Ethiopia : Washington Update
August 17, 2007
The highest priority in Washington remains enactment of HR 2003, the Ethiopia Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2007. We have received some favorable attention in the media, including an article that was posted to a website that is read by over 6 million Americans (http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,104784,00.html).
There has been progress this week, with more new co-sponsors signing on and an announcement from Rep. Chris Smith that he will co-sponsor and actively campaign for enactment of the legislation. The most recent list of co-sponsors follows.
If your member of Congress is not on this list, contact him or her. Especially Tom Lantos, chairman of the House International Relations. Reports have it that there is a possibility Lantos might not put forward the legislation (HR 2003)for a markup in September, Lantos is getting a lot of pressure from both sides State Department and the regime lobbist. Lantos, a survivor of the European Holocaust, normally champions of human rights. He should understand that the State Department is support for Ethiopian regime does not advance the cause of human rights. So we need to ask him politely to move the bill forward so that the House of Representatives could vote on it. To contact your member of Congress go to http://www.house.gov/writerep/ And follow the directions. Members of Congress have a huge number of issues to think about and there is little chance that they will know about or support HR 2003 unless someone brings it to their attention. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Donald Payne (R-N.J.) has done his part to publicize it and to convince his colleagues. Now it is our turn.
Write your member of Congress, send and e-mail or fax, and if possible meet them in person when they hold public meetings. Tell them in your own words by HR 2003 is important to you and why they should support legislation that will promote human rights and democracy in Ethiopia. You can mention this bill is not a partisan issue, its goals should be embraced by every American: the released of political prisoners who have committed no crimes and were held in deplorable conditions; support for democratic institutions and an independent judiciary; and economic policies that will break the cycle of poverty and famine.
Much of the hard work will have to be done by Ethiopians. It is important for Ethiopians, especially those living abroad, to focus on what can be done, to propose positive steps. And it is the responsibility of anyone advocating specific measures to announce what they personally are willing to do. Too much time and attention is being wasted on people who contribute nothing
beyond their opinions and criticism. Anyone can sit in the comfort of their home and type criticisms and blast them out over the Internet. This doesn't help anyone, all it does is help the regime by creating dissension within the opposition and divert precious time and resources from positive action.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vermont) have written very strong statement summarizing the present situation in Ethiopia and spoke on the senate floor asking President Bush to intervene.
Please let us concentrate on the big picture, on helping to save the live of many Ethiopians by pushing this legislation that will commit the U.S. to fight for democracy, justice, development, freedom and the immediate release of political prisoners in Ethiopia.
THE FARCE OF A PARDON
By Hama Tuma
The criminal cannot pardon the victim but this does not apply in the twisted mind of the present rulers and tormentors of Ethiopia. Dissidence is a crime. The regime is there to kill and stamp out any opposition. If the opposition fails to understand this, then it deserves the punishment meted out to it. Please do not intercept the bullets fired at you. You may die but your kin will suffer for it. And worse of all, they may have to ask pardon for ever being related to you in the first place. And worse of all, the apology letter will be drafted by none other than the murderous tyrant himself. Bad enough to make you turn in your grave, a bad farce but who said that we are all Marxists and believe that History does not repeat itself always only as a farce?
In Meles Zenawi's version of history (with a small h, please note) every turn and event always plays out as a farce though the diminutive tyrant is no comedian in the normal sense of the term. No Marx here, sorry. Meles was a Stalinist and never a Marxist and cannot be blamed for repeating the comedy, the farce. Meles does not rival Bush in giving us gems of Bushism but he does, to his credit or discredit, try. Take his recent statement that the released CUD party leaders cannot regain the parliamentary seats they had won in the last election after "boycotting the parliament for two years". Where were these alleged boycotters for the last two years? In the prison of Kaliti where Meles had thrown them! How can they boycott when their very right to be free had been boycotted and they had to suffer in Kaliti? The tyrant enjoys such statements as his aversion to fact and decency has for long been known. We did cross the border but we never invaded Somalia was what he said at one time. We killed many peaceful demonstrators because our riot police had no training and rubber bullets, he had said at another time. He can declare the Sahara is a rice paddy and Fogera a mountain gorge. What we call in Ethiopia a man who has washed his eyes with salt and lies outright. The tendency to play out history as a farce maybe a symptom for some particular malady which, I admit, I do not know the name. No doubt though, it is a malady. Meles Zenawi is sick and that is no joke. The "pardon" charade was played with seriousness in the State Department of America and in Ethiopia especially by the regime. To start out, the fact is that the ruling front lost the May 2005 election to an Opposition that owed its success not much for its capacity or democratic credentials but for the intense hatred of the people for the Meles gang. And, the gang was and is a gang, it does not know fair play, respects no niceties, is a Mafia that does the Saturday Massacre every day of the week, with no principles whatsoever other than doing whatever it takes for survival. Meles ordered his troops, federal police and sharpshooters to kill protesters (more than 200 were killed) and stayed in power illegally (as happens in Africa most of the time). It proceeded to round up more than 50,000 people, sent them to labour camps (more than 30,000 are still there), and then put in prison most of the Opposition leaders and independent journalists. All were charged with crimes of genocide, treason, inciting rebellion and, to add to the farce, many in exile who had never set foot in the country were also accused of the same crimes. How can you commit genocide in Addis Ababa from far away Washington DC? Is the era of remote controlled genocide in? A Meles Zenawi contribution to this field for sure. What transpired in the theatrical farce directed by Meles is the fact that the prisoners who were not part of any killing or crime other than being victims were told that they were the criminals and asked to seek pardon. The pressure was varied, family, foreign, local, whatever. Times have changed and the field was open to an intellectual with Israeli roots who has little notion of politics but is very aware of who pays the piper. This particular professor parades in Ethiopian traditional (?) clothing (ethnic kitsch in New York?) and encourages those who assume from this that he loves Ethiopia and her poor people. There was even a famous sportsman who surprisingly seems to have suddenly turned political, criticised the opposition and asked the detained to kneel and
beg. How and why did the prisoners sign the humiliating letter asking for pardon from the very criminal regime itself? One of the pardoned leaders has said that they did so under duress. Others have resisted more duress and died resisting. Yet, I may have seen some prisons here and there but having never been to Kaliti I cannot argue against those who claim the dismal prison can get you very down and despondent. Most of the mediators had close links with the sold out Inter Africa Group and by implication we can imagine who was the self declared Big Power pulling the string from behind. But, the interesting aspect of the farce lies elsewhere. How can a killer ask the victims to apologize? Is this Chutzpah? Dirkina in Amharic? The tyrant has a penchant for penning apology letters that he forces upon prisoners to sign. The monk, Aba Gebre Meskel was forced to sign one. Abera Yemane Ab and his colleagues were also pressurized to sign another but in the end it did not help Abera who is still purging a 25 years harsh and unfair prison sentence. At another time, the EPRP was also asked to sign an affidavit renouncing violence and luckily the members of this organization were quick to denounce such a request and to refuse shaming and dirtying their own History. Is Meles being nice and considerate by saving the prisoner the hassle of composing their own apology letters? The letter signed by those who allegedly demanded pardon this time is by itself a ridiculous piece. The regime killed the protesters and how can the Opposition leaders who lost their militants make themselves responsible for the brutal killing? Did they order the regime's soldiers to shoot? Are the victims guilty for being in the eyesight of the sharp shooters? For intercepting the bullets intended to kill them? Are the leaders guilty for winning an election? Or for being so much gullible as to imagine that the ruling front will give up power peacefully if defeated? Or, for putting their trust not in their people but in cheating foreigners? Many people make the mistake of assuming that repression comes cheap. Big time error. Repression is costly to the regime, the victims have just to suffer or die. Be it even a bread a day per prisoner (and the prisoners are in their thousands) it costs money. Bullets are not free or cheap and that was why the previous regime made the kin of victims pay the bullet price. If some victim was obdurate enough to require five or more bullets to die then it is just too bad for the kin who have to pay for the bullets used to kill him or her. Ethiopians are poor, they starve, they have a lot of pain and it is not only "anarchists" who went out looking for death. Many otherwise sane people will intercept a bullet not intended for them. Suicidal impulses, the suffering is that bad. Making their relatives pay for the intercepted bullet is only fair--after all the victims just die. They incur no expenses at all unlike the regime that has to field killers and pay for bullets imported from Russia and China. The Meles regime is stingy and corrupt and incompetent and as we all know wanton violence is the last refuge of incompetent people. Hence, the longstanding practice of crude violence by the TPLF of Meles. The legal Opposition that contested the election committed a "crime" of "naivety" in believing that the violent regime will peacefully accept the outcome of the elections. Did they imagine Meles would just handover the key to the gates of the palace and go live in his father's birth place in Adwa or in the Cayman Islands? Could very well be. But it really does not matter now. The main point is that these fellows of the Opposition cannot escape "guilt" for putting the demonstrators in the path of the bullets fired by sharpshooters on top of buildings. If the demonstrators were not there, who would have killed them? Did Meles put them there? Seen from this perspective, the insistence by Meles that the guilty ones are not those who ordered or did the killings acquires some sense. It is all a matter of perspective. That the killer is asked for pardon thus becomes plausible and the pardon charade tries to escape being a farce. As some of the opposition
leaders were accusing the EPRP for provoking the brutal violence of the former military regime (Red Terror and all) maybe all this could be seen, if we want to be cruel, as poetic justice. No one has told me who elected these so- called "shimagiles" or elders (some are neither old nor experienced) just as no one has informed anyone on how the electoral commission board's new members got selected by Meles in the fist place. It can all be in the need to know basis. Limited rights, restricted democracy. What did these elders ask from Meles other than the onerous task of pardoning his victims-? Nothing. For a hardliner Weyane (and Meles is one), the word pardon is itself painful and that must be why the whole process took long, the tyrant had to sleep over it and his kat chewing habits do not encourage much sleep. The victims had to be humiliated and the so called elders helped in actualising this. They pressurised, misinformed, and transmitted threats, etc to make the prisoners pliable. The American embassy, a den of experts from Langley, also lent a hand. Experience aplenty from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo. How to Humiliate the Opposition 101. The menace of long term incarceration and even death was dangled like the sword of Damocles and the aged prisoners with frail health harassed. Meles did want to punish his victims but unable to kill or keep them in prison for years he took the next best choice--to kill them without killing them. No need for martyrs. Maybe killing has become boring and Meles is finding ways of murder without the victim actually dying. Something to follow closely. For those who do not know the ruling cabal it would be proper to remind them of its practice during its existence as a guerrilla force. It used to force the captured soldiers of the government to broadcast over its radio how much they now admire and like the Front and how good they have been treated. The Meles gang imagined that many people would believe this ridiculous propaganda. What choice did the prisoners have other than praising their captors just to stay alive? But, the problem with tyrants and dictators is that they end up believing their own lies and cheap propaganda. Former dictator Mengistu ended up believing what his trembling minions said about him and he imagined himself brilliant, an economist, an agronomist, a war strategist and what have you. Many African dictators believe that they are The Sun of the Nation, The Supreme Combatant, The Iron Willed Commander, The Brilliant Brain of the Nation and so on., Meles Zenawi talks street smart and when his hirelings equate this with intelligence he goes off track and imagines only he has the solution to the problems of the world thanks to his Open University degree. That is why he blabbers without an end, kills us with clichés both in English and Amharic and believes that his incredible lies do pass as gems of truth. In the same vein, letters of apology written by him and handed over to the prisoners to sign are, in his mind, enough to convince the world that the victims are indeed the guilty ones. And then he gloats over this Pyrrhic victory, plays the incident up in his mass media and expects the people to be crushed and subdued. The logic of the brute is not expected to make sense. Apparently, Meles would win if the farce leads to consequences in which pseudo elders would play the same trick on others too and if the released opposition leaders go on to commit the same mistakes again. Unpardonable by the people, but a piece of cake for the regime. The criminal cannot pardon the victim but this does not apply in the twisted mind of the present rulers and tormentors of Ethiopia. Dissidence is a crime. The regime is there to kill and stamp out any opposition. If the opposition fails to understand this, then it deserves the punishment meted out to it. Please do not intercept the bullets
fired at you. You may die but your kin will suffer for it. And worse of all, they may have to ask pardon for ever being related to you in the first place. And worse of all, the apology letter will be drafted by none other than the murderous tyrant himself. Bad enough to make you turn in your grave, a bad farce but who said that we are all Marxists and believe that History does not repeat itself always only as a farce?
Ethiopia - Why the Pit is a Bull: the threat of Tigrean nationalism
August 16, 2007
In my previous writing entitled “TPLF and Tigrean Identity Politics” dated May 25, 2007, I expressed a view that Tigrean nationalism is overtly discriminatory, and it is therefore distinguished by negative manifestations of the Ethiopian integrative power. Instead of uniting multi-ethnic Ethiopia, the Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) leadership has antagonized them, and as such, it has excluded even Tigreans from mainstream Ethiopian political discourse. In this follow up, necessitated by email feedbacks I received, I intend to provide some evidence without encumbering the reader with too much detail that such data would otherwise require.
My previous argument leads to a conclusion that the negative identity formation in which a group (TPLF) defines itself and also others in terms of what it is not, according to a famous sociologist, tends to lead into a "pathological situation of internal violence." This has occurred on a large scale in the Balkans, Sri Lanka, or the Middle East. The situation in Ethiopia is an even more fitting example with acutely rising consequences. Tigrean discrimination ignores individual merits based on the victim’s ethnic background, and this serves as a stifling factor for development, killing ideas in a poor country that requires mobilizing all its brain capacities to get rid of the ravaging poverty.
My previous view also suggests that Tigrean discrimination has paradoxically played a very important role of coalescing the discriminated people, pulling together victims who share the same abuse to a united powerhouse capable of undermining or perhaps even toppling the discriminator. Oromos, Somalis, Sidamas, and Amharas, etc. are united in wanting to dethrone the TPLF. In other words, even a negative integration, integration that is achieved for a reason of shared abuse - threats, hatred, tortures, arrests, and killings is integration of some sort. This natural coalition of the oppressed is as strong as it can effectively resist political opportunism as well as TPLF’s corruptive infiltration. There is tangible evidence, that creation of a country-wide united national opposition front to this Tigrean domination is targeted by infiltrators from the TPLF dominated regime. But the creation of a broad-based unity has its own weak points that expose it to such manipulations.
The weakest link
The Ethiopian political intolerance, exceptionally violent and intense in its makeup, is nourished by delusional tradition that borders with compulsive disorder. By and large, it assumes that every human being with opposing opinion, every political group with a dissenting view, is an enemy. This intolerance characterizes the individual activist’s manner so profoundly, that one can observe its manifestations in coffee bar debates, at community gatherings, and even at scholarly meetings. This is in major part the legacy of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Party (EPRP), the weakest link in the creation of a broad-based opposition against Tigrean domination, i.e., a hazard for political progress in the country.
In a familiarly condescending tone whose authorship must have a thing or two to do with EPRP mentality, one wrote, “The theory of the nation which decomposes Ethiopia by weaving the myths (emphasis mine) of Tigreanism, Eritreanism, Oromoism and so on goes counter to the core experience of the people, …” After reclaiming Eritrea, an independent country and replacing the well established Ethiopian myth with his own, the author attempts to guard the mythical “framework” by delivering another punch to its contents: “There can be no compromise on the Ethiopian and African framework for citizen expression and engagement.” The author forces all the Ethiopian cultural and ethnic diversities to either become Ethiopians or Africans of his personal definition of certainly chauvinistic preeminence, or face a wrath of his verdict and imagination – no compromise, we are told in no uncertain terms.
So, vaguely articulated malice of EPRP’s ideology still permeates through the deeds and words of the now senior or middle-aged activists who commenced politics in the 70s as infantile children. Their politics never stopped growing, but it grew crook! In the 70s, in a bizarre combination of feudal tradition with Marxism, the EPRP offered nothing else to the Ethiopian political roundtable other than winning by killing or dying, even when in its opposition stood a well-armed national army pronouncing its sure demise. There was no compromise then as now. Blinded by emotional ambition, traits of which are still glaring among its rank and file, the children were too young to fathom the essence of a military balance and too confused to comprehend the impact of a generation’s death. The military junta was driven insane by their obnoxious and unflinching ambition, and as a result, the junta passed a collective death verdict on the generation. This in part allowed the military to keep political power for one more decade, leaving behind a scar of historical magnitude. In this sense, the EPRP and the TPLF have little to distinguish them from Khmer Rouge, except that the TPLF, also a teen army that grew to power without growing to the society, is now terrorizing Ethiopia whereas the EPRP resides in old Diaspora minds as a political paranoia. They do share concealed hate and love for each other; they can’t go against each other, that can’t go for each other either. It is sad to see that neither the politics nor the social evolution of the last thirty years offered any cure to the survivors of the lost generation of Ethiopia that continue diffusing discord throughout all the political establishments of the region. There is little doubt that most of the destructive vectors and inward fighters in all political fronts and organizations can be traced to this futile ideology in a resistive or adaptive form. Their relentless propaganda for the unity of Ethiopia on one hand, and equally relentless objection to the unity of Oromos, Amharas, Somalis etc. when not on their own sadistic terms on the other, their objection to the very idea of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD), is a synopsis of their fixation on winning, with extremely poor judgment of their capacity that would enable them to win. By betraying its own mission and stated goals, the EPRP is acclaimed to be the weakest link of the Ethiopian political opposition against Tigrean domination, and therefore the creation of a better tomorrow for the region.
Facing a disgruntled Ethiopian opposition forces is the TPLF, an organization that has an exceptional talent in further disgruntling opposition forces. The TPLF has two strong virtues that link it to the Ethiopian political power and shape its capacity to destabilize the opposition.
They are its a) military, and b) economy.
a) The military : Strictly speaking, the Ethiopia armed forces are Tigrean no less than the TPLF is Tigrean. The following list makes this argument abundantly clear.
Ministry of Defense
Under the Ministry of Defense there are 5 Ethiopian Army Commanders.
The Ministry of Defense has 28 Division Commanders.
All but one are Tigreans
Division Commands have 106 Regiments.
98% of the Regiment Commanders are Tigireans
It can be safely argued therefore, that there is no Ethiopian national army but Tigrean.
b) The economy:
The Ethiopian economy is controlled by two large conglomerates:
Of interest to my ongoing argument is EFFORT. We will return to Midroc at another opportune time.
In 1978, the TPLF created the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), a financial umbrella organization of the TPLF which acted as an NGO despite headed by a TPLF Central Committee member. It collected donations from the international community and channeled it to the TPLF, playing a key role in the survival and ultimate victory of TPLF over the Derg.
After the rise of the TPLF to power in 1991, REST was formally registered with the governmental Relief & Rehabilitation Commission in Ethiopia as an NGO. As the TPLF’s financial backbone, it continued enjoying the state protection, and the restructured organization emerged as the richest “NGO” in the continent. In the summer of 1995, about four years after it took control of central power in Ethiopia, the TPLF established a stronger peer for REST - the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). Sources suggest that EFFORT started its business venture with a lofty investment volume of about 2.7 billion birr, - then just under US $1 billion (currently $1 US is about 9 birr).
Through EFFORT, the TPLF has considerably diversified its economic activities and expanded its outreach even to foreign countries. The European financial maneuver of the TPLF is based in UK where family members are trained and placed in key areas of Ethiopia’s financial institutions. In some cases, they are assigned to a now growing number of internationalized affiliates co-owned or owned by EFFORT, such as the Tower Trading Company (TTC) – a London-based TPLF owned company mandated with money laundering.
New companies continue to emerge, fully or partly owned by EFFORT through an intricate system of shares and investments. By controlling key growth areas, EFFORT has become the soul of the country's economy: agriculture (Hiwot Mechanized Agriculture), industry (Almeda Textiles Manufacturing Sc., Mesfin Industrial Engineering SC.), import-export (Guna Trading House), transport (Trans-Ethiopia SC.), insurance (Africa Insurance SC.), mining (Meskerem Investment SC.), communications (Mega-Net Corporation), banking (Wegagen Bank), just to mention some. Clearly, TPLF’s business enterprises cover numerous activities including textile, chemicals, pharmaceutical, and food industries. They also cover major service industries such as banking, insurance, transportation, printing, advertising, land developing, import/export, construction, mining, leather products, and farming.
EFFORT is divided into several sectors directed by members of the TPLF Central Committee, like Abadi Zemo for industrial activities, Arkebe Oqubay Mitiku for construction and transportation, and Tewodros Hagos for mining. The individuals may be moved around, but no non-Tigrean is appointed to EFFORT. In fact, no non-TPLF Tigrean is appointed to the ranks of EFFORT. Strategic positions of the Federal government that generate large amounts of cash are also led by Tigreans of EFFORT who hold multiple offices. For example, Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin is chairman of Ethiopian Air Lines, chairman of the Mugher Cement Factory, chairman of the Ambo Water Factory, chairman of EFFORT, and deputy-chairman of the TPLF at the same time. The more trusted individuals are usually offered the more strategic positions.
Although EFFORT is strictly controlled by the TPLF, it is not the only entity owned or controlled by high-ranking TPLF officials or favored Tigrean citizens. For example, although EFFORT controls WEGAGEN Bank, the TPLF encouraged the creation of DEDEBIT Credit and Savings Institution, headquartered in Meqele and administered by the local government of Tigray. The bank has numerous financial links with other TPLF controlled businesses of the country. DEDEBIT, as an extension of Rural Credit Program, acquired a near total monopoly over credit to rural areas, mostly farmers. The financial monopoly over rural Ethiopia has serious political ramifications. In the early 2000s, the main source of the bank was interest from fertilizer. Farmers were identified, registered, and forced to make a down payment of 25% on the price for the amount of fertilizer. The Bank estimated the amount of fertilizer the farmer supposedly needed. A credit agreement was written with each farmer, and after six months, the bank collected the debt from the farmers with 15% interest.
Business in Tigray is completely closed to non-Tigreans, and all walks of Tigrean businesses are exclusively owned by EFFORT or the local Tigrean government. For example, the trading company GUNA has a near monopoly in sesame and incense wholesale in Tigray whereas TRANS Ethiopia carries all goods designated as relief.
The TPLF also benefits EFFORT by ordering free transfer of funds from government accounts, often under a bogus claim of services that TPLF institutions offered to the public. It allows free flow of goods in the name of EFFORT, without customs and taxes, but EFFORT is allowed to compete with for-profit businesses of the country through its tentacle bureaus. Thus, Moseb Cement factory was built with public expenditure at a cost of 1.5 billion birr, and a Textile factory in Adwa at 1.2 billion. However, the incomes from these public investments are fully controlled by the TPLF through EFFORT.
EFFORT also makes extensive use of the credit opportunities offered by the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) and other financial institutions controlled by the government. The generous provision of credits by CBE to EFFORT is clearly politically influenced and based upon directives issued by the TPLF controlled government of Ethiopia. When EFFORT defaults in the payment of loans CBE provides relieving credit, obviously upon directives from the Ethiopian government. In some cases, millions of birr loans obtained by EFFORT are unlawfully delayed or even cancelled. In a widely publicized case a few years ago, the Vice-Governor of CBE overruled an earlier decision by the credit department of CBE not to grant 40 million birr credit to SUR Construction, a subsidiary of EFFORT. There is no way escaping the conclusion that the loan was made possible by political intervention from the TPLF regime.
Companies under EEFORT
- Messebo Building Materials Production P.L.C
- Mesfin Industrial Engineering
- Ezana Mining Development P.L.C. (EMD)
- Saba Dimensional Stones P.L.C. (SDS)
- SUR Construction Plc.
- Express Transit Service P.L.C. (EXTRAN)
- Addis Pharmaceutical Factory (APF)
- Guna Trading House P.L.C.
- Hiwot Agricultural mechanization P.L.C
- Sheba Tannery P.L.C.
- Almeda Textile Factory P.L.C.
- Experience Ethiopia Travel (EET)
- Trans Ethiopia P.L.C.
Source: Ethio Market
As an almost sole beneficiary of state contracts, EFFORT’s income continues to grow exponentially. For example, during the Ethio-Eritrean war, EFFORT became the financial wing of the war. MESFIN Engineering supplied water, fuel, and vehicles. TRANS-Ethiopia supplied trucks, and SELAM Bus was in charge of transporting militia. The income from the war propelled these companies to powerful monopolies of the country in their respective business domains.
EFFORT has now become a self-contained economic state operating on the call of the official government, formally serving the personal appetite of state officials, a phenomena witnessed nowhere in the world. Its assets are protected federally, and its under-the-table contracts are enforced by TPLF’s iron fisted militias. It has a favored access to government as well as to foreign aid contracts with profitable niches, dominating joint ventures with domestic and foreign investors. One of the strategic alliances is with Amoudi’s Midroc which supplies the TPLF with billions of birr through investments. Midroc buys natural resources of the South including gold and other precious stones from the TPLF with cash, and service contracts at these sites go back to EFFORT.
At a policy level, the Financial Sector Steering Committee (FSSC) serves as an umbrella institute for justification of fund transfers, creating the legal framework for supporting even poorly performing EFFORT auxiliaries, or channeling funds to the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) cash institutes. EPRDF is a bogus amalgam of Fronts populated with non-Tigrean renegades, created and dominated by the TPLF. FSSC defines policies and strategies for banks, appoints board of directors and executives for the banks, and routinely monitors their operations. Thus, the FSSC oversees all government banks, and has full power over their activities. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi chairs this committee. It is a public knowledge that he personally mandated EPRDF companies: Guna, Ambassael, Dinsho, and Wando to take over the sugar company when the plant was privatized. Interestingly Ato Sebhat who owns Guna, Ato Bereket who owns Ambassel, Ato Girma who owns Dinsho, and Ato Kassu who owns Wando are members of FSSC, and some of these same individuals seat on the Board of CBE that financed these companies. As a result, all privately owned enterprises competing for the privatization of the plant, Star, Abeba co. etc. were shut out of the competition.
The EFFORT companies are reported to owe billions of birr to Ethiopian banks. In fact, most of the EFFORT companies would not survive without government protection. In one case, CBE, the Construction and Business Bank, and the Ethiopian Development Bank collectively loaned 1.7 billion birr to EFFORT. According to insiders, the loan has not been paid to date. The 1.7 billion birr was distributed to Adigrat Pharmaceutical Factory, Adwa Textile Factory, Dashen Brewery, and Mesebo Cement Factory. These and other EFFORT or EPRDF affiliates including TESCO, Tikure Abay, Dansho Transport are constantly in deep financial crisis.
Although the main focus of this paper is private business ventures of the TPLF, it must be noted that Tigray, the TPLF’s home region has inequitably benefited from federal funds. For example, a recently published paper presents comparative welfare analysis of four Ethiopian regions: Oromia, Amhara, Southern States, and Tigray. A 2001/2002 data of these regions shows that 42% of children in Tigray are fully vaccinated, where as the percentage is - 10% for Oromia, 15% for Amhara, and 11% for Southern States. Population to physician ratio is 28,600 for Tigray. This jumps to 60,800 for Oromia,, 60,700 for Amhara, and 44,000 for Southern States. Secondary education enrollment for Tigray is about 25% (a six-fold increase in just a decade), but Oromia has 11.6%, Amhara 9%, and Southern States 11%. According to World Bank report “Ethiopia Public Expenditure review” the Federal government never transferred more than 6% of the country’s cash revenue to the states, which leaves more than 94% of the federal budget at the discretion of the TPLF, appropriation of which is apparent from the above numbers.
In conclusion, the TPLF has clearly violated international business rules and practices, and as a ruling political party, it not only owns large amounts of properties and engages in commercial and trading activities whereby it places competing private sectors in a hopeless situation, but it also uses this economic dominance to incarcerate, harass, dominate, and control political opposition forces to stay in power. This injustice justifies continued armed struggle of the people against the TPLF domination, and rejection of foreign expeditions to exploit natural resources of the country on behalf of the TPLF.
The author resides in USA and can be reached at email@example.com
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Ethiopia - Washington Update
By Mesfin Mekonen
This is a summary update of our activities since 2001
The famine situation in Ethiopia in 2001 was the beginning of our efforts to bring the reality of the Ethiopian situation to the attention of the United States Congress.
By these efforts the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, then chaired by Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois and assisted by the Sub-Committee on Africa's chairman Ed Royce of California, gave us a formal hearing on famine in Ethiopia in March of 2002.
We submitted some written testimony which was entered into the Congressional Record. It was entitled "Long Term Solution to Combat Famine in Ethiopia". After the hearing in 2002 at the urging of Congressman Hyde USAID began to provide food aid to the stricken areas of Ethiopia.
In 2003 I had the privilege to introduce the Ethiopian opposition leaders Engineer Hailu Shawel, Doctor Beyne Petros, Mera Gudina, and several EDP members and other leaders to Africa Subcommittee on International Relations. With Ethiopian National Congress set up a symposium in Washington, DC with 20 Ethiopian scholars to discuss the Asab situation. With the help of the Ethiopian National Congress we gathered about 150,000 signatures supporting our concern and sent these to the UN and to President Bush.
we cooperated with a broad coalition of political groups to create a united opposition to the Meles regime. We met in Rockville and Gaithersburg Maryland for three days to come to this agreement. A Press Conference to discuss the political and economic situation was held at the prestigious National Press Club with Professor Mesfin Woldmariam.
In 2004 we created the Ethiopian-America Council dedicated to the Ethiopian-American people many of whom have American citizenship. It is based here in Washington, DC and also in San Jose, CA. We held a public press conference to announce this again at the National Press Club. We then we started in on the work on Ethiopia to try gain free and fair elections in May of 2005. Congressman Mike Honda of California assisted us. It was difficult to explain everything to Congress in such a short time.
When the new Congress convened in 2005 Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey was the new chairman of the Africa Subcommittee. We encouraged him to include Ethiopia on his upcoming official visit to Aftica. In Ethiopia he met with religious leaders, civic groups, and political leaders and then met with Meles. He asked Meles to assign someone neutral to investigate who was responsible for the many deaths in Addis in May 2005 after the elections.
Congressman Smith started in immediately to draft HR 4425 calling for American involvement in helping to guarantee Ethiopians' human rights, democratization, and development. Congressman Smith, with our help, gathered together the information needed for the bill. We especially recommended aid for the Blue Nile and Awash rivers areas for hydroelectric power and irrigation for agricultural development.
HR 4425 cleared from the Subcommittee and then full International Relations Committee (as HR5680). We, the Ethiopian-Americans, pushed for this bill but were frustrated by the activities of the Regime who hired for $50,000.00 per month a politically connected lobbying firm (Dell, Piper, Resnick) to derail this progress. Their key individual is a former House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas who was close to the former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert of Illinois. We alerted the Ethiopian-American community, the rest of Congress, and the American media, (and everyone in general) to this development.
Our top priority at this time through 2006 was to get the political prisoners released from prisons. Many times we met with Senators Obama, Hagel, Luger, Biden, Feingold, and Leahy as well as Congressmen Smith, Hoyer, Royce, Honda, Payne, Lantos, and Rangel. We also contacted and met many times with Deputy Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto. He is presently the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia.
After the 2006 elections Congress passed under Democratic control and Congressman Donald Payne of New Jersey became the new chairman of the Africa Subcommitee.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had a hearing on July 17 on “Democratic Developments in Sub-Saharan Africa: Moving Forwards or Backwards?” Barry F. Lowenkron, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, harshly criticized the Meles regime. The hearing is good news because it sets the stage for Senate consideration of HR 2003 after it is passed by the House.
In 2007 we are continuing to meet with all those Senators and Congressmen and continued to organize Ethiopians in America. Through our efforts the death sentences were overturned and the CUD political prisoners, Civic group and Journalists were released.
In early 2007 Mesfin Mekonen and Dr. Seyoum Solomon coordinated logistic with the US Embassy in Addis Ababa for Engineer Hailu Shawel eye treatment and was successful.
In July of 2007 the Kinijit International Council led by its chairman Dr. Taye Woldesmaite, Mesfin Mekonen, Foreign Relations, and Doctor Bezabeh Demesse and Major Admasu both parlamentary members was invited by Kinijit chapters in the USA to speak to them in San Diego, CA; Seattle, Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; and Washington, DC. All this effort is designed to energize the support for Ethiopians and the pending passage of HR 2003 (the current draft of the Ethiopian bill).
You all know the members of Congress need to hear from you. Please visit this Web site and get the contact information that you need. It is essential that all Ethiopians contact members of Congress to express their support for this legislation – ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO HAVEN’T CO-SPONSORED HR 2003 -- and to ask that members of Congress co-sponsor and vote for it. Even if you have already contacted Congress, do it again. It is especially important to contact members of the U.S House of Representatives on International Relations.You can find the contact information to Call and e-mail the Washington offices of your Senators and Representative. To contact your Representative, use: http:///www.house.gov/writerep/ To contact your Senator, use: http://senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Human Rights are a key objective for us. Human Rights groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Center for Press Journalists, and others are our natural allies in our work
In conclusion we must help inform all areas of Ethiopian opinion about the purposes of this legislation. A few individuals have taken the position that this bill will not be helpful to Ethiopians because Ethiopians should take care of Ethiopia themselves. But the world is not a good place for Isolationism; Ethiopia is greatly affected by its relations with other countries so we here in America can best help Ethiopia by helping to provide a voice for the voiceless in Ethiopia.
Celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium
Phone: 240-460-3579 202-386-3037
Web Address: http://www.ethiopianmillennium2000.com
Address: 1115 U street N.W, Washington DC, 20009
August 13, 2007
Let us celebrate the Ethiopian Millennium in the Sprit of Love and Unity!
CCEM Press Release
As the countdown to the Ethiopian millennium approaches, representatives of Ethiopian civic and political organizations as well as those from the Business community in the Washington DC area are organizing one of the most festive and reflective celebrations to mark this important historic event from September 7 to 12, 2007.
The council for the Celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium in Washington DC (CCEM) has reached out and invited various individuals, local and national government officials, and friends of Ethiopia to join our community in the celebration of this historic occasion. We have had the privilege of organizing a dinner party inside one of the Halls of US Congress , with the support of the Honorable Congressman Donald Payne, a true friend of Ethiopia and a champion of the cause of our people. We were able to raise a modest fund from the business community and individuals for the celebration and introduction of the Council’s objectives.
The Honorable Adrian Fenty, the Mayor of Washington DC, was also gracious enough to declare September 12, (Meskerem 1) as "Ethiopian Millennium Day". Mayor Fenty, who thanked our community for being a wonderful addition to the multicultural beauty of the City of Washington DC, has also requested the residents of the city to join the Ethiopian community in celebrating this important historic date.
The Council for the Celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium in Washington DC has set out elaborate programs for the celebration which include the following:
On September 7, 2007, Ethiopian Information Technology (IT) professionals in the US will gather at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington DC and connect with IT professionals in London and Addis Ababa to confer on the future of IT for Ethiopia. The discussion, which is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., will explore various opportunities and challenges for bringing Ethiopia into the information age and make her the beneficiary of this rapidly growing technology;
On September 8 and 9, 2007, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., on each day, scholars and professionals of diverse disciplines will present papers at a symposium to be held at Howard University, Washington D.C.. The symposium would cover various issues on Ethiopia including history and culture, the arts and literature, politics and governance, economics and ecology, health and education;
On the evenings of September 8, a grand cultural show of Ethiopian music and dance will be featured at Stadium Armory in Washington DC. More than thirty Ethiopian prominent Artists from Ethiopia and Diaspora will participate in this grand Millennium Cultural and Musical show.
On September 10 and 11, we will be having an exhibition of Ethiopian arts and photography organized by the Ethiopian Artists. In the evenings, there will be film and theatre shows on Ethiopia.
On September 12, (Meskerem 1) Ethiopians will welcome their new year and their new millennium. Activities will include a parade called the "March for Democracy" that will start from the US Congress. The parade will celebrate our unity in diversity; express our determination to see Ethiopia as a united democratic country, free of oppression and poverty. Ethiopians will express their earnest desire and wish for Ethiopia where there is democracy, good governance, and rule of law and where the human rights of all Ethiopians are respected.
Ethiopians of all religions and ethnic backgrounds will join hands and demand that the new millennium should be one where human rights violations against our people will not be tolerated anymore. On this parade, African Americans, Jamaicans and Africans from other African countries and all friends of Ethiopia will join us. The Jamaican friends will have special performance for the occasion.
On September 12, (Meskerem 1), after the completion of the parade, starting from the late afternoon, Ethiopians will gather at the west side of the Potomac River by the Washington Monument for an evening of festivities, cultural and musical show.
The Council for the Celebration of the Ethiopian Millennium (CCEM) is committed to make the millennium celebration the most memorable. We call on all Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia in the USA and elsewhere to join us to celebrate the passing of the old and Ethiopian Millennium the beginning of the new as an occasion for renewed hope and optimism for the progress of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Let us celebrate together this great milestone and unique moment in our country’s age and transition to a new century and a new millennium with confidence and hope, to build a better future.
The Council for the Celebration of Ethiopian Millennium, Washington DC
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«"alemayehu g. mariam "» «"ali mohammed"» "education" «"human rights"» "usaid" agriculture «alemayehu g. mariam» birtukan china clinton «commodity exchange» dc9 economics economy ecx «eskinder nega» inflation «meles zenawi» «messay kebede» «messay kebede» mideksa murder wikileaks «yilma bekele»