Saturday, March 31, 2007

Breaking news: Protesters demand the release of political prisoners

This just in...Some runners who participated in the Women's Great Run here in Addis flashed the V-sign and called for the release of political prisoners at the finishing line.

Talk and truth

(By Ethio-Zagol)
EPRDF's officials are calling and having meetings with the people of Addis Ababa. Many people are avoiding the meetings. The agenda is: Narrowing down the rift between Addis Ababans and EPRDF.
We can't accuse the front for trying to talk to people. Yet I am told that in most of the meetings, the cadres listened to what they want to listen; not what the people told them. Their answers were pre-prepared . Dictators always stir clear of the truth. EPRDFites have the same bad habits.
If they want to make peace with the Addis population, they should be strong enough to hear the truth, face the music...and then change.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Precedent set

(By Meqdela)
I have followed trials and court processes for more than two decades. Yesterday's was the most amazing.

I have never seen judges start reading decisions and adjourning the court before they go through the whole decision.

I have never seen evidences repeated in rulings. I know evidences are summarized. Contrary to Ethio-Zagol's statement, yesterday's was not a summary. It was repeating whatever the prosecutor had already presented.

I have never seen a not-so-sick sick judge. Judge Leoul who was the allegedly sick one had a cold. Who amongst us interrupt work because we have cold.

I have never seen a trial where so many Ferenjis get disinterested and sleep away while observing. Why would they come to the court room if they aren't following the case attentively; however boring it might turn out to be?

I have a suspicion that the judges haven't yet reached a decision. They were on fishing expeditions to delay that.

Postponed again

The trial is postponed again. This time for Monday, 2 April. The court presented the summary of the Audio, Video and documentary evidence today. It said the rest of the prosecutor's evidence will be summarized and presented on Monday.
The court was packed, tens of people couldn't get sits. The judges said that they wouldn't continue in the afternoon as one of the judges was sick.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Meles and comparative politics

(By Ethio-Zagol)
Today in Parliament Meles said:
Parliament can not decide on how to go into war and how and when to get out. It doesn't happen in any country.
The same day the American Senate passed a legislation that set deadline for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. See the New York Times report here. What a great student of comparative politics is Meles!


(By Ethio-Zagol)
Last week a lot of people believed that the court would give its verdict. It was postponed again. I think there will be a decision tomorrow. The judges seemed pretty sure last week that they would do that. But who knows? May be one of the judges is ill.
I will as usual come up with the news tomorrow morning(local time). Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blogging for the future

(By Ethio-Zagol)
The blockage of this blog in Ethiopia has chipped away close to 7% of its readers. On a normal day, readers in Ethiopia constitute 11% of the total readership of the blog. It means only 45.5% of readers in Ethiopia use proxy servers to access Ethio-Zagol Post. Yet I am actually unconcerned. These are my reasons:

1. Slightly more than 100 thousand people use the internet in Ethiopia. It is one of the lowest in even in Africa. When I set out to start this blog and later on turn it into community blog, I have had no illusion that it would have immediate impact inside the country. My plan has always been for incremental impact. If projection is made based on the expansion of internet in Ethiopia in the last two years, almost 300 thousand people will be using the internet within five years. That isn't much. I, however, expect the growth to be even bigger despite the incredibly hopeless government policies. What does that mean? This may be refuted in a more formal and rigorous research; but I anticipate two consequences. Roughly...

-More people will read political blogs
-More people will know how to use proxy servers
Even with the population growth taking into account, this and other political blogs(with the current trend of bloggers quitting in droves, only few may exist) will have more readership and; therefore, influence.

2. As computer use and access becomes more and more prevalent in schools and colleges, most of the new users will be young people. It may be late; but I have no doubt that within some years Ethiopia will have its own YouTube generation. As election 2005 results have shown , EPRDF has big, big, big generational problem. This new generation is more open, more free and more outward-looking(dazzled by the political and economic systems and achievements of other societies). That is where this blog meets the new generation.

Ethio-Zagol Post is for bloggers and readers who believe in building democracy bottom-up. Empowering people and building democracy needs patience and resilience. Those two values are in abundance here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blogs disappear again

(By Ethio-Zagol)
Surprise, is now out of sight here. Why would they block a blog which publishes stories about Miscalls and Kenyan web watchdogs? Ahunis enezih sewotch cherkavhewin tilew abedu
Of course, blogs on have disappeared once again.

The legacy of Meles

(By Ethio-Zagol)

I would like to be remembered as someone who got Ethiopia off to a good track, a democratic one, one ... where Ethiopia's proverbial poverty begins to be tackled in an effective way. I'd like to be remembered as someone who started the process

Those were the words of Meles Zenawi in the embarrasing Al Jazeera interview. Meles came really close to acheive that legacy before the May 2005 elections. In the end, Meles the calculative power-monger won over Meles the rational and he turned the country into graveyard and torture chamber. He is now threatening to share the legacy of Mengistu Hailemariam.
I still think that there are enough Ethiopians who are willing to forgive him(not forget though) if he takes Ethiopia into a different path. He can start with:
-Opening the political space...Let the right to free speech, demonstration and assemby be respected
-Releasing all political prisoners and start political dialogue which will lead to reconcillation
-Stop persecuting social justice and democracy activists
-Allow more freedom for civil society
-Admit past mistakes and wrongs, including the politically motivated killings of thousands of Ethiopians
-Call free and fair elections
The ball is in your court Mr. Zenawi.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Man tortured to death

(By Ethio-Zagol)
Gondor resident Tsegaye Ayele was tortured to death by the Federal police. Tsegaye was arrested in December last year and taken to Addis Ababa's Maekelawi prison where he was severly tortured, resulting in serious damage to his brain. He was hospitalized last month. All attempts by doctors at the Ras Desta Damtew hospital to save his life were in vain as he passed away today.
The arrest and torture of Tsegaye Ayele and 59 others who were accused of trying to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means was first exposed on this blog. After huge international pressure and the intervention of courts all of them were released last week.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Up the Creek Without a Paddle: Interview with Meles Zenawi

(By Mengedegna)
Wow, how sweet the fruits of a well-directed question! This interview made my day.

I particularly enjoyed the section on human rights. It seems the ever-eloquent Meles couldn’t dig himself deep enough on this one. His rebuttal to the question regarding the the recent US state-department report (which detailed the findings of independent inquiry commission, and the circumstances which forced both the commission chairman and vice-chairman to flee for their lives) was my personal favorite.

That is not the case…I have not read it, but I know having read the department
of state reports on human rights for over a decade now that they do tend to get
things wrong.

Umm….ok. And then, his delicate teatment of the Somalia situation:

Well let's get the facts straight first, we did not fight a proxy war on behalf
of the United States…in the initial phase before we intervened, everybody,
including the United States was warning us that we might walk into a trap and a
quagmire and that we should think twice before taking steps.
Why he is hell-bent on taking all responsibilty for the growing debacle in Somalia is beyond me, but the Americans really couldn’t have orchestrated a better exit statement themselves. Nicely done. (Perhaps the choice of “scapegoat” over “pawn” is merely a matter of personal preference…?)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Meles on Somalia...What a dumb dictator!

(By Ethio-Zagol)
When Meles Zenawi is challenged by a real journalist, the theory about his "great mind" becomes highly unsustainable. We know what happened when Stephen Sacur of the BBC's hard talk put him to test. Andrew Simmons a journalist of highest integrity was in Addis Ababa recently and took Meles to task. See here how dim-witted he could be.
Of course, there are challenges in Mogadishu, but the rest of Somalia is very
stable and even in the case of Mogadishu, taking into consideration the fact
that this is a city of 2.2 million people, awash with guns, the type of
security challenge we currently face are not all that unexpected or

There are mortar attacks on the national palace and the airport almost every day. Ethiopian soldiers were killed and dragged on the streets of Mogadisu. This isn't really alarming security challenge for Meles.

If one assumes Somalia is equal to Mogadishu, then, of course, that could be a
correct assessment, but I believe Somalia is not equal to Mogadishu. The rest of
Somalia is absolutely stable and even in Mogadishu, while there are these
challenges, these are not insurmountable challenges. You talk of daily attacks
on the Ugandans, as far as I know, not a single Ugandan soldier has been killed
since arriving in Mogadishu. That gives you an idea of the scope and scale of
the attacks which understandably are exaggerated by the media.

Almost a fifth of Somalians live in Mogadishu. It is both the commercial and political capital of the country. ALthough it isn't equal to Somalia, It is the most important part of Somalia. Most of the wars in the war lords era were fought in Mogadisu. Without the capital's stability, there can't be full stability in Somalia. There are reports that at least 40 thousand of the city's residents have fled since the insurgency started. Is the benchmark for stability the death of Uganadan soldier? How about the refugees? How about dragged bodies of Ethiopian soldiers?

Now, this assertion that they brought peace to Mogadishu, in some ways is very
similar to assertions by some, that Hitler, for example, instilled, enforced
peace and stability in Germany after the turmoil in the Weimar republic, but the
way he did it was such that it would be obnoxious to everybody and could
not be sustained.

Now this is an intersting statement to make. Those who credited Meles for bringing enforced peace should take note.

That(somalians think Ethiopia is an occupying power) is not the
overwhelming opinion of the overwhelming majority of people in Somalia.

Did he get that from the same TPLF "pollesters" who predicted a sweeping election victory in May 2005?

Had it been the case, we would not have rooted out the Islamists in four days
with a very limited contingent and we would have had fire burning throughout
Somalia, that is not the case.

How does he expalin America's swift conventional victory in the Iraq war and the subsquent nation-wide insurgency? Is it the case of Iraqis, discoverning in the spur of the moment what they hadn't at the start of the war?

The Horn of Africa is much safer now than it was in December, in spite of
the conflict in Somalia and the tension in Eritrea, the Horn of Africa is doing
very well economically the bulk of the population lives in Ethiopia and Ethiopia
is doing very well economically, we are going ahead with all our plans, so I
don't think ... I can't say the Horn of Africa is very stable and safe but I
cannot say that it is deteriorating either.

Kidnappings, thousands fleeing from their homes, torture, mortar attacks on puppet leaders....That is the story of horn of Africa since December. God save us from what Meles thinks is the worst.

More on Meles's view of Ethiopia's human rights situation on Monday.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Is there something behind the adjournment?

(By Ethio-Zagol)
After the court adjournment today, speculations are rife as to the fate of Ethiopia's mostt famous and respected prisoners of conscience. The fact that two of the mediators were seen at the PM's office yesterday has added fuel to the speculation. Is the sham mediation still on? Will Meles budge? Some diplomats in the court room today seemed to think so. I am not sure. As The Economist said....Meles has got used to weilding an iron fist.

Breaking news: Court Adjourned again! again!

(By Ethio-Zagol)
The trial of CUD leaders, civil society members and independent journalists is adjourned again today. The trial was over in three minutes.

Judge Adil didn't appear today and the other two judges raised the complexity of the case as a reason for not finalizing the decision before today. The court was adjourned until March 30.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sham trial resumes

(By Ethio-Zagol)
The treason and genocide trial of CUD leaders, Civil society leaders and independent journalists will resume tomorrow. Many observers expect that the court will decide whether the prosecution has provided prima facie case against the defendants.

According to this blogger's sources, some EPRDF supporting lawyers and judges including supreme court justice Menbretsehai had in the last two months been working on the case. The judges in charge of the case also from time to time sought advise from the prosecutor.

"The judges aren't the ones who will decide the case. The prosecutors and a panel of lawyers who are close to EPRDF will make the decision based on the political orders of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's dictator," one source said. The panel will try to make the decision appear to be reasonable for the international community.

Meqdela, Ethio-Zagol Post's new blogger predicts the decision.

Tomorrow....What will happen?

(By Meqdela)

This may end up appearing to be a wild guess after the court declares its decision. I am willing to take the risk though.

From talking to diplomats, lawyers and some government insiders, this is what I think the Federal High Court in charge of the "Kinijit trial" will do tomorrow or whenever it declares its decision. Also, I went through some court decisions on political trials and observed a consistent attempt to make them appear reasonable and fair by the judges.

1) The "Genocide" charge against the CUD defendants has earned Meles and his regime a huge embarrassment and drew lots of criticisms from the int'l community. It was later reduced to a crime of "attempted genocide " : The amended charge will fully be dropped against all the defendants.

2) In an attempt to convince the world that the Kaliti trial is not a sham trial, the "court" will order the prosecution to reduce some of the charges to lesser ones resulting in the release of some defendants on bail.

3) The "court" will order the prosecution to frame a new charge against some members of the free press under the "press law" . This may not include Sisay Agena, Eskindir Nega and Faisl Yenealem.

4) Some defendants among the top leadership and high profile personalities which includes Bertukan Mideksa, Prof. Mesfin , Dr. Yaekob will be released on bail as the charges against them will be reduced to a bailable ones.

5) Most of the female defendants will be released

6) Charges against 10 -15 defendants will entirely be dropped as their names have not even be mentioned while the prosecution presented his false documentary evidences and witnesses. This includes Seble, Tadeos , Beruk and some seven more defendants

7) Meles's court will order those defendants whom Meles considers as very dangerous threat to his power to enter their defenses claiming that the prosecution has a satisfactory case against them. This group includes Hailu shawel , Berhanu Nega.

List of defendants I expect will be released on Friday or afterwards in one way or the other.

1) Seblework Tadesse

2) Debebe Eshetu

3) Dr. Tadewos Bogale

4) Nigist G/ Hiwot

5) Kidist Bekele

6) Beruk Kebede

7) Bertukan Mideksa

8) Serkalem Fasil

9) Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam

10) Daniel Bekele -charges will be dropped

11) Netsanet Demissie- charges will be dropped

12) Yeneneh Mulatu

13) Dr. Yaekob Woldemariam

14) Feleke Tibebu

15) Dawit Kebede

16) Dereje H/Mariam

My view is Meles will try to make the court decision to be viewed impartial and free.

What would be the responses of the defendants that are ordered to enter their defense?

I am sure when asked by the court whether they are intending to prepare their defense, they would tell the court that they will not defend themselves. Then what will happen? The court will not automatically convict them even if it assumes that there is prima-facie case against them, it would go on and examine perhaps by calling additional witnesses, or evidences to make its judgment.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New look blog

This blog will become community blog with group of bloggers from Ethiopia and abroad writing entries, diaries and news daily within the next few days. The hot news and information delivered from Ethiopia by Ethio-Zagol will continue as well.
New features like Eat the press is added on the right side of the blog. The bloggers will pick top news about Ethiopia from the net everyday and post it in the Eat the press section. There will soon be a place for people to write their political diaries. Readers are welcome to write their diaries to and they will be published if they fell within the policies of this blog.
There will also be a section for democracy in action. The bloggers will every week post campaign information in this section.
The blog will blend news blogging, opinion blogging and blog activism. This is a place for people powered-politics, the seed of netroots in Ethiopia.

Please sign up here to comment.

The Ethiopian government denies mutilation of its soldiers

It was Black Hawk down all over again. This time, however, the dragged corpses were that of Ethiopian soldiers and their Somali allies.
Both Reuters and AP have reported eye witness accounts of the the incidents. This is what Reuters reported:
The corpses of five soldiers -- either from the Somali government army or their Ethiopian allies -- were desecrated during some of the worst clashes in the lawless capital since the interim government took over in December, witnesses said.

In one place, men dragged two semi-naked corpses by the feet while members of a crowd chanting "God is Great" kicked and pelted them with stones, a Reuters reporter said.

In another, three bodies were hauled round by rope, kicked and then also set alight, witnesses said.
And this is AP's account:

An Associated Press photographer saw insurgents drag the bodies of one Ethiopian soldier and one Somali government soldier through the streets of northeastern Mogadishu and then set them on fire.

As one of the bodies was still burning, women wearing head scarves and long, loose dresses picked up stones and pounded it as a handful of young men looked on.

The government of any self-respecting nation would surely be abhorred if its soldiers were the ones who were mutilated, dragged on the streets and burned. Ethiopia's government is a rare breed. Its response according to Reuters was emphatic denial :

Ethiopia denied its soldiers were among the five dragged through the streets. "That is categorically false," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ambassador Solomon Abebe.

No wonder.

This government got ninety thousand Ethiopians killed in Ethio-Eritrean war and decided to pull back when it was winning the war. This government massacred thousands of innocent Anuaks and blamed it on the victims. These government killed innocent protestors on the streets of Addis Ababa argued that they were trying to rob banks. This government lacks an iota of respect for an Ethiopian life.

Please sign up here to post in this forum

Monday, March 19, 2007

Are you feeling lucky, punk?

EMF broke the news about the defection of Samson Woldeyohannes, Ethiopian MP.

You don't have to be a political junkie to know who Samson is. He was elected for parliament from Awassa under the Kinijit ticket in May 2005. When Kinijit leaders were imprisoned in October 2005 after they set preconditions to join parliament, Samson refused to abide by the party's decision and joined parliament and the CUD caucus.

In December 2005, he brought Kestedemena(Rainbow) party back to life and declared himself to be representing the party. EPRDF's election board duly gave him authentication and certification. Mind you, kestedemena(the party of Professor Mesfin, Brehanu Nega, Yacob Hailemariam, Befekadu Degfe , Birtukan Mideksa) was dissolved when Kinijit members formed one party in September 2005.
After forming a splinter group, Samson voted with EPRDF most of the time; and not even once in parliamentary debates, raised the ordeals of jailed Kinijit leaders, the issue that even tarnished figures like Lidetu Ayalew had raised repeatedly.

Now Samson defected to Belgium and claimed that he was a CUD member in parliament. He claimed he was imprisoned and terrorized. Oh yes, we are told that he was threatened to join parliament.

Commenters on this forum have several times suggested that one less man working for EPRDF means a bit of step to democracy. May be. I don't, however, agree that one more lier and opportunist being considered as hero of the pro-democracy movement means one step away from dictatorship. In fact it is anti-democratic and wildly unfair to genuine pro-democracy fighters who have sacrificed so much to see freedom and equality reign in Ethiopia.

Samson is a lier and opportunist to the core. If we don't call him that and treat him as he is, we end up being hypocritical when we attack EPRDF leaders for committing the same deeds.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mugabe and Meles

We have given too much room to mischief-makers and shameless stooges of the West.
Those are the words of Mugabe, Zimbabwe's dictator. Bar the charge of a**-kissing the west, the concept seems radically similar to Meles's "we tied them with long ropes" theory. And given what happened during election nights in both countries, you wonder whether both are reading from the same books on strategy and tactics of suppression.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Why the Mediation is failing

I published the information below for the sake of accountability. I have no aim to derail the talks or defame the mediators. I will remove any post which engages in personal attacks of the mediators who are among the most respected citizens of Ethiopia and the world.

While the mediation efforts by Professor Ephrem Isaac, Haile Gebresilassie and Ambassador Bekele to get CUD leaders released from jail is yet officially over, there are signs that it is going nowhere. Last week the mediators presented a document for signature by the CUD leaders. It reads:

We apologize for Ethiopians, the government and the mediators for the acts, which were outside of the constitution, committed by some of our members and supporters following elections 2005.

The six people who were representing the jailed leaders all declined to sign it.

Whether the wording of this particular document is too general to allow the jailed leaders to sign it and get out of prison without tarnishing their credibility and moral authority is debatable. What was more important, however, was how the mediators acted afterwards. There was a feeling amongst them that the jailed leaders were stubborn while Meles was willing to bend. The fact that the mediators felt the leaders who were unwilling to impute crime on some members and supporters to leave jail were stubborn showed how the whole mediation process was quite flawed. What would they have said about Nelson Mandela who asked for the unconditional release of himself and fellow political prisoners as precondition for any serious talks with the white minority rulers in South Africa? This blogger was informed that professor Mesfin ruled himself out of the talks saying the whole process was an insult to "shimgilena institution."

I am sure that the mediators were engaged in their efforts with good faith. So what were the problems with the process?

  1. The mediators had no defined role. Mediators usually act as bridges between the parties by defining issues and guiding the discussions. The traditional Shimgelina in Ethiopia even goes beyond that. Shimageles study the interest of the parties and sometimes propose their solutions. Here the mediators were acting as messengers of Meles Zenawi.
  2. They hadn't really understood the complex issues. In one instance, Meles told the mediators that the CUD had called for national unity government and that was unconstitutional. Utterly convinced by him, they tried to pass the message to the leaders. The same confusion was reflected in issues relating to AFD and hate speech. It would have been better if these gentlemen were assisted by professionals (lawyers, political scientists etc)
  3. The mediation has no grander objective except getting the prisoners released. It made the mediators assume that the jailed politicians are in weaker position and, therefore, need to accept Meles's terms to get out of prison. If grader objectives like national reconciliation had been set, the assumption would have been different
  4. The jailed politicians weren't allowed to spend time together discussing the issue. They were called from their respective cells whenever the mediators appear and asked to make decisions on the spot with the presence of the mediators. It hampered the leaders from having common positions.
  5. Mediations generally involve joint sessions where the opposing parties meet to hammer out an agenda and define issues. This particular mediation appeared to be more like a shuttle diplomacy.
I still wish the mediation will end up with success. It is only when there is change in the course that success can happen.

The incredible hypocrisy of the west

Almost all of today's broadsheets in England carried Zimbabwe's human rights abuses on their front page. They have stories about the brutal dictator and the world's response to the recent violence. Morgan Tsvagari was lionized on The Independent.
Since the violence, the BBC has opened most of its news with Zimbabwe, its top correspondent Orla Guerin reporting from South Africa. Other European media outlets have also extensively covered the story in hostile ways to Mugabe.
The man has to go. He is a classic African dictator who has no regard for the wishes of the citizenry he is supposed to serve. He is corrupt and brutal. Yet the same scrutiny which is afforded to this liberation hero is not given to another dictator a few thousand miles north of Zimbabwe. Meles has killed more people in recent years. His soldiers and policemen have tortured more opposition activists. He has imprisoned more opponents. While in Zimbabwe, the opposition MDC has its offices all over the country, the main opposition in Ethiopia is unofficially outlawed. Mugabe's three months ban on demonstrations was received with abhorrence by the west. In Ethiopia, demonstrations have been prohibited since May 2005.
Two striking issues differentiate Ethiopia from Zimbabwe. While Mugabe told the west to "go hang" long time ago, Meles has chosen to be the pawn in their hands, their SOB. Mugabe's defiance was met by sanctions from the furious west. Meles, an equally fierce dictator, is being showered with financial gifts from the World Bank and the west.
More importantly, there is "the white factor" which has made Europeans and Americans to act differently in Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Meles killed his own people, unemployed youth(as Donald Levin shamelessly put it). Mugabe's dictatorship started to become unacceptable when he confiscated white-owned farms. When Mugabe murdered 20 thousand people in Ndebele in 1980s, the opposition from the west was largely muted.
let me save the racism jibe for the moment. The very least I could say about the reaction to Mugabe is hypocrisy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


-See my diary on Dailykos, America's most influential progressive community blog
-It seems there is another Ethio-Eritrean war in the horizon. Ethiopia's Foreign Ministry has openly implicated Eritrea on the Kidnapping. Should we go to war with Eritrea?
-The number of people expected to come to Ethiopia to celebrate the millennium is revised upwards to 700 thousand.
-The White House letter writing campaign is still continuing.

Mediation stalled

It seems the mediation efforts to get the leaders of CUD, independent journalists and social justice advocates released from jail is going nowhere. I will write more about that tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sad departure for AP reporter

A year and 52 days ago, Antony Mitchell, working for the Associated Press, was forced to leave Ethiopia after his impeccable journalistic works angered Ethiopian officials who accused him of "tarnishing the image of the country".
The man who replaced Antony, Leslie Nehaus, is expected to have a less dignified exit from Ethiopia. Leslie who called "some" opposition supporters in DC "scumbags" is forced to resign from AP in connection to the infamous comments. "Forced resignation" is the diplomatic parlance for being " fired".
Last month, he lost his job at the VOA.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Blogs unblocked

It has been five days since is unblocked in Ethiopia. Readers in Ethiopia can now access this blog directly.

Breaking news: OLF behind the destruction of runners' monuments: police

The Ethiopian Federal Police quoted eye-witness reports to allege that the monuments of Ethiopia's great long distance runners, Abebe Bikila and Mamo Wolde, were destroyed by OLF operatives in Addis Ababa. The monuments had stood at St. Josef church in the capital for years. The Federal Police said OLF had previously claimed both runners belonged to Oromiya and the monuments were erected without the consent of the Oromo people.

"OLF has been destabilizing the country for many years. This is just another attempt by the terrorist group to spew fear among the Ethiopian people," Commander Demsash Hailu, Federal police spokesperson told local press today. Commander Demsash also indicated that the federal police suspects Shabeiya and Brehane Mewa's Kinijit International might have helped OLF's operation. "The vocal diaspora has shown that it is in bed with Shaebiya. We don't rule out the involvement of Brehane Mewa in the destruction of the monuments," Demsash said.

Meanwhile, Zeru Hagos of has called the act "genocidal" , pressed the Ethiopian government to swiftly bring the perpetrators of the act to justice and condemned the DC based extremist groups for sending money to the "criminals".

For the EPRDFites who have long ago forgotten to distinguish truth from humour, the above is not a fact. Spare me from comedian Daniel's fate.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A year of blogging

One, two, three...218 posts and 365 days. It feels so long and so short at the same time.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Siye Abrha's trial adjourned....again!

The Federal Supreme Court failed to give the final verdict in trial of the former Defense Minister Siye Abrha and his brother Assefa Abreha today as a judge was missing for the tenth time in trial. The court said it couldn't deliver the verdict as all judges weren't present.
In the trial which is deep in its fifth year, the brothers are accused of corruption. Many suspect, however, that it is a political trial. Siye Abrha opposed Prime Minister Meles's leniency towards Eritrea when the two countries waged a bloody border war. Although the war ended with Ethiopia winning it, Meles signed the Algiers agreement which didn't reflect the reality on the ground. Ethiopians across different political spectra opposed the agreement. Siye led the opposition within TPLF.
The court postponed the verdict date to April 4.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Mesfin Woldemariam faces prison sentence in another trial

The Federal High Court yesterday ruled that the prosecutor had presented enough evidence showing Professor Mesfin Woldemariam had instigated students to riot in April 2001 and ordered him to defend the case. If he is found guilty after the defense, he will serve long prison term.
Professor Mesfin and Brehanu Nega were arrested in April 2001 after Addis Ababa University students demonstrated, calling for more academic freedom. The public prosecutor charged them of forming illegal party; and instigating students for uprising. Professor Mesfin's Ethiopian Human Rights Council had organized a discussion on Academic rights for Addis Ababa University students prior to the demonstration. Both were speakers in the discussion. The prosecutor argued that they instigated violence by telling students to fight for their academic rights. Both have been appearing in court even since.
Brehanu Nega was cleared of both charges by the court. Professor Mesfin was told to defend the second charge. Professor Mesfin is famous for his advocacy of non-violence and individual rights.
Courts in Ethiopia have become government agents in stifling free speech in the country.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Meles administration is playing a sly diplomatic game in the kidnapping case. They are letting local officials, eye-witnesses and the media fuel speculations that Eritrea was involved in the abductions without any serious government official making that allegation openly. It is a safe way to tarnish your neighbor and enemy while not taking risk in case the allegations are false.

Was it Al-Qaida's revenge?

Another confusion in the kidnapping saga. The Independent reported emerging fears that the kidnapping may be linked to Al-Qaida. Read it here.
I, however, doubt the connection. Al-Qaida or groups linked to it usually take responsibility for their actions almost immediately. More than five days have now passed since the abductions.

Breaking news: Court adjourned

The court is adjourned again for March 23. The court confirmed that the document it required to be translated(Hailu Shawel's press statement at American Press Club) was handed to it. The translation was made by Walta Information Center, the government's propaganda machine. Lawyers for the Civil society leaders told the court that they couldn't be sure of the accuracy of the translation by Walta. The judges asked the lawyers to check the documents and present their objections to the court until Friday through the office of the judges if they found the translation inaccurate.
The session took only 30 minutes. Professor Mesfin who arrived late asked the court why it is adjourned to March 23. Judge Adil said the court will on march 23 make ruling as to whether they will defend their case or be set free.
The Virginia Social Science Association honors one of the prominent political prisoners, Dr. Yacob Hailemariam, with its Distinguished Career award for his great service to the state of Virginia, the nation and the world.

Back to the trial and our leaders

The court in charge of the trial of CUD leaders, civil society members and journalists is in session now. The court room in Kaliti is packed with relatives of the defendants, diplomats and observers. Brehanu Nega and Professor Mesfin had another pending case which was appointed for today. They skipped the treason and genocide trial and went to the other trial. But the judges told them that the kaliti court's session today is important and sent them to Kaliti. Is it an indication that something concrete will happen today?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

It seems that nobody is believing Eritrea's flat denial of involvement in the kidnapping of the five Britons and the eight Ethiopians(the remaining five were said to be found by security forces patrolling the border). The Observer, a very reliable Sunday paper, carried a news which contains the most serious allegations so far. Read it here.

Is Eritrea involved?

The British tabloid Sunday Mirror seems quite sure that Eritrean Militiamen are involved in the kidnapping of the five Britons. Here is the story.
If the Eritrean government is involved in this banditry, I consider it as an outrageous attack on the sovereignty of Ethiopia. But we have to take the words of Ethiopian government officials with a pinch of salt. They are certified liars.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Is it twelve or five? No one for sure knows the number of kidnapped foreigners in the Afar. The only confirmed case if that of five British nationals and thirteen Ethiopians. Some reports say there are seven more Europeans missing. Others say the seven are safe.
This blogger's Afar region sources are also confused. First, it was supposed to be Eritrean Agents who captured the foreign nationals. Then, the kidnappers were thought to be bandits operating in the Denkil depression. A ransom was said to be asked which later on proved to be false. Now I am being told that the kidnappers might have crossed the border to Eritrea.
The place is very remote and the weather is very inhospitable. That has surely dented access to reliable information.
Surprising turn of events in the tourists kidnapping saga. The number of the kidnapped is now put down to five by the federal police; and all of them are of British nationality. The ten French citizens are reported to be safe. It is confusing and very fluid. I will try to get back with clearer information.
There are unconfirmed reports from my sources in Afar region that a ransom has been asked by the kidnappers of the fifteen foreign nationals. If it is confirmed, the whole Shaebia conspiracy will be put to rest.
Reuters says the number of the kidnapped tourists is fifteen. That is closer to the figures my sources are giving me. I am surprised with the little attention the story is getting on the French media.

My other post today:
US ambassador working to get political prisoners released
I agree with Samuel Habtu Belay, one of the posters. It may be better to write letters to Yamamoto encouraging him to press for the release of all political prisoners in the country, including the CUD leaders.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

AP has more on the kidnapping story. It puts the number at ten while my sources have yet to confirm it.

Breaking news: French tourists kidnapped in Ethiopia

Unconfirmed number of French tourists were kidnapped in the Afar region today. While some put the number of the tourists kidnapped as high as fifty, this blogger's sources at the Afar region said that the number is less than twenty. Local official who talked with this blogger via mobile phone from Afar said they suspected that the Eritrean government may have a hand in it. The allegation isn't yet confirmed.
The sources added that they have heard the death of some of the kidnappers ...(more information later)

US ambassador working to get political prisoners released

Donald Yamamoto's quiet diplomacy to get the leaders of CUD released may be working, American Embassy sources who wanted anonymity told this blogger today. Yamamoto has been pressing for the release of the political prisoners for two months now. The sources said his style is to avoid the megaphone diplomacy which made the wavering Tim Clark, Head of EC's delegation in Addis Ababa, to fall out of favor with both the EPRDF and the CUD.

Yamamoto is also winning the hearts of Ethiopians working at the US embassy who were shocked with the abrasive and biased approach of his predecessor, Vicki Huddelstone. "With him, it is diplomatic niceties coupled with a judicious approach to the issue. He is doing his job well; and there has never been as big hope as now that the prisoners will be released and political dialog will re-open ," one source commented.

Court sources thought that there wouldn't be significant happening on March 5th, the day the trial of the CUD leaders resume. More mediation efforts will be made by American Embassy and the Ephrem Isaac group before the court makes its decision. The chief mediator, Professor Ephrem Issac, is back in Addis.

EZ's message: Yamamoto's efforts are commendable. Let's write him a letter of appreciation and encouragement for his efforts.

Blog Archive