Sunday, December 31, 2006

kinijit activist defects to Switzerland

Former UEDP-Medihn Member, kinijit activist and freelance journalist, Ashenafi Kebede, has arrived at Switzerland safely after the TPLF regime started pursuing him for distributing Brehanu Nega's book and the civil disobedience calendar which landed several kinijit supporters in jail. Ashenafi was one of the first members to leave UEDP-Medihn after he learnt the dictatorial tendencies of the now disgraced politician, Lidetu Ayalew.
Ashenafi went missing after government forces started trailing supporters of kinijit who were involved in distributing the civil disobedience calendar. Police searched his house twice after he left it without telling family and friends.

Friday, December 29, 2006

From paris a blogger speaks...Andrew Heavens denies what the government admits...

In the past year, this blogger had been one of the few foreigners in Addis Ababa who knew what Ethiopians really, really think. Why? Because he tried! He talked to teenagers on the streets, Somalis in Ruanda and worked at Fortune where he met journalists with diverse views.
It is sad that he left Ethiopia two weeks ago. But even from paris, he hasn't relented. He puts people like Andrew Heavens to shame. On his last post, Andrew called the round-up stories unsubstantiated. Last sunday, a top official of Addis Ababa Police, Tesfaye Meresa, admitted to the Amharic Reporter that they had arrested some people as a preventive measure. These days Andrew has turned into such a government apologist that he could even deny what the government admitted.

See an American speaks about Ethiopia from a french city.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

EPRDF kills a kid

More than hundred students of Africa Andenet elementary school near Piassa were protesting against the action of the federal police after one of the students was shot dead today. The kids claimed that they couldn't learn when one of their own was killed for no reason. They were chanting "Leba, leba, police leba, bereket Leba, Meles Leba". Tens of students were latter arrested by the federal police. Students of Brehane Ethiopia, which is located at Arat Kilo, joined the protestors. Eye witnesses said the kids who were protesting were between the ages of 9 and 13.
Many Internet cafes in Addis Ababa are being told to register users by the federal police. Registration forms have been distributed by the police to some of them. An Intenet cafe owner at the Ayer Tena area told this blogger that even though he received the forms he wouldn't obey the orders and chase his clients away. Although most Ethiopian pro-democracy websites are shut down, people are massively using anonymous proxy servers to access them . The registration of users in internet cafes is intended to deter readers of political websites, observers say.
Tomorrow: What happened to Menbere Tadesse, a kinijit activist?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Police kills a young man escaping round-up

Federal police shot dead a young man who tried to escape from the round up in Addis Ababa. Abebe Hailemariam who was in early twenties was killed when he refused to accept instruction by the federal police to enter the police garage in front of the Sheraton Addis where hundreds of young men who were rounded up from the streets of Addis were held. Abebe lived in the neighborhood of the Filwha area where the round up was the most rampant. The EPRDF government had reptile conducted raids in the Filwha and Arogew Kera area in the last two weeks.
Eye witnesses said Abebe was trying to escape what locals call "affessa" when police opened fire and killed him.
Fools and lies

I have on different times declared my allegiance to Ethiopian pro-democracy movements particularly Kinijit. I still think that despite the rivalry and problems in Kinijit diaspora, the party is strong and indivisible. I hope the two groups, despite their differences, will stop slinging mud on each other and get on with their job of organizing kinijit supporters.
This leads me to's recent attack on Andargachew Tsgie. The website claimed that Andargachew wasn't a CUD council member. What a lie! In mid August 2005, Kestedemena convened a meeting to elect its 12 people for the the CUD CC. The following were elected:Dr. Brehanu Nega, Wt. Birtukan Mideksa, Dr. Yacob H. Mariam, Dr. Shimelis Tekle Tsadik,Ato Debebe Eshetu, Ato Kidanemariam Hagos, Ato Bedru Adem,Dr. Abdu, Ato Daniel Asseffa, Ato Andargachew Tsige, Dr. Befekadu Degueffe and Ato Dibaba Amensisa. However, it was stated that Andargachew couldn't attend the CUD CC founding meeting as he was in exile. There was also a feeling that some of the elected members might be absent. The Council therefore decided to elect 2 alternate members for the CUD CC. These were Nigist G. Hiwot and Yeneneh Mulatu. All the 40 members of the Rainbow Central Council, including Zebene, were delegated to attend the Founding Conference of the CUDP. Three of elected members CUD CC from Rainbow, including Bedru Adem, Andargachew, and Kidanemariam Hagos didn't attend the founding conference, reducing the number of Rainbow elects for the CUD CC to 11. Zebene was then delegated by rainbow to fill the vacant seat as the twelfth member.This is the true story.
I ask the good men at to remove the post. There were 40 rainbow members who could be witnesses to the truth. Don't make fool of yourselves. Let deception ends at Aigaforum.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Torture chamber closed

The notorious Woreda 8 torture chamber had been dismantled by TPLF after diplomatic pressure. Woreda 8 special task force took control of the investigation of the case of the civil disobedience calendar in September and tortured at least 49 people including the businessman, Alemayehu Fantu. Two were killed when being tortured. According to sources, following the exposition of the chamber by the human rights group Amnesty International, intense diplomatic pressure on the government forced it to close the chamber.

Monday, December 18, 2006

TPLF starts Derg style "Affesa"

Police is rounding up young men from the streets of Addis.
In what some think parallels the Derg's "Affesa era", hundreds had been detained while walking on the streets of the city, standing in their neighborhood or watching European football in little sports bars on Saturday and Monday. Some were released from detention on Monday after they presented ID cards which proved that either they were students or government workers. Those who worked for private employers were told that their status would be further investigated.
"We didn't know what crime we committed. We were returning to out neighborhood after watching the Manchester United game on Sunday. They encircled us and ordered us to jump onto a truck. We were taken to woreda 10 police station," a teenager who was released the next day said. He claims that hundreds still remain there. Some eye witnesses said street kids were being beaten by police men while they were rounded up.
The serious opposition to the impending war from the youth has upset the government. Some young men recounted how they were stopped by the police men and asked about their position on Somalia. Kebele cadres were ordered to start massive awareness campaigns to educate the youth about the dangers of Somalia and the consequences of not supporting the war.
Professor Al Mariam is a breathe of fresh air in the pro-feedom and democracy movement. I just can't get enough of his articles. See this on the trial.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The talented millenium celebration council

The womanless Ethiopian Millenium celebration council has a unique ability to thrill. Its strategic plan was announced yesterday with a lot of fanfare and live TV coverage. Here are the stats.
300,000.... the number of Ethiopians in diaspora expected to travel back to their country to participate in EPRDF's party
6000.....the number of people coming to Ethiopia from the washington DC area alone for the millenium
200,000.......the amount of birr the millenium celebration committee used to decorate its old office
11...........the number of millenial parks to be constructed throughout Ethiopia
I am mesmerized with EPRDF's number crunching and projection ability. With the smart Mulugeta Asrate Kassa, Seyoum Bereded and oh, that genuis.....Dr. Yohannes Gebre-sillasie at the helm and Mimi Sebahtu and Genenew Assefa operating behind the veil, the millenium committee is even better.
I have real numbers....the number of people who will be in prison because of their political opinions on the first day of the next millenium.....the number of people who would rather mourn their loved ones who were killed because they tried to exercise their natural right to protest ....the number of people who ,due to forced exile, don't see their country when it ventures into the new millenium.....and so and so forth.
What about this for the Millenium? FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY!
Addis Calling has an interesting story on Somalis in Addis and more.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Assefa Abrha's emotional statement sends court attendants to tears

Assefa Abreha, the former general manager of Privatization Agency presented an eloquent but emotional closing argument on Friday in the farcical corruption trial which includes his brother, former defense minister Siye Abrha. Assefa passionately argued how the prosecution was politically motivated sending some of the court attendants to tears. Like the jailed CUD leaders, Siye Abrha's visitation hours on weekends are limited to an hour a day. He is not allowed to meet other political prisoners.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Andreas Eshete establishes a human rights center to fight Amnesty International

Addis Ababa University's President, Professor Andreas Eshete, is establishing a human rights centre under the auspices of the university. According to sources close to him, he intends to make the centre a research and advocacy institute which counters Amnesty International. Andreas Eshete told some of his aides that AI was biased towards Ethiopia and the world should know that there was a growing respect to human freedom and equality in the country. "It will be the first human rights institute in the world which is created to fight another advocacy institution, " one of the aides told this blogger.
Many colleagues of Andreas Eshete are unhappy with Addis Ababa University's direct involvement in politics. "It is a scandal for this great institution that it is planning to stand against such a conscience of the world as AI. We are writing history which will embarrass our children, " one university professor laments. "what will be the first research work of the 'human rights' centre? A defense of human rights violations in the country?" another quips.
The president whose association with EPRDF is a public knowledge is expected to name the institute's chairman soon.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Aklilu Solomon, attorney in the Kinijit trial, defects

Lawyers don't usually fit the bill of a hero. Yet 2005 gave birth to a handful of heroes from this unlikeliest of professions; their star shining brightly. Birtukan Mideksa, the most famous of all, was jailed by the autocrat for broaching freedom and anti-totalitarianism. Her fate was shared by Anteneh Mulugeta,Yeneneh Mulat, Netsanet Demissie and Daniel Bekele, young lawyers with profound conviction for the same ideals.
On February 18, at 4.00 am, security forces climbed over the barbed-wired wall of Birhane Mogesse's illustrious villa in the prosperous Atlas Hotel neighborhood, sneaked into his bedroom and pointed a gun at him while he was fast asleep. He was, we were told later, arrested for aiding and abetting the acts of terrorism. Since then this top-notch attorney in Addis had to bear the sight of the law books being shredded to pieces in the altars of the law: courts. A Swiss knife was presented in court as evidence to show Birhane's culpability in the alleged act.
Alemayehu Zemedkun, Firehiwot samuel, Woldemichael Meshesha, Teshale Aberra....All are obvious contenders to a lawyer- hero status. Enter a new name. Remember, you read it first here. Aklilu Solomon will hit the news media soon.
Aklilu's story offers inspiration. He came to the scene just after the 2005 election. With the results rigged and a state of emergency declared by executive fiat, Kinijit decided to test the independence of the country's judiciary. Aklilu et al brought a case against Meles Zenawi claiming that he breached a law when he prohibited public gatherings in Addis Ababa. A jittery Woldemichael Meshesha, the judge then, figured out a way of dodging the issue. In his decision he asserted that the issue was constitutional and; therefore, a matter for the Constitutional Inquiry Commission to decide. The commission decided that Meles didn't violate the constitution. Case closed.....But for not Aklilu.
An assiduous wooer of journalists, Aklilu explained the elementary errors of the decision to the public with remarkable thoughtfulness and insight. He later joined the election complaints investigation panel as a kinijit representative. Tireless and dedicated he is, the mockery of justice and law at that panel didn't discourage him. "I have faith with human beings. We make the system. The few bad apples in the system would lose in the end. This can't go on," he told this blogger just before the November crack-down.
That crack-down changed Aklilu's path of life completely. He became a member of the legal team defending political prisoners pro bono. When Birhane Mogesse, member of the team, was arrested, many lawyers feared the worst and left the scene. There was no stopping Aklilu though. He represented Kassahun Kebede, an official of the Ethiopian Teachers Association, who is on trial with kinijit leaders for treason and genocide. He faced constant intimidation and harassment by government agents and was told to quit. For the man with young family and a bright future, the easiest option must be to quit. Aklilu isn't one to take easy ways out. Representing an innocent union leader in the most ludicrous political trial in the country's history is in itself a torture. Going through real intimidation every day from the most brutal EPRDF agents is beyond an average person's limits of tolerance. "I am trying to ride the storm because I still believe in human spirit. I sometimes think even the judges will get it difficult to handle this mockery. It is tough," he wrote to me in one of our e-mail exchanges.
Even for him , the latest episode of EPRDF's action was intolerable. Accused of being involved in distribution of the civil disobedience calendar which landed at least 49 people in jail, the target of intimidation included his young family. It was enough. He followed other brave lawyers to exile. Now in a European country, he asks himself question all Ethiopians in the democracy movement ask: how can a country with such a tremendous potential be ruined by the most incompetent and brutal leaders?

Monday, December 04, 2006

More on Meles's message to CUD leaders

Details of Meles Zenawi's message to the jailed CUD leaders has emerged this weekend. Professor Ephrem Isaac met Hailu Sawel, Birhanu Nega, Birtukan Mideksa, Yacob Hailemariam and Gizachew Shiferaw three times in a week. According to prison sources, in the first two meetings, Professor Ephrem informed the prisoners Meles's demand that they quit politics to be released from prison. After a firm rejection from them, the prime minister sent a fresh message containing a demand from them to denounce the AFD and dissociate themselves from those who raised arms against his government including the OLF and ONLF. The prisoners told the professor that Kinijit's policy was to solve Ethiopia's problems by dialogue and engagement, not by denouncation of the country's political groups.
According to sources, the prisoners seemed to take this round of shuttle diplomacy with cautious optimism. The mediator Ephrem Issac was said to be truly non-partisan unlike the American charge d'affaires Vicki Huddlestone who tried to act as a mediator previously. This was the first time the prisoners met a mediator together.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Siye's sham trial to end soon

The prosecutor in former defense Minister Siye Abrha's corruption trial presented his closing argument yesterday. Observers say that the trial which is at its fifth year is an absolute sham. The defense will present his closing argument next Wednesday. Meles Zenawi put Siye in prison and charged him with corruption after the latter led an internal protest against the prime minister in March 2001. The protestors accused Meles of being soft on Eritrea.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Meles asks jailed CUD leaders to quit politics

Ethiopia's dictator Meles Zenawi would release CUD leaders who had been held at Kaliti prison for the last thirteen months if they agreed to quit politics. According to prison sources, Meles sent the message to the prisoners through Professor Ephrem Isaac. The prominent linguist and historian met the prisoners at least twice this week and heard a firm rejection from some of the top leaders.
On Monday, the Chief prosecutor in the treason trial, Shimeles Kemal, dropped 289 witnesses whom he previously said would testify against the leaders of Ethiopia's biggest political party and asked the court to let him bring up fifteen new ones. Trial observers said that with the current speed, the prosecutor would wrap up the case in a few weeks.
With an all out war with Somalia looming in the horizon and opposition against his leadership from the inside and outside intensifying, there are speculations that Meles will release the leaders in Kaliti although the conditions he set in his message to Kaliti which he sent through Professor Ephrem Isaac are unacceptable to the prisoners.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Great Protest

A.k. knows more than most people about the appallingly miserable conditions of the EPRDF prison. He had suffered the macabre conditions of the Ziway concentration camp. His body swarmed by all kind of bedbugs, he endured one-bread a day meals with thousands of terrified and cadaverous inmates. A powerful image still haunts him. "Rats skittered throughout our cell with utmost freedom. It seemed that they knew we were too weak and emaciated to respond to them. It was so deflating and bitter that it left most of us breathless. I feel nervous when I see rats after that."
A.K. was 23 when he was rounded up on June 8, 2005 and incarcerated at Ziway for a month. There, he went through a rapid and remarkable period of maturing. "My life's watershed moment," he called it. Yet his agony at the concentration camp was accompanied by an enduring resentment to the EPRDF. "The resentment is liberating in a way. I couldn't have been tough if I hadn't passed through the horror and scare. A life away from the struggle is now no longer sustainable. I will be fighting to make sure that nothing that ghastly happens to other Ethiopians in the future. That purpose has entered my soul as a permanent resident"
On Sunday, A.K took part in the Great Run, his first in four years. He knew there were spontaneous protests against the government in both Great Runs last year. "There was a heightened, almost erotic, sense of anticipation of opposition among the athletes on Sunday. It was godsend for people like me who are muzzled from speaking out," he recounted. The government had predicted the protests equally. This year the media had kept the event as low profile as they could do. Most of the registration of athletes was made in work places. There were reports that it had planned to cancel the event. Only the popularity of the run among diplomats and expatriates saved it.
The protest started with the outburst of few people but rapidly grew to engulf thousands. Tension gave way to courage. Songs of opposition, some silly, some funny and some dreary, were sung; anti-Meles and anti-war chants made and the release of political leaders demanded. With the security forces, not reacting, the Great Run ended up being the first peaceful and spontaneous public protest since the election. For many it was a lesson to the government that people hadn't forgotten. A. K was philosophical about the protest. In a typical Ethiopian melodramatic flourish he declared: "If those who died in 1970s and 805 for the cause of freedom here rise up from their graveyard and see where Ethiopia is now, they will think their sacrifice wasn't worth it. The fallen heroes of this generation should not feel the same,"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Protestors condemn the Somali war

The Great Run protestors are condemning Meles's declaration of war on Somalia. The slogan "Whose war is it? It is not Ethiopia's..but Meles's" is being repeatedly chanted now.

PS: All pro-democracy websites are now blocked in Ethiopia. Blogs which were unblocked for the last three months are blocked again including this blog.

Protestors reach the palace

Two groups of protestors are infront of the national place right now. One group is chanting "Meles is a thief," "Meles, release our leaders".. the other group is saying "Don't disturb him..he is chewing Chat"

Breaking News: The Great Ethiopian Run turns into protest march

Thousands of participants in today's Great Run are chanting slogans such as "Release the Prisoners", "Woyane, Dangerous Vagrant", "The repressed Kinijit is back".... Protest songs are also being sung loudly. Some of the protestors are near ETV headquarter now and are condemning the station for being a propoganda machine for the Meles regime.
(More later)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hailu Shawel; less rhetoric and more truth

Political pragmatism isn't usually inspired by exotic nature. It grows from an attempt to make sense of the quiddities thrown by human existence. Kinijit's charismatic chairman Hailu Shawel though isn't your normal pragmatic politician. He switches from idealism to the most practical aspects of politics as effortlessly as children absorb their native tongue.
The Greek root of the Latin Natura means "to give birth", to be The public life of Hailu Shawel was born of nature's inspiration. In 1958, as an adventurous 22 year old Hailu returned to Ethiopia barely weeks after he graduated from Wayne State in Civil engineering. His destination was the world's most marvelous water -the Blue Nile. There, as a chief Hydrologist in Blue Nile Investigation Project, he reviled the bewildering contrast between Ethiopia's great potential and its failure. Where the beautiful Nile snaked around with arrogance and grace, the soil was lost to erosion and wildlife decimated. Nature vanishes when development surges. But Nile's was different. Forests were turning to barren lands; mountains stripped for the coal beneath. Yet the place had nothing to show for its destruction - no factories, no water dams. It seemed nihilism had infected nature itself.
Believe the TPLF, and a mortal threat faces Ethiopia if Kinijit and Hailu Shawel lead the country. They conjure up the vision of an Amhara-dominated Ethiopia which is chained with forced unitarism. Hailu's journey from a Nile inspired romantic young man to an uncompromising, no-tosh party leader tells a different story. After his Nile adventures, Hailu spent a successful spell in different managerial positions at Shell international. An assignment to London beckoned. A middle aged man's dream job, you would say. Hailu though chose to serve his nation. In 1971, he was made the first Ethiopian General Manager of Ethiopian Roads Authority. He is the proud owner of the authority's medal of highest achievement. Ironically, it was after the EPRDF had seized power that Hailu received the medal.
It is often argued even by supporters that Hailu's political liability is his service during the Dergue. Unfortunately, as a man who isn't adept at silver-tongued art of swaying opinions, Hailu didn't adequately respond to this vexing allegation. During the Dergue, Hailu worked first as General Manager of Ethiopian Sugar Corporation and Managing Director of Wonji Sugar Company and Metehara Sugar Company and then Minister for State Farms Development of Ethiopia. Both were not political positions; and he had spent most of his time squabbling with low life cadres of the military junta. In mid 1978, 24 hours away from being killed for helping an EPRP operative escape, he was saved by a top official. Like Colin Powell, his loyalty for the country is very intense...."a loyal and disinterested counsellor who advised a bad government". That is a civic virtue rather than a folly and he should have defended himself without embarrassment.
In 1983 Hailu finally realized that it was pointless to counsel the Dergue and left to form a successful company, Shawel Consult, which is now run by his son, the affable economist Shawel Hailu.
A surprisingly shy man, with a gruff exterior that concealed his incredible inner kindness, and a detest to the double speak; Hailu isn't a politician who electrifies demonstrations and mass gatherings. He is a man who believes there are things grander than rhetoric and lie in politics. A rare breed?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Breaking news: Meles suspends air force chief

Ethiopia's dictator Meles Zenawi has suspended Major General Almeshet Degfe, the top man in the Ethiopian Air force and two other high-ranking military leaders, Brigadier Generals Kumera Assefa and Asamenew Tsgie. Army sources told this blogger that the protest in the army was intensifying and Meles was taking very desperate measures including detaining military officers.
(More on the army protests soon)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Does moral injury cause lung problems? Court witness says yes.

In a packed courtroom, a witness swears on oath. He then recounts the gruesome details of his ordeals. He claims that he allegedly received ethnic slur from a mob and was pelted by a rock. With his face full of gloom, he tells and retells the moral damage he suffered from that the mob's act. You suck your lips. This is morbid. No human being should pass through such torment and suffering.
The judge asks the witness to elaborate what it means to suffer a moral injury. The man clears his throat and says..."I had a lung problem"
You will be excused if you think this is a dark comedy straight out of the Athol Fugard. Wrong! Remember the CUD trial. That is a scene from yesterday's proceeding.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Getachew Jigi sheds crocodile's tears

Getachew Jigi, former member of OPDO and an MP who fled to the US, asked for the opposition to Meles's regime to work in unison. It is a bit rich coming from a person who created so much chaos within his party, the OFDM, and chastised Kinijit on November 4 last year; just three days after hundreds were killed and thousands were put in a concentration camps for supporting the party. Sorry Getachew, you don't have the moral authority to make such a call even from America.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ethio-EC relationship strained despite invitation to Meles....The farcical court....Crack down on former election observers

Ethiopia's dicator, Meles Zenawi, will dicuss the challenges of being a dictator on Friday November 17 - 9.30 to 12.00 in Brussels with the invitation of the European Commission as the relationship between the commission and Ethiopia is supposed to have deteriorated further.
Meles had a serious of phone meetings with José Manuel Barroso, the commission's President. Topics of discussion included Ethiopia's growing repression and the Sebhatu and Brothers espionage scanda. According to diplomatic sources, Meles blamed the head of EC delegation in Addis Ababa, Tim Clark, for the worsening relationship . Ambassador Clark whose job, according to sources, is under threat was in Brussels last week conferring with Commissioner Barrosso. He was assured that he would remain as head of delegation despite Ethiopia's enormous pressure.
The invitation to Meles came up after the discussions between Barosso and the PM.
The farcical court
This blogger has obtained the full transcript of Yesterday's Testimony against Daniel Bekele, the Oxford graduate and social justice advocate who is facing charges of Genocide and Treason. I had stopped reporting on the trial because I thought there was no point in it. Yet because the transcript shows,how comical the court is, I have translated and posted it verbatim. See how ridiculous the testimony is....

Prosecutor presented its witness.....

Examination in chief

Name : Wondwosen Seyoum Dadi, age 29 ,
Occupation: unemployed
Address N/L/S/C: Kebele 08 ( yedirow woreday 20 , kebele 42)
Do you know why you are here today ?
To testify , I will testify on Daniel”
Prosecutor: Do you know Daniel?"
Witness pointed at Daniel and said “That is him"
Prosecutor: When and where did you get to know Daniel?
Witness: I first met Daniel in mid June”
Witness: I had tea in a cafe in front of UEDP/Medihn office with my friend Goshu. While we were leaving the cafe, Daniel came from behind and said 'Boys, what are you doing?' and then encouraged me and promised me to support us. He then gave me his mobile phone number and told me to call him in case I wanted help.
What did you tell him?
I told him that I was a kinijit member and work under the auspices of the Addis Ababa Committee and that I was an organizer.
What was your task within Kinijit?
I was organizing the youth within kinijit regarding the election in Addis Ababa.
When did you meet Daniel again?
I called him on the number he gave me and we talked. Then we met at his office.
Where was the office?
Action aid. We talked about the importance of money to organize the youth and make them protest. And based on our conversation, Daniel gave me 200 birr. I took the money and organized the youth.
What were the details of your discussion?
First, we talked about the need for overthrowing the governing party. But he told me if the government used its guns, we needed to organize people.
Did you meet Daniel afterwards?
I didn't meet Daniel afterwards, After the riots, I went into hiding. But I had seen Daniel having conversation with Tamrat Tarekegn on the street once.
Did you know whether Daniel was the member of CUD?
I did not know that Daniel was a member of the organization. But he told me that to get votes respected we need to rebel against the government. The rebellion continued but it was not fruitful. Therefore, I had to hide.
What did you do after that?
After the hiding, I gave myself up for the government. I did that to Woreda 21 police. Then I was taken to Sositegna police station and then to Maekelawi. Then I gave my testimony to the police and I was told to appear when I would be summoned.

Cross examination

Daniel Q. Where were you organizing people?
I was organizing around Gotera.
Who were the people or youth you were trying to organize ?
I do not remember people whom I was organizing.
You don't even remember a single name?
Yes, I do not know a single person by name.
Because I was organizing people who were passing by. We didn't meet in offices. I didn't have office. I spoke to them on the street.
How do you organize people without knowing them? What if you would meet a policeman?
I organized like I said
Where did you hide?
In a village called Salo
Where is this place ?
Here in Addis
Could you tell me the address of the house you were hiding and the name of the owner of the house?
I didn't know the address and the name of the owner.
So you just went into a house you didn't know and hide there?
After the hiding, you said that you gave yourself up at Woreda 21. Who was the police you gave yourself up,
I do not remember him
So you just went there voluntarily without being summoned and gave yourself up? No when I returned from hiding, I was told that the police were coming at home and looking for me so I gave myself up.
Then what did you do after you went to the police?
I told them about the matter. The policeman heard me but he wasn't recording it and then he took me to Maekelawi.
Here Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam Araya(lawyer for Daniel) interjected. He asked the court to tell the witness to face the judges not the prosecutors who were showing eye signals to the witness.
Shimeles Kemal: I am working for the respect of justice and law more than the defense attorneys are. The defense is defaming the prosecutor. The court should take action on the defense attorney.
Adil(The presiding judge): If there is any eye signal, we will follow it and you should also follow it.

Witness: Then I testified at Maekelawi and was released.
What account did you give first?
The police first considered me as a suspect.
So were you released on bail?
No I was released without bail.
You were released without bail eventhough you were a suspect
When were you called back as a witness?
I went back again
So you went there twice, voluntarily?
Then Daniel asked for the witness to show his kebele Id to the court. The judges saw it. Daniel asked to see it himself. The prosecutor objected. He argued that only the judge could see it. The judge said he could read the details to Daniel and started reading it. The ID says the witness worked at Luigi.
Daniel: Didn't you say that you have no job?
The one in the ID was where I worked
So why didn't you return the ID?
The prosecutor objected for this line of questioning
Judge Leul warned Daniel to concentrate on the basic issues

The court questions the witness:

How many times did you testify before the police ?
How many times have you met Daniel?
Once at the cafe and then when I phoned him.
So when you met Daniel at the cafe, you were with Goshu. Where was Daniel sitting?
He was a little far from us
What were you talking about?
We were talking about how the government rigged the election and the necessity of revolting against the government.
So was daniel hearing this?
You said it was a cafe
Was there a music?
So if there was a music, wouldn't it have prohibited Daniel from listening to what you were talking about?
No, he was not far
So for how long had Daniel conversed with you?
He heard what we were talking about and followed us when we were leaving the Cafe. He conversed with us for two minutes and gave me his phone number.
Crack down on former election observers
EPRDF has started fresh crack down on formed CUD election observers in Addis Ababa. Two observers from woreda Nine and another one from Wordeda Two were dragged out of their homes and arrested on the night of November 7 . They haven't yet appeared in court. Well-placed police sources said that the EPRDF was looking for CUD's "underground group" and the detention of people with CUD connections would continue unabated.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Was Teddy Afro framed?

Inside the New York Cafe, one of the trendiest places in Addis, a tall and lean young man with the tiniest of fingers was sitting sipping orange juice with a straw. A woman in blue jeans and thong sandals was besides him. Minutes later, I watched as a person of the same age, well clad, walked through the cafe as if both of his knees hurt and joined the duo. Their warm exchange of greeting was quickly followed by a chat about Jose Mourinho and Chelsea. They then jumped to the city's hottest topic: Teddy Afro.
"I think he did it. Why should we doubt it? Don't we know his life style?" the orange sipping man said.
The woman had none of that. She interjected angrily. "What I know is what they are up to. He was framed. He denied the accusation in court and there is no way I would believe them than him. These bastards!" The grave expression showed her disgust towards the government.
The conversation heated up. The man who was arguing the story's truth was cornered by his friends and ended up warning against sentimentality. He took a deep breath. "We shouldn't confuse our political convictions with reality," he advised.
Wondering all over the city, this exchange was one I had seen in Taxis, cafes, offices and even sports bars. His love and reconciliation preaching songs had elevated Tewodros Kasahun to the status of a national hero unlike any musician before him. And he is a slick operator; acting and speaking in a way that piles up his good will. The EPRDF with their perchance for hating individuals with man-of-the-people image tried to silence and discredit the singer who is affectionately called "Teddy Afro". They tore his posters in the city. They unleashed a smear campaign on his life style. In what is now dubbed as the Sheraton Scandal, the wife of Ethiopian Ambassador to the US, Samuel Assefa, punched the hotel's ticket seller for refunding money to those who returned their New Year party tickets after Teddy cancelled his show. After the popular singer left to the US for a music tour, some former TPLF fighters accused him of defaming them and police issued an arrest warrant.
This blogger was among the many who thought Teddy made a stupid decision when he returned back home two months ago. It was clear that the EPRDF were just bidding their time to go at him...revenge, for EPRDF, is a dish sweet eaten hot or cold.
The hit-and-run story was as suspicious as it could get. Police report runs like this: Teddy hit an 18-year-old street boy near the Sheraton Addis after mid-night with his 2001 BMW M3 and run away. A taxi, which was working nearby, chased the car, flew past it and when it tried to block the road Teddy crashed it and escaped. Then he drove to the CMC area, hit a pole. He was driving under the influence of alcohol. Police came to his home and arrested him four hours after the incident was alleged to have happened.
For those who know cars and the hilly Addis Ababa, it is a surprise to learn that a Lada taxi can chase and outpace a BMW being driven by a drunk driver. That nothing serious happened to the crashed taxi and its driver is a point worth pondering over. Miracles do happen, huh? Journalists at Fortune and Reporter could not even identify the taxi driver. After three accidents, two of them major, one also wonders how Teddy survived without a scratch. There must be revolutionary ferries shielding him from danger.
Teddy, of course, denied the hit-and-run story to a court although one comical newspaper tried to make us believe otherwise. According to his friends, the singer swore to God that he did not commit the alleged crime.
Whether he was framed or not, the moral of the story is clear. Except people like Louis Michel who think there is a democratic process to support in the country, not even children take the Ethiopian justice system seriously.

-The BBC got Justice Teshale Aberra's story slightly wrong. Justice Teshale was the President of Oromiya Supreme Court.

-There is a new blogger in town - another ferenj adds a voice. See

Monday, November 06, 2006

Talk of the town

Did he? or did he not? Teddy Afro's hit-and-run accusation has turned into a point of controversy in Addis. Ethio-Zagol examines the popular singer's story later.
Also coming up: Fresh crack down on former CUD election observers in Addis Ababa; EC-Ethiopian controversy heating up; Is Teshale Aberra a supreme court president(whatever has happened to Kemal Bedri)?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Message from Kaliti warns against individual tyranny in Kinijit

Jailed Kinijit leaders in kaliti are the latest in the host of groups and people to attempt to solve the crisis in the diaspora Kinijit. A message from Kaliti obtained by this blogger today warns kinijit leaders in diaspora that they should adhere to the rules of procedure within Kinijit International Leadership. The message was communicated to all KIL members through the appropriate channel, this blogger learnt.
The message is clear that Kinijit International is a committee that answers to the collective leadership of Kinijit in Ethiopia. It states that the democratic rules of procedure of Kinijit Ethiopia which gives no veto power to an individual leader should be applicable to the KIL. "All decisions by the committee must be reached through democratically acceptable procedures," the message says.
The most interesting part of the message is the one which denies the existence of a special letter written to Shaleka Yosef from Kaliti. "There are reports that there was a letter written to Shaeka Yosef by Engineer Hailu Shawel. Neither in content nor format was the letter that of the (chairman's)," it states. The message expresses its grave concern as how such a document that is not approved by Kinijit leadership and is not communicated through the normal channel has ended up in the public realm with all sorts of harmful implication to Kinijit as organization and its collective leadership. It promises to look into the whole matter and will announce its finding soon. "If any message send to and received from Kaliti isn't made through the appropriate channel, it isn't acceptable," the message concludes.
Seminawork doesn't have a partisan interest in the affairs of Kinijit Diaspora. The loyalty of the blog is to the elected leaders of Kinijit who are languishing in jail. Their will is the bond of the blog. This news was written to make the intention of the Kaliti leaders about KIL clear as there are different conflicting rumors and reports about the matter.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

EC intervens to save Yalemzewd

After an intevention from some high level EC officials including the president, José Manuel Barroso, Yalemzewd Bekele, the human rights lawyer, is released on police bail at 7;25 pm local time today. She was taken to woreda 8 police station and then told that she was released on police bail.
This is a result of citizen action!

Yalemzewd released

Yalemzewd Bekele is released twenty minutes ago on police bail from woreda 8.
(more latter)

Yalemzewd taken to a torture chamber

Yalemzewd Bekele and Fasil Assefa were taken to the notorious torture chamber at Woreda 8 where the businessman Almemayehu Fantu is detained and tortured. Both are at a high risk of torture. All people detained there in connection to the distribution of the civil disobedience calendar have been tortured.
Call to action:
-Tell the EC to save its employee from torture. The head of delegation in Ethiopia hasn't done enough.
1. Head of Delegation to Ethiopia
Tim Clarke
Tel: +251-11-661 2511
Fax: +251-11-661 2877
Main switchboard phone number: +32-2-299 1111

2. Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid
Louis Michel
Tel: +32-2-295 9600 or +32-2-295 2718
Fax: +32-2-292 1485
Main switchboard phone number: +32-2-299 1111
-Inform Amnesty International that there is an imminent risk of torture to Yalemzewd Bekele and Fasil Assefa
Martin Hill

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Comedy in parliament and court

After judge Woldemichael Meshesha leaked the report of the Inquiry committee set up by parliament and a six hours video which showed when the members of the inquiry debate and cast their votes last Wednesday, the government scrambled to issue a tonned down version of the report to parliament today. Woldemichael's report which was confirmed by the chairperson of the inquiry committee, Frehiwot Samuel, accused government of massacring demonstrators. The tonned down version presented to parliament stated the same number of people dead and injured as the leaked report but blamed the killing on the lack of democratic culture.
Meanwhile in the court, which is hearing the public prosecutor's case against CUD leaders, social justice advocates and journalists, the prosecutor presented eight witnesses. One of them testified that she was a member of AEUP and was present in one meeting when the leaders of the party were inciting people for a struggle against the government. When she was asked to name some members of AEUP by the judge, she started with Dr. Birhanu Nega. The packed court cascaded into laughter. Birhanu Nega was a founder of keste Demena, one of the other three parties that formed a coalition with AEUP to establish the CUD. The same witness also said the abbreviation UEDP stood for Ethiopian Democratic movement.
There was more drama to come. Another witness who claimed to be a businessman testified that he was present when Eng. Gizachew Shiferaw's house was searched by the police. He was asked where he worked and he answered that his shop was infront of the Gizachew's house.
Judge: Are you sure you worked in front of the defendant's house
Wit: Yes

When Engineer Gizachew who was not defending himself joked that the compound in front of his house belonged to Bole Secondary School, the confused witness said he didn't mean that he worked in front of the house but in a small shop a few blocks from the house.

Family denied access to jailed Ethiopian human rights lawyer

Family members of Yalemzewd Bekele were denied access to the human rights lawyer. Yalemzewd who was arrested at the border town of Moyale last week was brought to Addis Ababa today and put at the notorious Mae'kelawi Prison.
This blogger learnt that she hadn't taken food for the last two days and was physically weak when she arrived at Addis Ababa today with the two other individuals who were arrested with her at Moyale. Her family who took food to her late in the afternoon were denied access to her. The EC delegation in Addis Ababa where Yalemzewd worked as a lawyer hasn't yet tried to contact her.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Latest on Yalemzewd Bekele

Yalemzewd Bekele, Fasil Assefa and another unnamed individual will be back to Addis Ababa tomorrow. The Federal police will be in charge of investigating their "crimes". Sources said that they will be at a more risk of torture under the custody of federal police. The EC delegation in Addis Ababa, Yalemzewd's employer, isn't following the case seriously despite Amnesty International's warning that she may face torture and reports in this blog that the Ethiopian Government was spying on the institution before the expulsion of the two diplomats and the arrest of Yalemzewd. This blogger has identified the senior official who asked Yalemzewd to leave the commission's office while she was staying there to avoid arrest. According to EC sources, it was the delegation's chief Timothy Clark. He assured her that he would follow her case with government officals but didn't do anything before her arrest.
Fasil Assefa is identified as a Unity University Management Information Systems student. He was arrested while sleeping at his hotel. The Ethiopian government falsely claimed that Fasil was taken into custody while he was trying to cross the Ethiopian border with Yalemzewd.

See more on EC espionage here and here

Call to action:
Please tell Ambassador Timothy Clark that his institution has a responsiblity to take Yalemzewd's case seriously and protect her from state violence.
-Head of Delegation to Ethiopia
-Tim ClarkeTel: +251-11-661 2511Fax: +251-11-661 2877
-Main switchboard phone number: +32-2-299 1111

Saturday, October 21, 2006

More on EC espionage

Yalemzewd Bekele appeared before a local court at Moyale today even though courts in Ethiopia are normally closed on Saturdays. The judge granted the police a five days remand. According to security sources, an investigator named Adane who arrived from Awassa after she was arrested is following her case with Tamrat Genanaw, security personnel. She was taken to a police station after the court apperance where she was told to sleep on a floor without mattress and blanket. It was reported that she was firm and not talking to investigators eventhough they tried to roughen her up. She was held at the immigration office before being taken to the police station.
Meanwhile, more reports about the EC espionage are coming out. The man who was investigating Yalemzewd was carrying a photo of her and her expelled boss eating Pizza the day she was stranded at the delegation's office here in Addis. Another photo of her and other delegation staff was also taken in a farewell party held for an expatriate staff. Both photos were, according to security sources, taken by Sibhatu and Brothers, the firm in charge of the delegation's compound security and handed over to Ethiopian security.
The Meles government will be in serious trouble once the EU investigates the espionage claim.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Alert and Breaking News: Ethiopian Government's biggest conspiracy and espionage exposed

Ethiopian government's espionage against European Commission is exposed. The Ethiopian government claimed on Thursday that it had expelled two EU diplomats who were trying to smuggle two Ethiopian fugitives who committed serious crimes. According to Security sources, the two diplomats weren't arrested at the border town of Moyale but more than 157 miles away from the border while they were traveling back to Addis Ababa. They didn't try to cross the border. The car was stopped near the town of Agre Mariam. Yalemzewd was arrested when she was checking at the Moyale immigration office as a regular traveler to Kenya. She was told to hang on and plain-clothed security guys picked her up and took her to a detention center. Fasil Assefa the man who was arrested with her was taken from Koket Borena hotel while he was sleeping. He wasn't trying to cross the border.
Security sources said that the whole episode was pre-arranged. When police issued an arrest warrant against Yalemzewd on Thursday she stayed the night at the compound of the EC delegation in Addis Ababa where she was working. The delegation's security was contracted out to Sibihatu and Brothers, a company owned by Mimi Sibhatu's Family and managed by her brother. The information that she was staying at the compound was passed by this company to government security. According to our security sources, Yalemzewd's conversation with the two expelled diplomats and Tim Clark, the delegation's head was being tapped by the company and passed to the Ethiopian security. Her subsequent stay at the house of Bjorn Jonsoon, her immediate boss was also reported by Sibhatu and Brothers to the Ethiopian security.
On Wednesday the Ethiopian security had advanced knowledge(from espionage in the EC delegation's office by Sebhatu and Brothers) that the two diplomats were taking Yalemzewd to the border. They thought the diplomats would try to take her to Kenya, crossing the border. Instead the two diplomats dropped her at the town of Moyale where she met Fasil who was seeing her off. She checked out hotel at 9 am. Fasil stayed there. She went to Moyale Immigration Office and showed her passport. She was detained at the checking point.
When the security personel who were waiting for her knew that she was not with the diplomats, they immediately reported it to Addis Ababa where decision was taken to arrest them on the road. "The Ethiopian government has spilled over pieces of evidence that it was spying the EC here and there,"our security sources said, "any serious investigation on the part of the EU would reveal that easily."
Sebhatu and Brothers is also in charge of the security of other key foreign interests in Addis Ababa and international hotels including the Hilton.

Alert for international journalists:
The expelled diplomats will be in Brussels today. They should be asked where they were arrested.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A prominent human rights campaigner arrested

Yalemzewd Bekele, a prominent human rights activist and a lawyer working for the European Commission in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, was arrested on the morning of 19 October by the Ethiopian authorities, while trying to cross the border to Kenya with another Ethiopian. Police issued a warant of arrest against Yalemzewd last week accusing her of distributing a civil disobedience calendar. According to police sources, both of them are held at the Ethio-Kenyan border.
Meanwhile, police claimed that it had arrested two European Commission staffers,Bjorn JONSSON Head of Finance and Contract department of the delegation in Ethiopia and Enrico SBORGI who works at the good governance department, for trying to help Yalemzewd escape.
(more latter)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Meles rejects observer's report

Ethiopia's dictator, Meles Zenawi, rejected the interim observation report of Michael Elman, European Commission's observer, regarding the trial of CUD leaders, civil society members and journalists. In a meeting with the Ambassadors of the EU Troika and the commission's representative here in Addis, Timothy Clark, Meles lambasted the observation report as biased and unfounded on facts. The observer had criticized the way the court conducted the trial as unfair. Meles who rejected the report of the European Election Observers Mission last year requested to meet Mr. Elman, a renowned British human rights lawyer to make his case against the report.
When the election report by EU's mission went against him, Meles started a personal assault against the head of the mission, Ana Gomes.
Will he again write a letter to the editor of the Ethiopian Herald attacking the human rights lawyer?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Breaking News: Alemayehu tortured... Save Alemayehu!

Prominent businessman Alemayehu Fantu was severly tortured. He appeared before a court yesterday barely able to walk from the torture. Alemayehu was arrested last week. Police said he was suspected of distributing a calendar which contains the pictures of imprisoned CUD leaders and a call for their release. He was arrested after Mimi Sibhatu's Iftin published that he master-minded the printing and distribution of the calendar. A task force comprising eight investigators has been formed to follow up the distribution of Brehanu Nega's book and the calendar. All suspects who were detained by the task force were tortured. At least three were killed.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Police arrest a local businessman

Alemayehu Fantu, owner of the famous Fantu supermarket chains in Addis Ababa and a rising young businessman, was arrested by the Federal Police on Thursday. Police took the action after Mimi Sibhatu's Eftin reported that he was involved in distributing calendars. The former VOA journalist, Mimi, is personally witch- hunting people who she thinks have connections with the opposition.
Alemayehu was taken to a notorious torture chamber near the place called "Enkulal Fabrika". He appeared in court on Friday. The court remanded Alemayehu in custody.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ginbot 97

We know their dream;enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in verse-
Wondwossen Gutu and Shibre Dessalegn
Wassihun kebede, Getnet Ayalew and more
Now and in time to be,
wherever the green, yellow and red is worn
All changed, changed utterly:
A horrible beauty is born.

(To the young Martyrs of the Ethiopian struggle to democracy)
Adopted From W.B Yeats' 'Easter 1916'.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Government moves to cover up political murder

Unknown agents ordered the family of the murdered young Kinijit activist, Wondwossen Gutu, by a federal police member on Sunday not to give evidence about the killing to another group or people. After taking Wondwossen's photos and some of his personal belongings from his home yesterday, these agents told family members that giving evidence about the murder would harm them; close friends of the family told this blogger.
Wondwossen Gutu(pic), 16, joined Kinijit as a fresh high school student during the election time; actively distributing the party's manifesto and messages among students. After the imprisonment of the leaders of the party, Wondwossen joined the Tegbar League activists. He was organizing protests and boycott of exams in his school, Medihanealem. In the beginning of September, he was spotted distributing the civil disobedience calendar which called for the release of Kinijit's leaders. Friends said that he had managed to escape from federal police members who were looking for him several times. On Sunday, a policeman shot dead Wondwossen while he was returning to his house after watching a football game in a nearby sports cafe.
Yesterday, TPLF's mouthpiece, The Reporter, tried to cover up the political murder. It claimed that the policeman shot Wondwossen because he was acting as a suspect and had some disagreement with him. Quoting the notorious Kinijit hater and torturer, Commander Girma Kassa, Head of Addis Ababa Police Commission's Criminal Investigation Bureau, the paper reported that the policeman was arrested. One of Wondwossen's friends contacted by this blogger said that the policeman was a federal police member who had failed to capture the young activist in previous attempts; and not the city's police officer as stated by The Reporter

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Another EC snub

Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of European Commission, skipped a scheduled signing ceremony with Ethiopia's illegitimate dictator, Meles Zenawi, for the 155 million euro granted by the EU to the road project in Ethiopia. He also cancelled a joint press conference with the prime Minister, diplomatic sources told this blogger. The Commissioner's request to meet the CUD leaders in kaliti was turned down by the Prime Minister who said that the EPRDF Central Committee had decided that the prisoners would not be visited by foreign dignitaries until the trial is over. Diplomatic sources said that Barroso, the former Prime Minister of Portugal, was annoyed with Meles's response. The two had hours of one-on-one talk about the prisoners and democracy in Ethiopia. Barroso was said to be very frank about Ethiopia's lack of democracy to TPLF officials.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Ethiopia's dictator snubbed by EC

European Commission's high level delegation led by the President, Jose Manuel Barroso, declined Meles Zenawi's breakfast invitation. Although the official reason given by the delegation was that it wasn't part of their schedule, sources said that it was a polite rebuke of the dictator's repression in Ethiopia.
The delegation met the Prime minister at the scheduled time latter.
Wondwosen Gutu, a Medhanialem Secondary school student, who was an active Kinijit organizer at the school was killed by a federal police member yesterday. Wondwossen, 16, was involved in distributing the civil disobedience calendar which called for the release of political prisoners. He was shot dead by the policeman while he was returning home after watching an English Premier League game in a nearby sports cafe.
Wondwossen........ your sacrifice won't be in vain.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Teased by bloggers

On January 19, 2006, Andrew Heavens wrote Calm down, it's Timket. The whole report was about how the holiday was so joyous. He was at the Timket scene and he didn't see any protest and violence. The same day, it was reported by the other web media that at least two were killed (Addis Ferenj put the number higher) and dozens injured. When some in the comment section of his blog made him aware of what happened, he tried to resist. After the Sub-Saharan informer published the story, Andrew wrote "It looks as though things weren't quite so joyful and peaceful outside the epicentre of the Timket celebrations in Jan Meda where I was happily taking photos. Today's Sub-Saharan Informer has the full report. "
Fast forward Meskel. Andrew Heavens thought my "Breaking News:Thousands of Soldiers swarm the Meskel square as revolutionary spirit engulfs Addis" was exaggerated. That news was written before the celebrations. A day before the celebration at 8 pm Meskel square was sealed off and thousands of soldiers were training on how to disrupt protest... and hundreds of people were watching the drama. In the morning (the day of celebration), all the five roads leading to Meskel square were closed. Andrew obviously didn't see the obvious. More astounding was his report of how all he "was able to detect from the people I spoke to was a general desire to keep their heads down and celebrate Meskel." In fact the rumor about a Meskel protest was rampant throughout Addis before and on the day of celebration. People came as far from Nazret to see what would happen. In a place I was standing, the people behind me were talking nothing but the expected protest. There was not a single person whom I know who was not either excited or scared about an impending protest. Andrew obviously didn't care to listen to enough people or he was happily taking photos. If I were in Andrew's country and missed this, I would have been told to "learn English".
On another note, Urael, a blogger I consider more seriously than Andrew Heavens because he certainly understands what people behind him talk about, got suspicious of me since "my blog" was unblocked here; and now with the appearance of Bereket Simon at Bahir Dar. First, it wasn't my blog which was blocked. It was, the host google site that was shut down here. It was tens of blogs which couldn't be accessed from here. When was unblocked, so were all. My blog wasn't an exception.
As to the Bereket story, without revealing my sources, I can confirm to Urael and others who doubted it that indeed Bereket left to Israel after a stroke, had an intensive treatment, come back home and stayed for two days at the army hospital and was taken to Bahir Dar and, then, Mekele for two conferences. In Bahir Dar, he appeared in the conference briefly and left after TV pictures were taken. Unusually for him, he wasn't an active participant in both conferences. Urael could have done justice to his criticism of my story if he would have done more research at the Bole airport where Bereket was openly viewed by a lot of staff members when he was being taken by a wheel chair. I am, however, ready to eat my words, if there is a credible contrary account to my Bereket story.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Police clashes with scores of protestors

Scores of young protestors clashed with the police at the Meskel ceremony in Addis today. The security at the Meskel square was the tightest ever. Abuna paulos left the procession in a hurry without making the traditional speech of the patriarch. "Thief, Thief," was chanted when he left the place. The protestors pelted police cars and NOC fuel stations with rocks and shouted a call for the release of CUD leaders. Some were driven to the Haya-Hulet area and others to the Stadium area by police men and soldiers who were in their thousands. Plain-clothed security personnel were also involved in beating up and arresting protestors. In the stadium area, at least twenty were detained.
Eskinder Firew of the VOA had more on the protests on today's Amharic News Magazine.

Breaking News:Thousands of Soldiers swarm the Meskel square as revolutionary spirit engulfs Addis

Posters with the photos of Hailu shawel, Birtukan Mideksa, Birhanu nega and other CUD are posted in some places in Addis. In shola, Aroge kera, some places of Merkato, slogans like "Yenetsanet Goh Siked", "Kinijit rises" etc adorn walls. There is a revolutionary spirit engulfing the city.
All roads leading to the Meskel square are blocked and thousands of soldiers are camping in and around the place. There was a massive stop and search operation throughout Addis Ababa yesterday after 6 pm. The government seems to panic that there will be a demonstration at the square today.

Friday, September 22, 2006

CD Calendar lands Forty in jail

Forty people who were arrested for possessing the civil disobedience calendar were brought before two courts in Addis Ababa by the police. At the Federal First Instance court in Arada, people, young and old, appeared this morning. The police claimed that they were arrested while attempting to incite violence and insurrection and asked for a reman in custody. The court granted the request of remand. Some of the accused were detained for just holding the Calendar which called for civil disobedience to get polityical prisoners released. Not one of the actions called for in the Calendar has a violence element in it.
See EMF for the contents of the calendar

Monday, September 18, 2006

The story of the Civil disobedience Calendar

The English called it super Sunday. It was the day when four of the best English teams had crucial matches against each other. In Addis Ababa, yesterday's games were turned into a public event. Thousands gathered at the Meskel square to see Liverpool lose narrowly to Chelsea and Arsenal beat Manchester United. Y, a piassa boy, traveled to Meskel square with his two friends to cheer on his beloved Arsenal.
At half time, someone passed him a colorful calendar which contained the pictures of imprisoned kinijit leaders and a call for civil disobedience. Before he finished going through the actions of civil disobedience which were called for , the kid who passed him the calendar was slapped by a plain clothed security guy and was dragged to a Toyota car parked nearby. Today five rag-tag kids who were arrested while distributing the calendar at the Meskel square appeared before court with bruised eyes which revealed that they were being tortured at the police station last night. They were remanded in custody for the next seven days.
The civil disobedience calendar was first distributed in thousands on the eve of the new year. It contained 14 actions, including the withdrawal of money from government banks, that protestors were advised to take to get the Kinijit leaders released without harming themselves. The TPLF got overtly crazy about the calendars that in some places where they were highly distributed , it began a stop and search operation. Sources claimed that the calendar was printed and distributed by knijit international leadership and some highly motivated Kinijit supporters in the diaspora. Its effect is quite astonishing. Distributors say that the demand has risen so high that a one birr calendar is being sold for more than 3 birr. More than 200 thousand copies have been already distributed all over the country, say sources.
Y thought that some of the actions called for were so simple that he started executing them right away. This morning he went to the commercial bank of Ethiopia and took away all of the money he deposited there as a saving. Taking out his money, he thought, was the least he could do to the struggle, the imprisoned leaders and the kid who put his life in danger to sell him the calendar.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Political prisoners protest limitation on visitation right

The CUD leaders, social justice advocates and independent journalists who have been in jail for the last ten months have refused to see their spouses and children in protest of the government's retriction of their visitation rights. Since last week friends of the prisoners and family members(excepting spouses and children) have been barred from visiting the prisoners. This new limitation was imposed after the new year message of the political prisoners was published in internet journals and republished in a local newspaper. The prisoners have decided to cut all their contacts with the outside world by refusing to see their spouses and children until the TPLF government which illegally arrested them accepts their demand.

Spy Kids

As promised, here is the list of student spies who are assigned to report protest leaders in high and elementary schools.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

TPLF puts its tentacles into high schools

Secondary and elementary schools are the new targets of the totalitarian TPLF regime. The government has unveiled its new plan of licensing teachers. According to this plan, the teachers who aren't licensed will not be allowed to teach in schools throughout the country. Sources at the Ministry of Education claim that the license is planned to be given to only those who are willing to be members of the EPRDF. The government has already barred non-EPRDF members for teaching civic education; the subject that TPLF thought made school kids rebel against its rule and propaganda. Some 118 students in Addis Ababa high schools and secondary schools have been given intensive training on spying and controlling their fellow students. These students are given the title of "Sinesiriat Tekotatari" (Enforcers of Discipline).
This blogger has received the names of the students and will post it and expose them to fellow students tomorrow.
Since the second day of the New Year teachers have been forced to grueling political propaganda sessions with government cadres under the guise of training. The sessions will continue for ten more days.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hi-Tech suppression: part two

This blogger reported about the government's plan of hi-tech suppression and the formation of a group of defense engineers and spies trained in Israel to conduct the warfare. Another group is also created under the Information Security Project. The project is headed by:
Tesfaye Birru; Former GM of the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation
Colonel Teklebirhan Woldearegay
Ato Abiy Mohammed
The project has hired three additional software IT experts. Among the tasks of this project is monitoring e-mail exchanges, it was learnt.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Happy New Year. May 1999 be a year when democracy and freedom triumph in our beloved nation.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Conditions worsen for jailed Kinijit leaders as the spirit of freedom revives

The Paranoid TPLF government has ordered prison officials to restrict the visitation rights of the CUD leaders, Civil society members and journalists who have been in jail for the last ten months. Today hundreds of friends and family members of the prisoners who went to visit them were turned back at the gate of the Kaliti jail if they didn't prove that they were either the spouses or the children of the prisoners. Some spouses were asked to show marriage certificates to enter the compound. The prisoners returned back to their cells in protest after they learnt that their families and friends were not allowed to visit them.
Top TPLF members were said to be very angry after a local newspaper, Addis Admas, published the story of the prisoner's new year message, according to sources. Addis Ababa is a city under seige. The three thousand newly recruited policemen and hundreds of soldiers roam around the city. Random Car stop and check searches are being conducted in some places. There is a sense of anticipation amongst the populace as the the Kinijit movement is slowly reviving and gaining momentum.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Breaking News: Defections, defections, defections

Inquiry commission decides that the government used excessive force against demonstrators
Two commission members leave to Germany with the report
Woldemichael Meshesha, the Vice president of the Federal First Instance Court was one of the most loyal servants of the TPLF regime. In May last year, he made a decision in favor of Meles Zenawi in case of Kinijit v. Meles Zenawi where CUD represented by Birtukan Midekisa and Yeneneh Mulat contended that the PM's ban of demonstrations was contrary to the constitution. A month latter, he sentenced a pro-CUD lawyer to jail for criticizing that decision. But even for a loyal judge like Woldemichael, what Meles did in June and November when he ordered the killing of scores of demonstrators was an assault to conscience.
At the end of November last year the Parliament established the commission of inquiry which was entrusted with the investigation of the June 8 and November 1 killings. It was thought that the investigation would be a white wash. The commission was carefully constituted with members who were supposed to be loyal to the Meles Zenawi government. Woldemichael was was one of the ten members of the commission. Three months into the the investigation, five members resigned from the commission citing conditions of their health. They were immediately replaced and the commission went on with its work. In May, it finalized the investigation. The result was shocking to the government. Eight of the commission members including Woldemichael decided that the government had used excessive force to quell the June and November demonstrations. Meles Zenawi personally asked the commission to reconsider its decision. The members refused. One member of the commission said he better die than play with the blood of innocent victims.Wolde's passport was confiscated. He was also watched very closely by the government.
In Mid August Wolde left Ethiopia to a neighbor country and then to Germany with the help of active Kinijit International Members, carrying the report of the commission in his hands, where he joined another of the commission members, Firehiwot Samuel, the president of the Supreme Court of SNNP. Firhewot's story is as epic as Wolde's. Although ever willing to work in the system, Firhewot was known for his compassion and morality as a judge. Midway into the investigation, he got three scholarships from three different universities in Europe. After the decision of the commission where Firehiwot sided with the majority, the government disrupted his plan for study. Newly married to a beautiful fresh graduate from Awassa University, Firehiwot's stable life was turning upside down. The government assigned him a driver who he thought was spying on him. His movements were carefully scrutinized. He decided he had to leave the country quickly. With utmost secrecy, Firehiwot arranged his travel and left to Germany in July. He was soon to be followed by his wife.
The result of the investigation was supposed to be presented to the Parliament and published before its summer recession but the PM prohibited the commission from publishing it. It was feared that it would never see daylight unless Meles Zenawi lost power. Yet the defections of two of the commission's most important members have given hope that the world will see the truth through the report.
Coming soon....
-The full report of the commission
-Crisis in the Justice system, resignation of Judges

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bereket suffers a second stroke

Bereket Simon, the PM's advisor, had a second stroke in the Israeli hospital he was being threated. Family and friend fear the worst for the man who was one of the leaders who tried to thwart Ethiopia's democratic revolution which was sparked by the events of last year's election. Almost all of his famil and some top TPLF members are at his bed side in Israel.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Meles back after visiting Bereket in hospital

Meles Zenawi visited Bereket Simon in Israel yesterday and returned back this noon. His advisor is still in a very critical condition, with serious speech impairment. Sources said that Meles visit confirmed the fear in TPLF circles that he may die.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Update on Berket Simon's health

Bereket Simon's brother flew to Israel today to attend to the prime minister's advisor who is bed stricken. According to sources, Bereket is still in critical condition. His wife who returned back from Israel on Wednesday was sobbing when she told friends about his condition. Bereket was rushed to hospital last week.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

To Mesfin Woldemariam: the single most important Ethiopian academic and intellectual of our time

Tomoka Coffeehouse, ten minutes walk from Piassa, is no Café Griensteidl. It is hardly well-furnished and spacious. There are no billiard tables or chess sets. Marble-topped tables usually strewn with newspapers plunk inches away from each other barely allowing a space to stand up and sip the small cup of coffee served on a steel tray. Yet Tomoka has an intriguing feel of a 19th century Viennesian coffeehouse. Its tables are as much a platform for ideas as coffee. It is where brilliant youth with precocious talents for analytical thinking and reasoning grapple with philosophy, politics and economics.
Professor Mesfin Woldemariam used to have, like Emmanuel Kant, a routine morning walk to Tomoka where he would be surrounded by the smart and fiercely combative young intellectuals, who weren't even born when his seminal works on famine and food security were published, and argue about everything on earth, from post-modernism and Derrida to Tomism . The spirit of Tomoka is Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto ; nothing human is alien to me. No debate, however, is without an Ethiopian reference. Professor Mesfin always raised the possibilities of the construction of a self one can be proud of; and where discussions on personal identity in the Ethiopian context lead is predictable: a heated exchange on ethnic politics. Mesfin was not an "in most things unity" Augustinian. As a universalist with a passion for individual rights, he wasn't an intellectual to make a call to arms in defense of ethnic politics of whatever kind. But in his young companions, he didn't look for conformity to his views. Instead he wanted to see the honesty of their views and the consistency of their logic. He, sometimes, pushed the perverse sides of the argument, brought up ideas totally contrary to his and defended them with the zeal of a devil's advocate. In that professor Mesfin's method appeared like the Socrates method on its head.
Of course, at the end of the debates Mesfin wanted to get as many youth to share his passion for individual rights and non-violence. It is these two positions that make him a gadfly in Ethiopian politics post 1970s which has been dominated by the revolutionary generation which grew up idolizing Che Guevara than Ghandi; Marx than Mill. He was vilified by the violent student protestors of early 1970s who counted their legendary teacher among them but felt betrayed when he rejected their "Fano Tesemara", a violent revolutionary slogan. Mengistu hated his steadfast liberalism, calling him a CIA agent. The TPLF who weren't used to the rigorous academism and intellectualism of the Mesfins demonized him when he dissected their half-baked Marxism and ethnic politics and laid it to its bare bones. Beyond academics, his staunch defense of human rights led him to create the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, procreating and initiating people to rites of the defense of liberty and equality. Where death was culture, he argued for the abolition of death penalty. Where government was supposed to be untouchable, he exposed with rigorous research the government's willful and wanton violations of human rights.
The influence of great dissenters will be felt when their ideas and views sip through the layers of time and reach the subsequent generations. Professor Mesfin has among other things saved the principles of non-violent struggle and the defense of individual rights from extinction in Ethiopia with an exemplary, frank and patient devotion. The youth in Tomoka and elsewhere are making it mainstream. Idea lives beyond the incarceration and death of its holder.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Breaking News: Bereket Simon in critical condition

One of the architects of the November repression and the stolen election prior to that, Bereket Simon, is in critical condition. He was rushed to a hospital in Israel last Wednesday evening accompanied by his wife, W/o Assefu. On the morning of the same day, Bereket's aides were spotted taking hard currency from the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. Bereket's wife returned to Addis Ababa yesterday to attend her one-year old baby child. Sources said that she would be returning back to Israel soon. Her husband was said to have Hemiplegia (partial paralysis) in his left side.
The Prime Minster's media advisor is one of the most detested EPRDF politicians in the country.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Gimigema" in the army

TPLF has started a intesive "gimigema" in the army. Yesterday and today, in the army camps all over the country, officers have been exposed to a thorough investigation of their political positions and their relationship with other officers who defected the army. This is, army sources say, part of the new strategy to deter army officers form taking measures of protest. "The army is in turmoil. It is nearly out of control and there is no way for Meles to get its control back,"one army officer told this blogger.
After General Kemal Gelchi's sudden defection, tens of junior and senor officers followed suit. Although most of the defections are made by army officers of Oromo origin, others from different ethnic groups are joining in. Attempts by TPLF to control that hasn't been successful. Army informants say that a debate about the army's role in the change in the country's political sytem is raging throughout the army. Secrete meeting are being held. The TPLF army security is getting it difficult to identify the leaders of the democracy movement in the army. "If a civilian protest happens this time and there are killings by the army, it will have serious consequences within the force," the officer said.
Read ethio-zagol for more information on the army

Friday, August 25, 2006

Zenawi's cadres fan ethnic clash at Jimma university

TPLF henchmen in the Jimma university today lit an ethnic clash between Tigray and Oromo students. The student cadres who eye witnesses said had been intimidating and harassing other students the whole year today started the clash after they severely beat an Oromo student. Rumors then spread that the student was beaten by students from Tigray. A lot of innocent Tigrain students were caught up in the act of retaliation by some Oromo students. An identical incident happened at the Bahir Dar university a day before.
In Jimma, gun shots had been heard the whole day. The federal police which tried to enter campus late afternoon was pelted with rocks by the students.

Breaking News: Hailu Shawel's health deteriorates
CUDP's charismatic leader, Ato Hailu Shawel's, health was deteriorating, police hospital sources said. The wild fluctuation of his blood sugar level had shocked doctors. In one test the level rose from 135 to 265 in a matter of hours. "This makes his situation very unpredictable. He can't be allowed to return back to prison right now," a medical source stated. The chairman also suffers from walking problems caused while he was in the wet and cold Maekelawi cell in November. His eye problem has also recurred because of lack of medical attention.
(More on this story latter)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Army security moves to identify dissenters

TPLF is attempting to reverse the growing unrest in the Ethiopian army by identifying and clearing out dissenters. The army security has started distributing questionnaire which asks officers to fill their grievances. The officers are allowed to fill the form anonymously but sources said that their hand-writings and signatures have been already collected by the security to verify the respondents after they fill the forms. This form is being distributed by an army personnel unit which is entrusted with carrying out evaluation appraisal. According to the sources, this is done to dupe army officers to feel free and express their grievances without fear. Massive army defections are expected in the coming months as the spirit of freedom and democracy which has engulfed the nation since last year's election finally moves into the army.
Solitary confinement watch
Muluneh Eyuel, Sisay Agena, Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage are still in a solitary confinement which has no sun or artificial light and with the worst hygienic conditions. They are able to go to toilet only once a day under armed escort and couldn't meet their families and friends.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Call to action: Muluneh Eyuel brutalized

On August 11, 2006, the Secretary of CUDP, Muluneh Eyuel, who with other leaders of the party is falsely accused of treason and attempted genocide by the Ethiopian government, met the American Charge d'affaires in Addis Ababa, Ambassador Vicki Huddlestone. The ambassador told Ato Muluneh that the way forward for Ethiopia was reconciliation between the government and the jailed leaders of CUDP. When Muluneh reminded the Mrs. Huddlestone that his party had always stretched its hands for talks, the ambassador replied that it is still possible to have talks if he and his colleagues in writing accept the country's constitution. It was reported that Muluneh angrily said to her that she wasn't serious enough to be an honest broker.
A week after the meeting, a prison security personnel came to Muluneh's cell and order him to pack his belongings. He then took the 32 years old prisoner to solitary confinement where there are no lights and the sanitation is extremely poor. Muluneh was in the same jail in April and May and suffered serious eye-sight problems due to the lack of light in the confinement.
Prison sources indicated that Muluneh was put in a solitary confinement as a punishment for strongly disagreeing with Mrs. Huddlestone.
Required actions:
-Call, fax or e-mail the American State Department and inform them that a prisoner of conscience is being seriously brutalized by the Ethiopian government as a direct result of his interaction with the representative of the American government in Ethiopia
-Call, fax or e-mail Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and inform them about Muluneh's ordeals.

PS: Ambassador Vicki Huddlestone is currently on vacation in the US.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Professor Mesfin suffers from Pneumonia

Doctors who carried out medical tests confirmed that professor Mesfin is suffering from pneumonia. He has loss of appetite, decreased activity and breathing difficulties. When two days ago he was taken to hospital, eye witnesses said that he could barely walk. Pneumonia is a common lung infection at the Kaliti jail where hundreds of people live in one cell. Police hospital sources claimed that the 76 years old academic and human rights activist is now in a better condition
The 32 year old CUDP secretary, Muluneh Eyuel, is put back to the solitary confinement. It was reported that he had strong words for US charge d'affaires Vicki Huddlestone when she asked him to make a written acceptance of the constitution as a precondition for reconciliation negotiation. He was later told by prison security that what he did to the diplomat was unacceptable. The solitary confinement is, according to sources, a punishment for that. Muluneh was in solitary confinement where light was unavailable in April and May.
The number of political prisoners being taken solitary confinement is increasing. Yesterday, Editor of Ethiop newspaper, Sisay Agena., was also taken to kerchelle and put in solitary cell. CUDP council member, Andualem Arage, and journalist Eskinder Nega have been in solitary jail for three weeks now.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Breaking News:Professor Mesfin in hospital

The founding father of the Kinijit movement and its most authoritative moral leader, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, was raced to hospital by emergency ambulance last night after he collapsed suddenly in his cell. This ardent exponent of the Ghandi style non-violent movement was put in intensive care unit. Sources at the Police Hospital where other jailed Kinijit leaders including Eng. hailu Shawel are undergoing treatment confirmed professor Mesfin's health problems. It was learnt that his condition has shown improvement since he was hopitalized.
(More to come)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

TPLF's knee-jerk reaction for the defection of top officers

The defection of officers and rank and file members is causing a stir in the Army. TPLF cadres called a meeting of officers Yesterday. The meeting was held at "Arategna Kifle Tor Gibe" where two days ago, leaflets were circulating calling Army members to follow General Kemal. The cadres raised four issues which revealed the desperation of TPLF.
1. Blocking Eritrea TV and radio
The cadres told the officers that it is the ER media that is causing dissension within the army and it has to be dealt with. Some army officers opposed the suggestion claiming that the Dergue had tried to do the same and had failed.
2. Those who defected were corrup army officers
The cadres wanted to put a spin to the defections.
3. Being watchful of those who circulate leaflets which call for dissensions and defections within the army.
According to some army officers who attended the meeting the leaflets which were massively distributed at "Arategna Kifle Tor gibe" had shocked the army intelligence.
4. The army should respect the dressing code and discipline.
This was suggested as a way of guarding against those who distributed flyers posing as civilian workers within the army.
The meeting was concluded without concrete decisions.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kinijit is back!

The American Charge d'affairs is still engaged in reconciliation efforts. According to close sources, she is hoping that the jailed leaders will initiate talks with the government. Prison sources confirmed that she talked with Birtukan Midekisa last Friday and told her in detail about the problems of Somalia and the need to solve internal differences to do away with the threat of "Islamism in the Ethiopia". Birtukan replied that she didn't want to see war with Somalia but Kinijit had no control on the situation. The Charge d'affaires was adamant that there is a way out for Ethiopia and they should think about starting a reconciliation process. Sources said that the Charge d'affairs is thinking in terms of the Mandela line where he initiated talks with the government while he was in prison. It was reported that the government has shown a gesture of will to the talks but doesn't want to initiate them. Mrs. Huddlestone had also talked with Dr. Brehanu's wife, Dr. Nardos Minase, about the possibility of talks, according to Embassy sources. Vicki is back to US today and will start a full-fledged effort for the negotiations when she returns to Addis.
The reconciliation efforts by the American representative show that Kinijit, the spirit of the people, can't be sidelined from the Ethiopian political process as the government thought. The excitement in Addis and elsewhere about freedom has not been this high since the November repression with Birhanu's book acting as a catalyst.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The power of a single book

Stories on Birhanu Nega's book from prison
Molla Wolde, a charming young man, used to work as a newspaper vendor around the Shola area. The closure of tens of private newspapers after the massive political crackdown in November last year by the Ethiopian government left him without a livelihood. He started to work as a barber in his village earning 8 birr a day. That is significantly less than that the average daily income he used to get when he was a newspaper vendor at the height of the election controversy.
When Molla heard the story of Dr. Birhanu's book changing hands in the city without reaching to book sellers, he thought it would make his day. He tracked a distributor through his former newspaper network and got hold of four hundred books. He sold them in hours at 45 birr though the cover price is 35, making him 4000 birr richer in a single day. "It didn't seem right to profit form this book. But I had played a role in making it reach to people and It wasn't bad either if I got some money out of that venture," claimed the confused vendor. Little did he know that the price of the book had hit triple digits in some areas of the city.
Birhanu Nega's book has already broken all kind of sales records before even reaching the book stores. According to sources, in four days, more than 10,000 copies were sold. The reaction was equally stunning. From people who passionately kissed Birhanu's picture on the back cover to those who stayed all night reading it and failing to appear on work the next day, moving stories abound. "I have never been so engrossed and so impressed with an Ethiopian political literature," a man working in one of domestic NGOs told me. "It is still amazing that Birhanu writes of love and compassion even after what they did to him. He is an incorrigible optimist." Another civil society member had a more egotistical reason to enjoy the book. "I had supported the prisoners. I had felt that they were the one with truth and justice in their side. I had given the prisoners all the benefit of doubt when other opposition members disagreed with and splinted from them. This book vindicated me," he proudly boasted.
Molla recounted the enthusiasm with which people are buying the book. "They thank me. They hail me, for bringing the book to them. They say they love Birhanu. One lady read the dedication when I gave her the book and cascaded into tears," Molla said. Discussion groups are being formed in different government offices. Prayers to the jailed have started in protestant churches. Young people talk about the book's content and its price in villages. Even in the Prime Minister office the book was being sold without the bosses detecting it. It shows the amount of detest the people have to EPRDF.
People sensed the humility of the author and its compelling moral message. Some called the reading process painful. They had a feeling of guilt. "I am not a kind of person who usually questions about the meaning and value of life," a slick and well-clad computer programmer told me. "When I read the book, I really felt ashamed of myself. I questioned whether my life right now was worth living."
A famous footballer was walking in the Legehar area when a vendor approached him with books to be sold. One of those books was Birhanu's. He learnt the price was 100 birr and complained. The vendor showed him a big book written about Emperor Haile Selassie and asked whether which book the player preferred. The player's choice was obvious. "You see I sell the book on Haile Selassie for 100. Should I sell Dr. Birhanu's for less," The vendor stated. It was as if the vendor was saying that he knew the value of the book and he would set up the price despite its cover value. The player bought the book for 100. He didn't want to regret for not having it in case it was unavailable in the market in the coming days.
Such enthusiasm was shared by Addis Admass. Since the November crack down, Addis Admass, the only paper unaffiliated with the government, was just struggling to exist. It stayed clear of political stories. Yesterday, Birhanu's book was given front page coverage. The editorial was also inspired by the book's optimism and argued for people to see light in the darkness like Birhanu.
If Birhanu wrote to share his memoirs and opinions, the book went beyond that. It had put life back to the struggle for freedom and democracy. Wonder what a single book can do.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Blogs unblocked

The weblogs on which were blocked from being accessed are now unblocked. Today is the third day where Ethiopians are accessing the blogs which are very critical of the government without using anonymous proxy servers. Other pro-democracy websites and web magazines still remain blocked.
Ironically this is the time, ETW, one of the most critical and witty bloggers is back from her extended vacation.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Breaking News: Vicky Huddlestone meets prisoners;asks for reconciliation

The American charge d'affaires here in Addis, Vicky Huddlestone met detained Kinijit leaders yesterday and asked for a negotiation for reconciliation which will lead to their release. According to prison sources, Mrs. Huddlestone offer included an agreement by the leaders to abidse by the constitution, start negotiation and be released from jail. The offer was rejected by the prisoners as it wasn't unconditional.
Although the charge d' affairs talked with several leaders separately, the resonse from all of them was the same. The leaders told Mrs. Huddlestone that they had already accepted to work under the constitution on Kinijit's election manifesto and won last year's election which was held in accordance to the constitution and, therefore, the request for them to agree their acceptance of the constitution was irrelevant. They also demanded that the reconciliation had to be national, including several other actors in the country's politics, to bring peace and democracy in Ethiopia.
EPRDF is currently under serious internal and external pressure. Protests are spreading to the army which insiders say is on the brink of a big split. The adventure of TPLF's army into Somalia hasn't been supported by most Ethiopians. Congressman Donald Payne's visit this week epitomized EPRDF's crisis. The ranking democrat in the house foreign relations committee told the prime minister in black and white that he had to release all political prisoners.
Kinijit leaders were adamant that Vicky Huddlestone should see them together if she would make another visit.
After a long absence, Adebabay seems to be woken up by Birhanu Nega's book.

Update on Hailu Shawel's health

The charismatic leaders of Kinijit, Eng. Hailu Shawel, is still in intensive care unit. His blood suger level went very low yesterday again. Medics think external experts should carry a blood test and check ther cause of the fluctuation of his blood suger level. The kaliti security which is in hospital guarding the chairman yesterday denied such test from being carried out.
(more latter)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Girma Bekele and his cynical lie

A man called Girma Bekele, a Kinijit chapter leader at San Jose california is circulating a letter which casts doubt on the authenticity of Birhanu Nega's great book from prison. This is one of those letters.
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Alike you I have a guarded pesimism about the authenticity of the author. It is not that Dr. Berhanu is incapable of writing the book, however, the condition in the prison is such that every visitor who wants to talk him and others are watched carefully and passing hand written materials are unthinkable. The question that begs an answer, therefore, is how was it possible to sumuggle the manuscript from his prison cell and pass it to others for publishing. A while ago there was a letter allegedly written by Birtukan Demeksa from Kalti prison but later on that story was widely dismissed as false and author of the letter was someone in the outside. In today's political atmosphere there are many actors and make over artists who cash in our desire to know the condition of the prisoners and their thinking. I am afraid this could be the work of such actors. If not, well and good and kudos to Dr. Berhanu, but we can never b e sure of anything.

It is wise to be mindful of Woyane's 51 page directive that aims at dividing the opposition through disinformation and blackmail campaigns. We should be careful not to accept every news being circulated at its face value. If there is one person who can give us a gilmpse of what is like to be in Woyane inhumane prison condition, I expect Prof. Mesfin, a prolofic and resourcesful writer, to have written something like this.


I don't know who Girma Bekele is. From the letter, I can understand that he is a cynical lier and a pathetic person who has no respect for the man who is paying an unbelievable sacrifice to the cause of Kinijit in Ethiopia, his family, his friend and the thousands of Ethiopians who are reading the book and keeping it like a bible. A "woyane" or any person other than Birhanu Nega can't write about his private conversations with the wife of the great man, DR. Nardos, Hailu Shawel, DR. merera, Tim Clark, Aureila Brazil, Chris Smith. The book is full of such private and sometimes intimate converstaions with various people. A woyane can't write what prof. Mesfin and Birhanu talked privately in their cells. A woyane can't write Brihanu's family life. Mr Girma, when Ethiopians in San Jose and NA who looked up to you as a leader get hold of the book and read it, they will know the kind of leader you are. They will know that you are a lier ; they will know you don't belong to a party built by such honest persons as Hailu shawel and Birhanu Nega.
In an attempt to cast doubt to Birhanu's book, you called Birtukan Midekisa's letter fake. That is disrespectful to people who put their life and liberty in jeopardy and try to rekindle the Kinijit cause from prison. They are not a kind of people who sit at a comfortable home in San Jose and peddle false information. Both Birhanu and Birtukan will be out sooner than latter. Then you will tell them right on their face that they didn't write them. In his book, Birhanu called this a "cynical intellectual culture." Kinijit got popularity fighting your kind of people, Ato Girma.

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