400 million in export income. More than 20 million people in the country (about 25% of the population) derive their livelihoods from the coffee sector. Coffee contributes over 10% of the ‘Ethiopian’ GDP.

Coffee is the most important agricultural commodity in the world, and is worth up to $14 billion annually. In fact coffee is the second most widely traded commodity in the world next to petroleum. More than 80 countries, including ‘Ethiopia’, cultivate coffee, which is exported as the raw, roasted or soluble product to more than 165 countries worldwide. More than 121 countries export and /or re-export coffee. More than 50 developing countries, 25 of them in Africa, depend on coffee as an export, with 17 countries earning 25 per cent of their foreign exchange from coffee.

Coffee classification and grading systems in ‘Ethiopia’ were developed and licensed for the first time in 1952 and then modified in 1955. ‘Ethiopian’ coffee certification began after the establishment of the National Coffee Board of ‘Ethiopia’ in 1957. Licensed and graded coffee export from Ethiopia has the history of over half a century.

However, half a century of progressive coffee export did not at all translate to poverty reduction and increased access to livelihoods in Sidama. Instead, as specialty coffee production, processing and exports increased from Sidama, poverty, hunger and famine also increased. This is a symptom of fundamental economic and political problems in the country.

Why did massive high quality coffee production fail to reduce poverty in the Sidama region and in other coffee producing regions in ‘Ethiopia’? There are various factors that explain why coffee failed to contribute to poverty alleviation in these regions and in Sidama in particular.

Among others these include
a) inimical macroeconomic policies,
b) systematic exploitation of producers by parastatals,
c) unfair allocation of retail returns, and
d) international price volatility.

I will deal with each of these in the following sections.

a) Inimical macroeconomic policies

Successive dictatorial regimes in the country followed inimical macroeconomic policies. One of such policies is the exchange rate policy. ‘Ethiopia’ followed fixed exchange regime during both the feudal and socialist regimes. The national currency, birr, was exchanged for highly overvalued rate of about 2 birr for 1 US dollar for over two decades. Both economic theory and practice shows that currency overvaluation has serious negative effects on the export performance and export earnings.

Since coffee is the country’s major export, currency over valuation has the most undesired effects on the coffee export performance and earnings in the country.

Thus, prolonged currency overvaluation in the country during both the feudal and socialist regimes meant that coffee producers were denied of most of their coffee incomes.

Since the government was the primary exporter during these periods, it was able to artificially set the farm gate prices at a very low level so that it retains most of the returns generated from the coffee export.

Thus, the peasant farmers continued to earn negligent income from their coffee produces. This perpetuated rural poverty and under development in major coffee producing regions such as Sidama.

However, the macroeconomics alone does not explain why coffee failed to alleviate poverty in Sidama. Systematic exploitation of coffee farmers through parastatals was another reason why the benefit of coffee could not trickle down to the legitimate producers. I will review this in the next section.

Note
Pucture: Around the shores of Lake Awassa
By Prof. Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis
www.buzzle.com

September 29, 2007

Somali Fighting Intensifies; Hundreds Are Arrested, Police Say

By Ahmed Barre Ibrahem

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Fighting between government forces and Islamic insurgents intensified overnight in the Somali capital Mogadishu with attacks on police stations and Ethiopian army bases, a police spokesman said.

At least 100 insurgents were slain and 45 Somali soldiers killed or injured after insurgents attacked three police stations and two Ethiopian army bases, deputy police spokesman Abdullahi Nur Omar said in an interview today in the city. About 700 people suspected of assisting the insurgents have been arrested, he said.

Violence in the capital of the Horn of Africa nation has escalated since Ethiopian troops helped the United Nations- backed Transitional Federal Government, or TFG, oust the Islamic Courts militia from southern and central Somalia in January. Somalia has been without a central government since Mohammed Siad Barre's administration collapsed in 1991.

By yesterday, at least 2,000 Somali families had fled their homes in the northern parts of Mogadishu following the skirmishes, Nur Omar said yesterday. More families are leaving the capital today.

About 11,000 people have fled the fighting in Mogadishu this month alone, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, said today. Since February, 40,000 people have moved to Afgooye, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of the capital.

An opposition alliance of more than 400 Somali clan leaders, Islamists, and other political figures met in Eritrea this month and called for the overthrow of the interim government. The alliance has vowed to drive Ethiopian troops and 1,600 Ugandan peacekeepers, who were sent by the African Union, from Mogadishu.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ahmed Barre Ibrahem in Mogadishu via Johannesburg at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

September 28, 2007

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel to Visit Ethiopia

Merkel to visit Ethiopia, South Africa and Liberia

BERLIN (AFP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Ethiopia, South Africa and Liberia early next month on her first tour of Africa, government spokesman Thomas Steg said.

She will go to Ethiopia on October 3 and then fly to South Africa the next day for a four-day visit, before travelling to Liberia for one day.

"The chancellor will hold political discussions but will also visit a number of aid projects," Steg said.

In South Africa she will hold talks with President Thabo Mbeki as well as his predecessor, Nobel Peace laureate Nelson Mandela, and opposition leader Helen Zille, the South African foreign ministry said.

Merkel will also visit an AIDS project and discuss the country's preparations to host the 2010 football World Cup.

She will be accompanied by a big German business delegation.

September 27, 2007

DIBABA OUT OF GREAT NORTH WARM-UP

A recurrence of a stomach problem has forced Tirunesh Dibaba to withdraw from Saturday's BUPA three kilometres road race, a warm-up event for the Great North Run.

The 22-year-old Ethiopian successfully defended her World Championships 10,000m title earlier this month despite running with the complaint and also falling during the race in Osaka.

Dibaba last weekend felt she had sufficiently recovered to fly to Tyneside and challenge the world best of eight minutes 46.9seconds set by compatriot Meseret Defar last year.

"Unfortunately, she is again suffering from stomach cramps and unable to make the trip," said Matthew Turnbull, the meeting's elite athletes director.

"It's a great disappointment because she undoubtedly, along with Vivian Cheruiyot if fully fit, had the ability to attack Defar's world best."

Kenya's Cheruiyot, the world 5,000m silver medallist behind Defar and winner over the distance at Sunday's World Athletics final, will still face a serious challenge.

Dibaba's replacement Meselech Melkamu, travelling back from the final to Ethiopia last night, switched flights at her stopover in Dubai and is now heading for Newcastle.

"She's another of the world's best middle distance runners," Turnbull said of Ethiopia's former world junior cross country champion.

SportingLife.com

Ethiopia Legislation Moves Forward in US House of Representatives


By Dan Robinson
Congressman Donald Payne (Photo file)
Capitol Hill

26 September 2007

Robinson report (mp3) - Download 796k audio clip
Listen to Robinson report (mp3) audio clip

A key congressional committee has approved legislation supporting democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. VOA's Dan Robinson reports from Capitol Hill, where consideration by the House Foreign Affairs Committee was marked by some disagreement over how best to help bring about change in Ethiopia.

After the Ethiopian government released some jailed human rights activists and journalists this past July, U.S. House lawmakers postponed consideration of the legislation by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Sponsored by Africa subcommittee chairman Donald Payne of New Jersey, it would authorize $20 million in each of the next two years to promote human rights, democracy and economic development in Ethiopia.

The measure would restrict U.S. security and other assistance because of Washington's concerns about human rights.

With the exception of funds for Ethiopian participation in peacekeeping and joint counter-terrorism operations, aid would be prohibited until the U.S. president determines that Ethiopia's government is taking a number of steps.

These include credible efforts to release political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, ensuring an independent judiciary and free print and broadcast media, and punishment of security personnel involved in unlawful killings.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee supports the bill.

"We are not only going to talk about human rights but we are going to assist the judiciary in Ethiopia by exchanges between Ethiopian and U.S. jurists, law professors, law schools and law students," said Sheila Jackson Lee.

The legislation would also impose a visa ban on Ethiopian officials involved in lethal force or accused of gross human rights violations.

Republican Congressman Chris Smith:

"I would point out to my colleagues that this legislation attempts to free those political prisoners and bring at least some measure some modicum of democracy, transparency and accountability to the Ethiopian government," said Chris Smith.

However, another Republican, Congressman Don Manzullo, questioned whether proposed expenditures for Ethiopia would have any impact.

"This spends $40 million over the next two years for example, to facilitate joint discussions between court personnel, officials from Ethiopia's Ministry of Justice," said Congressman Manzullo. "[So] you [should] pick up the phone and say hello! Why do you have to spend $40 million to do that?"

There was also a disagreement over some over the question of property confiscated by the Ethiopian government.

Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher proposed an amendment calling for the return of seized property of U.S. citizens of Ethiopian descent:

"There are thousands of such American citizens of Ethiopian descent whose property has been confiscated and whose property is now being used by the oppressors in Ethiopia for their own benefit and their own profit," said Congressman Rohrabacher.

The amendment was rejected in a 25 to 17 vote, as Rohrabacher and other committee Republicans further suggested that Ethiopian government lobbying efforts had succeeded in watering down the bill.

Congressman Payne denied this, and accused congressional opponents of the legislation of trying to block its progress.

"It's just been frustrating time after time that every time we come up with this bill there is some technical thing that just doesn't suit an individual," he said.

Among the range of steps in the bill are assistance to local and national Ethiopian rights groups, a support network for torture victims, a judicial monitoring process, and training of private media outlets, along with expansion of Voice of America broadcasts directed to Ethiopia.

To become law, the legislation would have to be approved by the House and Senate, but it faces opposition from the White House despite a provision giving the president authority to ignore the ban on security assistance in the interests of U.S. national security.

VOA News

US rendition on trial in Africa

The US' war on terror practices come under fire in East Africa as a Kenyan court and rights groups set out to unmask a US-Kenya-Ethiopia-Somalia rendition circle.

By Daniel Auma in Nairobi for ISN Security Watch


The hidden faces of Kenya's war on terror may soon be unmasked, as a High Court Judge and a number of Muslim rights groups and lawyers seek to crack the veil of secrecy behind a series of mysterious flights to Ethiopia and the US suspected of carrying out an illegal rendition campaign.

A Kenyan judge has set the stage for a bruising encounter with the country's anti-terrorism chief on 8 October when Commandant of the Kenya Anti-Terrorism Police Unit Nicholas Kamwende will be quizzed on what he knows about the mysterious airlifts.

The story behind a series of alleged secret flights to lawless Somalia, then to Ethiopia, and finally to US detention facilities, began on 7 January, when a war against suspected Islamic fundamentalists started in Somalia.

At that time, Ethiopian troops were assuming control over the Somali capital Mogadishu after ousting Islamic fundamentalists against a backdrop of US air strikes in south-west Somalia. Ethiopian ground troops were taking part in one of the biggest military operations to be carried out by Washington in East Africa since its humiliating defeat in 1991.

The Ethiopian operation, which enjoyed the support of US intelligence, showed that defeated Somali Islamist militias were fleeing to the port of Kismayo, toward Somali's southern tip, which borders Kenya.

Kenyan authorities then made a series of arrests as part of a US-backed, four-nation (Kenya, US, Transitional Government of Somalia and US) military campaign in January against Somalia's Islamist militias, which Bush administration officials have linked to al-Qaida.

At least 140 prisoners - including men and women of 17 nationalities and children as young as seven months - were held in Kenya for several weeks before most of them were transferred covertly to Somalia and Ethiopia, where they were held incommunicado.

According to an Amnesty International report, at least 140 people were arrested by the Kenyan authorities while fleeing from Somalia. Among those arrested, 85 were "unlawfully" transferred to Ethiopia and Somalia, 27 were released from custody in Kenya and transferred to their country, one of them an Omani prince. Four were deported to the US.

Ethiopian authorities have released 15 people since March, while 27 Kenyans are still missing. Four of those sent to Somalia were British citizens and have been deported.

Among the thousands of people fleeing the fighting were two women, Halima Badrudine Hussein and her three children and Sophia Abdul Nasir. As the convoy of fleeing women neared Kiunga, near the border with Kenya, US intelligence was hot on their trail.

Bashir Ahmed Maktal, a Kenyan who had crossed over to the Somali side of the border before the crisis peaked, was also returning home to Kenya at the Liboi entry point.

Amir Mohammed Meshal, an Egyptian-born US citizen, was apprehended at the same crossing by Kenyan authorities and swiftly flown to Ethiopia, where he is facing a military tribunal.

The women and the two men are just a few of the known faces of at least 140 people who allegedly have been brutally interrogated in Kenya, secretly airlifted to Ethiopia and left to languish in Ethiopian cells, from where they have only managed to contact Muslim rights groups occasionally.

But a determined group of Kenyan Muslim rights activists who have vowed to test the east African nation's legal system and its war on terror have launched a petition against these renditions.

'Proxy hostages'
The first battle opens in the private chambers of Justice John Dulu, who has warned that he would issue an arrest warrant for the chief of the anti-terror police if he failed to respect the 8 October summons to explain the rendition flights.

"We are ready to test the legal system in the anti-terrorism war," Al-Almin Kimathi of the Kenya Muslim Forum, told ISN Security Watch.

Human rights organizations have termed the arrest of Halima Badrudine and her children and Sophia Abdul Nasir a case of "proxy hostages" in the war against terror. Halima is the wife of Fazul Abdullah, a Comorian suspected of playing a prominent role in the planning and execution of the US Embassy bombing in Nairobi in 1998, which killed 245 people, among them 12 Americans.

Sophia Nasir is the wife of Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a Kenyan believed to have worked on the side of Fazul to plan and execute the 1998 bombing.

Both suspects are believed to have been hiding in Somalia and are thought to have been part of active al-Qaida training cells in Somalia working for the downfall of the Somali transitional government.

The women were arrested along with 13 others said to be relatives of the defeated Islamic militants in Mogadishu and elsewhere Somalia.

Mektal, born in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia in 1969, was a Canadian emigrant who returned to Kenya in 2004 after working in Toronto as a computer programmer. He has had Canadian citizenship since 1993.

Amnesty International says Ethiopian authorities have on several occasions tried to force Mektal to confess to being a member of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), but he has refused. He has been held by Ethiopian forces since he was airlifted to Addis on 20 January.

The rights groups say the war on terror is targeting Ethiopian Ogadeni and Oromo ethnic groups with ancestry in both Kenya and Ethiopia, while the Kenyans are targeting anybody with associations to suspected terrorists.

"This is a crackdown against anyone who is thought to have any association with a suspect of terrorism. This defies the rights of the individuals," Kimathi said.

Rights activists say the program is being driven by the US, which has built a close relationship with Kenya and Ethiopia in the war on terror.

The Ethiopian government has acknowledged detaining 40 out of at least 80 people suspected to have been secretly flown from Kenya to Ethiopia through Somalia. The human rights workers say 117 people were initially transferred to Ethiopia, and another 50 to 70 individuals were identified within the Kenyan detention facilities before they disappeared. Kimathi said independent rights workers have verified the figures.

"We are talking about people we saw and had the flight manifest brought to the high court," Kimathi said.

The Kenya Human Rights Network and the Muslims Forum last week urged the court to look into the issue of disappearing Kenyans.

Muslim rights groups organized a demonstration in Nairobi last week, calling for the closure of the Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi and the rejection of an attempt by the US to set up an African Military Command Center in Botswana.

They hailed the ruling of the High Court as a milestone, saying it was the first time the anti-terrorism police would be called on to explain the reasons behind illegal detentions and extraordinary renditions to foreign countries.

"The law is very clear, nobody, whether terrorists or not, should be sent to theaters where there is conflict. There are legal mechanisms to bring perpetrators of various crimes to account," KNCHR chairman Maina Kiai told ISN Security Watch.

Earlier in May, Kimathi said he had received unconfirmed information that three of the deportees had died in Ethiopian custody. He expressed deep concern about a Tunisian woman who is reportedly eight months pregnant. Among those arrested were citizens of the US, Ethiopian, Somalia, Kenya, Tunisia, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The fate of Amir Meshal remains unknown since he was transferred to Ethiopia. He has been questioned by US anti-terror agents who said he was not a terrorism suspect.

By any means necessary
The Bush administration has come under fire for the practice of so-called extraordinary renditions - the transfer of detainees without court proceedings to foreign countries where they can be interrogated, often in secret, and sometimes subjected to torture.

The new allegations mark the first time that such renditions have been suspected in East Africa, where US-friendly regimes often are accused of treating prisoners brutally.

But the campaign has not netted any al-Qaida figures.

"There is clearly some sort of cooperation that if you fight together, you can deal with prisoners together," Hassan Omar, a member of the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights who has followed the issue closely told ISN Security Watch.

"There has been massive foreign interference on the issue of terrorism. Quite a number of foreign agencies' hands are tainted," he said.

Omar said returning the detainees to Somalia was a fundamental human-rights violation. "We are very skeptical of those being deported back to Somalia. The country does not have peace or stability. All of the prisoners we spoke to told us they were fleeing the hostilities."

The price of being a US ally
Kenyan Muslims accuse their government of being swayed by the US, which says Somalia's Islamist movement is hosting al-Qaida suspects it blames for the deadly bombings of its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Speaking in Nairobi last Wednesday, US Ambassador to Kenya and Somalia Michael Ranneberger defended the Kenyan deportations, which he said were based on security fears.

"The Kenyans have carried out security operations based on their own security interests but also based on the request of the [Somali] government to interdict and apprehend terrorists. This has meant specifically the apprehension of a number of terrorists and extremists who have tried to cross the Kenyan border," Rannebrger told journalists in Nairobi.

Barely a year after it sent fighter jets to bombard parts of Somalia and backed an Ethiopian assault on the capital and elsewhere, Washington said it was pleased with progress in Somalia.

"We would strongly praise the degree of Kenyan cooperation on security issues, as well as this is very important on the overall political process in Somalia," Washington said in a statement.

Kenyan government officials were not immediately available to comment on the threat of more protests. But speaking on condition of anonymity to ISN Security Watch, a senior government official dismissed the allegations made by those who were deported as baseless.

"We are suspicious of allegations made by people deported from this country as undesirable elements," the official said, denying that the FBI had access to the prisoners in Kenya.

"But if they feel any law has been broken they are welcome to file an official complaint."

But the US envoy in Nairobi said Washington was committed to working with regional partners to oppose terrorism, and noted that "active and ongoing" US counter-terrorism efforts in the region were bearing fruit.

Rannerger said Washington's successful collaboration between governments of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia had "severely disrupted" terrorist activities in anarchic Somalia since operations began there early this year.

"The action that we have taken have severely disrupted the al-Qaida East Africa network [...]," Ranneberger told journalists in Nairobi.

"Terrorists can no longer feel safe thinking Somalia is a safe haven. Our actions have severely disrupted al-Qaida's East Africa network and those trying to regroup in the south [...] the TFG is working on that and I don't think they would be allowed to do so," Ranneberger said.

A basic human rights question
In the meantime, Kenyan Muslim leaders are up in arms about what they view as gross mistreatment of their followers by security agents in recent times.

According to Professor Abdulghafur El-Busaidy, the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the renditions should not only be seen as an issue affecting Muslims, but as a blatant abuse of Kenyan citizens' basic human rights.

"What has been going on for the last few months is wrong, whether those shipped out of Kenya are Kenyan citizens or not," he told ISN Security Watch by telephone. "It is the duty of the country's courts to determine who is guilty of an offence like terrorism, and definitely not the duty of the Immigration Department or the police."

Lawyers and human rights groups argue that the covert transfers to Ethiopia violate international law.

"Each of these governments has played a shameful role in mistreating people fleeing a war zone," said a report released by Human Rights Watch recently.

"Kenya has secretly expelled people, the Ethiopians have caused dozens to disappear and US security agents have routinely interrogated people held incommunicado."

IntelliBriefs

September 26, 2007

Ibsa Ejjennoo Miseensoota fi Deeggertoota ABO Biyya Switzerland


Ibsa Ejjennoo Miseensoota fi

Deeggertoota ABO Biyya Switzerland

Nuti miseensonni fi deeggertoonni ABO kan biyya Switzerland keessa jiraannu, bakka itti gafatamaan (I/G) dameen dantaa alaa (DDA) ABO (J/Gaashuu Lammessa) argamanitti, gaafa fulbaana 23, 2007 magaalaa Bern keessatti walgahii gooneerra. Dhimmi walga’ichaas haala yeroo amma murni biccuun woyyaanee uumata keenya irratti balaa geessisaa jirtuu fi sosocho’insa qabsaa’onnii fi ummatin oromoo biyya keessa fi alatti gochaa jiran irratti baldhinaan erga mari’annee booda ibsa ejjennoo kanaa gadii baafachuu dhaan walga’ii keenya milkii gaariin xumurreerra

Ibsa ejjennoo

  1. Murtii Shanee Gumii GS ABO walga'ii gaafa Adoolessa 5-12 irratti dabarse ni deeggarra. Waamicha yeroo fedhe oromootaaf godhamu ni fudhanna.

  1. Qabsoo kana cimsuuf bifa kamiin iyyuu tarkaanfii dhaabni keenya fudhatu hundaa ni deeggarra, waan dandeenyeen illee ni gargaarra.

  1. Fincila Diddaa Gabrummaa uummatni keenya Oromiyaa keessatti godhaa jiru ni deeggarra. Nutis waan qabsoon nugaafate hundaan bira dhaabbanna.

  1. Hawaasonni Oromoo biyya alaa jiran hundi Qabsoo Bilisummaa Oromoo kan ABOn geggeeffamu wajjin akka dhaabatan fi irratti akka qooda fudhatan waamicha dabarsina. Uummatni Oromoo bitaa fi mirgaa, duubaa fi fuulduraan waltaanee Qabsoo bilisummaa Oromoo kan hooggana ABO dhaan durfamuu finiinsuudhaan walabummaa saba keenyaa mirkaneesudhaaf yeeron isaa amma waan ta'eef Oromoon marti akka ijaarsa isaa jabeeffatu waamicha goona!

  1. Oromootni meeshaa diina taa'an hundi farra qabsoo Oromoo fi gufuu bilisummaa Oromoo waan ta'aniif seenaan yoomi iyyuu akka isin gaafattuu beektanii daba uummata oromoo irratti godhan dhaabdanii uummata keenya cinaa akka dhaabbatan waamicha dabarsinaaf. Kan beekaniis ta'e otoo hinbeekiin OPDO jalatti ijaaramanii meeshaa diinaa ta'an akka yeroon Wayyaanee jalaa bayanii QBO irratti qooda fudhatan waamicha ni goonaaf.

  1. Dhaabbotiin oromoo tokko tokko kan Dhaaba Kallacha Oromoo ABO balaaleffataniif diinni keenya sirnna cunqurssaa Wayyaanee (TPLF/ EPRDF) akka ta'e hubatanii walirratti duuluu dhaabanii diinarratti akka duulan waamicha goonaaf. Olola wayyaaneen Dhaaba Kallacha Oromoo ABO irratti oofaa jirttu ni balaaleffanna!

  1. Waraana Bilisummaa Oromoo waan dandeenye hundaan ni deeggarra, ni gargaarra! Nuti oromootnni biyya Swiss jirru ABO jajjabeessuuf kan dhaabnni keenya nugaafate hundda ni goona.

Injifannoo Uummata Oromoof!

Gadaan Gadaa Bilisummaati!

Miseensota fi Deeggertoota ABO

Bern, Switzerland Fulbaana 23, 2007

Eritrea insists Ethiopia implements border ruling

Eritrea insists Ethiopia implements border ruling

Wed 26 Sep 2007

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Eritrea maintains its demand that Ethiopia implement a border ruling agreed under a pact to end their 1998-2000 war, a minister said on Wednesday after Ethiopia threatened to call off the peace agreement.

In a letter to Eritrea's Foreign Minister on Tuesday, Ethiopia accused Asmara of violating the deal on several fronts including coordinating "terrorist activity".

Addis Ababa said as a result it was considering terminating or suspending all or part the Algiers agreement that ended the two-year border conflict that killed 70,000 people.

Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu said Asmara had no knowledge of any such letter and that it was Ethiopia's concern.

"That's not our business. It's up to them," he told Reuters by telephone.

"What we know is there has been a legal verdict and what we want is the implementation of that. No more, no less."

Relations between the Horn of Africa neighbours plummeted when Ethiopia initially rejected a 2002 ruling by an independent border commission, despite agreeing beforehand to accept whatever the commission ruled as final and binding.

Earlier this month, Ethiopia said its soldiers were just metres (yards) apart from Eritrean troops who moved into what is supposed to be a neutral buffer zone.

Analysts and diplomats say neither country wants to go to war, in spite of the inflammatory rhetoric on both sides. But they worry that an unplanned skirmish could trigger conflict.

The two countries are on opposite sides of the conflict in Somalia, with Ethiopia backing the government and Eritrea Islamists forced out of Mogadishu in December.

Eritrea denies Ethiopia's allegations of support for armed groups. This month, it accused Ethiopia of scuppering demarcation talks on their 1,000 km (620 mile) frontier.

Abdu ruled out any dialogue.

"There was not, there is not and there will not be any direct communication between us," he said.

Reuters

September 25, 2007

Ethiopia Threatens to Terminate Peace Deal With Eritrea

By VOA News
25 September 2007

Ethiopia has threatened to terminate the peace agreement that ended its border war with Eritrea.

An Ethiopian government statement Tuesday said Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin has sent Eritrea a letter accusing it of "material breaches" of the 2000 Algiers Agreements.

The statement said Ethiopia is entitled to invoke the breaches as grounds for "legal and peaceful options" that include terminating the agreements or "suspending their operation in whole or in part."

The Ethiopian statement accused Eritrea of almost fully occupying the security zone between the countries and coordinating the activities of terrorist groups in the region.

There has been no immediate response from Eritrea.

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a two-year border war from 1998 to 2000 that killed an estimated 70,000 people.

An independent border commission tasked with marking off the border awarded the disputed town of Badme to Eritrea. But Ethiopia has refused to accept that decision.

Both sides have repeatedly accused the other of raising tension in the region and blocking settlement of the border dispute.

The conflict has spilled over into Somalia. Ethiopia sent thousands of troops to Somalia last year to assist the country's embattled interim government. Eritrea recently hosted a meeting of Somali opposition leaders, including Islamists, who formed an alliance aimed at driving the Ethiopians out of Somalia.

September 24, 2007

The Fascist Meles Zenawi Regime of Ethiopia Should be denounced by all on International Freedom of Press Day

The Fascist Meles Zenawi Regime of Ethiopia Should be denounced by all on International Freedom of Press Day


On September 28, 2007, the world celebrates International Freedom of Press. September 28 is celebrated every year by all countries of the world as the International Freedom of Press Day or The Right to Information Day. This day is the day where countries and governments of the world pledge to respect the rights of their citizens of speaking and writing and of getting and exchanging information in general. On this day governments investigate those who violate these rights based on international laws and the law and constitution of their respective countries. It is a day where those governments who respect freedom of press are commended and those who violate those rights be condemned.

The current TPLF/EPRDF regime of Meles Zenawi is known for suppressing freedom of press and harassing, imprisoning and killings of journalists in its 16 years of holding power. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports every year that this regime considers freedom of press and free media as number one enemy of its tyrannical rule and existence. In today’s Ethiopia all free media such as radio, television, newspapers, websites …etc. are non-existent and/or closed except for those who are affiliated with the TPLF regime and its members. Websites of opposition parties such as that of OLF, ONLF, SLF and many others are blocked by Meles’ tyrannical regime and cannot be accessed in Ethiopia. Currently the government is sabotaging and/or attempting to jam the functioning of radio programs such as VOL (Voice of Oromo Liberation), Radio Huriya (ONLF), Tinsae (CUDP), including the independent and internationally known radio programs such as SUBE, VOA, and DW.

There are reliable reports that the regime is investing billions of dollars for jamming the above radio stations in collaboration with a super power in Asia. In addition to this the regime is engaged in a campaign and sabotage for the closure of opposition media by lobbying and bribing international companies renting radio airtimes and websites in order for the government to rule over 70 million people under subjugation by depriving the people the right to information. Moreover, the Woyane regime is promoting the same policy of silencing the media in Somalia. In collaboration with the current puppet TFG of Somalia the Woyane soldiers are engaged in harassing, arresting and murdering free press journalists, and closed free radios and websites.

The dictatorial regime of Meles Zenawi is probably the number one enemy of free press and media in the world. The objective of this regime is clear: to tyrannically rule the people by putting them in darkness where the people cannot raise any questions to the atrocities perpetrated by the regime. Such an evil policy of depriving the people freedom of information pursues by the terrorist regime of TPLF/EPRDF should be strongly condemned by all on September 28, 2007.


Editorial Statement of OLF

September 23, 2007

September 22, 2007

Unrest in Ethiopia worries local Oromo

By Roseanne Pereira

Minnesota Public Radio

September 21, 2007

Minnesota has one of the largest Oromo populations in the country. The Oromo is an ethnic group from Ethiopia. The estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Oromo in the Twin Cites are trying to make new lives for themselves. But they say, their thoughts are often elsewhere -- as they monitor what's happening to family and friends in Ethiopia.

St. Paul, Minn. — Birhanemeskel Abebe sits alone at a table with his laptop. Behind him, towers a massive whiteboard crammed with writings in black marker.

Every square inch seems to have ano

ther fact -- the percentages of the different ethnic groups in Ethiopia, words like 'cell phone' -- to remind him to mention the government's restrictions on text messaging.

Birhanemeskel Abebe

The board is like a map of Abebe's mind. It's overflowing with vital info

rmation about the Oromo and their sometimes violent troubles with the Ethiopian government.

"The regime is following a kind of ethnic apartheid policy, which is very difficult probably to understand in the United States, because the politics here is more along racial lines, black and white," says Abebe. "But in Ethiopia, we don't have racial line divisions,

we have ethnic divisions."

The Oromo make up 40 percent of Ethiopia's estimated 77 million people. The ruling party of Ethiopia, on the other hand, is made up of people of a different ethnicity, the Tigre. They make up

about 7 percent of the country's population.

The conflict between the different ethnic groups in Ethiopia can be fairly complicated, but what is well-documented are the significant human rights violations, patterns of killings, torture, and arbitrary detention of Ethiopians who oppose the government.

Human rights reports gathered by the U.S. State Department document such

government-sponsored actions, as do a variety of reports by international human rights organizations. The UN recently called for an independent investigation of human rights abuses i

n Ethiopia's Ogaden region.

Abebe is currently a research fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School's Human Rights Center. He's also a former Ethiopian diplomat. For years, he worked at the UN advocating for closer ties between Ethiopia and the United States. But now that the two countries are allies in the war on terror, he fears that the Ethiopian government will not be held accountable for its human rights abuses.

"They charge people with high crimes like genocide, treason, and sometimes terrorism," Abebe says. "Because that word sounds good and feels good for the Western listeners."

Michele Garnet Mackenzie

From his work at the United Nations and with the Ethiopian government, Abebe believes that the strategy in the Ethiopian government employs is partly a result of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

"The TPLF regime, which is a minority regime similar to the Tutsis in Rwanda, learned that if there is a threat of genocide in the country, the international community can tolerate keeping minorities in power," says Abebe.

He says that when questioned by Western diplomats, the government uses the threat of genoci

de to excuse its harsh treatment of the Oromo and other ethnic groups in the region.

Michele Garnet Mackenzie directs Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights Refugee and Immigrant program. She has worked with many Ethiopians including the Oromo since the early '90s. She says, though ethnic conflict has been going on for over a hundred years in

Ethiopia, she too is noticing a new trend from the Ethiopian government.

"{They're} moving beyond political repression into a much more subtle way to disenfranchise the entire community," says Garnet Mackenzie. "{They're} limiting people's ability to go to

school, not allowing Oromo people to go into secondary school -- to cut the knees off the intellectual class of Oromo living in Ethiopia."

Birhanemeskel Abebe says there are two separate education systems in Ethiopia. People of ethnicities favored by the government go to better schools and onto college, leading to good jobs and leadership positions. If you're Oromo, he says, it's difficult to get beyond the 10th grade and the government regularly expels Oromo students from universities.

Robsan Itana

"In this way, they are trying to build the exact replica of the apartheid system of South Africa or the separate but equal system once used in the U.S. vis a vis the African-Americans," says Abebe.

University of Minnesota student, Dame Orma, got kicked out of school in Ethiopia. Now he's studying political science. Imagine, he says, what it's like to get kicked out of school.

"Somebody like me, who traveled two hours, three hours to go to school, who did not have basic necessities when I went to school, only to go to college and get dismissed!"

Orma says nowadays, his mind is split between two countries.

"My day will not be right if I don't wake up and check what happened, if I don't check my e-mail. I have to check the news, I have to see what's happening -- maybe my family might be killed."

Orma says there are few options for Oromo students who remain in Ethiopia after being dismissed from the university. Some return to the farms they were trying to escape through education. Others, he says, are now homeless.

Robsan Itana is the executive director of the Oromo-American Citizens' Council. His office in St. Paul is spare, except for a painting hanging on the wall. It's a watercolor with pinks and purples. Thin grass in the foreground stands before a mountain rising behind. Itana says, it reminds him of the Ethiopian landscape. It is calm and relaxing.

In contrast, he says, the reality for the Oromo in Minnesota is often riddled with insecurity.

"They're depressed. They feel guilty because most of their family is there, but there is nothing they can do about it. They cannot really live there; they fear for their life, too," says Itana.

Robsan Itana is one of many Oromo trying to raise awareness about human rights abuses in Ethiopia, but it's not easy. The Oromo live in fear that if they speak out against the Ethiopian regime, family members will be hurt back in Ethiopia.

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health examined the Twin Cities Somali and Oromo refugee populations. It found that 69 percent of Oromo males studied had experienced torture. The psychological and physical pain endured by some of these refugees hinders their ability to raise awareness in a public way.

Many Oromo-Americans are tracking a piece of legislation now going through the U.S. Congress. The bill would encourage respect for human rights and democracy in Ethiopia.

Minnesota Public Radio

Refugee agency's founder is arrested

The Ethiopian immigrant is accused of defrauding the African Community Resource Center of more than $1 million.
By Richard Winton
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 22, 2007
The founder of a nonprofit agency for African refugees in Los Angeles -- an immigrant whom Oprah Winfrey once named a "Phenomenal Woman of the Month" -- has been arrested on 25 charges of conspiracy, embezzlement, fraud, tax evasion and grand theft.

Nikki Tesfai, a 53-year-old native of Ethiopia, defrauded the African Community Resource Center of more than $1 million to benefit herself, her relatives and her boyfriend, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

The Beverly Hills resident was being held in lieu of $1.5-million bail Friday and faces up to 15 years in prison.

"The money set up a lifestyle," said Jane Robison, a district attorney's spokeswoman. "She was a member at one time of the Beverly Hills Country Club. Her children attend respected private schools."

After a four-year investigation, prosecutors allege that Tesfai expropriated to herself and relatives buildings acquired to shelter immigrants and put her housemaid on the resource center's payroll. Three co-defendants also have been arrested.

Tesfai, also known as Nigisti Tesfai, was once the darling of the local African refugee movement. She arrived in Los Angeles in 1984 and formed the agency with the support of county Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke.

Since then, Tesfai has claimed to have helped 52,000 African refugees through the center's battered women, homeless aid and children's group home programs. Much of the operating money for the center came from state, local and federal contracts and grants.

Tesfai was cited as the "Phenomenal Woman of the Month" by Winfrey in the January 2002 issue of her magazine, O.

Robison said the center bought several properties to use as group homes for children but never operated them as such. In one case, she said, a Long Beach property purchased with resource center funds was transferred to Tesfai's boyfriend, Kurt Rivas, who also is charged in the case.

Prosecutors allege that Tesfai and her brother, Isaac Tesfaye, whose last name is spelled differently from his sister's, forged documents to put a South Gate apartment building owned by the agency in her name.

Tesfai and a third co-defendant, Marine Panossian, filed a false reimbursement claim with the state Department of Housing and Community Development for construction that was never completed on another agency house, originally intended as a homeless shelter, prosecutors said. The shelter never opened.

Investigators also allege that the resource center paid $18,000 over three years to Tesfai's housekeeper.

During their investigation, prosecutors said, they discovered that much of the educational background Tesfai claimed in applying for funding was overstated or false, an allegation first raised by L.A. Weekly in 2004.

Tesfai claimed a doctorate and other degrees from universities in Switzerland, Texas and Florida. None of the schools list her as a graduate, prosecutors said.

Tesfai, Rivas and Panossian are scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

Tesfaye, who was arrested Thursday in Virginia, is to be arraigned later.

richard.winton@latimes.com

September 20, 2007

Ethiopian coffee co-op founder aims for hearts and mugs of those who like a little justice with their java

No ordinary Joe

Ethiopian coffee co-op founder aims for hearts and mugs of those who like a little justice with their java

Most of the coffee in the 2 billion cups savoured around the world each day comes from wooded mountain peaks thousands of miles away.

Tadesse Meskela witnessed the collapse of world coffee prices that sent millions into poverty. Photo: Joshua Meles

But if fair traders get their wish, coffee, the commodity that ranks second only to oil in global sales, just might become an honorary local food.

Figuring out if a food is local means more than measuring the miles it travels, the amount of energy burned getting it to the selling location and the percentage of labour done at or near the place where it's consumed.

If other tangibles and intangibles count for something, then criteria might also include the quality of the product, the storyline of its production, and the level of cooperation between producers and consumers – all the specifics that might turn a product into a "local" one even if we were buying it from thousands of miles away.

Meet Tadesse Meskela, general manager of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, based in the birthplace of coffee in southwestern Ethiopia. The beverage makes up half of Ethiopia's foreign exchange and provides a livelihood for the families of his 102,000 members.

But Meskela's main job is to win a place in the hearts and taste buds of java drinkers who like their drink without a bitter aftertaste – which for technical as well as social reasons, needs to come from fair trade sources.

"We have to raise the education of the consumer," Meskela tells a standing-room-only crowd that came to meet him and see the gripping film about his crusade, Black Gold, at the Brunswick on September 14. He wants them to know the difference between coffee with a place name and a paler version answering to the distant name of corporate multinationals.

The best coffees, like the best wines and cheeses, are known for their place of origin, their terroir. In the coffee world, these beans are Arabica, not Robusta, the quick, cheap and ultra-caffeinated beans that flooded the world during the 1990s. Robusta drove 20 million producers of Arabica coffee, most of them tending about 2 hectares of land, into desperate poverty.

After it's been grown, picked, sorted and shipped while still green, the best coffee is roasted by craftspeople a few days before and near where it's served. Otherwise, the volatile complexity and sweetness of the fresh roast are lost, and taste and possibly healthfulness are compromised.

Meskela's economic strategy depends on finding small roasters in the West who can meet his farmers' needs for a fair price. By going direct from farmer co-op to roaster, we eliminate 60 per cent of the stops in the supply chain, he says.

In turn, that shorter chain allows fair trade roasters and retailers – like the Just Us co-op coffee shops and the Planet Bean roasting co-op that organized Meskela's tour – to work their social justice magic. Since 2004, when coffee prices started to rise from historic lows of $.25 to $.38 a pound, the Oromia farmers have used the premium from fair trade prices to build their communites.

Meskela's rise as a coffee growers' organizer coincides with the emergence of fair trade, the collapse of coffee prices and the resulting impoverishment of 100 million people.

First came the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, removing the threat of competition with the West for the loyalties of the Third World. The International Coffee Organization was one of the first victims of this change. Designed to bring price and crop stability to the trade, it lost its punch when Canada and the U.S. walked out, leaving coffee-producing countries to compete among themselves. There was no barrier to price collapse.

Second came the establishment of the World Trade Organization in 1995, which permitted wealthy countries to continue massive subsidies to their farm exporters but prevented poor countries from erecting tariff barriers.

Throughout the 90s, as explained in Coffee: A Dark History, by Antony Wild, the World Bank funded Vietnam's emergence as the world's second-biggest producer, swamping the world with dirt-cheap Robusta.

On the other side of the coffee glut stood four corporations, Kraft, Nestle, Procter and Gamble and Sara Lee, which named their price as easily as they named their different brands.

Meskela witnessed the beginnings of this storm as an ag worker in Ethiopia during the early 90s, shortly after his government shed its totalitarian Communist style. He woke up and smelled the democratic co-op movement on a 1994 tour of Japan, one of the unrecognized leaders in the co-op world, and was inspired to establish grassroots, egalitarian, environment-minded co-ops.

"My mind changed as soon as I saw this," he told me over slurps of cheap hotel coffee. He launched with $90,000 in start-up funds.

A major victory came this spring when Starbucks gave up on its insolent effort to trademark the Ethiopian name of Sidamo beans and agreed to return to Ethiopia the right to license its own name and add brand-building value to the people who developed coffee a millennium ago.

U.N. sees budding crisis in Ethiopia

A report blames the government and rebels for abuses and food shortages in the separatist region of Ogaden.
By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 20, 2007
NAIROBI, KENYA -- -- A United Nations report on violence in Ethiopia's Ogaden region has found evidence of "serious violations of human rights" and recommends an independent investigation of the conflict's toll on civilians.

The 23-page report released Wednesday by a fact-finding group says the Ethiopian government and separatist rebels share responsibility for an emerging humanitarian crisis in eastern Ethiopia, where several hundred thousand people face food shortages.

"It was apparent . . . that the human rights and protection situation for the civilian population in the areas of military operation is alarming and requires urgent attention," the report says. Leaders of the U.N. mission said they encountered "pervasive fear" among most of the civilians they interviewed during a trip this month to regions where Ethiopian troops are battling the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

The report is the first official U.N. investigation of a recent flare-up in the Ogaden region, where the Ethiopian government has been accused of waging a brutal campaign against rebels and villagers believed to be supporting them.

Aid workers and refugees say government troops have burned villages, raped women, blocked food assistance and prevented journalists, doctors and other relief workers from traveling in the region.

Last month, the government expelled the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross, and Doctors Without Borders has complained that it has been denied access.

"Dozens of civilians have been killed in what appears to be a deliberate effort to mete out collective punishment against a civilian population," Human Rights Watch said recently.

Several thousand Ethiopians have fled to Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti, aid workers say.

Ethiopia has denied the allegations, saying troops are battling a "terrorist" organization responsible for attacks on civilians. In April, rebels attacked a Chinese-run oil field in Ogaden, killing 74 people.

Ethiopian government officials could not be reached Wednesday night for comment, but they released a statement pledging to work with U.N. officials to improve humanitarian conditions, including reopening roads to Somalia to restore commercial trade routes, facilitating access for humanitarian workers and reopening livestock markets.

"They are taking a very positive stand on our recommendations very quickly," said Paul Hebert, head of U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Ethiopia, which led the fact-finding mission.

The report states that recent military operations had blocked traditional trade routes for several villages, leading to food shortages, an inability to buy and sell cattle, and soaring prices.

"Because of the lack of food, people are at their limit," Hebert said. "It's not a major crisis right now, but in the next two months it could become one if it is not addressed."

He declined to comment on specific human rights violations, saying the details would be provided to the government in a separate report.

During a visit to Ethiopia this month, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi E. Frazer expressed concern over the growing humanitarian crisis in Ogaden, but said allegations of government abuse were "unsubstantiated."

The controversy has put Washington in an uncomfortable position because Ethiopia, a major recipient of U.S. aid and military training, has served as a staunch ally in American anti-terrorism efforts on the Horn of Africa. Last year, Ethiopia invaded neighbor Somalia to oust an alliance of Islamic militants who had seized control of the capital, Mogadishu. U.S. forces participated in the invasion, launching airstrikes against suspected militant targets.

On Wednesday, Ogaden rebel leaders expressed support for an internationally monitored investigation of alleged human rights violations, saying that the U.N. team had not been permitted to visit the worst-affected regions.

"War crimes indicative of an unfolding genocide continue in Ogaden, and the United Nations bears a particular responsibility to avert another preventable genocide in Africa," the group said in a statement.

edmund.sanders@latimes.com

September 19, 2007

Radio Shabelle building in Mogadishu besieged by security forces, staff evacuated

Reporters Without Borders calls on the transitional federal government to order its forces to lift the siege on the building in Mogadishu that houses privately-owned Radio Shabelle and to allow its journalists to go back to work. The building has been surrounded by security forces since yesterday morning.

“Mogadishu’s violence must not be used as a pretext for such acts of hostility towards the staff of Radio Shabelle or other media,” the press freedom organisation said. “It is time the Somali government took measures to allow journalists in the capital to play the important role that is their job. The security forces must be given clear orders to recognise their neutrality and guarantee their security.”

The situation began when a mixed unit of Somali police and intelligence personnel tried to enter the building housing Radio Shabelle and privately-owned ISP Global Internet yesterday morning after a grenade was thrown at a patrol in the neighbourhood.

When the building’s security guard refused to let them in, the police used automatic weapons to fire several bursts at the building, including the second and third floors, where the station is located, smashing all the windows. A Radio Shabelle journalist told Reporters Without Borders that one of Global Internet’s guards was injured and an unidentified passer-by was killed.

The security forces then laid siege to the building for several hours before finally allowing employees to evacuate the building at the end of the afternoon, the same source said. Radio Shabelle has stopped broadcasting and the police are continuing to maintain their positions around the building. Global Internet is no longer operating either.

The building is located in the centre of Mogadishu, not far from its busiest intersection, Howlwadaag Junction, and not from Bakara market, now a rebel stronghold. The neighbourhood is often the scene of clashes and bombings.

The building’s owner is a member of the Ayr clan, which is known for its hostility towards the transitional government. The political leader in exile of the Islamic Courts, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, and their military chief, Yussuf Mohamed “Indahaade” Sayeed, are both prominent Ayr clan members. According to Reporters Without Borders’ sources, this could explain why the security forces have behaved so aggressively towards the building’s occupants.

RSF

UN calls for probe into alleged eastern Ethiopia rights abuses

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — A United Nations panel on Wednesday recommended an independent probe into alleged human rights violations in Ethiopia's Ogaden region, where the army has cracked down on rebels.

A UN fact-finding mission travelled to Ogaden in late August to probe allegations that the military had committed rights abuses in its clampdown on Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) insurgents.

"The mission received reports and direct accounts of serious violations of human rights, including substantive protection concerns for the civilian population," the panel said in a report.

"It is the mission's view that these reported human rights concerns require independent investigation," it recommended, warning that humanitarian conditions in the conflict zone have "deteriorated substantially."

A UN official expressed hope in working with Addis Ababa to address the problem.

"We received alarming reports. We have heard enough to justify such an investigation," said the official.

In a statement, the rebels welcomed the call for a probe and pledged to cooperate.

"Such an investigation must be under the auspices of the United Nations and, unlike the recent fact-finding mission, must not be limited to routes approved by the current regime," the ONLF said in an e-mailed statement.

"This future independent investigative mission must also seek the views of the ONLF and not just the regime in order to be truly independent," it said.

The ONLF renewed a warning that another "African genocide" was unfolding in the region, where it said thousands of displaced civilians had fled to neighbouring Somalia without essential supplies over the past four months.

The Ethiopian army has flatly rejected the claims, and instead said its campaign is not targeting civilians, but the rebels whom it accuses of carrying out "terrorist" activities.

The UN panel called for urgent aid supplies and protection of civilians in the region.

"Humanitarian conditions within the conflict areas have deteriorated substantially (...) the price of food has nearly doubled.

"Government restrictions of commercial and livestock trade aimed at preventing contraband activity have markedly aggravated an already fragile food security and livelihood situation," the report said.

"Emergency food aid should be provided immediately for approximately 600,000 people for three months," said the report, explaining the crackdown has delayed aid operations.

"For now, the government and all other parties involved in military operations should take appropriate and urgent actions to protect civilian populations in the region," it added.

Addis Ababa has already expelled Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee for the Red Cross from Ogaden for allegedly meddling in politics.

A spokesman for Ethiopia's foreign ministry, Wahide Beleye, told AFP: "The main point is that the report is confirming what the government is thinking especially about the humanitarian situation in this region. If there are other details we will release them tomorrow."

The Ethiopian army launched a crackdown on the region, which is about the same size as Britain and has a population of about four million, following an attack by the ONLF rebel group against a Chinese oil venture in April that left 77 people dead.

Predominantly barren, the Ogaden has long been extremely poor, but in recent years the discovery of gas and oil has brought both hopes of wealth and new causes of conflict.

Ethiopian authorities have accused archrival Eritrea of supporting the Ogaden separatists. The Eritreans have denied the accusation.

Formed in 1984, the ONLF is fighting for the independence of ethnic Somalis in Ogaden, who they say have been marginalised by Addis Ababa.

AFP

September 18, 2007

Eritreans Deny American Accusations of Terrorist Ties

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept. 17 — Eritrean officials, responding to American accusations that they have abetted terrorists in the volatile Horn of Africa, defended their actions on Monday and said that while they would like to have better relations with the United States, they had no intention of bowing to American pressure.

Over the weekend, the Eritrean government held a conference for Somali opposition leaders that included some prominent Islamists whom Jendayi E. Frazer, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, has called terrorists.

American officials have threatened to list Eritrea as a state sponsor of terrorism, accusing it of funneling weapons to Somali insurgents. But on Monday, Eritrean officials denied that they were trying to destabilize Somalia, and said their conference was a legitimate way to rebuild the shattered country.

More than that, said Ali Abdu, Eritrea’s information minister, if Ms. Frazer was trying to make “Eritrea kneel down in front of her,” she had better learn what he called a basic Eritrean fact.

“Eritreans kneel on only two occasions,” he said. “When they pray and when they shoot.”

In the past few weeks, Eritrea has become a worsening headache for American policy makers. Its capital, Asmara, has become a magnet for rebel leaders from across East Africa. Its troops are building up on the disputed border of Ethiopia, which has already been a flash point for war. What little taste Eritrean officials had for diplomatic niceties seems to have disappeared.

Eritrea has been fiercely independent from the moment the country broke off from Ethiopia in 1993. Back then, it was a darling of the West, considered the little-country-that-could and held up as a model of a crime-free, egalitarian African nation.

But in the late 1990s, things changed. Eritrea and Ethiopia went to war over Badame, a seemingly insignificant border town, and 100,000 people were killed.

American diplomats helped broker a truce but then backed off after Ethiopia decided to ignore a United Nations-supported commission that said Badame belonged to Eritrea.

“We expected the Americans to be fair,” said Yemane Gebre Meskel, the chief of staff for Isaias Afwerki, Eritrea’s president. “They weren’t.”

The Bush administration sees Ethiopia, with its 77 million people and one of Africa’s largest armies, as the best bulwark in the Horn of Africa against Islamist extremism, so the United States has consistently taken Ethiopia’s side against Eritrea, population five million, said Representative Donald M. Payne, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of a House subcommittee on Africa.

“And that’s not productive,” he said. “Right now we’re boxing Eritrea into a corner.”

But Bush administration officials say Eritrea is fueling the growing violence in Somalia, and point to a United Nations report in July that said Eritrea had covertly shipped planeloads of weapons to Islamist fighters there. Eritrean officials say the report was fabricated.

Last winter, American and Ethiopian military forces teamed up to oust an Islamist movement that briefly controlled Somalia’s seaside capital, Mogadishu, and install Somalia’s weak transitional government in the city. It has not worked. An Iraq-style insurgency is burning its way across the country, with roadside bombs, political assassinations and suicide attacks, which were unheard of in Somalia until the Ethiopians arrived. Some diplomats have another name for Mogadishu: Baghdad by the Sea.

Ms. Frazer has also accused the Eritreans of arming separatist rebels in Ethiopia’s eastern Ogaden region, a charge that the rebels and Eritreans deny. If the United States did designate Eritrea a state sponsor of terrorism, a possibility that Ms. Frazer raised last month, it would result in severe economic sanctions and put Eritrea in the same club as Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan and Cuba.

“I think it’s 50-50 right now whether this happens,” said a State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Some experts on the region contend that Eritrea has proven a reliable partner in combating Muslim extremism in recent years. It fought Sudan in the 1990s, when Osama bin Laden lived in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, and it championed Sudanese rebels in the south and in Darfur.

“If there is one country where the fighting of extremists and terrorists was a priority when it mattered, it was Eritrea,” said Ted Dagne, an Africa specialist for the Congressional Research Service.

The Eritreans say the same thing.

“We have cooperated before with the Americans, and we can cooperate at any time,” Mr. Yemane said. “We are hoping to put this cycle of misunderstandings behind us.”

Those misunderstandings include diplomatic harassment on both sides, with the Eritreans demanding to inspect confidential diplomatic pouches of the American Embassy in Asmara and the Americans closing down an Eritrean consulate in Oakland, Calif.

European diplomats have taken a less confrontational approach, praising Eritrea for its role as regional peacemaker. In the past year, Eritrea helped broker a peace plan for eastern Sudan and held several meetings on Darfur, bringing scores of rebels to Asmara, a time capsule for perfectly preserved 1930s Art Deco architecture built by the Italian colonists.

At the same time, some Western human rights groups have accused Eritrea of cracking down ruthlessly on dissent. On Monday, the French organization Reporters Without Borders issued a statement accusing Eritrea of holding 12 journalists in secret prisons.

Mr. Abdu, the information minister, denied that Eritrea punished people without due cause, but said the government had taken steps to protect itself from its many enemies.

“You must remember we are in a state of war,” he said, referring to the unresolved border standoff with Ethiopia, which in recent months has drawn thousands of troops from each side.

A European Union official who works closely with Eritrea said the country was “obsessed with survival.”

“And because of that,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, “the Eritreans are very hard to push.”

The New York Times

Colonial Plans for the Horn of Africa – ‘Ethiopia’ to border with Egypt? (Dr Muhammad S. Megalommatis)

Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis

In an earlier article, we highlighted the inconsistence of the purpose for an academic – political – economic Conference focused on the Horn of Africa region, if the Conference consists in a “constructive dialogue amongst civil society groups, scholars, political leaders and business communities from the Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti”.

We explained the reasons for which if Sudan is to be involved, Yemen, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Madagascar should also be included and in absolute terms of priority with respect to Sudan.

Yet, for the sixth time, before a few weeks, the Horn of Africa Conference was held in Lund University, in Sweden, from 23 to 26 August.

In the present article, we will unveil the end target that is hidden behind the magnificent themes selected and speeches pronounced in the ominous conference.

Reportedly, “the theme of the conference was on post-conflict peace-building with the objective of identifying key characteristics and contentious issues with a view to facilitate a communicative rationality to encourage consensus by enabling networking and possible undertaking of future activities by the stakeholders drawn across the regions”.

The conference that announces peace will indeed herald the most ominous wars on African soil

Sudan, ‘Ethiopia’, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia: an irrelevant group

To include under this seemingly benevolent rubrics of this pompous statement Sudan, ‘Ethiopia’, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia – particularly in Fall 2007 – consists in Absurdity Record of All Times.

Sudan

In Sudan, the only area that can be considered as ‘post-conflict’ is the South that already functions as an independent entity, and will be declared and recognized as an Independent state in 2011. Quite contrarily to this, Darfur is an area in ongoing conflict, whereas nearby Kordofan and Beja Land on the Red Sea coast are the next terrain for righteous conflict and rebellion against Khartoum’s ruthless tyrant Al Bashir, who along with Meles Zenawi and Zimbabwe’s Mugabe makes the ‘trio bestiale’ of Africa’s worst carnivorous. Nubia awaits hermetically silent in the North; yet, the time is not far when the Nubians will demand respect for their language, imposing Primary and Secondary Education in Nubian, not Arabic – a most irrelevant and alien language for Africa’s Heart, Sudan.

“Enabling networking” in Sudan? You should be mad to say this to the mercilessly butchered Furis of Darfur, to the long ignored Haussa of Kordofan, to the Nubians and to the marginalized and noble Bejas in the East, whose land - if independent - will help asphyxiate the Khartoum Pan-Arabist gangsters.

The ludicrous Lund University Horn of Africa Conference organizers must have been daydreaming, when fixing such targets with respect to Sudan. The criminal Khartoum regime seems to have comfortably forgotten to pay tolls to the Bejas, when crossing their land to export their recently found Oil to China.

One should expect some nice explosions to start happening in the Wad Madani – Al Gedaref – Kessala – Port Sudan highway. With the Oil blocked, the Khartoum terrorists will have no means to buy arms in order to butcher the various peoples that colonial injustice managed to implacably place under the monstrous Pan-Arabist tutelage.

Somalia

If we shift to the opposite periphery of the malignantly selected group of countries, we find ourselves in Somalia. Comparing situations in Sudan and Somalia, we are met with an extraordinary revelation of the colonial perversity.

In Sudan, the various oppressed African peoples passionately desire to achieve secession from the Pan-Arabist gang of Khartoum and national independence, but the colonial powers for more than 50 years after Sudan’s declaration of Independence (1956) persistently opposed this perspective, causing an extraordinary bloodbath in the South that lasted half a century, and a second merciless butchery at Darfur over the past 5 years.

In Somalia, there are not many peoples; the overwhelming majority are Somalis. In addition, there are some Oromos and some Banaadiris (the latter from Yemen). Despite the existence of various tribes, religious groups and socio-behavioural traditions, the Somalis are one people in the same way the Swedish are one people.

As one could easily imagine, all the Somalis passionately desire to unite and in addition to merge with Somalis who still live in the occupied Ogaden, the Somali province of ‘Ethiopia’, and those who live in Djibouti.

Acting always contrarily to local peoples’ will and desire, the colonial powers caused long time division in Somalia. Italy colonized the Eastern and Southern part, Britain the North (today’s Somaliland), France the extreme North (merging under the French colonial sceptre Afars and Somalis), and Abyssinia the West (the entire Ogaden).

When Somalia gained its independence in 1960, the Somalis realized that with the merge of the British and Italian colonial zones, Somalia was independent only partly. Djibouti was still in French hands and Ogaden lived under the Amhara Abyssinian terror. In addition, Somalis were left within the other East African technical entity, Kenya, which was another part of the British colonial empire in Africa, located immediately in the south of the Italian colony of East Africa.

With the ominous help of the Soviet and Cuban soldiers, the Communist regime of Abyssinia under Dictator Mengistu managed to fend the Somali attack off, and to continue the inhuman Amhara tyranny on Western Somalia, namely Ogaden.

Over the past 17 years, the colonial powers confusing the US foreign policy managed to worsen the division among Somali tribes, with the formation of Somaliland and Puntland in the Northern and North-eastern part of Somalia, whereas the South met the most abhorrent form of civil war, Islamist rule, and last but not least the Ethiopian invasion.

Today, practically speaking, there is no Somalia; instead of an entire conference comically pretending to help materialize grandiose targets that are out of reach, a more modest title and a more accurate focus on Somalia would certainly help realistically. Somalia must unite and will unite; this is the only guarantee for East African Peace.

If the conference organizers had a possibility to correctly perceive the situation, they would realize that Somalia is a present conflict area, and this is true not only because of the illegal intervention of the ‘Ethiopian’ tyrant Zenawi in the South, but also

1.because of the devastation caused in Ogaden by the Abyssinian occupation forces,

2.due to the lack of law in Kenya’s northern territories where a significant part of the population is Somali, and

3.as a consequence of the strife between Somaliland and Puntland.

Djibouti

This country is a technical entity; it belongs partly to Afars (the northern part around Obock), who due to colonial interference have been left without national statehood, being divided among Eritrea, ‘Ethiopia’ and Djibouti. The rest are Somalis (around Djibouti city) and would like to merge with a united Somalia.

Eritrea

Here again, we encounter the same situation as in Somalia; we are not in post-conflict period but in an ongoing war that seems to be temporarily dormant in the front lines but it is fully fledged when it comes to Diplomacy.

Eritrea supports various groups in Somalia in full disturbance of the Abyssinian dictator Zenawi.

Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki’s poor Human Rights and Development record cannot by definition help him form a stronger position in a geo-strategically critical location.

He gets involved in Sudan’s East because of the fear of an emerging Beja Republic that would mobilize Eritrea’s numerous Bejas; the Bejas denounce the controversial Eritrean president’s interference.

On the other hand, numerous Oromo (and not only) intellectuals and activists from Abyssinia reject Afeworki’s semi-paranoid position in favour of Abyssinia’s unity.

Perspicacious analysts assess the stance in very bleak terms, letting us expect the worst (Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows: Isaias Afeworki Pandering to CUDP? - http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=37755)

Probably, the Eritrean president would support unity for the so-called Ethiopia until the moment a Somali army would finally cut Ogaden off, triggering the most desired demise of the cursed tyranny; however, the methods are immoral, the tactics do not herald anything ingenious, and without some substantial help from abroad (Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Libya, etc), Afeworki’s presidency would last some days.

Meanwhile, Eritrea remains poor, underdeveloped, isolated and fade. Issaias Afeworki should think times and again over questions like the following:

- If you have only one university in your country, why close it down?

- Who succeeded in this world after being considered as the most inauspicious country for free expression of speech and journalism?

We are left with another question to answer:

- Is it just poor branding of the new country that had crated so many expectations in the early 90s?

‘Ethiopia’ – the World’s most Inhuman and most Murderous Tyranny

This name is false, forged and fallacious; the real country’s name is Abyssinia. Well, in this case, we are face to face with the focus of East African evil.

With fake ‘Ethiopia’ we are not in post-conflict situation, and we are not just in a war environment due to the land dispute with Eritrea, and to the ill-fated military intervention in the Somali South.

In the case of ‘Ethiopia’, we are in front of the world’s most explosive pre-war situation, in terms of at least 7 pending national rebellions that within shortly will turn Zenawi’s dictatorial abode into an omni-burning Hell for the cruel Amhara and Tigray oppressors.

Ogadenis, Oromos, Sidamas, Afars, Kaffas, Shekachos, and Gambellas realize that when hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in their impoverished country for the pathetic, erratic and counterfeit Millennium of the Amhara and Tigray heretic pseudo-Christians, at a moment the entire population is starving, being totally deprived of their natural resources, wealth, properties, and Human Rights, nothing is left to them except the rebellion against the inhuman and barbaric Amhara and Tigray invaders of their countries.

Conclusions

Even if all the other targeted countries were correctly focused on by the organizers of the Horn of Africa Conference that was held in Lund University, ‘Ethiopia’ should be excluded.

And no Amhara and Tigray politician, academic and businessman among them should be invited before publicly denouncing the colonial plans, tactics, deeds and inhuman practices of the successive Amhara and Tigray Abyssinian regimes.

However, as this did not happen, and the organizers seem to methodically pursue their plans, following their agendas, we have to enquire about their true motives.

What is hidden behind the Horn of Africa Conference (Lund University)?

Having analyzed that, in order to set a correct scope to the Horn of Africa Conference, one should have included many other countries that have been excluded, and having analyzed that nothing allows us to think of a possible combination of interests of the peoples and nations involved in the Conference, we consider the following points as regards the intentions of the conference organizers:

1. There has finally been an agreement among various establishments throughout the world for the final splitting of Sudan. That country will not exist within a few years, when a certain number of states will occupy its present territory, involving South Sudan, Darfur, Kordofan, Nubia, Beja and Central Sudan.

2. Djibouti is too small to possibly consider.

3. Somalia is partly invaded by ‘Ethiopia’, whereas secessionist states on Somali territory, Somaliland and Puntland, have established a cooperation with the ‘Ethiopian’ tyranny, more particularly the former, offering harbour facilities to landlocked ‘Ethiopia’ (Berbera).

4. Eritrea has been in an interminable war with ‘Ethiopia’, which seems to have consolidated both minority regimes in the respective countries.

5. To survive, tyrannical ‘Ethiopia’ needs more resources to exploit; with Sudan decomposed over the next three years, Ethiopia appears to be the only major country among those studied in the conference.

Any bilateral relationship (Djibouti – Ethiopia, Eritrea – Ethiopia, Somalia – Ethiopia) would consolidate Africa’s most repugnant and loathsome tyranny. The same would happen if representatives of the various peoples and states that will emanate out of Sudan’s decomposition come to cooperate with ‘Ethiopia’, as the conference preaches so fervently.

6. It becomes therefore clear that the Horn of Africa Conference, through the bias of “constructive dialogue amongst civil society groups, scholars, political leaders and business communities” intends to produce the articulations on which to set a further expansion of the bogus-‘Ethiopian’ tyranny that, according to the secretive plans of the organizers, would stretch from the borders of Egypt to the borders of Kenya, incorporating South Sudan’s Christian populations as a counterweight to the Muslim Bejas and Nubians.

Quite apparently now, the presence (inclusion in the conference) of Yemen, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Madagascar would disturb and/or divert the ominous plans; that is why these countries that had to be included have been excluded in a non-academic way.

7. The scenario sets the scene for an apocalyptic war between Libya, bogus-Ethiopia’ and Egypt that would explode the entire Black Continent and the Eastern Mediterranean, involving at the same time Europe, Russia, and the US.

That is why the ultimate and imminent dissolution of the inhuman tyranny ‘Ethiopia’ becomes top urgency for its oppressed nations and peoples.

Any country in the world that would wish to avoid an East Africa explosion should help by all possible means the long tyrannized Ogadenis, Oromos, Sidamas, Afars, Kaffas, Shekachos, and Gambellas tear down the most anachronistic and dysfunctional tyranny of the world.

In a forthcoming article, we will provide evidence about the secretive targets of the conference organizers, as they speak openly about them in the world press.

Note

The spectrum of King Ahmed Ibn Ibrahim pursues the Amharas and the Tigrays in their panic that is expressed in the deeds of the cruelest African tyranny; and all this is effectively manipulated by the European colonial powers to the absolute disaster of numerous African peoples.