Categories: "Opinion" or "Fekade Shewakena" or "Getachew T.A."

Africa is giving nothing to anyone -- apart from AIDS

July 15th, 2008

Africa is giving nothing to anyone -- apart from AIDS

By Kevin Myers

Source: Irish Independent

No. It will not do. Even as we see African states refusing to take action to restore something resembling civilisation in Zimbabwe, the begging bowl for Ethiopia is being passed around to us, yet again. It is nearly 25 years since Ethiopia's (and Bob Geldof's) famous Feed The World campaign, and in that time Ethiopia's population has grown from 33.5 million to 78 million today.

So why on earth should I do anything to encourage further catastrophic demographic growth in that country? Where is the logic? There is none. To be sure, there are two things saying that logic doesn't count.

Read Full Article here and Have your Say

Opinion: Don't Turn on Ethiopia

November 15th, 2007

Opinion: Don’t Turn on Ethiopia


Published in The New York Times


NINE years ago, two nations began the first modern war in sub-Saharan Africa, leaving in two years more than 100,000 dead. Today Eritrea and Ethiopia could reignite their old border conflict. Arms and money from radicals throughout the Middle East, as well as troops trained in Eritrea, have strengthened an insurgency in Ogaden Province, in southeastern Ethiopia.

A new war in the Horn of Africa would destabilize the region and bolster radical Islam’s push to build a Muslim caliphate.

Sadly, Congress is poised to fuel the march toward war by passing a bill that threatens to cut off technical assistance to Ethiopia, one of our closest allies, if it does not, among other things, release political prisoners, ensure that the judiciary operates independently and permit the news media to operate freely. Ethiopia has already freed opposition leaders, reformed parliamentary rules to give opposition parties greater legislative responsibility and approved a new media law that meets international standards. By singling out Ethiopia for public embarrassment, the bill puts Congress unwittingly on the side of Islamic jihadists and insurgents.

A far better approach would be to buttress Ethiopia against threats to its survival — by helping it resolve its border conflict and ensuring that it reopens negotiations with insurgents and traditional leaders and permits international investigation of reported military abuses (including allegations of rape and murder). Ethiopia has begun this process by allowing the United Nations and humanitarian aid agencies to assist civilians in the Ogaden.

Eritrea demands that the border be marked exactly as determined five years ago. But this places some Muslim and Christian villages on what they consider to be the wrong side of the border, cuts through others and splices certain roads several times. The United States should press both governments to let people who live on the border help reach a mutual agreement on the final boundary.

Ethiopia is a nation where 77 million Orthodox Christians and Muslims live in peace, engaged in building a democracy while besieged from within and without by enemies of democracy. Congress should put aside its bill and instead use creative diplomacy to deal with the combined threat of insurgency and war.

Vicki Huddleston, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution, and Tibor Nagy, a vice provost at Texas Tech University, are former chiefs of mission at the American Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia - The Elite Are Letting the Country Down

October 16th, 2007

Ethiopia - The Elite Are Letting the Country Down

Business Daily (Nairobi)

16 October 2007

By Mammo Muchie

As the Ethiopian millennium was celebrated, there was a wish to see the country pick up democratisation and modernisation with energy and dynamism.

One of the biggest problems in Ethiopia is the elite. Inter-elite contradictions exist everywhere. This has exposed the country and even the best laid plans to come to no fruition. We see the elite within the rulers slagging at each other. We see the elite within the opposition doing the same.

Often, one wonders whether the larger goal of standing for principle, people and country fail to inhibit them from engaging in such ugly slanders and mutual victimisation. We see everyone degrading to a petty gossiper and soiling the very cause they say they stand for. It is a shame.

It is sad. It is ugly. Time and time again, our country has suffered and even lost its brightest children for apparently no good reason. This has to change. Democratising Ethiopia brooks no delay.

One hundred years has gone by as we fret and fight over trifles. Let all of us stand tall and tower high by reaching the higher purpose of thought thinking itself to clarify our purposes and directions.

We call for democracy now. A democratic system must be implanted. The millennium hopes must continue. The movement to build the strongest, deepest and broadest movement to democratise and modernise Ethiopia must not tire to climb new heights and mountain tops.

There is a whole year where activities to learn to come together to foster inter elite understanding and fellowship must continue.

It will be gracious and even wonderful if the regime in Ethiopia could reach out to all who criticise it and use the millennium year to lead and bring about the most possible conversation and debate or learning by fighting in a cordial atmosphere.

If this climate can be created inside Ethiopia, the millennium hopes would indeed be said to have borne fruit.

But even the opposition should learn the fact that what it is saying has been said before; what is needed is to create a democratic civilisation and system by uniting and not splitting, by coming together with principle and by not spreading vile propaganda against one another.

We would like to see people who seek power first and foremost-uppermost-to put the country and the people first before all else. Making a democratic system by uniting all those who can be unite-able comes first. Let us do it.

Prof Muchie is Director of Development, Innovation and International Political Economy, Aalborg University, Denmark.

Ethiopia The Real Flag

September 4th, 2007

The rubber stamp Parliament of Ethiopia is calling for Ethiopians to raise the Woyane flag for the millennium celebrations, according to a report by TPLF mouthpiece ENA. The report said 'The House of Federation urged citizens to hoist the tricolor along with the national emblem, the symbols of the equality and unity of nations and nationalities, in various institutions ahead of millennium celebrations.'

Will Ethiopians heed Woyane's call or raise the real flag of Ethiopia, shown above.

Have Your Say

Ethiopia - Commentary on Seye Abraha's Interview

July 16th, 2007

Ethiopia - On the Importance of the Rule of Law: Commentary on Seye Abraha’s Post-Release Interview

By Alemayehu G. Mariam
On Crime and Punishment

Seye AbrahaAto Seye Abraha, was formerly a defense minister in Zenawi’s regime in Ethiopia. He was “convicted” on “corruption charges” in 2002, along with other officials. Informed sources say his “conviction” had the usual fabrication stamp all over it: “Made in Kangaroo Kourt”.

In the interview he gave to the Voice of America (VOA) Amharic program immediately following his release from prison, Ato Seye categorically denied the corruption charges, which originally included 13 separate allegations each carrying a penalty of 3-15 years. He said he was released on bail by the highly respected judge Birtukan Midekssa when he was first charged. But before he could make bail, new legislation was rammed through the so-called parliament to deny bail to defendants in his legal position. His case was then removed to a different “court” where he was “convicted” on a single charge of corruption.

Ato Seye allegedly tried to pressure bank officials to give loans to his family members, and on another occasion tried to get a discount in the purchase of some trucks. He said no witnesses ever came to testify against him, and no documentary evidence was introduced at his “trial”. It is widely believed that he was railroaded to prison for 6 years not because he committed any crimes, but because he posed a serious challenge to Zenawi.

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On Redemption and Salvation
What is extraordinary about Ato Seye is not only the fact that he showed no outward signs of bitterness towards his persecutors who caused his unjust 6-year incarceration, but also his magnanimity and the graceful manner in which he rose above his personal misfortunes to make an unequivocal public affirmation of faith and commitment to the rule of law, preservation of individual rights and civil liberties, and judicial independence. He protested his innocence as any innocent person would, and showed gentlemanly generosity to his uncharitable persecutors. He suggested that his years of unjust incarceration have helped him realize the importance of the supremacy of law. Without the rule of law and an independent judiciary, he said, there could be no peace, and no trust between the people and their rulers. He gave examples of courageous and independent judges who did their jobs with professional integrity despite the extraordinary political pressures exerted upon them, and mentioned Birtukan Mideksa, Woldemicahel Meshesah and Frehiwot Samuel.

Remarkably, Ato Seye declared his commitment to the rule of law by reflecting on the original purposes of his former political party. He said the struggle waged by his former party members was not merely to overthrow the Derg; he implied that the real aim was to build a just and fair society. His former party has missed that mark; and he now looks forward to join his people (Ke Ethiopiawuyane Wegenoche Gar) “God willing”, and do what needs to be done to build a better society. In his concluding comment, he poignantly pointed out that though he is no longer a party member and has effectively been ostracized by the powers that be, he feels he probably has a better understanding of the ideas, fears, hopes and anxieties of those in and out of power. This knowledge and empathy, he implied, could help him work effectively with all groups.

Ato Seye’s story may be one of self-redemption through suffering. During 6 years of imprisonment, he seems to have come to a different realization of the realities in Ethiopia. His public statements reaffirm our basic faith that all of us have the capacity to change and do good, even though we may have been wayward at some point in our lives. Christ, Gandhi, Martin King, Nelson Mandela and many others have taught us the power of self-redemption through suffering. Ghandi has taught us that “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world, as in being able to remake ourselves.” Dr. Berhanu Nega dedicated his book Ye Netsanet Goh Siked to Ato Seye Abraha, among others calling him a “living witness to the suffering inflicted by those in power”.

By his bold declarations right out of the prison gates, and compelled by his own harrowing experiences in prison, Ato Seye seems to have taken the first steps towards remaking himself from a partisan and factional politician to a man who is struggling to see beyond the politics of ethnicity and self-aggrandizement, and begin to work with his fellow Ethiopians on the basis of trust. Gandhi said, “A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.” Ato Seye’s thoughts now appear to be focused on the importance of the rule of law, the transcendental importance of respecting the rights of citizens and the need for collective action to create a fair and just society.

Ato Seye also seems to be telling us that in 6 years of imprisonment he has struggled with what he has done, failed to do and could have done to institute the rule of law and build a democratic society while he was in power. Now he can see clearly that the problems of Ethiopia are not related to ethnicity, ideology, language, regionalism or some other similar issue. The problems are lack of freedom and justice. He has taken a correct and principled position, and we should all applaud him for that. In the final analysis, action must follow the words, and one hopes Ato Seye will follow with deeds that will prove the true meaning of the words he said. Out of prison, he will have ample opportunity to put his thoughts into action.

I have no reason to believe Ato Seye is not sincere about the statements he made concerning the rule of law and the importance of an independent judiciary. I am sure there are many cynics who would rather condemn him for his past acts and omissions, and just as soon ignore his manifest transformation and commitment to do the right thing. As Martin Luther King said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.” When a person struggles to do the right thing, we have a moral imperative to help him do it.

On the Rule of Law
The issue of the rule of law is very important to me because I just can’t stand dictators and tyrants! They offend my basic moral and philosophical sensibilities because they make a mockery of justice and the rule of law. But what is the “rule of law”? Why is it important? Why is an independent judiciary necessary to ensure the rule of law is applied and preserved?

There is really nothing mysterious about the whole idea of the “rule of law”. At the political level, it means simply a government of laws, and not of men. Those who govern must operate and function within the framework of the constitution or the supreme law of their land, and other duly enacted laws of the society. It means ALL public officials are accountable under the law for their acts and omissions, for their decisions and policies. No one branch of government can render another branch completely subservient to it; and certainly, the judicial branch always remains as a counter-check to overreaching by the legislative and/or executive branches of government. The courts help ensure that lawless public officials are held accountable, and use the law of the land to prevent an over-concentration of state power in the hands of a single strongman or in a small clique who rule by force and intimidation.

At the social level, the rule of law requires a commitment to openness and truthfulness, which are central to political accountability. When the rule of law is instituted in a society, those in government become afraid of the people who have the ultimate power of sovereignty. But the people are never afraid of their government in a society where the rule of law reigns. Important institutions such as the press function without censorship or restraint and serve as watchdogs in a society governed by the rule of law.

At the individual level, the rule of law means the due process of law. No person can be arrested without a lawful warrant, imprisoned without charges, kidnapped in the streets, interrogated without a lawyer present, held indefinitely in detention without being informed of the charges, tortured or be denied the means by which to challenge the legality of their detention.

There can be no rule of law without a strong judiciary, a point Ato Seye makes very clear. The courts play a pivotal role in the relationship between the branches of government, and citizens and public officials. They serve as referees ensuring that public officials operate within the scope of their proper authorities, respect the civil liberties of citizens, and uphold the laws of the society. They make sure that no individual is deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.

As President Eisnehower once said: “The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.”

Today in Ethiopia, there is no rule of law, only the rule of one man. People are arrested without cause, imprisoned and tortured. Just read the horrific human rights abuses in any of the international human rights reports. The independence of the judiciary has been eroded by a massive assault on its institutional vitality and integrity. Judges are mere deck hands who can be hired and fired at will. The regime rules not only without the informed consent of the governed, but by imprisoning those who have been given the mandate to govern. Judges have been forced to become hired courtroom bouncers helping in the dispossession of the human rights of the people. In short, in Ethiopia today, one man rules by flouting the law and treating the judiciary with contempt, and evading at every turn attempts to hold him judicially accountable.

Rule of Law in Action

Since Ato Seye’s imprisonment 6 years ago, there has been a growing struggle for democracy, human rights, freedom, peace and justice in and out of Ethiopia. The same injustices that caused his imprisonment continue to cause the imprisonment of thousands of other political prisoners throughout the country. Democracy was won by the people in May, 2005, and immediately stolen from them. Opposition leaders, journalists, civic and human rights leaders continue to languish in jail.

There is no question Ethiopians want to live in a land where there is supremacy of law. In other words, they want to live without fear of Zenawi’s regime. They want freedom of expression, but the exercise of free expression is a capital offense under Zenawi’s dictatorship. There are tens of thousands of political prisoners in Ethiopia today, who committed no crime but dared to express their views, ideas, disagreements and grievances. Many thousands more have died trying. Ethiopians want their human rights protected, and those who have violated them to be brought to justice. They want peace now from Zenawi’s war against them; and as Ato Seye seems to suggest, a peace that can be measured not only in terms of the absence of conflict, but rather peace measured in terms of the presence of justice and supremacy of the rule of law. Ultimately, Ethiopians, like all people in the world want to live with human dignity. I hope Mr. Seye shares our belief that in the absence of the rule of law people lose NOT only their dignity, integrity, morality, decency, identity and self-confidence, but also their essence of humanity.

If Ato Seye’s message is he has learned that killing and jailing the opposition is no solution to the country’s problems, violating the human rights of citizens will not make the country free and that open dialogue, negotiation and compromise are necessary to deal with the country’s growing problems, no reasonable person could possibly disagree with him. The uncompromising posture of Zenawi today is energizing a political storm on the horizon that seems to be blowing ominously all over the country. If Ato Seye wants to join the rest of us in changing this political storm into a freedom breeze, he should be encouraged to do so. We all know that the solution to Ethiopia’s problem will not come from outside but from inside through the unity and collective efforts of the peoples of Ethiopia.

I embrace Dr. King’s declaration that “We shall overcome some day!” I believe as we enter the New Millennium we shall overcome the legacy of hate with the precious gift of human rights, ethnic antagonism by national reconciliation and harmony, and the rule of one man with the rule of law. Everyone who makes a covenant to uphold these principles should be welcome on the freedom train, including Ato Seye!


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