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  • Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa finished 2nd at the Houston Half Marathon

    In a spectacular sprint finish, U.S. Army runner Leonard Korir edged out Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa for a victory at the Houston Half Marathon. It’s Korir’s second major win in two weeks, as he beat Mo Farah and a slew of top Americans in a cross country 8K in Edinburgh last Saturday.

    Korir and Lilesa both ran 61:14. For most of the last four miles, they were in a pack of four with Hiskel Ghebru and Fikadu Tsadik of Ethiopia. That quartet was together until maybe 300 meters to go, when Lilesa made the first move. But Korir was able to cover the move, and as the two jostled over the last 10 meters, Korir crossed in front.

    After Korir covered Lilesa’s move, he put his right hand on Lilesa’s hip in order to stay on his feet, then never gave up his miniscule lead. Both celebrated as they crossed but it was clear that Korir won. Watch:

    Less than ten minutes later, Jordan Hasay crossed in 68:40 in fourth place. Veronicah Nyaruai won the women’s race in 67:58. Hasay is now the sixth fastest American ever on a record-legal course, behind only legends Deena Kastor, Molly Huddle, Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, and Joan Samuelson.

    There was an amusing moment on the broadcast as Goucher, who was commentating said that Hasay’s time was the fastest American debut ever–before correcting herself and realizing that she actually still has the fastest American debut ever.

    Hasay’s clocking was particularly impressive, as the humidity inched up to 99% over the course of the morning in Houston.

    Korir’s win was worth $21,000–$20K for the win plus another thousand for breaking 62 minutes. Hasay’s fourth-place finish earned her $3,000.

    - See more at: http://ecadforum.com/2017/01/15/ethiopias-feyisa-lilesa-finished-2nd-at-the-houston-half-marathon/#sthash.GhgKvpWP.dpuf

     

     




    In a spectacular sprint finish, U.S. Army runner Leonard Korir edged out Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa for a victory at the Houston Half Marathon. It’s Korir’s second major win in two weeks, as he beat Mo Farah and a slew of top Americans in a cross country 8K in Edinburgh last Saturday.

    Korir and Lilesa both ran 61:14. For most of the last four miles, they were in a pack of four with Hiskel Ghebru and Fikadu Tsadik of Ethiopia. That quartet was together until maybe 300 meters to go, when Lilesa made the first move. But Korir was able to cover the move, and as the two jostled over the last 10 meters, Korir crossed in front.

    After Korir covered Lilesa’s move, he put his right hand on Lilesa’s hip in order to stay on his feet, then never gave up his miniscule lead. Both celebrated as they crossed but it was clear that Korir won. Watch:

    Less than ten minutes later, Jordan Hasay crossed in 68:40 in fourth place. Veronicah Nyaruai won the women’s race in 67:58. Hasay is now the sixth fastest American ever on a record-legal course, behind only legends Deena Kastor, Molly Huddle, Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, and Joan Samuelson.

    There was an amusing moment on the broadcast as Goucher, who was commentating said that Hasay’s time was the fastest American debut ever–before correcting herself and realizing that she actually still has the fastest American debut ever.

    Hasay’s clocking was particularly impressive, as the humidity inched up to 99% over the course of the morning in Houston.

    Korir’s win was worth $21,000–$20K for the win plus another thousand for breaking 62 minutes. Hasay’s fourth-place finish earned her $3,000.

    - See more at: http://ecadforum.com/2017/01/15/ethiopias-feyisa-lilesa-finished-2nd-at-the-houston-half-marathon/#sthash.GhgKvpWP.dpuf

    In a spectacular sprint finish, U.S. Army runner Leonard Korir edged out Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa for a victory at the Houston Half Marathon. It’s Korir’s second major win in two weeks, as he beat Mo Farah and a slew of top Americans in a cross country 8K in Edinburgh last Saturday.

    Korir and Lilesa both ran 61:14. For most of the last four miles, they were in a pack of four with Hiskel Ghebru and Fikadu Tsadik of Ethiopia. That quartet was together until maybe 300 meters to go, when Lilesa made the first move. But Korir was able to cover the move, and as the two jostled over the last 10 meters, Korir crossed in front.

    After Korir covered Lilesa’s move, he put his right hand on Lilesa’s hip in order to stay on his feet, then never gave up his miniscule lead. Both celebrated as they crossed but it was clear that Korir won. Watch:

    Less than ten minutes later, Jordan Hasay crossed in 68:40 in fourth place. Veronicah Nyaruai won the women’s race in 67:58. Hasay is now the sixth fastest American ever on a record-legal course, behind only legends Deena Kastor, Molly Huddle, Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, and Joan Samuelson.

    There was an amusing moment on the broadcast as Goucher, who was commentating said that Hasay’s time was the fastest American debut ever–before correcting herself and realizing that she actually still has the fastest American debut ever.

    Hasay’s clocking was particularly impressive, as the humidity inched up to 99% over the course of the morning in Houston.

    Korir’s win was worth $21,000–$20K for the win plus another thousand for breaking 62 minutes. Hasay’s fourth-place finish earned her $3,000.

    - See more at: http://ecadforum.com/2017/01/15/ethiopias-feyisa-lilesa-finished-2nd-at-the-houston-half-marathon/#sthash.GhgKvpWP.dpuf

    Read more »
  • Tensions resurface in Ethiopia's Amhara region following hotel attacks blamed on 'anti-peace forces' - International Business Times

    Months of anti-government protests in Amhara and Oromia in 2016 led government to declare state of emergency.

    he Ethiopian government has blamed "anti-peace" forces for a grenade attack that killed one and wounded dozens in the northern city of Gondar on 10 January. The attack, occurred at the Entasol hotel, follows a bomb blast at a hotel in the city of Bahir Dar earlier in January.

    ''The attack might be a new tactic started by anti-peace forces as the strategy they had been pursuing in the past failed," Commander Assefa Ashebe was quoted by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate as saying.

    Police have launched a hunt for the perpetrators. Both attacks have sparked renewed tensions in the Amhara region, which was rocked by months of anti-government protests in 2016.

    Protests erupted when members of the Welkait Tegede, who identify themselves as ethnically Amhara – Ethiopia's second largest group – demanded their lands be administered by the Amhara region, instead of the Tigray state.

    Clashes with police during the demonstration resulted in the death of at least 100 people.

    Members of the opposition, activists and rights groups have repeatedly claimed the response to the protests in Amhara and Oromia – the country's largest state – resulted in the death of more than 500 people since November 2015, something the government later admitted.

    However, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has always maintained security forces had not reacted disproportionately and security forces intervened to quell violence carried out by "anti-peace" instigators.

    The unrest prompted the government to declare a six-month-long state of emergency in the two regions.

    Critics of the state of emergency, which restricts, among other things, freedom of movement and the use of social media – claimed it will be used to quell the ongoing unrest. The restrictive measures are expected to last until April 2017.

    The government, which often blamed "outside forces" including from Eritrea and Egypt for the protests, said it would use the new measures to coordinate security forces against elements that aimed to destabilise the country.

    Amhara region and Amhara people

    Amhara is one of Ethiopia's nine ethnic divisions. Its capital is Bahir Dar.

    With a population of 17m people, it is mainly inhabited by the Amhara (91%, as per 2007 census), followed by the Agaw, Oromo and Argobba ethnic groups.

    The region borders Tigray to the north, the Benishangul-Gumuz region amd Sudan to the west, Oromia to the south and Afar to the east.

    Numbering at least 20 million, the Amhara people are Ethiopia's second largest ethnic group and inhabit the Amhara region and the northern and central part of the country.

    They mainly speak Amharic, which has Semitic origin and is related to Geʿez, the language used in sacred literature in the Orthodox Church. Until the 1990s Amharic was the official language of Ethiopia and is still one of the most spoken in the country.

     

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  • Ethiopia: 2016 was year of bloody crackdowns, rights group says - ESAT

    The Human Rights Watch in its 2017 report said the crackdown during 2016 in Ethiopia followed years of systematic attacks against opposition parties, non governmental organizations, and independent media, effectively closing political space and providing little room for dissenting voices.

    “Ethiopia plunged into a human rights crisis in 2016, increasing restrictions on basic rights during a state of emergency and continuing a bloody crackdown against largely peaceful protesters,” Human Rights Watch said on Thursday in its World Report 2017.

    “Security forces cracked-down on these largely peaceful demonstrations, killing more than 500 people,” according to the report.

    The report said security forces killed hundreds and detained tens of thousands of protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara regions during the year. Many of those who were released reported that they were tortured in detention, a longstanding problem in Ethiopia, according to the report.

    The report also said that the state of emergency declared in October permits arbitrary detention, restricts access to social media, and bans communications with foreign groups.

    The government has failed to meaningfully investigate security forces abuses or respond to calls for an international investigation into the crackdown.

    “Instead of addressing the numerous calls for reform in 2016, the Ethiopian government used excessive and unnecessary lethal force to suppress largely peaceful protests,” said Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.

    “Vague promises of reform are not enough. The government needs to restore basic rights and engage in meaningful dialogue instead of responding to criticism with more abuses.” Horne said

    The tens of thousands of people detained in 2016 include journalists, bloggers, musicians, teachers, and health workers. Moderates like the opposition leader Bekele Gerba have been charged with terrorism and remain behind bars, education has been disrupted, and thousands have fled the country, the report noted.

    According to the report Ethiopia deploys troops inside Somalia as part of the African Union mission (AMISOM). In 2016, there were reports that abusive “Liyu police,” a paramilitary force, were also deployed alongside the Ethiopian Defense Forces in Somalia. In July, Ethiopian forces operating outside the AMISOM mandate indiscriminately killed 14 civilians during an operation against Al-Shabab in Somalia’s Bay region.

    The rights group said the Liyu police, a paramilitary force, committed numerous abuses against residents of the Somali region in 2016, and displacement from Ethiopia’s development projects continued, including in the Omo valley.

    In September, dozens of ethnic Konso were killed by security forces in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) following protests over administrative boundaries in the Konso area.

    The Ethiopian government failed to meaningfully investigate the killings of protesters in Oromia, Amhara, or Konso, the report said.

     

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  • HRW: 2016 Ethiopia’s “Year of brutality, restrictions”

    Nairobi, January 12, 2017 – Ethiopia plunged into a human rights crisis in 2016, increasing restrictions on basic rights during a state of emergency and continuing a bloody crackdown against largely peaceful protesters, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2017. The state of emergency permits arbitrary detention, restricts access to social media, and bans communications with foreign groups.

    Security forces killed hundreds and detained tens of thousands of protesters in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara regions during the year. Many of those who were released reported that they were tortured in detention, a longstanding problem in Ethiopia. The government has failed to meaningfully investigate security forces abuses or respond to calls for an international investigation into the crackdown.

    “Instead of addressing the numerous calls for reform in 2016, the Ethiopian government used excessive and unnecessary lethal force to suppress largely peaceful protests,” said Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Vague promises of reform are not enough. The government needs to restore basic rights and engage in meaningful dialogue instead of responding to criticism with more abuses.”

    In the 687-page World Report, its 27th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that a new generation of authoritarian populists seek to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights as an impediment to the majority will. For those who feel left behind by the global economy and increasingly fear violent crime, civil society groups, the media, and the public have key roles to play in reaffirming the values on which rights-respecting democracy has been built.

    Protesters’ anger boiled over following October’s Irreecha cultural festival, when security forces’ mishandling of the massive crowd caused a stampede, resulting in many deaths. In response, angry youth destroyed private and government property, particularly in the Oromia region. The government then announced the state of emergency, codifying many of the security force abuses documented during the protests, and signaling an increase in the militarized response to protesters’ demands for reform.

    Government limitations on free expression and access to information undermine the potential for the inclusive political dialogue needed to understand protesters’ grievances, let alone address them, Human Rights Watch said.

    The tens of thousands of people detained in 2016 include journalists, bloggers, musicians, teachers, and health workers. Moderates like the opposition leader Bekele Gerba have been charged with terrorism and remain behind bars, education has been disrupted, and thousands have fled the country.

    The Liyu police, a paramilitary force, committed numerous abuses against residents of the Somali region in 2016, and displacement from Ethiopia’s development projects continued, including in the Omo valley.

    The crackdown during 2016 followed years of systematic attacks against opposition parties, nongovernmental organizations, and independent media, effectively closing political space and providing little room for dissenting voices. HRW

     

     

     

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  • Breaking News : Dylann Roof Sentenced to Death for Charleston Church Massacre

    An admitted white supremacist was sentenced to death Tuesday for massacring nine black worshipers who'd invited him to study the Bible with them at a Charleston, S.C., church, ending a two-phase federal trial that exposed the killer's hate-fueled motives and plumbed the chasms of grief left by the victims' deaths.

    The jury, the same that convicted Dylann Roof in the murders last month, announced its verdict after deliberating less than three hours.

    Roof, 22, who represented himself in the penalty phase, did very little to persuade the panel to spare his life. He declined to present any witnesses or evidence, blocked standby defense lawyers' attempts to raise questions about his mental health, and suggested in his closing statement that arguing for life in prison wasn't worth the effort.

    As the verdicts were announced, Roof stared straight ahead, or looked down. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel scheduled formal sentencing for Wednesday morning. Roof then asked for a lawyer to help file a motion for a new trial, which Gergel said he'd consider before the sentencing, but added that the request didn't seem justified.

    Roof now becomes the 63rd person on federal death row, and the first to be put there since Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted in 2015.

    Nevertheless, it will likely be years before he is put to death; the federal government has put executions on hold out of concerns about lethal injection drugs, and appeals could put off the date even further. The last federal execution took place in 2003.

    And Roof still faces a second trial, by the state of South Carolina, where he also faces the death penalty. The date of that trial has not been determined.

    From the start of the trial, Roof's guilt was hardly in doubt.

    It took the 12-person jury a little over two hours to convict Roof last month on all 33 counts, including two dozen that fall under federal hate crime statutes.

     
    Mourning the victims of the Charleston church shooting 2:46

    During that phase of the trial, defense lawyer David Bruck put no witnesses on the stand and raised no objections when prosecutors played Roof's videotaped confession to the FBI, which was made following his arrest. In it, Roof admitted he was guilty and that the motive was to spark a race war. He told the FBI men he was surprised he was able to kill as many people as he did with his .45-caliber Glock pistol.

    Witnesses included two women who survived the shooting, Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard, who testified that Roof told her, "I'm going to leave you here to tell the story."

    Related: Charleston Massacre Survivor Says Suspect Dylann Roof Opened Fire as Victims Stood to Pray

    For the penalty phase, a judge allowed Roof to represent himself, but only after conducting a competency hearing that remains under seal. Roof told the jury that "there is nothing wrong with me psychologically," and that he chose to mount his own defense to prevent lawyers from presenting mental health evaluations.

    Image: Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church

    Police tape surrounds the parking lot behind the AME Emanuel Church as FBI forensic experts work the crime scene, in Charleston, South Carolina on June 19 2015. Stephen B. Morton / AP

    Prosecutors focused on the lives of the victims — the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41; the Rev. Daniel Simmons, 74; Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; and Tywanza Sanders, 26. The government used photos, video, audio recordings and testimony from loved ones to explore the killings' aftermath.

    Also key to the government's case was was showing Roof's planning for the June 17, 2015 massacre, in which Roof targeted a group of worshipers who'd invited him to study the Bible with them on a Wednesday night, waiting nearly an hour before opening fire.

    The government has also stressed Roof's apparent lack of remorse afterward.

    Prosecutors shared with the jury portions of Roof's jailhouse journal, dated six weeks after the killings.

    "I do not regret what I did," Roof wrote. "I am not sorry."

    After the verdict, U.S. Sen Tim Scott of South Carolina said the jury had made the right decision, and that it would mark "a pivotal moment" in the victims' families' "road toward some sort of closure."

     

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  • Athletics Weekly | Bekele, Lilesa, Biwott and Ghebreslassie in London Marathon field – Athletics Weekly

    The elite men’s race is set to feature seven sub-2:06 marathoners, while Chris Thompson is among the Brits in action as he eyes a London 2017 spot

    Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele is among those to have been announced for the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday April 23.

    Forming part of another top field, which is set to feature seven sub-2:06 marathoners and 16 who have run times quicker than 2:10, he is due to be joined by athletes including his fellow Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa, Kenyan Stanley Biwott and Ghirmay Ghebreslassie of Eritrea.

     

    Already a three-time Olympic gold medallist and double world record-holder on the track, Bekele also moved to second on the world marathon all-time list when he won the 2016 Berlin Marathon last September.

     

    Missing the world record by just six seconds, Bekele clocked 2:03:03. Breaking Haile Gebrselassie’s Ethiopian record, his performance sent a powerful message to the selectors who had left him out of Ethiopia’s team for the Rio Olympic Games.

     

    Now Bekele seeks to become only the third Ethiopian man to win the London Marathon title after finishing third on his debut at the event last year when not fully fit. He will have Eliud Kipchoge’s course record of 2:03:05 in his sights this year, as well as perhaps even Dennis Kimetto’s world record of 2:02:57.

     

    “London is the greatest marathon in the world and I would love to win there,” said Bekele, who on Monday was also announced for the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on January 20. “The field is always the best and victory means so much. After finishing third last year, I know what I need to do to win.”

     

    Biwott, who won the 2015 New York City Marathon, is likely to be Bekele’s main rival as he leads the Kenyan challenge in the absence of two-time champion Kipchoge. He finished runner-up in 2014, fourth in 2015 and second last year in a personal best of 2:03:51.

     

    The field also contains two marathon gold medallists, three of the top five finishers from last summer’s Olympic Games, and the winners of the Abbott World Marathon Majors races in Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago and New York in 2016.

     

    Bekele’s compatriots on the famous start line at Blackheath will include Rio Olympic silver medallist and Tokyo Marathon champion Feyisa Lilesa, the 2016 Dubai and Hamburg Marathon champion Tesfaye Abera, and Tilahun Regassa, who is aiming to make the London podium after finishing fifth and sixth in the last two years.

    Meanwhile, Biwott will have top class company in fellow Kenyans Abel Kirui and Daniel Wanjiru. The experienced Kirui, who won the world marathon title in 2011 and 2013, returns to London for the first time since 2012 when he was fifth just four months before winning Olympic silver in the same city.

     

    After a number of years without a major victory, he was a surprise winner of the 2016 Chicago Marathon last October and will be looking for another strong performance as he seeks selection for Kenya’s 2017 World Championships team. Wanjiru will also be one to watch after he lowered his personal best by almost three minutes to win last October’s Amsterdam Marathon in 2:05:21.

     

    Eritrea’s young star Ghirmay Ghebreslassie returns to London after finishing fourth last April in a PB 2:07:46. The 21-year-old, who become the youngest ever global marathon champion when he won the 2015 world title in Beijing at the age of 19, claimed the 2016 New York Marathon crown last November after placing fourth at the Rio Games in August.

     

    Abraham Tadesse, who broke the Swiss record last March when he clocked 2:06:40 in Seoul, missing the European record by just four seconds, is also among the entries.

     

    Former European 10,000m silver medallist Chris Thompson flies the flag for Britain on home roads as he targets a place in at the London 2017 World Championships. Thompson was 11th on his debut in London three years ago and after battling injury problems he finished 16th last year but spoke with AW in November about his new-found level of enthusiasm after a strong autumn on the roads.

     

    Last month Callum Hawkins became the first athlete named on the British team for this summer’s World Championships as he was pre-selected for the marathon.
    2017 Virgin Money London Marathon elite men and personal best times

     

    Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 2:03:03
    Stanley Biwott (KEN) 2:03:51
    Tesfaye Abera (ETH) 2:04:24
    Feyisa Lilesa (ETH) 2:04:52
    Abel Kirui (KEN) 2:05:04
    Daniel Wanjiru (KEN) 2:05:21
    Tilahun Regassa (ETH) 2:05:27
    Abraham Tadesse (SUI) 2:06:40
    Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (ERI) 2:07:46
    Amanuel Mesel (ERI) 2:08:17
    Asefa Mengstu (ETH) 2:08:41
    Oleksandr Sitkovsky (UKR) 2:09:11
    Alphonce Felix Simbu (TAN) 2:09:19
    Javier Guerra (ESP) 2:09:33
    Ghebre Kibrom (ERI) 2:09:36
    Vitaliy Shafar (UKR) 2:09:53
    Michael Shelley (AUS) 2:11:15
    Chris Thompson (GBR) 2:11:19
    Bayron Piedra (ECU) 2:14:12
    Kevin Seaward (IRL) 2:14:52
    Mick Clohisey (IRL) 2:15:11
    Robbie Simpson (GBR) 2:15:38
    Ian Kimpton (GBR) 2:15:55
    Matthew Hynes (GBR) 2:16:00
    Bouabdellah Tahri (FRA) 2:16:28
    Andrew Davies (GBR) 2:16:55
    Tom Anderson (GBR) 2:19:52
    Jesús Arturo Esparza (MEX) 2:23:04
    Bedan Karoki Muchiri (KEN) Debut

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  • Ethiopia targets opposition who met with European lawmakers - Washington Post

    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia said Monday it will not release a leading opposition figure detained under the country’s state of emergency after meeting with European lawmakers in Belgium.

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters that Merara Gudina of the Oromo Federalist Congress party instead will face justice.

    “Individuals in the European Parliament who are harboring anti-peace elements cannot save those who trespass the law of the country,” the prime minister said.

    Merara is one of 22,000 people the prime minister said were detained under the state of emergency declared in October after widespread, sometimes deadly anti-government protests. The government has said several thousand have since been released.

    Merara was arrested immediately after he returned from Belgium, where he met with the lawmakers about the state of emergency. He was accused of meeting with members of an armed Ethiopian opposition group in Brussels, an act banned under the emergency law.

    Photos posted on social media show him sitting next to Birhanu Nega, leader of the armed opposition group called Ginbot 7 that mainly operates from Eritrea, and Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian marathon runner who crossed his wrists in a sign of protest while crossing the finish line at the Rio Olympic Games.

    The Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia said the state of emergency’s wide-ranging restrictions have severely affected freedoms of expression and assembly. “Tens of thousands of individuals have been arrested arbitrarily” and dissent and independent reporting have been quashed, it said.

    The state of emergency is set to end in May. The prime minister did not indicate it would be extended, but he told reporters that “as far as the date of lifting the state of emergency is concerned, it should be seen in the perspective that we have to consolidate the gains that we have made so far.”

    Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

     

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  • Ethiopia targets opposition who met with European lawmakers - Fox News

    Ethiopia says it will not release a leading opposition figure detained under the country's state of emergency after meeting with European lawmakers in Belgium.

    Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters on Monday that Merara Gudina of the Oromo Federalist Congress party instead will face justice.

    The prime minister says "individuals in the European Parliament who are harboring anti-peace elements cannot save those who trespass the law of the country."

    Merara is one of 22,000 people the prime minister says were detained under the state of emergency declared in October after widespread anti-government protests.

    Merara was arrested immediately after he returned from Belgium. He was accused of meeting with members of an armed Ethiopian opposition group in Brussels, an act banned under the emergency law.

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  • Ethiopia: A Plea for a Civil Exchange - Dr Tedla Woldeyohannes

     

    In this piece,  I express  a concern I share with many fellow Ethiopian observers about the exchanges between Dr. Fikre Tolossa and his critics on his most recent book—The True Origin of the Oromo and Amhara people of Ethiopia. The concern that led me to write this piece is what many have come to observe about the exchanges between Dr. Fikre and his critics, mainly Profs. Paulos Milkias and Getachew Haile.  I have not read Dr. Fikre’s book, but have followed the controversy that surrounds the book and heated exchanges that have been observed. I write this to plead with anyone who engages in the debate about Dr. Fikre’s book, and on any other topic of interest to us Ethiopians, to think of especially the younger readers who are following the exchanges and to think of what they would learn from such exchanges. When the exchanges are littered with personal attacks and questioning and belittling the academic accomplishments and credentials of one’s critics that obviously is not a good thing.

    It is my hope that the next exchanges, responses and rejoinders on Dr. Fikre’s book, will focus only on the issues that are of great interest to millions of Ethiopians. The issues the book raises are extremely interesting and controversial at the same time as one can see from the public debate and discussion the book has triggered. Since the book makes claims that are controversial, as one can see from various responses to it, it is only to be expected to see strong reactions from those who have written on the topic or the issues the book raises. While it is fine to construct arguments that are intended to show problems with some of the claims in Dr. Fikre’s book, obviously, the best way to do that is by focusing on the issues and issues alone. Again, as all of us know, there is nothing wrong with challenging views, claims, etc., without attacking the person who holds various views and makes claims on a topic.

     

    One thing that is of particular concern about the book which is the subject of the ongoing debate is due to the subject matter it deals with. As we all are aware, there is ongoing dispute, debate, and passionate disagreements about Ethiopian history in general before the publication of Dr. Fikre’s book.  Adding a new book on the “true origin” of the two major ethnic groups in Ethiopia, the Amharas and the Oromos would obviously receive a scrutiny from those who have expertise in Ethiopian history and it is unavoidable to see debates and disagreements on the claims made in such a book. Not only people with expertise in Ethiopian history and historiography will engage in debates, but also ordinary Ethiopians who have read and learned some Ethiopian history would be interested in any book that suggests that there is a “new” historical evidence that has never been recognized before by historians and those interested in  Ethiopian history. Add to this, the debate these days on the topic whether there is a common, shared Ethiopian national identity, which some Oromo elites deny and the debate is raging.  As far as I can tell from what I have been able to read about the book, Dr. Fikre’s book is intended to show that there is a shared identity among Ethiopia’s two major ethnic groups. Anyone who wants to know the truth about this claim would naturally want to look at the evidence presented in the book.

    In my view, a passionate debate about Ethiopian history is welcome and it is a healthy exercise, but also it is important for writers on Ethiopian history to make sure that “evidence” for any historical claims made in their writings matters. In this connection, those who write on history should not forget that many of their readers, even those who are not experts in Ethiopian history, can and do possess some knowledge or skills in evaluating whatever evidence is presented to support historical claims. For example, someone who is trained in academic philosophy is well equipped to evaluate the reasoning employed by historians or those who write on historical issues.  In particular, an academic philosopher who specializes in philosophy of history typically works on issues that are extremely important for historians such as the nature of historical evidence in contrast with evidence relevant to other academic or intellectual inquiries, and whether historical knowledge can be objective or to what degree it can be objective, etc. I am giving this example to make a point that writers on history, whether they are trained historians or others, should be aware of the fact that their writings can be evaluated, to some extent, by non-historians as well. It is crucial for writers on historical issues to be open to critical engagement of their works by historians and others who have sufficient and relevant skills or knowledge to evaluate historical claims.

    I have just offered one reason why non-historians can be part of an exchange in the conversation and debate on a book on history, a case in point is Dr. Fikre’s book. Now think for a moment how much of the exchanges on Dr. Fikre’s book involved the issue of who is an expert in Ethiopian history, and who is not. Raising the question of expertise is relevant and important, but to  attack the person on the ground that this person or that person is not a historian and hence the issues raised by non-historians are irrelevant, or of little value,  etc., and similar accusations can and do easily become sources of distraction from issues that need to be the focus of debate. I plead with those participants in the debate about Dr. Fikre’s book and other topics of interest to Ethiopians to restrain themselves from attacking their conversation partners and instead to critically engage issues that are the subject of the debate.  Attacking the person would not advance the issue that needs to be the topic of the debate. If a pertinent criticism of an issue is raised by anyone, it would be fruitful to respond to the criticism of the issues without attacking the academic credentials of the person who criticizes a claim or the motive or character of the person.

    Finally, let me conclude by addressing the issue of why focusing on arguments presented or evidence offered to support a claim is a desirable mode of intellectual inquiry and engagement and the importance of identifying fallacious reasoning that can pass, mistakenly, for good arguments. As many academic philosophers who teach a “Critical Thinking” or “Critical Reasoning” course at colleges and universities, I also teach the courses just mentioned, among others. One of the key reasons to teach a critical reasoning course, as many who have taken such courses know, is to equip students with a critical thinking or reasoning skills. One aspect of equipping students with critical thinking skills is by teaching them to identify fallacious reasoning which hinders intellectual inquiry by misleading people to believe claims without good reasons or for wrong reasons. A widely used textbook on Critical Thinking states that “Fallacies [flawed arguments] are often beguiling; they can seem plausible. Time and again they are psychologically persuasive, though logically impotent. The primary motivation for studying fallacies, then, is to be able to detect them so you’re not taken in by them.” [1] [Italics in the original].

    It is not the purpose of this article to identify the fallacies in the exchanges on Dr. Fikre’s book but as I said above, it is important to note that fallacies do not help us to get to the truth about the issues of interest to us. For example, attacking the person, which is a fallacy, is bad because it involves rejecting a claim by criticizing the person who makes a claim rather than criticizing the claim itself.  The fallacy of attacking the person is often categorized in Critical Thinking textbooks under the Fallacies of Irrelevant Premises. Hence, in evaluating claims or in advancing claims we need to avoid attacking the person whose views we are evaluating because it is not the person we are evaluating, rather we are evaluating a claim a person has presented and it is the claim that should be the focus of our evaluation or assessment. At the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the writers to avoid engaging in fallacious reasoning such as attacking the person and to use attack on the person to persuade one’s readers of the claim one is making. It is also the responsibility of readers to evaluate arguments or claims based on the evidence or good reasons offered to support the claims rather than being misled and believing the claims offered on the basis of attack on the person. Attacking the person can come in various forms: attacking character of the person, or circumstances in connection with the person such as suggesting that this person or that person did not attend the best school, etc., in order to discredit the claims the person in question makes. I encourage my readers, those who are not familiar, to familiarize themselves with fallacious reasoning to avoid being persuaded of a claim for a wrong or irrelevant reason. It is also important for writers to avoid committing fallacious reasoning when they make claims and want their readers to judge whether the claims are true or false based on good reason or evidence rather than using fallacious reasoning, intentionally or unintentionally, to persuade the readers. I provide a handy reference to Fallacies in the link in the footnote.

    As I said above at the beginning of this piece, it is important to think of the younger people who are our readers and what we want them to learn from us. I am confident that none of us who have had opportunities to study various academic disciplines and with expertise in our respective disciplines would want the young people to see us as bad examples or as bad role models. I encourage all of us who, public intellectuals,   to strive to make our exchanges civil, and respectful to the extent that we are able.

    Dr. Tedla Woldeyohannes can be reached at twoldeyo@slu.edu

    [1] Lewis Vaughn, The Power of Critical Thinking (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 169.

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  • Ethiopia: Jawar’s new speech about the Amhara resistance

    Jawar’s new speech about the Amhara resistance is a subterfuge in an attempt to get the Amhara youth out of the Ethiopiawinet.

    by Kaleab Tessema

    To start with, Jawar is a political amateur who engages in preaching of the ethnic animosity. He has a deep-seated ill will towards the  Amharas that threatens to kindle hostility between the Oromo and the Amhara. He has been emulating the OLF’s political rancor towards the Amhara ethnicity for the last fifty years. As soon as he landed in America, Jawar immediately plunged into the OLF camp to pursue the politics of hate. This anti-Amhara zealotry is a ‘political business cycle’,  which Jawar would immensely benefit from by raising money from credulous audiences.Jawar’s New Ploy - Hijacking Amhara Resistance

    To the point, OLF is a political miscreant, that murdered innocent Amharas in the early 90’s for no reason other than merely being an Amhara. Those actions have left an indelible and unalterable impression. Jawar’s recent guileful speech on Amhara nationalism was striking. In the speech, Jawar implies that the Amhara should organize and struggle to create the Amhara nation as if he has any regard for the demonization of the Amhara at the hands of the TPLF for the last 25 years. I have scrupulously listened and watched Jawar’s vacuous speech and videos that preach sectarianism and seek to destroy Ethiopia in order to create a new ‘Oromia nation’, which will never happen.

    It is interesting to note that Jawar’s recent speech about the Amhara resistance is reflective of the long time OLF doctrine that aims to expunge the name Ethiopia and replace it with the Oromia. Of course, the Oromo extremists are very much aware that ‘secessionist’ agenda is a venture, which has been an intractable political issue in Ethiopia, and roundly rejected by the Ethiopian people. The OLF tried to cajole Jawar into doing it by giving a passionate speech to the new Amhara resistance to create its nation, which will give the OLF a free ride to complete its struggle to create an independent Oromia. Therefore, the Amhara will become an extreme secessionist movement. Then, the Ethiopiawinet will vanish from the minds of the Amhara and other ethnic groups. Jawar and the OLF, deviously and systematically support the Amhara resistance to achieve their goals which is a sinister idea that could have dramatic results.

    In spite of this, the Amhara protesters in Gondar showed their solidarity with the Oromo protesters by saying that “Oromo’s blood is my blood, stop killing our brothers”. This slogan made the Ethiopians come together against the fascist regime, which effectively exposed the TPLF’s poly, ‘divide and rule’ of the last 25 years. It is true that the regime was seen panicking when the Oromos and the Amharas marched together to give voice to the voiceless. These two ethnicities were rifted and looked at each other as enemies for the last 25 years by the TPLF’s fabulist propaganda.

    Funny enough, while the Oromo and the Amhara youth were protesting in every city in the country against the TPLF brutal rule, the Diaspora Oromo extremists instantly held a convention in London that announced to destroy Ethiopia, which halted the impending departure of the TPLF rule.  It seems the OLF politicians are detached from the real political issues when the Oromos are killed and massively arrested by the TPLF, the OLF hypes their old and moribund secessionist agenda that helps the TPLF to stay in power. That is why I am forced to say Jawar is an amateur politician. Politicians should be very wise and systematic to know well the time and condition regarding how to win the enemy, but the OLF never comes out from its own political quagmire.

    I have recently listened to a comparison analogy about the Ethiopian identity from one of the hate preachers, an OLF extremist who lives in Australia. He was trying to explain that there is no such thing as Ethiopian identity. In other words, he was trying to tell us his contempt that “Oromo nation,” which has been colonized by Ethiopia, and the Oromos are forced to accept the Ethiopian identity by Minillik. I can infer this from his fatuous utterance. This extremist should have a better understanding of the Ethiopian identity before Minillik was born. This is not a new denial of the Ethiopian national identity by the OLF, it has continued for over fifty years, and maybe this extremist thinks that his new distorted rhetoric could be a new political strategy for the OLF. Talking about the Ethiopian identity is a very impolitic idea at this point unless the goal is to help the TPLF regime to continue killing and arresting the people. However, the Ethiopian national identity is an immutable fact.

    To that extent, when Shabia and Woyanne were in the bush, their hidden political agenda was to evanesce Ethiopia into nonexistence by creating an envious environment between Ethiopia’s ethnic groups that leads to the war. For the record, the late Melese openly said that ‘Ethiopian history is only 100 years, and its flag is a piece of rag’, but when his erstwhile friend, Isayas Afeworki, invaded Bademie, he gave a speech to Ethiopians standing alongside the flag that he belittled it, to retake Bademie from Shabia by saying that ‘Ethiopian history is three thousand years,’ which later made him under pain of ignominy.

    As far as I know, the Amhara nationalists are not as narrow minded as the OLF. Everyone knows that when the TPLF seized Addis Ababa, the TPLF’s major role was supporting the Bedeno and Arbagugu genocide by campaigning for other ethnic groups to look with an invidious eye upon the Amharas. I have mentioned in my previous pieces the TPLF’s diabolical actions against the Amharas. I am so glad that the Amhara resistance is fighting this vampire regime in Gondar without respite that will bring the demise of the TPLF era once for all.

    Interestingly enough, Sebahat Nega and Samora Yenus the TPLF officials, bragged that they buried the Amhara and the Orthodox church. Obviously, the TPLF could not eliminate the Amhara and the Orthodox church; this was indirectly a threatening message for non Amhara ethnicities who may try to resist their power that they will have the same fate, what the Amhara had.

    But the heroic Gondare showed its determination more than ever before to curtail the TPLF brutal rule at any cost. It was stupid of the TPLF to undermine the Amharas, who are a ferocious warriors who can not bargain with their identity or land. There is good evidence that the Amhara resistance in Welkait and elsewhere dislodged the TPLF hireling armies within less than a year. The TPLF thinks that annexing fertile lands from Gondar and Wollo by force will bring prosperity for the people of Tigray. Rather, this creates a big enemy that the Tigray people will have to bear the repercussions of with high grimaces on their face from the rest of the Ethiopians.

    Of course, millions of Amharas have been killed by the TPLF for the last 25 years, but the TPLF will pay the price sooner or later. The TPLF, like it or not, the Amhara people are not going to remain silent until they get back their land that was forcefully taken by the expansionist, TPLF regime.

    As I mentioned above Jawar turns his face with his adroit tongue to propel the Amhara nationalist into his dirty ethnic political acrimony that pushes the ethnicities into an endless war, which threatens the existence of Ethiopia as a country. Jawar assumes the non-Oromo opposition party is an Amhara party, as if the Amhara ethnicity is the arch-enemy of the Oromo ethnicity; whereas the Oromo and the Amhara lived peacefully side by side for thousands of years. That is how history has been written.

    If I recall correctly, about five years ago, the OLF was lead by General Kemal Gelichu, and G7 was lead by Dr. Berhanu Nega. These parties announced that they would work together and their announcement was posted on several Ethiopian outlets. Then quickly, Jawar wrote an article criticizing the G7, which was posted on Ethiomedia and entitled “The ‘new’ OLF: Much ado about nothing.” Jawar decries that the OLF has been hijacked by the G7. He insinuates that the G7 is an extreme Amhara party.

    I criticized Jawar’s article that the G7 was not an extreme Amhara party. It can be viewed at the following link.

    https://quateronet.wordpress.com/2012/02/11/jawar-mohammed-vs-ginbot-7/

     

    Finally, I have been extremely critical of the Oromo extremists and the way that they poison the minds of the Oromo youngsters to have repugnance towards Amharas. It does not matter that Jawar is an adroit speaker, it is obvious he is not very adroit when it comes to Amhara nationalist. The Amhara resistance will never be enticed by Jawar’s recent venomous speech that promotes secession element, is a sign of a criminal epidemics that affects society.

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