Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Comedy producer arrested

The attack on free speech by the EPRDF continues unabated. Daniel Fisseha, executive producer of "Oppressed Jokes", was arrested on Saturday. "Oppresssed Jokes", the brilliant collection of works of stand-up comedy, had become instant hit in the country last year.

The jokes by up and coming comedians focused on social and political issues, including satires on the personality and rule of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's dictator. Art critics considered the collection as the first of its kind in the country in content and form.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Torture at Mae'kelawi

The arrest and torture of young Kinijit supporters in Addis Ababa is intensifying. Endalkachew Melese, 23, a second year IT student at the Softnet College was arrested by Plain-clothed security officers near Adwa Square in Piassa on December 15, 2006.

Tortured and abused at Maekelawi, he had appeared four times before the ad hoc remand court at Mexico Square. The court, which is designated to look into issues relating to political opposition, had remanded him in custody on all occasions. His last appearance was this morning.

Endalkachew was an election observer for Kinijit in Woreda 19, kebele 56. After his arrest, he was held incommunicado for three days before his family tracked him. They were allowed to deliver food but were banned from communicating with him. Police told the court that Endalkachew was suspected of "cooperating with the Patriotic Front to stir up unrest in Addis Ababa". Forty-two supporters of Kinijit are held at Maekelawi, accused of the same crime as Endalkachew.

Zenebe Tadesse, 34, married with three children is one of the detainees. Police officers took him from the premise of Matador Tyre where he worked as a security guard on the day Endalkachew was arrested. Today he appeared before the remand court with his shoulders obscenely swollen from severe torture. He told family and friends that several times, he had been kicked to the ground and different policemen had stood on his neck causing stern pain. "I will die in few days," he was heard saying.

Hirut Kifle and Fantaye Beyene are also suffering from torture at Maekelawi, according to sources. Another individual, whose name sources said was Daniel, has been detained in the same prison, accused of trying to foment dissension in the city. He is registered as a resident of the United States.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Defections continue as political dissent remains a crime in Ethiopia

Ex-journalist Fasil Assefa had joined the growing number of members of the Ethiopian private press living as political refugees in Kenya. Fasil, who was arrested and then released in October in what is now referred to as "The Yalemzewd Incident", left the country two weeks ago after police warned him that his case wasn't dropped. He was accused of conspiring to foment dissensions by distributing the civil disobedience calendar. He was caught at the border town of Moyale.

Fasil was one of the tens of people who ended up in jail for distributing the calendar. Hundreds had been routinely harassed and intimidated. Major Ameneshewa Tahlew, leader of the Ethiopian National Volleyball team, fled to Kenya last month after the constant abuse he got from EPRDF security officers in connection to his involvement in the distribution of the calendar.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Political dissident shot to death

Police shot dead a young political dissident on Wednesday at Rufael, one of the northern suburbs of Addis Ababa.

Four federal police officers dragged Tesfaye Tadesse, 25, from his friend's home at 9:45 pm and shot him thrice on his chest and twice on his back. His family found his bullet-straddled body latter.

Tesfaye a notable kinijit organizer at his neighborhood had been arrested in June and November 2005 when EPRDF embarked upon massive crack down of dissent in the country. His friends said security men had repeatedly harassed him after he was released from detention in November.

Tesfaye's autopsy revealed that he had lost three of his front teeth and one eye due to severe beating. The police officers took him to a dark area in the village and beat him, eyewitnesses claimed. "When people living in the village started surrounding the police officers who were beating him, they shot him and drove away," one witness said.

Tesfaye's friend from whose home the deceased was taken said that he was instructed to stay at the house when he asked the police officers where they were taking his friend.

Tesfaye is the sixth Kinijit organizer killed in Addis Ababa in the past week.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Breaking news: Protestors call for the release of political prisoners

A crowd of young people celebrating the Holy Epiphany denounced EPRDF's rule. The protestors shouted slogans, which called for the release of Kinijit leaders and other political prisoners in front of the palace. A few demonstrators were heard chanting, "Woyane is thief!" as palace guards watch them alertly.

The celebrations were low key this year with thousands of people preferring to stay at home, opposing the political partisanship of the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Somali media under attack

The Ethiopian invasion of Somalia is ending up freedom of speech in Somalia. Irin reports that the Somalia Transitional Government(TG), which many regard as Ethiopia's puppet, has closed three popular Mogadishu radio stations, HornAfrik radio and television, Shabelle Media Network, Radio Voice of Holy Koran and the offices of international news station, Al Jazeera.

Somalia had some of the freest media in Africa. The Islamists who were labeled as enemies of freedom hadn't tried to close the radio stations which are under attack from the TG now.
Horn of Africa media watchers make parallels between the current media attack in Somalia and what has been going on in Ethiopia for the last two years in Ethiopia. "This is Ethiopian style onslaught on freedom of the press. There is Meles Zenawi's finger print all over it, " an Ethiopian journalist said.

See Irin for detailed news


Shimeles Kemal replaces Zenebe Bourka
The chief prosecutor in the treason and genocide trials of the popular CUD leaders has been appointed as the head of Lega Research and Study Department at the Ministry of Justice. The post was held by Zenebe Bourka who was demoted to a lower position by EPRDF last month.

Shimeles now hold four government posts. He is the head of Ethiopian Broadcast Agency, Deputy Attorney General, Chief Prosecutor of the treason trials and head of Legal Research and Study Department. The piling responsibility of Shimeles kemal in the country's justice system shows EPRDF's unpopularity among legal professionals.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Breaking news: Talks between Meles and Kinijit leaders break down

The Ethiopian dictator has broken the negotiation he started with Kinijit leaders in Kaliti, EZ learnt. After the Kaliti prisoners meet mediators seven times, the talks fell through as Meles kept on moving the goalpost every time. His last demand was for the CUD leaders to admit their guilt.
Meles first asked the leaders to quit politics. The demand was utterly rejected by the prisoners. Then he demanded them to dissociate themselves from AFD and condemn OLF and ONLF. The mediators were told that CUD's policy was not to condemn Ethiopian political organization but to create a process, which accommodates them.
In the subsequent two meetings, there appeared to be a glimmer of hope that there would be a solution as Meles reduced his demand to "an agreement to work under the constitution". Prison sources confirmed that the negotiations had become hopeless after the Ethiopian army swiftly defeated the UIC in Somalia. In the last three discussions, Meles returned to the two old issues of condemning OLF and ONLF and seeking pardon after admitting guilt. The prisoners had previously rejected both demands.
"It seemed Meles was emboldened by the victory in the Somali war and the international recognition he got as an ally in the war on terror," one prison source said.
In the later stages of the talks, the greatest Ethiopian sportsman, Haile Gebresillasie, joined Professor Ephrem Isaac as mediator.

Friday, January 05, 2007

We are now the "crusaders"

All wire services reported that Ayman al-Zawahri, Al-Qaida's No. 2, has called for the opening up of a new front against Ethiopia.
AP reports him as saying:

  • I call upon the Muslim nation in Somalia to remain in the new battlefield that is one of the crusader battlefields that are being launched by America and its allies and the United Nations against Islam and Muslims. Launch ambushes, land mines, raids and suicidal combats until you consume them as the lions and eat their prey

I wonder what people who, without supporting Meles Zenawi, called for a limited intervention in Somalia would say. This war has turned Ethiopia into a "crusader" nation and enemy of Islamists every where in the world. Most importantly, we have become a "legitimate" terror target for Al-Qaida, an organization which has evolved into a state of mind.

Will Meles Zenawi save us from those who have bombed New York, London, Madrid, Islamabad, Cairo, Nairobi, Dareselam and Baghdad? Is Ethiopia's security, which has been deliberately turned into the witch hunter of kinijit supporters, capable of identifying and foiling terror threats? Can our economy sustain "war on terror"?

Meles Zenawi has committed the worst foreign policy disaster in Ethiopian history. The spillovers of his act are now going to have major impact on the lives Ethiopian troops and civilians. It is maddening that Addis Ababans who have suffered the brunt of Meles Zenawi intensive repression will face spate of suicide attacks because of the stupid act of the violater of their rights.

Old habits die hard

It seems that the Ethiopian government which is one of the top persecutors of journalists in the world is taking its bad habit to Somalia. The freest media in the horn of Africa is now under serious attack from the Ethiopian forces and their Somali transitional government allies. The RSF reports:

  • ...Abikar, the Voice of the Holy Quran's correspondent for the Lower Shabelle region, was arrested in Baidoa on 1 January by forces loyal to the transitional federal government, who seized his journalistic material. It is not known where he is being held.
    The Reporters Without Borders partner organisation in Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), said Abikar was reportedly suspected of spying. He was arrested once before in the district of Diinsor and his material was confiscated on that occasion as well. Following his first arrest, he was freed as a result of the intervention of the deputy defence minister
    . "

And Garow online reports:

  • Another Somali journalist who went on the trip to Afgoe with Garowe Online reporter Abditatah Ahmed tried to take pictures of the Ethiopian troops en route to Mogadishu. Ethiopian soldiers immediately surrounded the journalists and used physical force to intimidate the reporters, Abdifatah wrote.
    The Ethiopian soldiers asked the Somali journalists who they were and what they were doing in Afgoe.
    “After we told them we were journalists, they [Ethiopian soldiers] laughed at us and said they don’t recognize the Somali press,” Abdifatah wrote.
    The soldiers then destroyed the camera and ordered the journalists to leave the area immediately.

Old habits die hard. What will the next move be? Accusing Somali journalists of treason and genocide? Shutting down somali blogs? Registering internet cafe users?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

University instructors anticipate dismissal

Addis Ababa university's instructors are holding their breathe as reports that "several" will be dismissed circulate throughout the campuses. At least seven will be dismissed from the law faculty, sources told this blogger.
Meles Zenawi has long considered the university as a bastion of opposition to his rule; and recent events have increased his suspicion to the country's biggest and most famous university. Many opposition party leaders are either the university's current members or had been teaching there in the past.
The university's administration, led by Andreas Eshete, has been giving most scholarship opportunities abroad to Meles loyalists in the university in the hope that they will fill the void left by dismissed instructors once they return from their studies.