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Gabcast! Gotoota Oromo Haa Yaadannu. #17 - Wallee.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Statements of Oromo Students of Finfinne University

We, Oromo students of Finfinne university have never and will never be indifferent torture, murder, imprisonment and harassment perpetuated against our people and our father land Oromia by wayane’s dictatorial regime which the whole world is witnessing.
These evil acts deliberately done against Oromo people witnesses its unconstitutionality when we see the victims’ age ranging from 10 to 80. Besides, the premeditated murder against Oromo students, among others, Alamayoo Garba, Morka Iddossa and a child of age 12 is unbearable agony for all Oromo people and leaves a black scar in their mind, which certainly leads them to revenge. In addition, the imprisonment of 22 students out side of the compound, Birhanu Gammachu, Mathewos Tafarra and the rest 20, taken into undefined place, made us irritated and will leads us to the worst action. Such inhuman and irresponsible act of Wayyaane government will at the end tends to ethnic cleansing which would be fatal for this country and specially for Wayyaane. Here we would like to stress that the murdering of Oromo students, as a whole Oromo people, commenced at Ambo and propagated through out Oromia which has reached, at least 17, revises our swear to revenge in every ways and means.

We Oromo students of Finfinne University are not in a good mental state to pursue our education due to violence and crimes being committed against Oromo students at different levels and due to the imprisonment and harassment of our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and relatives.

Now our patience is wiped out and we have started singing bob marley’s song "stand up for your right …" Thus, the struggle to step down Wayyaane dictatorial government started at Jimma university, Jaldu, Ambo, najjo, mandi, Gimbi Arsi, Harar SS schools... and the rest are the stepping stones for our struggle.

Victory for Oromo people!!
Oromo Students of Finfinne University
December 29, 2005.

Refugees protest "kidnapping" of 25 Oromos in Kenya

Dec 26, 2005 (NAIROBI) - Close to 1,000 Ethiopian refugees are camped atthe offices of UN High Commission for Refugees in Westlands - Nairobi -protesting against the kidnapping of 25 of their members.

The refugees, all of Oromo origin, claim that the Ethiopian governmenthas sent spies among their midst and is scheming to repatriate them backto Ethiopia.But Ethiopian Ambassador Murad Musa blames the kidnapping on the OromoLiberation Front militant group, some of whom are said to be operatingin this country.The refugees do not want to be associated with the group that opposesthe Ethiopian government.

An Oromo elder, Geleta Aboye, told the enyan KTN TV "we have acommunity, there is the Oromo community in this country, in Nairobi andthe government of Ethiopia has planted its spies from Oromo community."Ambassador Musa said "I have sent my diplomat to verify this thing onwhat's going on there. And this country as you know is a sovereigncountry, it has its own structures, security structures. It knows what'sgoing on here."An embassy's function is not kidnapping, embassy's function is having adirect relationship with its community, Musa said.

TPLF's madness knows no boundaries

The Ethiopian regime, faced with a growing popular discontent inside the country, and reproaching the large number of refugees in the neighboring countries especially in Kenya for the crisis inside the country, is now reinforcing its foreign-based security traps.

Just over the last few weeks, the EPRDF/TPLF security agents have killed or kidnapped 25 Oromo refugees residing under the protectorate of Kenya and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

On December 27, 2005, hundreds of Oromo refugees staged a demonstration at the UNHCR office at Westlands in Nairobi to protest against the killings, kidnappings, and harassments by Ethiopian government agents. The demonstrators held slogans that read: UNHCR save Oromo refugees, Kenya government should protect us, bring back kidnapped Oromos …etc.

These outrageous offenses by Ethiopian government constitute a grave violation of the international law, which guarantees the safety of refugees fleeing persecution. The Ethiopian regime is stepping up atrocities against all segments of the Oromo society including hunting down Oromo nationals across the border as a part of a campaign designed to ease strong opposition made against the repressive government of Meles Zenawi.

Contrary to its declarations and accession to International Human Rights Covenants, the TPLF led Ethiopian Government is a tyrannical regime that has engaged in gross violations of human rights and that has no respect for international treaties that it ratified. The TPLF regime is anathema of human rights and rule of law.

The OLF is deeply concerned about this alarming development. Refugees are often helpless and feeble relying on the legal protection of host countries. The Ethiopian regime continues to defy international rules, blatantly disregarding the right of refugees to live in peace.

We ask the Kenyan government, the UNHCR, and all other concerned government and non-government agencies to take immediate actions to protect Oromo and other refugees residing in Kenya, demand that the Ethiopian government free all kidnapped refugees, and require that the Meles government refrain from cross-border criminal activities.

Victory to the Oromo People!

External Information Division
Foreign Relations Department
Oromo Liberation Front
December 29, 2005

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Murder to gush a thirst

On December 20, 2005; the TPLF killed three students in Qiltu Karaa, Western Oromia. Five more students were seriously injured and taken to Aayiraa hospital. One of the five was later reported dead. The TPLF now blames the local Amharas for the death of the students.

Oromo students have been killed and detained because they participated in peaceful protests against government policies all over Oromia, torture and rape of prisoners has become routine in secret detention centers. The TPLF has also arrested all members and supporters of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) supporters in Najjoo. OFDM is a legal party with seats in the Parliament.

In an attempt to diverge the growing discontent of the Oromo people against the Tigrean led minority regime, the TPLF is now in the process of extensively concocting conflicts between Oromos and other ethnic and nationality groups, especially Amharas. Because of preexisting grievances and contradictions as a legacy of the colonial years, this conflict can easily get out of hand with potentially tragic consequences.The TPLF is running astray though out Oromia and we are extremely concerned by such recent developments. We, an equivocally condemn this irresponsible act of the TPLF government, the inhuman measure that were taken against the students and the indefinite closure of schools.

We ask all concerned organizations and governments to discern this situation that requires urgent and immediate international attention.

Victory to the Oromo People!

External Information DivisionForeign Relations DepartmentOromo Liberation Front

December 24, 2005

Friday, December 16, 2005

Press Release - Human rights

Press Release - Human rights - 15-12-2005 - 16:35
Human rights in Ethiopia, Tibet and Hong Kong, and Russia
MEPs voted in favour of three resolutions on the human rights situation in Tibet and Hong Kong, human rights issue in Russia and the new NGO legislation and the situation in Ethiopia and the new border conflict.
MEPs condemn violence in Ethiopia.

In adopting a joint resolution on the situation in Ethiopia with 93 votes in favour, 0 against and 1 abstention, MEPs condemn the violence, the use of disproportionate means of repression by the armed forces and the mass arrests. The House calls on the Ethiopian Government to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and journalists and fulfil its obligations with respect to human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. Parliament calls on the Ethiopian Government to disclose the total number of persons detained throughout the country, to allow visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and to allow all the detainees access to their families, legal counsel and any medical care that their health situation may require. MEPs call on the Ethiopian Government to fully respect the fundamental principles of press freedom, put an end to the state media monopoly and allow the independent press to function by returning confiscated property. The House calls for the immediate establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry, optimally under UN responsibility, to investigate the human rights abuses and to identify and bring to justice those responsible.

MEPs consider that, despite the political dialogue between the EU and the Ethiopian Government under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, the latter has failed to fulfil its obligations with respect to human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law. The House calls on the Commission and the Council to take a coordinated stance in line with Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. Parliament also calls on the Commission and the Council to consider targeted sanctions against members of the Ethiopian Government if the current human rights situation is not significantly improved. The House calls on the Council and the Commission to channel humanitarian aid for the population of Ethiopia primarily through NGOs and UN specialised agencies in order to provide direct assistance to the population. Parliament also calls for a resumption of the process of reform and improvement of democratic institutions, which includes a serious and international examination of the results of the parliamentary elections held in May. Finally, MEPs call on the African Union, whose head office is in Ethiopia, to take a clear stance, proving its determination to bring democracy forward in Africa, especially in Ethiopia.

Situation in Tibet and Hong Kong

In adopting a joint resolution on the situation in Tibet and in Hong Kong, MEPs demand that the Government of the PRC clarify the circumstances of the death of the young Tibetan Monk Ngawang Jangchub during the 'patriotic education' session in October 2005. The House is deeply concerned about the state of health of the five monks arrested on 23 November 2005 at Drepung Monastery. Parliament urges the Government of the PRC to immediately release them from their imprisonment in the Public Security Bureau Detention Centres. MEPs call on the Government of the PRC to provide all the information available concerning their detention conditions with reference, in particular, to the allegations of torture and the possible arrest of more people. The House urges the Government to suspend the blockade of Drepung Monastery in Lhasa immediately. MEPs also urge the Chinese authorities to cease the 'patriotic education' campaign, to react in a proportionate manner to non-violent protests and not to undermine human rights by the use of physical violence against them.

MEPs calls once more on the Government of the PRC to improve the conditions of imprisonment in its jails, to cease and abolish torture of detainees, as well as stopping the continued violation of the human rights of the Tibetan people and other minorities and ensuring that it respects international standards of human rights and humanitarian law. The House calls on the Council and the Member States to maintain the EU embargo on trade in arms with the PRC and not to weaken the existing limitation of such arms sales. MEPs call on the Government of the PRC to continue the dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama. Finally, the House urges the Conference of Presidents to invite his Holiness the Dalai Lama to address the European Parliament during 2006.

Hong Kong

MEPs recall that the Basic Law provides for Hong Kong's Chief Executive ultimately to be elected by universal suffrage. Parliament Calls on the authorities of Hong Kong to:

- set a timetable for universal suffrage acceptable to all democratic parties and the public,
- abolish the appointment system in the District Council,
- replace corporate voting by individual voting for functional constituencies of the Legislative Council,
- broaden the electorate of the Election Committee;

Finally, the House looks forward to seeing the Chief Executive and all members of the Legislative Council elected by means of an electoral system based on the principles of a multi-party democracy, accountability of the government to the legislature and genuinely effective governance which will confer a clear benefit on all the people of Hong Kong.

In adopting a resolution on human rights in Russia and the new NGO legislation, MEPs underline the importance of non-governmental organisations to a stable and democratic civil society which is built not only on principles such as the rule of law and freedom of speech but also on the ability of citizens to associate freely. THe House expresses therefore its great concern about the draft law on amendments to Russian federal legislation on non-profit organisations and public associations and calls for the new legislation to comply with the norms and standards of the Council of Europe.

Human rights in Russia

MEPs hope that the Russian legislators will:

(a) provide a clear definition of unacceptable political activities which may not be financed from foreign sources, (b) establish that a decision of a judicial and not a supervisory authority is the only ground for dissolution of NGOs and NPOs, (c) choose not to introduce the requirement of permanent residence for non-nationals as well as the age requirement, (d) ensure the right of non-nationals to establish NGOs in Russia and participate in their work, (e) ease the proposed powers of supervision by the authorities over NGOs, particularly as regards the requirements of financial accountability for resources supplied by foreign sponsors.

Parliament appeals to the Russian Duma to take the necessary time to review and improve the amendments in the light of the recommendations made in the Presidential review, the Council of Europe Provisional Opinion and this Resolution. The House calls on the State Duma to start a broad consultation process involving all the democratic components of Russian civil society in order to find ways to genuinely encourage, support and consolidate the setting-up of NGOs. MEPs call on the incoming Austrian and Finnish Presidencies to raise the issues of respect for democracy and human rights at the next EU-Russia summits, to give the EU-Russia human rights dialogue a more prominent role and to further involve the European Parliament in this process. The House calls on the Russian authorities to cease politically motivated harassment of NGOs, especially those observing the situation in Chechnya such as the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society. Finally, MEPs call on the Council and the Commission to enhance their support for civil society in Russia and to increase allocations for promoting human rights.

REF.: 20051215IPR03789

Thursday, December 15, 2005

TPLF, another word for cruelty

Alamaayyo Garbaa is a handicapped, but exceptionally gifted Addis Ababa University (AAU) student. Among his peers he was known as curious for knowledge, never bothered by his physical limitations, full of charming tributes and smiles that were so telling of his bright future.

Alamaayyo was arrested by Tigrean security officers in 2001 while attending class at AAU and jailed in Akaki, a small town just south of Finfinne (Addis Ababa), I n a large prison ground where hundreds of political prisoners are kept. Alamaayyo was tortured extensively over the last four years, and shot to death in his prison cell.

Similarly, Morkotaa Eddoosaa, also a University student, was jailed in the same prison for four years, tortured, and left to suffer without medical assistance. He died as a result of excessive bleeding.
The Oromo people have endured countless brutalities in the hands of successive Ethiopian dictators. This current cruelty of the TPLF against the Oromo people appears to be fiercely vicious than those in the past because it targets the best Oromo minds.

In the past 14 years, the Oromo people have lost more intellectuals and entrepreneurs in the hands of the TPLF forces than ever before. Many have left Oromia, and those who live in the neighbouring countries are targeted even while living in exile. This is why many observers believe that TPLF’s atrocities border with a campaign of genocide. It lives no option for Oromos but defend their people by all means necessary.

As in the past, we ask all concerned organizations and governments to impress their good offices upon the Ethiopian government to stop mass massacre, and thereby thwart what appears to be another Rwanda in the making.
Alamaayyo Grbaa / Morkotaa Eddoosaa


Oromo Liberation Front ,
External Information Division ,
Foreign Relations Department
December 15, 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

Dear Folfs

Dear Folks!

May the Almighty Waaqayyoo Bless you all and help you in your struggle to get back the freedom man has taken away from you. Fight on in every direction.

The fight is not only by gun. Your pens can fight injustice. Your religion can fight it.
Your words can do so. Your money can make the service to justice. Even your silence does a lot as it did to kick out the colonial rulers out of India, smashed down the mighty power of America during the civil rights movement (remember the power of silence under Martin Luther king, Ms. Rosa Parks, etc.). I mean for those who reserve from using force to do away with injustice, they have other options to rather than sitting idle and see brothers and sister, mothers and fathers killed.
Dear folks, the world has taught us a great deal of experiences. One thing it did most is that "There is no free lucnch. And justice and freedom do not come freely even in democracy."Knowledge, rational strategy and tactic, wealth, life, etc. have to be spent.
However, there are different ways of going to achieve freedom and justice denied to an individual, groups, communities, and a a nation like the Oromos. However, going different ways to get to the same end does not create enemity between those who strive to achieve something for the common good of the people. But that different ways the liberators go to achieve liberation and justice should not be in a way that makes you subject to the enemy and threaten the safety and well being of your people. I would mention the experience of the African Americans' struggle, the case of Booker T. Washington Vs. W. E. B. DUBois, Marcus Garvey, and others. Their different strategies of struggling against the racial discrimination and their civil liberties tried to divide them and their people. But that finally pulled the people and the leaders together and towards realizing one common enemy, one common goal, and for one common people. Why not the Oromos?
The Oromians, after realizing the gradges between individual and political organizations, have realized that there is no other way to liberation and achieving of justice than by rallying under one banner, one goal, organization (with different forms), and support from each citizen. That is why today the sacrifice of the radicals, those who were born in the oppressive system, lived and saw the oppressive system are giving their lives to bring about a just system not only for their people but for the enemy too.

Therefore, my point is this. There is no either or in today's Oromo struggle. One question, one answer and one people to go for it. We have learnt through out the decades that our enemies do nothing for us whether we liberalize our stand, compromise our people's demands, or so. But in order to strengthen our unity and struggle let me quote the following from my readings. P. Alinsky say, tactics mean doing what you can with what you have.
Saul Alinsky has the following 13 models he calls RULES FOR RADICAL:- The rules for power tactics, Used by those leading liberation struggle in their communities:
1. Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
2. Never go outside the experience of your people.
3. But whenever possible go outside the experience of your enemy.
4. Make the enemy live upto their own book of rules.
5. Ridicule is mans most potent weapon.
6. Good tactic to fight the enemy is the one that your people enjoy.
7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
8. Keep the pressure on with different tactics and actions.
9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
10. The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain
a constant pressure upon the opposition.
11. If you push hard a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its
12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.

Add this Black Value System called Nguzo Saba, created by Maulana Karenga on September 7, 1965 in USA: Is it worth sharing with Oromos who value their struggle, their heros and heroess and their people?
The Seven principles of the Afro-centric guzo Saba (Black values) are:
1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation
and race.
2. Kujichagulia (Self-determination): To defoiner ourselves, name ourselves,
create our selves and speak for ourselves instead of being defined, named,
3. Ujima (Collective work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our
community together and make our sister's and brother's problems our problems
and to solve them together.
4. Ujama (Cooperative econmomics): To build and maintain our own stores,
shops, and other businesses and profit from them together.
5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of
our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
6. Kuumba (creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in
order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our
teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

These principles and Afrocentric values may help individuals adjust to the overall system.
Are they worth sharing? If yes send out .



Comments on Clapham’s Comments on the Ethiopian crisis and on Henze’s Comments on Comments, both dated November 14, 2005

Comments on Clapham’s Comments on the Ethiopian crisis and on Henze’s Comments on Comments, both dated November 14, 2005

Kallacha Dubbi
December 11, 2005
The place to start trying to understand a writer’s motif is always with the message of the writer himself. Critics merely expose the gaps left by the author. The author himself explains why he allies with this or that political group. In the case of Christopher Clapham and Paul Henze, these gaps are glaring. The best way to show such gaps in writings of Western scholars is to use their own style:
Clapham and Henze
Clapham and Henze have now been scholarly ambassadors of Amharas and Tigreans (respectively) for decades, at a cost to other Ethiopian ethnic groups. Amharas and Tigreans have ruled Ethiopia for more than a century, and currently the Tigrean led TPLF party is in power. Critical analysis and objectivity of an observing scholar is both consequence of, and a requirement for ethical responsibility and fairness, and in the case of the two scholars should allow them exercise their academic objectivism. However, even the very mention of Oromo or any southern ethnic group was so consistently excluded by the two orthodox writers while repeatedly promoting their favorite groups. Loyalty to political and ethnic dominion is neither a consequence of, nor a requirement for democratic governance, and Ethiopia is no exception.
The extreme narrowness of the authors’ ethnic views. Both authors have never been able to rid themselves of the sense that they are essentially, and more of, Amhara and Tigrean supporters than objective scholars. Though they have served leap-service to democracy, their versions and definitions systematically excluded speaking for the rights of the majority of the oppressed people of Ethiopia, shielding the ruling ethnic classes alone.
The failure to develop honest political capacity with views that cherish true democracy, to evenhandedly support local political views. Both Clapham and Henze, at least outside Amhara and Tigrean scholarly camps, have never been able, or indeed have never been allowed, to develop into effective political thinkers whose ethnically cornered scholarly focus could exercise any autonomous authority, or expressed on behalf of the academic communities that they claim to represent. The extraordinarily static and loyal support in virtually all their writings to the ruling ethnic supremacists, originating from their prejudiced views, has reflected their feebleness. Both have no intimate knowledge of the politics of the country while any who sought to give them the other side of the story was ignored in case he presented any threat to their settled political loyalty. Once genuine discussions came with an open-minded scholar, and the two scholars needed an in-depth knowledge to muster scholarly support, that challenging scholar was avoided.
By reducing Ethiopian ethnic federalism, a partial but sweet success of a long and bloody struggle of the oppressed people, as an attempt to replicate the failed nationality policies of the USSR, and hinting that this is also a view of Ethiopian nationalists “by no means restricted to Amharas”, Clapham, for example, clearly shows where his heart lies – hell with ethnic equality. He wrote as if deeply concerned about the lack of democratization in Ethiopia, but at the same time retained his bad taste about ethnic equality. Clapham then found himself caught between two stools for the sake of Amharas, as did Henze for the sake of the Tigreans. Ethiopia’s gravest problem, ethnic inequality is merely mentioned as “representatives of historically disadvantaged nationalities (notably the Oromo)” – the only time the very word Oromo was mentioned in Clapham’s long essay, amazingly none in Henze’s, see table below – so telling.

Number of mentions of nine key words in two papers

Related to:

Words in writing
In Chris Clapham’s “Comments on the Ethiopian crisis”
In Paul Henze’s “Comments on Comments”



78 times


31 times


4 times

Both Clapham and Henze, indeed, have never sought to operate as open and objective scholars. One striking indicator of this has been their virtual boycott of any and all Oromo meetings and conferences. This is consistent with all Amhara scholars who live in ritual seclusion: they are virtually never seen at Southern or Oromo meetings, or engage in any public way with other Ethiopians – in striking contrast to their accessibility to each other and their ability to sparkle on an international stage. While several Oromo meetings, conferences, and major occasions were conducted in or near cities where the two scholars reside, they have remained immured in their narrow offices protecting their one dimensional orthodox ideas.
The style of arriving at sweeping inferences about important political conclusions relevant to Ethiopia by the two scholars has been equally opaque. They retained their style from their advising and consulting years serving the Ethiopian regimes and as such, they retained all the instincts of serving and advising a regime, a sure antithesis to scholarly independent thought process, in which objectivism is not impacted by interest of any type. The clearest examples are their publications spanning over decades, always with little reference to other Ethiopian ethnic populations.
The rise of Oromo scholarship gravely weakened both internal and external scholarly ambassadorship of Amhara and Tigrean dominance; even though the total sum of partisan scholarship is still dominant. This dominance is now deeply threatened; it also has repercussions on other scholars, notably because several North American and European scholars and leading politicians are now recognizing the root problem of the Ethiopian war and poverty as ethnic domination.
Though cultural recognition has been better than under Mengistu (which would not be difficult), major issues remained, many of which could be ascribed to the tacit support leading western countries and scholars rendered to the regime. The double-standards some of the western scholars demonstrated and the artificial distinction between African and Western democracies inhibited advances in political pluralism. The blind support or objection to some of the political intricacies has proven to be very damaging to Ethiopian democratic dreams. For example Clapham’s sympathy for the privatization of land, sounding innocuous from the cover, is an indirect support for Amhara or Tigrean economic dominance on top of a prevailing ethnic political dominance. This of course is to serve Clapham’s masked call for a political home-run in favor of his favorite group. A scholar advocating land privatization in an inequitable political setup is beyond my imagination. The intent is to allow the powerful leadership grab all the best lands.
For several years, it has been clear that the two scholars have been deeply alienated from the realities of Ethiopian politics. Despite developments in Oromo and Diaspora politics, the European Parliament, US State Department, and a number of scholars that remained objective defying the pressure of Ethiopian government, the Clapham and Henze remain stagnant backwaters, and Oromo mainstream thinkers have ignored them. Most Oromos, so far as I can judge, have been passive towards the favoritism of the two at best, resentful at worst.
The two writers’ attitudes towards human rights abuses by Ethiopian regimes have often been extremely irresponsible. One would think that the death of hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians including students, the indefinite closure of Addis Ababa University, the largest teaching and research institute in the country, the mass-massacres in Gambella, etc. would be important enough issues to at least deserve a mention. Instead, the authors chose self-serving topics such as land privatization or how long it takes to open business in Ethiopia.
In fairness, let me take just a few examples from Clapham’s writings to show how misleading his writing is. Henze’s pro-Trigrean writing is easy to deduct and needs no further disclosing.

“… the economic liberalism of the CUD, in opposition to the persisting Marxist attitudes of the EPRDF regime”

I have no sympathy for EPRDF, and I have no less misgiving about Meles’ ethnic dictatorship than Clapham. But the adjective “Marxist” here is simply thrown to Clapham’s arguments to make sufficient contrast in promoting “CUD as liberal.” This is the nature of the conflict between Clapham and Henze’s, both are on false grounds, the first Amharist Machiavellian, the later passionately Tigrean.

In another, more unsettling example, Clapham writes: “I have detected no explicit attempt to mobilise religion as a source of political support (though a ‘nationalist’ party like CUD must inevitably be associated in some degree with Christianity and especially the Orthodox church). “

One has to be an expert in the Ethiopian politics to read into this outright deceitful statement and that is where the danger lies. Most ordinary readers would assume a non-Ethiopian observer like Clapham, a scholar of his caliber at that could be objective. Terribly wrong! 1) CUD is not a nationalist party; it is an Amhara chauvinist party as has been well presented by many writers including Asafa Jalata. 2) It does mobilize extensive support from Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Most meetings and fundraising projects are conducted in churches, and recently there was even a serious debate among church officials to exclude opposition parishioners. 3) I consider his declaration that “CUD must inevitably be associated in some degree with Christianity” as outright rude, offensive, irresponsible, and horsy politics. It exploits the mood of the times by suggesting what should be done rather than telling what was factually done. There is no way Clapham could have gathered the religious denomination of CUD members. Ethiopia has more Moslems than Christians, and the reference to “nationalist” party gives no basis to assume any nationalist party is Christian dominated. Clapham came up with such regrettable conclusion by knowing that CUD is an Amhara chauvinist party in his mind, a “liberal” party in his pen.

It is too much to get into every line of Clapham’s cunning arguments. Let us just call it totally Machiavellian. In short, Clapham and Henze have now reached a state at which it is almost impossible to imagine them winning Oromo sympathy, even more so while continuing to demonstrate partisan politics. They have been able to retain a semblance of scholarly authority only because of that deference that Abyssinian scholars show to their “ferenj” supporters backed by political interest defending years of committed views. Their scholarly vulnerability has now been revealed.

Ethiopia, an objective discourse

However traumatic the sequence of the recent events had been for Meles, the euphoria of the 1991 victory over the Durg provided a momentum, an emotional sustenance which escorted him thus far - for 14 years. But no Ethiopian political observer shall deny that Meles is facing a serious combination of challenges – scattered combats of the OLF however inconsistent or innocuous they may seem, followed by the recent elections signaling that majority of the population prefer any change to the settled domination of the TPLF. So we saw a sudden rise of Amhara determination and will-power although it could still be made inconsequential by Meles’ military superiority. As a result I see only two developments, much fewer than those listed in Clapham’s comments:

I. The TPLF will shop and pick a partner from among independent Oromo or Amhara blocks to partly diffuse the rising pressure which could culminate into at least a political nuisance down the road, if not now. This should be seen as prudence Meles is capable of adopting in order to extend his political subsistence.
II. The TPLF/EPRDF will commit to no power sharing and continue ruling with ironclad in the absence of a contending power or until the country is made ungovernable by the rising pressure -, painful enough to change the course of history per 1974, wherever such pressures may come from.

Any other likelihood is less probable by large margins. These two scenarios leave the will and power to manipulate the outcome of any electons or negotiations in Ethiopia largely in the hands of the TPLF mainly because the opposition may own the momentum, but not the military power. However, owning the momentum may or may not resolve into political gain. I believe Oromos have in fact owned such momentum since 1991, but have not yet gathered its political yield. Here are some more reasons why the TPLF still holds the key to Menelik’s palace:

The Tigrean population is conditioned to believing the TPLF is invincible against any internal military encounter. Over the last 14 years we have witnessed the creation of a new myth of yet unknown lifespan replace another Abyssinian invincibility myth propagated by the Durg whose collapse was unthinkable up until its final days. The quality and self portrait of these myths have suffered a blow by the rising national movements, prime among these the struggle of the Oromo people. However declining the relevance of the myth may be, it has nonetheless offered a moving target for the Oromo and Southern struggles. The immediate aftermath of such invincibility propaganda following TPLF’s defeat that should come sooner or later remains to be one of Ethiopia’s greatest unknowns of the last few decades. Whether Meles will be able to protect a losing Tigray or provide an acceptable explanation of its defeat, there is a symmetry that should be expected from the Durg’s loss and the history of the country: the humiliated will rise and the risen will fall, and we may observe a recycled potent political value and the same policies of famine and war. And the Paul Henzes can delay this crude truth, but they can’t stop it.
The TPLF’s moral has been boosted by the military success of the EPRDF over Eritrea for which the TPLF took a larger share of the credit, and also by the military excursions to Kenyan, Sudanese, and Somali territories that were left uncontested. It did so under a pretext of combating terrorism, a claim that served the west to ignore TPLF’s international foul play. Clapham now even admits that it is likely for the TPLF to wage a border war against Eritrea in order to thwart attention from internal turmoil. Here he threw a punch against Tigray to bolster Amharas.
An important aspect of the Ethiopian military is that, as a result of the discharged Durg army, the country lost its growing national army diversity, leaving 80-90% of the top key officers in the army as Tigreans when Tigray represents only about 8% of the Ethiopian ethnic diversity. Thus, democratization of the military has been reversed by decades, while the political awareness made a considerable leap during the same decades. The situation leaves no serious threat to the TPLF except a possible internal challenge from within the TPLF ranks, a sudden surge of the OLF’s capacity, or a new front of the Amhara which I personally see as likely. But the civic opposition is growing as stated above and the opposition is gaining more momentum. This paradox between a growing political awareness of the civic population on one hand and the military hopelessness at the national power pack on the other hand characterizes Ethiopia’s political landscape of TPLF’s dominion. The civic and the military camps are in clear and sharp contradictions, interlocked by nationality and ethnic interests. I have the impression that this known fact is concealed by both writers.
Few internal scuffles and minor skirmishes here and there aside, the TPLF has not been tested militarily from within Ethiopia since 1992, and there is no immediate military threat if it chooses to suppress all and any rivals by sheer military force. Several specifics in the opposition camps are to blame for this situation. Lack of unity comes to mind as one of the reasons. Some in fact believe that the purging of Seye’s splinter group from the TPLF few years ago consolidated Meles’ power eliminating the only possible challenge from within the TPLF.
International donors are not going to interfere in Ethiopia’s affairs to a degree where they force Meles’ resignation, and expectations of mainstream Oromo or Ethiopian politicians in this regard has often been painfully naive. At times when such inputs come to rescue, they often come in such a destructive mode instead, as that of Clapham and Henze. The need to suppress this exaggerated expectation marks the only reason I list this point as the fifth.

In the backdrop of this colorless picture of the Ethiopian politics of the day, any political group posing to seriously challenge the TPLF has to do so with TPLF’s permission and remain at the mercy of the same as long as the TPLF is in charge of the military and the security. Here, one may think and hope that popular revolt of the 1974 type could do the trick. Well, such revolt was initiated few times over the last few years by AAU students including Oromos, and CUD even coined a taxi drivers’ general strike, copycat of the 1974 revolution which was also started by taxi drivers – so naive. All were suppressed easily as much by their own internal contradictions as by TPLF’s overwhelming power. Even if such revolt catches fire, I believe no benefit will come out of such popular urban revolt for the Oromo and the South because urban uprising will primarily favor the Amhara, not the Oromo. Also for this reason, any urban movement is unlikely to have Oromo support, a setting which may reestablish the TPLF as the dominant power then. The lack of a political settlement in the country favors the status quo, and based on what the Amhara politicians are brewing for the Oromos, I see no hope for peace détente between the Amhara and Oromo camps. The problem with this tripartite front formation is that, an Amhara-Tigre unity is just as likely as Oromo-Tigre unity, although the Amharas may not be ready to give up their ambition to dominate the empire, and their recent successes only renewed their imperial appetite. The probability of Oromo-Tigre unity has therefore a slightly higher edge than the Amhara-Tigre unity, but this assumption should have little influence on Oromo political posturing for negotiations.

Recapping the five points listed above offers three hard realities:

a) I believe that all political dilemmas of Ethiopia curtailing issues of democratization in TPLF’s era are direct legacies of the deliberate and calculated evacuation of the Durg army. This is the first reality of Ethiopia’s political power balance today. This is shaped by the chemistry of the conflict among Ethiopian political spheres.

b) The squabble between the Amhara and Tigrean political establishments is for political dominance. This means the risks are also limited to political leadership since neither of the two aims at cultural domination of the other. The Oromo struggle for self determination distinguishes itself from power struggle since it inculcates self determination and deAmharization of the Oromo culture. This adds a relevant dimension to Oromo political calculations and risk analysis. The Amharas may or may not opt for armed struggle because they already determine their “self”, and in fact strife to determine even Oromo’s on behalf of the Oromos. So the table around which all sit and negotiate has different weight for all the stakeholders, the South and the Oromos having the most to gain or loose at the table. This second reality dictates the strategy along which political settlements must be accepted or rejected. As the bottom line, it is all a risk analysis in a land and country where the South and the Oromos have lost all or most of the risks they have taken for the sake of peace. This adds a third dimension to the Ethiopian realities.

c) The level of intrigues within the Ethiopian pretensions evidence that the Amharas and Tigreans are not ready for true and honest peace dialogue. The scenario is further complicated by high-powered foreign scholars who take odd sides encouraging despair, discouraging fair discourse, and tipping the balance of fair debate in favor of their favorite teams. Encouraged by such provisions, CUD, the leading Amhara organization even denies and defies article 39 of the constitution that recognizes the rights of nationalities and ethnic groups in Ethiopia. It is also busy crafting its own OPDO, electing a young Oromo woman as its deputy chair to continue sabotaging Oromo interests. How can Oromo mainstream politics trust this continued machination? This is a third reality of the Ethiopian politics. I see no transparent goodwill, no encouraging scenarios, and no decline of jingo-politics in Ethiopia. Whatever came as good for Oromo is here as a strategic value for Abyssinians to stay in power. They can not be trusted before they demonstrate trustworthy behaviors.

OLF and recent elections

In their long notes, the two writers made a big fuss about the May 2005 elections which were staged dramas for international consumption – a fact very well-known to our scholars, after all they are “Ethiopianists.” Clapham even reports about Prof. Pausewang’s deportation from Ethiopia for refusing to close his eyes to the corruptions and cookbooks of the election process. Such is the fate of an honest scholar. Ed Keller, a respected Prof from UCLA was deported in 1992 for visiting OLF’s office, Bonnie Holcomb was denied entry after being nominated as an observer, Truman is persona non grata, and hundreds of others are banned, but Henze enjoys open door to Ethiopian foreign offices so that he can praise elections doomed sham by all standards.

OLF did not participate in the elections after reading what was to come, and we today see indeed to have come. There were serious obstacles put to work to preclude participation of any organization with popular support posing a serious treat to EPRDF’s political domination. For example, there were three unreasonable conditions placed in front of the OLF for its participation in the election process. The first of the three conditions laid down by the TPLF to allow the OLF to participate in the elections was for the OLF to abandon the armed struggle. Given the three scenarios above, valid then as now, add the five reasons why Meles holds the key to Menelik’s palace to these scenarios, it is a suicide for the OLF then and now to abandon armed struggle for any verbal Abyssinian promise to respect Oromo self-determination. Foreign states and supper power “guarantees” have betrayed Oromos many times, and the only guarantee Oromos have is their own commitment. Therefore, in my view, given the several aborted peace initiatives and the degree of intrigues hanging over the empire, the only guarantee that secures Oromo rights for Oromo children if not for the current generation, is having an Oromo army that guards the interests of the Oromo people. An Oromo army is the only true light at the end of the tunnel. A tired democratization process in Ethiopia is not a reliable option for Oromo self determination; it submits Oromos to Abyssinian political machination dooming Oromo fate to their compassion.

The Oromo struggle should no more target diplomatic upper-hand as a primary, this is another trap laid by the Claphams and Henzes. Ofter all Oromos had such upper hand for 14 years. I believe Oromos need more visibility via armed struggle and organizational network.

In conclusion

True, no one has, and should have, monopoly on scholarship. Clapham and Henze are welcome to contribute to the knowledge base of Ethiopia. In fact, Oromo tradition beautifully accommodates diverse ideas be they from Oromos or non-Oromos. Most of the educated blue-collar population of Ethiopia comes from the two ethnic groups who dominated Ethiopia’s politics for over a century. As a result, there is an imbalance in the number of the educated, favoring the Amharas and the Tigreans. Scholars such as Clapham and Henze were invited by governments dominated by the two ethnic groups. While many invited international scholars maintained scholarly objectivity, some of the westerners created vested interests of their own, financial – through advising, marriage, or just personal friendship. Some still maintain close contacts with Ethiopian regimes. Some are invited to Ethiopia for lucrative consulting jobs. I am not aware of the role of both Clapham and Henze in the current Ethiopian regime. But I can tell, based on their writings, that they have not exhibited objectivity in their observations. By so being, they have attenuated the preexisting imbalance in Ethiopian scholarly debate in favor of the dominating ethnic groups. Writers and political activists, placed both culturally and physically so far from the impacts of the political solution they propose, should be extra careful in their activism which could be a matter of life and death for millions. I am disappointed to note that Clapham and Henze distorted facts and objectivism in Ethiopian politics and demonstrated recklessness in their analyses. Scholars of this caliber could suggest that Ethiopia, a country that Clapham counts as complex, uses its ethnic diversity to check and balance political power and establish a democratic and just government liked and trusted at least by majority of its citizens. What happened to the scholarly tradition of defending the wicked and the truth?

It is disheartening to read that some scholars are so willing to distort the field when all Oromos and the Ethiopian South ask is for a level playing field. I am aware that many Oromos think Clapham and Henze are not equally guilty albeit their style and radically identical ethnic commitment. As I stated above, an ordinary reader would make Henze a far more Tigrean fundamentalist than Clapham an Amhara fundamentalist, and perhaps rightly so. However, reading texts of Clapham and Henze, Clapham sounds more Machiavellian, more calculating in his commitment - perhaps aware of the damage he could cause to his image as a scholar, or perhaps cognizant that he can do better convincing on behalf of the Amhara by posing objective. As a result, he sleekly conceals his taking of sides. His nepotism is not as obvious as Henze’s from the outset. In this he is astonishingly similar to the shrewd Amhara bureaucrats I grew observing. They can do you harm while posturing to be your friends. Whether he learnt this from them, or they captured it from him, it is probably that imperial trait. Henze, on the contrary, is outright open and easy to read, blatantly pro TPLF as passionately as a Tigrean scholar could be. That is why I lumped both together in my rebuttal; ain’t worth the sifting.

Kallacha Dubbi
December 11, 2005

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Letter - Jimma University Oromo Students

Date: November 11, 2005

To: Federal Democratic republic of Ethiopia
Prime Minister Office
From: Jimma University Oromo Students

Issue: Seeking of Constitutional right and expressing Objection
It have been more than a century that the Oromo people are colonized by domestic colonizers, due to some peoples act of treason and power balance. History shows that between 1870 – 1900 the number of the nation decreased form 10 mil to 5 mil. The colonizers have tried all their best to eradicate and suppress the language culture and humanity of the nation even if things ware not here as expected due to the sacrificial struggle for self-defense of the people.

Even in to days so called “Democratic Ethiopia” the answer for people who raised genuine questions of liberation was bullet; thousands have died, disabled and more than 18,000 are still in prison under the guise of OLF supporters. What is more human right watch report released recently before the election can be a good assessment of the regime with regard to the Oromos. The countless effort of the government to disregard the question of the Oromo people is unsuccessful and Ethiopia has no peace, stability and prosperity. After demonstration and discussion on those realities, we Jimma University Oromo students have proposed the following short term and long-term solution on behalf of the Oromo people who is around 40 million.

We hereby ask all responsible bodies to answer our questions and failure to act accordingly may entail risk and the government is responsible for it.
Short-term solution
1. Oromia should be administered by indigenous Oromos. Depose Minase W/Georgies (Aba Dula) and his colleague form power.
2. Finfine and Dire dawa should be accountable for the Oromia regional government as a zone.
3. Free all Mecha and Tulema civic organization leaders and open the office.
4. Free all political prisoners and compensate all kind of victims.
5. Stop firing bullet as a solution to legal real and constitutional questions.
6. As far as Oromos (amounting to half of the Ethiopian populations) are not represented by free Oromo organizations (OLF) the recent election cannot represent us.
7. The agenda of Oromo liberation front is the agenda of Oromos, so don’t try to separate the two.
8. The prime minister should keep his integrity in opening talk with the OLF.
9. Stop fighting on Oromo land
Long term solution
¨ Make effective Art 39 of the FDRE constitution “The right to self determination up to session”
· Conduct referendum
v Answering the question of Oromo is setting the corner stone for the peace and stability of the horn of Africa.

With regards,
Jimma University Oromo Students

¨ The house of peoples representative
¨ The house of federation
¨ Council of Oromia regional state
¨ Council of Minster’s
¨ Minster of federal affairs
¨ European union parliament
¨ The united nation
¨ The USA embassy
¨ The Norway embassy
¨ The Germany embassy
¨ All concerned body

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Popular Oromo protests in 25th day

Popular Oromo protests in 25th day

We have been informing our international audience about the nation-wide protests of the Oromo people since November 9, 2005. This protest is in defiance of the injustice perpetrated by the Ethiopian government against our people. The protesters have also repeatedly and consistently voiced their support for the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Below is a summary of the continued uprising in various parts of Oromia since mid-November:


Students of the local schools and residents of the town have been confronting the Ethiopian army and police forces since the killing of three high school students by government forces early November. As a result the number of Oromos sent to remote and unknown prisons or concentration camps has risen to 130. The following is names of students arrested and imprisoned recently, excluding names we have already made public in our previous communiqué.

1. Daawwit Urgaa, senior, Ambo college
2. Taakalaa Darrasaa, 12th grade
3. Biiniyaam Baqqalaa, 9th grade
4. Shuummii Danadanaa, 10th grade
5. Tarrafaa Toleeraa, senior, Ambo college
6. Iminat Haayiluu, 10th garde
7. Dhugumaa Taaddalaa, 11th grade
8. Ashannafii Matakkaa, 11th grade
9. Tasfaaye badhaadhaa, 11th grade
10. Baqqalaa Uumaa, 11th garde
11. Warquu fayeeraa, 10th garde
12. Abarraa Hirphaa, 10th grade
13. Mootii Motummaa, 9th garde

These students are help in incommunicado and we are afraid they may be subjected to continuous torture and denial of food and drinks.

We have been notified that on December 5, 2005, five separate explosions took place in Ambo town. So far no report of causalities has been released. We are concerned, that the government will blame students and other innocent bystanders using them as escape goats after secretly masterminding the explosions. In the past, it has repeatedly used such tactics to create a pretext for imprisonment of large number of people.


On November 29, 2005 Oromo students in Jalduu district of Western Shawaa zone staged a peaceful demonstration. As usual, the Ethiopian police attacked the protestors killing 2 students, Habtaamuu Bayyataa and Fiqaaduu on the spot, critically injuring two more, Nurressaa Katamaa xaafaa, and also wounding several others. One policeman has been reported to have been hurt during this demonstration. There has been extensive campaign of arrest in this district in both the city and the countryside. All schools in Jalduu remain closed since the uprising began. Similar protests are going on in neighboring districts of Geedoo and Haratoo.

Finfinnee (Addis Ababa)

On December 3, 2005, the newly appointed puppet President of Oromia, Mr. Minaase W. Georgis attempted to organize a meeting with Oromo students at Addis Ababa University. The questions raised by Oromo students included; the realization Oromo right to self-determination and to that end, a referendum for Oromos in the presence of the OLF. They also questioned OPDOs (Mr. W. Giorgis’ party) moral authority to represent Oromos while the party is actively involved in the killings and mass-imprisonment of the Oromo people as the right hand of the TPLF regime. Failing to answer any of the questions raised by the students, the marionette President aborted the meeting.

Daroolabuu and Machaaraa

Discomforted by the continued uprising of the Oromo people in Harargee zone Mr. Minaase W. Georgis arrived at the city of Sakina, in Daroolabu district on Nov, 20, 2005. When the news of his arrival was leaked, Oromo quickly gathered in the thousands and staged a demonstration, chanting and demanding implementation of article 39 of the Ethiopian constitution, demanding an immediate release of members of Macha and Tulama Self-help Organization, voicing their support for the OLF, and rejecting Minaase W. Giorgis as President of Oromia. Minaase immediately turned around and left the area without meeting anyone. Embarrassed by this development, the local OPDOs later embarked on indiscriminately harassing the residents. Their attempt to murder a resident named Diitaa Ahmad Muummee failed, but Diitaa was wounded slightly by a bullet shot by an OPDO envoy. We have been told that the OPDO has demand that Diitaa pay for the lost bullet, reminiscent of the Durg. We are in possession of individuals who are still engaged in harassing the people and might have perpetrated a crime. Some of these individuals are:

1. Abdalla Aamee (City mayor)
2. Ahmad Abdurahman
3. Hassan Abdishu
4. Raabii H/Hassan
5. Mahammad Aamme Roobaa
6. Mahammad Ahmad baker
7. Kaalid Mahammad Nurree.


On Nov, 24, 2005, the residents of Shambuu protested by closing the main road leading to Baakkoo, thereby cutting the main line to and from the city. Similarly, on November 22, Oromos residing along the main road linking Finifinee and Western Oromia closed this artery highway at a place called Asgorii. Demonstrators gathered at the blockage chanted slogans denouncing the Meles’ regime. The Ethiopian police was dispatched to the area to disperse the demonstrators who courageously resisted the police for several hours.


Oromo students at the Jimmaa Teacher’s College staged peaceful demonstration on November 25, 2005. The wayane police attacked and injured several students while arresting 24. The arrested students are:
Amanuu Wayyoo
Olqaba Ibsaa
Badhaatu Ayyaanaa
Biranu Tulluu
Mohammad suleman
Amanu abdullahii
Kasahun Getacho
Suleman Misganaa
Xayibaa Abbu
Hasha Raayaa
Fasiya Reebaa
Yashii Alamuu
Chuchu Mokonon
Abdulshakur Mohaa Umar
Abduu Abaa Joobir
Tananyee Qananiisaa
Sisay Abarra.

Two of these students suffered serious injuries and so far did not receive any medical attention. In the statement released by the students, the students called on the Oromo people to continue their struggle against tyranny until the Oromo questions are answered. On their part, the students re-affirmed their determination to continue their struggle.


Like in most other parts of Oromia, Oromo uprising in the Bale zone has been growing over the last several weeks. On November 21, 2005, the Oromo people residing along the main road leading to Finifnee expressed their protest by blocking the main highway using boulders and rocks. In retaliation, the police was ordered to arrest anyone seen outdoor after 9:00 pm. The police have been conducting 24 hour surveillance around residences of individuals suspected of sympathizing with the OLF. Students at Roobee Teacher’s Training College are also under blockade. Two students: Jamaal Guyyee and Tasfaayee Jamaal were arrested last week. Their whereabouts are unknown.


On November 19, 2005, around 8:30 pm, the police shot a young boy. This has caused much tension in this and neighboring towns. As a result, a nearby town, Dalloo Sabroo is now under siege by heavily armed government forces. Residents are harassed and their movement within the town is heavily restricted.


All schools in and around Kofalee district remain closed since the uprising was ignited in early November. Extensive campaign of arrest has been unleashed in both the town of Kofalee and its surroundings. Eyewitness reports have reported that people are jammed into small cells and tortured daily.

This is just a summary of our people’s resistance to the brutality of the Ethiopian government. We hereby appeal to all concerned organizations, governments, UN and other agencies to express their strong objection to Mr. Meles Zenawi’s brutal treatment of innocent civilians and students, demand that the Ethiopian regime addresses the root causes of these protests by respecting the rights of the Oromo and all peoples of Ethiopia.

Oromo Liberation Front
External Information Division
Foreign Relations Department
December 5, 2005

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Seven Air Force members defect to Eritrea

December 1, 2005 (TEL AVIV) - Seven Ethiopian Air Force officers who ended a three-month training in Israel were on Tuesday flown to the Eritrean capital of Asmara after their request for political asylum was accepted. An eighth airman couldn't be found. Air Force sources informed Ethiomedia the defectors were Ethiopian nationals, and not Eritrean. "There may be one or two Ethiopians of Eritrean stock," the source said. "The rest are Ethiopians and their defection is an expression of their rejection to the Meles regime." The eight arrived in Israel some three months ago to receive training in un-manned air-vehicle technology. Three days ago, they abandoned their airbase in Israel and ended up seeking asylum in Eritrea.

The Meles Zenawi regime had tried to capture the defecting officers. "The Ethiopians were on a wanted list in an Israeli newspaper," the source said. "The pilots had learned a lesson from Djibouti where two defecting pilots wer forcefully handed over back to the government in Addis. This time, the officers wanted to act fast like their fellow brothers in Belarus did."
Eritrean ambassador to Israel, Tesfamariam Tekeste, said the soldiers wanted to go to Asmara after their training ended in Israel. He said his government granted asylum immediately and were flown to Eritrea Tuesday night.

The ambassador said he let soldiers stay at his home and consulted his government, the UN Refugee Agency and the Israeli Foreign Ministry. After consultations Eritrea's government decided to allow the Ethiopian defectors into its territory, because of being of Eritrean origin.
On Wednesday the ambassador leased a private plane and flew the soldiers to Eritrea.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry was surprised by the developments and emphasized that Israel was not involved in any way in the defection.
A top TPLF intelligence officer was among those Air Force members who defected to Eritrea. The list includes:
1. Lt.Tewodros Belihu 2. Lt. Zerihun Tesfaye 3. Lt. Fasika Kelemework 4. Lt. Habtamu Ermias 5. Lt. Andualem Tadesse 6. Lt. Michael Berhe 7. Lt. Dawit Milion have already arrived in Eritrea. The whereabouts of the eighth, Lt. Fikremariam Teklay, remained unknown.


"In Israel we were surprised and we had nothing whatsoever to do with this whole episode," Reuters news agency quotes foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev as saying. "Foreign nationals entered Israel legally and foreign nationals exited Israel legally," he said.

These are not the first defections of Ethiopian servicemen this year. In July, three airmen defected to Djibouti - although two were subsequently returned home and the previous month, eight airmen asked for asylum in Belarus.

A peace agreement in 2000 ended a war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and led to a ruling on the border by an independent commission. But Ethiopia has not yet withdrawn its forces from the town of Badme, which was awarded to Eritrea.

In the past few months, Eritrea has imposed restrictions on the activities of the United Nations peacekeeping force patrolling the border buffer zone and both sides have reinforced their military positions.
A BBC report has been included in the above news.

Meles strangles free press

December 3, 2005 (Newswire) - Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is suppressing the pro-democracy movemenet in Ethiopia. Last month govenment troops killed over 50 people including children and women. They have jailed over 20000 people in harsh concetration camps. Ethiopians are now living in fear as detention, killings and torture has become common place.

The Ethiopian Media Forum unvailed that in addition to over seventeen journalists facing treason charges for critizing the tyrannical regime, they have added over sixty journalists on their hit list. (I-Newswire) - At least 12 journalist have been arrested. Tens of journalists are put under TPLF's"wanted" list. Security forces also raided the offices of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA ), in the capital, stealing money, computers and documents, sources told EMF."The ongoing crackdown on the private press in Ethiopia is an outrage," said Ann Cooper, CPJExecutive Director. "The government must stop its attempt to shutter the entire local press, and release all jailed journalists immediately."TPLF controlled media have disseminated photographs of many of these journalists, and have called on the public to tell police their whereabouts. Following journalists are cases in point. 1. Lykune Engeda --- Wonchif Newspaper 2. Abdisa Abera --- Wonchif Newspaper 3. Abreham Tezera --- Wonchif Newspaper 4. Eshetu Desta --- Wonchif Newspaper 5. Eyobe Demeke --- Wonchif Newspaper 6. Tamerat Zuma --- Wonchif Newspaper 7. Ayenew Alemu --- Wonchif Newspaper 8. Azemera Abdisa --- Wonchif Newspaper 9. Fassil Yenealem --- Addis Zena Newspaper 10. Wosonseged Kidanu --- Addis Zena Newspaper 11. Semeret G/mariam --- Addis Zena Newspaper 12. Zerhune Mulugeta --- Addis Zena Newspaper 13. Elsabet Gezawe --- Addis Zena Newspaper 14. Derje Begashaw --- Askual Newspaper 15. Serkalem Fassil --- Askual Newspaper 16. Sisay Agena --- Eth-op Newspaper 17. Andualem Ayele --- Eth-op Newspaper 18. Tesfu Tegegn --- Eth-op Newspaper 19. Germayenhe Mamo --- Eth-op Newspaper 20. Aberham Kidane --- Eth-op Newspaper 21. Befekadu Moreda --- Tomar Newspaper 22. Ababa Ayenetu --- Tomar Newspaper 23. Girma Feyesa --- Tobia Newspaper 24. Arega Woldekirkose --- Tobia Newspaper 25. Atenafu Alemayehu --- Tobia Newspaper 26. Hussen Kedere --- Tobia Newspaper 27. Mesenbet Hailu --- Tobia Newspaper 28. Dawit Kebede --- Hadar Newspaper 29. Feleke Tibebu --- Hadar Newspaper 30. Wubeshet Taye --- Hadar Newspaper 31. Daniel Getenet --- Hadar Newspaper 32. Yosef Kidane --- Hadar Newspaper 33. Zekarias Tesfaye --- Nesanet Newspaper 34. Abey Gezaw --- Nesanet Newspaper 35. Derje Habetwolde --- Nesanet Newspaper 36. Dagemawit Nesanet --- Nesanet Newspaper 37. Endale Teshe --- Nesanet Newspaper 38. Tewoderos Tekelaregay --- Tsegereda Newspaper 39. Alemayehu Bazezew --- Tsegereda Newspaper 40. asmamaw Hailegiorgis --- Tsegereda Newspaper 41. Ferhwiot Gwangul --- Tsegereda Newspaper 42. Eskender Nega --- Minilik Newspaper 43. Zelalem Gebere --- Minilik Newspaper 44. Abate Mandefero --- Minilik Newspaper 45. Wonagseged Zeleke --- Minilik Newspaper 46. Eyob G/e --- Seifeneblbal Newspaper 47. Hailu Selesh --- Seifeneblbal Newspaper 48. Goshu Moges --- Lesanhezeb Newspaper 49. Maeregu Bezabehe --- Lesanhezeb Newspaper50. Atenaf seged Yelema --- Lesanhezeb Newspaper 51. Tadess Kebede --- Lesanhezeb Newspaper 52. Tigist Aberhame --- Lesanhezeb Newspaper 53. Taye Belachew --- Lesanhezeb Newspaper 54. Mesfen Tesfaye --- Lesanhezeb Newspaper 55. Fekadu Ebndriase --- Lesanhezeb Newspaper56. Garedew Demese --- Abay Newspaper 57. Daneil Dersha --- Abay Newspaper 58. Solomon Lemma --- Abay Newspaper 59. Daneil Gezahgn --- Moged Newspaper 60. Ababaw Dametew --- Moged Newspaper 61. Bezabehe Teklu --- Moged Newspaper 62. Solomon Lakew --- Satenaw Newspaper 63. Dawit Fassil --- Satenaw Newspaperhttp://i-newswire.com/pr51351.html

Tuesday, November 29, 2005



Addicted to aid in Ethiopia

By Erich Wiedemann in Addis Ababa,

EthiopiaMany Ethiopians are kept alive by the world's generosity. But addictionto food aid has also virtually wiped out any semblance of self-reliancein the country. Much of the economy relies on foreign aid, and thegovernment sees no reason to change things.Ato Omot Atnafu and his brother Tefere were out working in the fieldswhen the priests came to their village. The three tall, slim men withblack beards and saffron-yellow robes walked nimbly up the narrow pathinto the village and disappeared into the village hall. They re-emerged a few minutes later with the mayor in tow. He raised hiscow horn to his mouth and blew into it, producing a squawking noise thatcould be heard all the way on the other side of the hill separating thevillage from the neighboring community. It was the mayor's way ofsummoning his villagers, of letting them know that he had anannouncement to make.

This was the announcement: "I understand that some of you have beendisobedient. You have desecrated a day of the Lord by working. Thesedevout men have come to remind you to obey the laws of the church."The day before had been a holiday, and the next holiday would come twodays later and would be followed by another. Three holidays a week."What should we eat if we spend all our time worshipping the saintsinstead of planting corn," said Ato Omot.It was an outrageous act of impertinence. One of the priests approachedAto Omot and gently boxed his ears. "You are a sinner," he said.150 holidays a yearAto Omot was shaking with anger, but he restrained himself. One doesn'tfight with men of the cloth. Besides, he was clearly not in the bestshape. His arms and legs were as thin as rubber bands and his patchedjacket fluttered loosely around his gaunt torso.

The priests, on theother hand, looked well-fed.There are more than 150 holidays on the Coptic Christian calendar, aswell as 180 days of fasting on which the faithful are permitted to eatonly one meal. Those who disobey the rules can expect sanctions,possibly even the threat of ending up in hell.Coptic Christianity has little to do with life, but everything to dowith fear, sin, punishment and death. But how can people feed themselveswhen every other day is a holiday and they are not permitted to work thefields on those days?When it comes to Ethiopian agriculture, even the word field is a vastexaggeration. The average farmer in the country's densely populatedhighland regions has less than a thousand square meters (about a quarterof an acre) to farm -- hardly more than a soccer field and too little tofeed a family. Ethiopia urgently needs land reform -- and a new holidaycalendar.Ethiopian farmers could certainly coax better yields from their smallplots, but the problem is that they have no sense of ownership of theirland, since all land belongs to the state. The state, for its part, hashad little incentive to build irrigation canals and plant trees. As aresult, the country's forests have declined from 40 percent of totalland area 40 years ago to less than 5 percent today.Because a controlled agrarian economy is practically unfeasible, Omotand Tefere, their aging parents, their widowed sister and her threechildren live mostly from the sale of cow-pats, which they procure fromthe owner of a herd of cattle in the neighboring village. But theirearnings are slim.

Their mother has only one leg and their father isseverely ill with malaria. Although health care is free in Ethiopia, theAtnafus are too poor to pay the bus fare to the hospital.Preferring tef to triticaleBut despite their poverty, the Atnafus are in no danger of starvation.Omot and Tefere have just applied for a "poverty certificate" for theentire family from the local farmers' collective. If the application isapproved, their parents will be permitted to ride the bus for free.Scandinavian agriculture experts visited the village last year. Theybrought along triticale, a cross between wheat and rye from South Africathat produces three times the yield and is more resistant against frost,hail and pests than tef, Ethiopia's traditional cereal crop. Accordingto Bernhard Meier zu Biesen, regional director of the United NationsWorld Food Program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia could eliminate its hungerproblems almost immediately if only a third of Ethiopian arable landwere planted in triticale instead of tef. Unfortunately, though, it isn't quite that simple. Klaus Feldner of theGerman Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ) introduced triticale in BahrDar on Lake Tana -- but the promising results he expected nevermaterialized. Ethiopian farmers proved reluctant to plant the foreigngrain. Triticale, say the Ethiopians, doesn't make decent injera, thepancake-like bread that is a mainstay of Ethiopian cuisine. And thegovernment, for its part, has been reluctant to argue with the palatesof the people, instead opting to respect their sacrosanct eating habits.

The Ethiopian government instead takes the antiquated approach ofromanticizing agriculture at the expense of trade and industry, which itfinds somehow conspiratorial. As far as the administration in AddisAbaba is concerned, if the people had just a little more to eat,everything could just as well remain as it is. National income hasdeclined by half in the last 20 years, a trend that continues unabated.At the same time, the population is growing by more than 3 percent ayear.A cycle of aidYet despite the growing poverty and repeated food shortages, thegovernment has done absolutely nothing about low crop yields. And whyshould it? After all, with a well-oiled aid machine routinely offsettingthe country's food deficits, there is little in the way of incentive.The United Nations World Food Program (WFP), which administersinternational aid to Ethiopia, likewise has shown little interest inbreaking the aid cycle in Ethiopia. After all, by doing so it would bemaking itself superfluous. In early January, the WFP announced that $122 billion would be needed tofeed Ethiopia's hungry for the next decade. The next day Prime MinisterMeles Zenawi called upon Western lender nations to forgive Ethiopia'sdebts.Germany had just agreed a week earlier to forgive the money it is owedby Ethiopia. "We expect that the funds that will be released as a resultof the agreement will be used to fight poverty," said then-DeputyForeign Minister Kerstin Müller.

It was wishful thinking on Müller'spart. So far, the Ethiopian government has spent most of its savings onthe military. Despite being the world's poorest country, Ethiopia hasthe largest military in all of sub-Saharan Africa -- and Prime MinisterZenawi has given no indication that he plans to change anything.The categorical imperative of development aid is simple: Give a man afish and you feed him for a day; show a man how to catch fish and he'llfeed himself for a lifetime. But it's an imperative that doesn't applyin Ethiopia. Food aid is the country's second-largest industry, and it'sgrowing at such a fast clip that it has outpaced Ethiopia's agriculturalsector. Paradoxically, food aid is the reason why Ethiopians are sinkingeven more deeply into poverty. Between 1984 and 2002, annual per capitafood production has dropped from 450 kilos (993 lbs.) to 140 kilos (309lbs.).Aid shipments destroy grain pricesIn 2003, the UN donated 1.5 million tons of grain to Ethiopia, but theaid was more of a blessing to farmers in the donor nations than to thosein Ethiopia. Farmers in the Ethiopian highlands earned only $25 for eachton of grain that it cost them $50 to produce, because free imports weredestroying grain prices on the open market.

Prime Minister Zenawi's Ethiopian People's Revolutionary DemocraticFront (EPRDF) has no interest in upsetting this bizarre trade imbalance.Shipping companies, after all -- all of which are owned by the EPRDF inEthiopia -- collect $40-50 per ton in shipping charges. Furthermore,Addis Ababa is home to more than 300 aid organizations, from Arat KiloChild Care to ZOA Refugee Care, and their combined staff number in thethousands. More than a hundred of these agencies are involvedexclusively in food distribution. In other words, once a country gets placed on the list of the world'sneediest, it has trouble weaning itself from foreign assistance. As ifto underscore the notion that the ubiquity of charity destroys allinitiative, nomads in the south now follow aid convoys the way they oncefollowed rain clouds. But less than a quarter of aid shipments actually reach those segmentsof the population where they are most urgently needed, because thegovernment and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) don't take thetrouble to analyze recipients on the basis of need. As a result, foodaid ends up in places where infrastructure allows it, but not in thecountry's poorest regions -- especially in remote mountain areas plaguedby a lack of roads and poor administration. "Doing nothing is like being an accomplice to a murder," says Britishpop star Bob Geldof, made famous by the Live Aid benefit concerts forEthiopia he organized. But the aid organizations, while keeping peoplealive, are failing to provide them with a basis for making a living.One should not apply too rigid a standard to Ethiopia, says Austriandevelopment aid veteran Karlheinz Böhm, who for the past 23 years hasspent countless millions in aid donations to build grain storageelevators, schools and hospitals in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopians, he says,cannot be expected to achieve, in only 50 years, the same skillsEuropeans took centuries to master.Böhm, a former actor, goes to great lengths not to offend. During arecent visit to a school classroom, the former Austrian actor discoveredthat its condition didn't correspond to his idea of order and hygiene.Böhm, a man of action, promptly grabbed a broom and swept the room cleanhimself instead of assigning the task to a pupil. Karl the Good, as heis called here, apparently wasn't aware of just how typical his gesturewas of European development aid.Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,387188,00.html

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ethiopia’s Zenawi exploits the “War on Terror”

Ethiopia’s Zenawi exploits the “War on Terror”
By Yohannes Woldemariam*

Nov 25, 2005 (Sudan Tribune) - An ongoing hazard of the "War on Terror" has been that tyrants like Zenawi would exploit the threat of terror to win support from the Bush administration and Tony Blair’s Britain. The Bush administration is trying to buy stability at the expense of liberty in the Horn of Africa and neither of these goals is attainable without liberty. Zenawi has been warmly courted by the United States since the Clinton era and continues to be pampered by the George W Bush administration which has anointed him as an ally on the open ended “War on Terror” in the Horn of Africa. He is propped up by the U.S. and the international financial institutions. From the U.S. alone, he receives $800 million a year and $500 million worth of food assistance. Ethiopia is set to have its debt cancelled that will forgive $18.3bn owed to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and others. Despite his massacre of students and workers demanding democratic rule, Meles continues to enjoy western support simply because he has had the wit to call himself an ally on the “War on Terror.” As long as you are on the right side of the "War on Terror," it is a safe time to be a dictator and tyrant.

Meles Zenawi is a complete thug. His jails are filled with thousands and possibly tens of thousands of political prisoners. In a vain attempt to silence the opposition, at least eighty people were killed in protests during June and November. Special Security forces known as the Agaazi (trusted forces from his tribe) have arrested thousands of opposition members. There were massacres including of the Anuaks in Gambella. The Human Rights Watch dubbed the Anuak massacre as "a crime against humanity." Increasingly, the Meles regime is becoming one of the nastiest in the world. Currently, Dictator Zenawi is preparing to put “treason” show trials of opposition leaders whose only crime is winning the elections. Meles has now graduated into a deadly python dressed in human flesh. The tactical use of constitutional amendments to deprive the elected representatives any power in parliament and an increasing willingness to use military force in a broad range of "security matters" suggest that the direction of Meles is fast approaching the dictatorship of the man he helped to overthrow, the butcher Mengistu Halemariam.

To polish the dent in his image resulting from the ongoing violence against the opposition and to secure the flow of aid money, Meles has hired another Public Relations firm in Washington. The Indian Ocean Newsletter reported that: “the government of Addis Ababa has taken on the services of a public relations company in Washington. The firm McGuire Woods Consulting registered on 15 September with the American authorities as accredited lobbyist for the Ethiopian government on all issues concerning this government’s relations and its public communication in Washington. Its task will be essentially to promote relations between Ethiopia and the United States at a time when the repression of the Ethiopian opposition is starting to arouse negative reactions in many quarters including among members of the American Congress. McGuire Woods Consulting is run by Frank B. Atkinson and L. F. Payne Jr. Last year, the Ethiopian government used another lobby firm, Hunton & Williams LLP (ION 1104). This firm had already been Ethiopia’s legal advisor in the past in the international arbitration process in its conflict with Eritrea.”

The fraudulent results of the May elections forced the elected members of the opposition to refuse to take their seats in protest. After the results, the European Union and the U.S. Embassy remained relatively mum. This is so despite the fact that the Euro-MP Ana Gomes who led the European mission to observe the Ethiopian elections in May urged her fellow Euro-MPs: “asking them to condemn the Ethiopian government’s repression of the opposition.” Ana Gomes wrote that “the EU observation mission had concluded that the Ethiopian election had not taken place in keeping with "international standards for genuine democratic elections". She lamented that the EU had come to a "business as usual" attitude with Meles Zenawi. Adding insult to injury, Germany’s President, Horst Koehler welcomed Meles to a conference in Bonn while his Agaazi troops were committing atrocities in Ethiopia during early November.

The Teflon Meles Zenawi is being imitated by the Ugandan leader Museveni, another donor darling, who has taken a lesson from the apathy and double standard of the West. Like Meles’s government, the regime of Uganda, is becoming increasingly repressive. ‘Political analyst Andrew Mwenda says that [Museveni] had taken note of the muted foreign response to recent unrest in Ethiopia and Tanzania, and had decided the current mood among donors about African electoral turmoil was conveniently indulgent. But even if he draws criticism, he won’t care, Mwenda said. ‘If it is a choice between staying in power and losing a little bit of international standing by cracking down on the opposition, the choice is very easy.’ Museveni followed Meles’s example and arrested a top opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, just days after his return from exile and charged him with “treason.” These dictators have realized that President Bush’s treatment of despots the world over is applied selectively, and that they are safe from any consequences for their autocratic rule. Meles has so far paid little price for his actions. In the short term, more repression may be an effective way for these dictators to quell opposition. But over time it could make matters worse. The deeper cause of discontent is political fossilization: dictators like Meles are rarely willing to give up power.
Is Meles a worthy ally against extremism in the Horn? Roughly 800 U.S. troops are stationed in Djibouti and working closely with troops from the Ethiopian government. U.S. Special Forces have provided training to the Ethiopian military. US troops have trained with Ethiopian troops that patrol the border with Somalia. This is supposedly collaboration against “terrorists” in Somalia.

The irony is that by doing so, the U.S. may create the very thing it fears: Islamic terrorism in Somalia and the Horn. Islamism has never really been strong in the Horn. Yet Meles’s meddling in Somalia could give the Islamists their real opening in the region. Meles’s contention that he is besieged by Muslim extremists may eventually prove self-fulfilling.

Meles’s Ethiopia is far from being an anchor for the Horn of Africa; it’s more like a prison of nations, which without the life support system of foreign aid is in danger of imploding. The Bush and Blair affection for dictators like Meles who promote “America’s short-term political interests” is dangerous and sends the wrong message to those who struggle for democracy and human rights around the world. In fact, this strategy will make the world substantially less free than it was before he took office. It encourages dictators like Meles to represent themselves as deserving of U.S. support on the grounds that the alternative would be worse. If not me, the dictators say, the Islamists would take over. Ready U.S. acceptance of such arguments gives dictators every reason to ensure that their regime is always threatened by phantom Islamist violence. The need for allies on the War on Terror has pushed the U.S. toward unsavory “friends” like Meles.

The regime continues to round up opponents, and is refusing to take responsibility for the shooting of unarmed protesters. Another devastating war with Eritrea could soon be on the horizons, if Meles perceives that he can no longer contain the growing domestic opposition to his rule. Zenawi is now attempting to divert attention from domestic protests and his decline in the power base of his ruling party by threatening to restart the war with Eritrea. The latest lopsided Security Council resolution 1640, which threatens sanctions against Eritrea for restricting UNMEE movements, while carefully evading the word sanctions against the real violator of the EEBC verdict Ethiopia, may embolden him to ignite a war on Eritrea.

The Eritrean and the Ethiopian people are now convinced that the purported support for democracy and human rights by Bush and Blair is far from being a principled stand. It is easily sacrificed on the altar of ill informed and narrow security interests. It doesn’t seem that the George W Bush administration has learned the fundamental lesson of the 9-11 tragedy. The real lesson from the attacks of September 11 2001 is where repression and despair rule, extremism and violence breed. Rationalization of the partnership with Meles Zenawi that is justified by the adoption of a view of the war on terrorism that conflates Meles’s domestic opponents with terrorists will have a ripple effect. The United States makes little distinction between real terrorists and Muslim groups like in the Ogaden or Oromia which simply oppose the regime. By such a flawed policy, the U.S. is leaving resort to Islamism and Warlordism as the only alternatives to the hated Meles regime.

*Yohannes Woldemariam is an Eritrean based in the United States.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Oromo Demonstration in Oslo

"We are living under dictatorship"

Interview with the former President of Ethiopia, Dr. Negasso Gidada (Der Spiegel 47/2005, November 21, 2005 - translated by Getachew Robele)

Thilo Thielke talked to Dr. Negasso Gidada, 61, about the causes of unrest in Ethiopia, the war clouds in the Horn of Africa, and Germany foreign policy in the region. The interview has a title that reads as: “we are now living under dictatorship”, a quote from Dr. Negasso. Der Spiegel is a weekly magazine that is widely read in German-speaking countries. A portrait of Dr. Negasso, an Ethiopian map, a partial view of a big demonstration in Mesquel Sqare and a picture of Meles Zenawi while casting ballot in Adwa are glued inside the article. Note about translation: though a maximum effort has been made to make the translation in as sound as possible, the translator would like to apologize to Dr. Negasso and Der Spiegel if some inconsistencies or oversights are made in the course of the translation.
Spiegel: Mr. Gidada, we hear about weeks of shooting in the streets of Addis. How come that the state which you served as a minister for four years and president for six years resorted to this?
Gidada: The situation in Ethiopia is very serious. In Addis, it has become commonly routine to imprison people and throw them in jails and concentration camps on daily basis. Young people are routinely beaten and the police are literally plundering the private houses of the people they suspect. Most of the concentration camps are located in malaria infested areas of the country. The great majority of the opposition leaders, including artists, journalists and professors are under arrest. Although the official figures of those imprisoned are about 8000, the numbers are definitely much higher than this and may reach about 40,000.
Spiegel: How come that all these have happened?
Gidada: The incumbent regime has never thought and believed that it would lose so horribly in the May election, which is the first democratic election ever held in the country’s history. The opposition parties won in almost all bigger cities and all the more so in Addis with a landslide. When this became clear in the process of ballot counting, the government led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi resorted to a massive ballot rigging and fraud by either forcing the opposition party representatives in the polling stations to sign on the rigged results or by deterring their presence in the centers where ballot counting was conducted.
Spiegel: Like for instance the mayorship office in the capital city
Gidada: Yes. Naturally, the government resorted to blackmailing. Given the fact that the conscience of most of the opposition party members couldn’t come to terms with reality, they opted to distance themselves from the parliament. It has now become crystal clear that we are living under dictatorship.
Spiegel: You have also won as individual candidate in your constituency and opted to join the parliament with few other opposition members, why? Gidada: I am of the conviction to respect people’s voices/votes.
Spiegel: The official press in Ethiopia compares the opposition activists with the Taliban rebels.
Gidada: The Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) called on its members to conduct strikes and demonstrations which is allowed by the constitution. The government considers any protest action against the rigged election results as a coup attempt. Anybody that is engaged in further demonstration and other forms of civil disobedience has been threatened with treason charges, which can culminate in life imprisonment and death penalty. Any refusal or abstention to go to work is also becoming a court case.
Spiegel: In the recent unrest, policemen have also been killed which implies that the opposition parties are not prudish.
Gidada: I am against any form of violence. The question is: do the police have a right to shoot randomly or to further beat children who have got head wounds for nothing but holding stones in their hands? Official sources put the number of dead from the most recent crisis to 61 but I am sure the figures would elevate if all of the fallen victims are counted. We don’t get lots of information now simply because independent newspapers are prohibited to publish or have been the victims of the government’s crackdown. The chief editors and directors of the newspapers are now either in prison or forced to go underground.
Spiegel: Has the protest spread widely throughout the country?
Gidada: I hear about riots in Oromia and Amhara regions. More and more rural people are now siding with secessionist guerrilla forces who are giving them access to firearms. The hope, belief, and dreams of Ethiopians for a lasting solution to the conflict seem to be shattered all the more so when the government opted to rule the country by force. We are now threatened by civil war, a growing chaos and anarchy.
Spiegel: Do you think that things have escalated as a result of the multi-ethnicity nature of the country?
Gidada: For instance, Tigrai region where Prime Minister Zenawi comes from, makes up only seven percent of the Ethiopian population. That is relatively a setback for him. We have to be very careful not to indulge in an ethnic conflict. Notwithstanding these state of affairs, there are movements that are fighting for autonomy, the best example being the Oromo Liberation Front. They are fighting in the name of the Oromo people who make up 40 percent of the country’s population. Ethiopia with its 75 million people has the second largest population after Nigeria. There are about 80 different languages spoken in the country.
Spiegel: You had been the President of Ethiopia till 2001. These had also rarely been times of peace in Ethiopia.
Gidada: It was actually a period in which Eritrea attacked us. The war which claimed the lives of about 100,000 people came to an end after the UN brokered peace between the two countries was enforced and both were told to acquiesce to the peace initiative. The threats of sanctions and the cancellation of credits and development aids were used as sticks to bring both warring parties into the negotiating table. Premier Meles acquiesced to the pressure irrespective of its consequences and has ironically resorted to oppressions internally.
Spiegel: How do you evaluate things in retrospect?
Gidada: It is now clear to me than ever before that Ethiopia’s democracy has stumbled and fallen flat. This stands in contradistinction to our expectation not to have a repeat of the decades of authoritarianism under Emperor Haile Selassie and the Red Terror years during Mengistu. We thought that these chapters have been closed once and for all, albeit wrongly. Now more than ever before, human right violations and anti-constitutional moves by the regime are becoming the norms than exceptions. Any critic of the government will be liquidated. That is why a rift between me and PM Meles occurred. All these things should be seen in perspective: the prime minister had a vision to stay in power until such a time Ethiopia attains a level of development reached by South Korea. He had in mind a twenty years time to reach that level.
Spiegel: More than 20 percent of Ethiopia’s annual budget is financed from EU and the US and the relationship between Zenawi and the West is in its highest form. The premier is a member of Tony Blair’s Commission and not long ago he was with the German President, Horst Köhler. How do you see these?
Gidada: Sadly, all these at a time when people were murdered on the streets of Addis and other towns. I felt extremely sad about all these bizarre things. The Africa Conference in Bonn has damaged the democratic movement in my country. Day-in and day-out, the government-controlled Ethiopian presses are bombarding us with Zenawi’s recent German visit. We really feel betrayed.
Spiegel: Amazing! You know the present-day German politicians from your previous stay here in Germany while studying Anthropology and Social Psychology in Germany in the 1970s.
Gidada: You are right. I went to the streets with many of the then Leftists and Greens, including with some who belonged to Gerhard Schröder’s government. We all demonstrated then against Third World dictators such as the Mobutus and the Bokassas. Most of the present-day leaders in Africa, which belonged to the leftist-oriented liberation fronts, promised us a heaven on earth. Think of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda. Power corrupts people and these same guys who promised us a lot have become real dictators. None of the aforementioned countries have a functioning multi-party system. Surprisingly, however, these same states are considered as favored-kids in German foreign policy.
Spiegel: You are critical of the West’s silence against the horrible things that are transpiring in your country. Don’t you think that this is related to the fact that your country is considered as a partner in the Americans fight against terrorism in the troubled Horn of Africa region? Two of your neighboring countries, viz.. Somalia and the Sudan, are considered as breeding grounds for terrorism.
Gidada: This really reminds me of the Cold War where the superpowers had been closing their eyes to problems related to human right violation and violence. Meles Zenawi and Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, have been one of the very few African states who supported the war in Iraq. Internally, however, both of them have been terrorizing their own people.
Spiegel: Now-a-days, we hear of troop remobilization in and around the conflict-laden borders between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The movement of UN soldiers, who have been patrolling the buffer zone between the two countries, has been curtailed Is there a possibility for a renewed war between the two states?
Gidada: Nobody likes to see another blood bath. I feel that the Eritrean government intends to exploit the internal strives in Ethiopia to its own advantage. By so doing, it also likes to draw the attention of the international community to resolve the border issue. None of the parties can shoulder a war and both of them will find themselves on the lose-lose side.

Map of oromia

Map of oromia