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  • Ethiopia | Teddy Afro’s 2017 Album Reportedly To Be Sold For 15 Million Birr

    Ethiopia, the fifth musical album of the Ethiopian music star, Tewodros Kassahun aka Teddy Afro, 40, set to be released in three weeks time for Easter, has reportedly been sold for a record of 15 million Ethiopian Birr.

    According to Tadias Addis, an entertainment FM radio program on Sheger FM, founded in 2017 by four business people engaged in hotel and mobile phone businesses,  the record company, Joys Events and Promotion Company, has already signed the agreement with the artist.

    The album contains 12 songs. Songs in Tigre language, Siddama language and a special tribute to a legendary Ethiopian novel story, Fiker Eskemekaber (Love Onto Death), are included in the album.



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  • Ethiopia: Patriotic Ginbot 7 Strength, Challenges and Opportunities

    by T.Goshu

    1. Introduction

    Let me from the outset underscore that lack of political civility in the course of our conversations and debates is a serious challenge we need to face and deal with it accordingly. Developing the political culture of focusing on issues of serious concern and making a concerted effort in order to save our country from tragic destruction and to making it a much better homeland of this 21st century is one of the main reasons to get rid of the minority ethno-centric tyranny. The political sentiment of “I or we do not want to join others in any form of collaboration if I or we do not take the drivers’ seat” is still notoriously troubling.  The very nefarious political mentality of waging attacks and counter-attack because we simply disagree with each other’s ideas or views on certain issues of concern is still a very serious challenge we have to face. We are witnessing the surfacing and resurfacing of these types of political attitudes and practices even at this very critical moment which desperately demands for more tolerance, mutual respect, not to turn disagreements into animosity, the willingness and ability to move forward in search of common ground that should pave the way for making our common destiny truly worthwhile.

    To be more clear and specific, when those movements of freedom and justice such as Patriotic –Ginbot 7 become the targets of those fellow Ethiopians especially in the diaspora who are victims of the very stupid political attitude of “if any political or social movement does not allow me or us to irrefutably determine the direction and fate of the country, everything is doomed to fail “, we cannot afford to remain silent or indifferent. We have to wisely and constructively fight back and make those individuals or groupings either to play politics of grownups or to get of peoples’ way toward the realization of freedom and justice.Patriotic Ginbot 7 claims responsibility

    I am well aware that there may be some fellow Ethiopians who may categorize me as a “foot soldier” of the movement for the simple reason I try to express my views and ideas as any genuinely concerned ordinary Ethiopian. Although I know that I do not need to swear that I am or I am not a member of this or that political party/movement to those who are muddling in the politics of name calling and categorization instead of   focusing on issues of concern, I want to be clear that I am just a genuinely concerned ordinary Ethiopian who advocates and supports any political party or movement which does try to do its best for the prevalence of freedom and justice in the country.  And I also want to proudly be clear that Patriotic Ginbot 7 is the one which deserves not just words of appreciation but practical support if we have to make a difference.

    The very purpose of this piece of writing is to provoke genuine, critical, productive and forward-looking dialogues or conversations about who is who and who is doing what in Ethiopian politics. I sincerely believe that engaging ourselves in dialogues and arguments aimed at the question of what are our strengths and weaknesses, how we can and should learn from our mistakes and weaknesses, and how to move forward by capitalizing on our strengths is the first critical step to be taken.

    It goes without saying that dialogues and conversations must be characterized by a real sense of civility, wisdom, integrity, responsibility, accountability and with a good spirit of searching for desirable consequences if we have to move a step forward. And this kind of deeply –rooted culture of interaction is desperately needed to internalize and feel the unbearably painful experiences the people of Ethiopia had gone and are going through, not simply trying to process it as any other unfortunate experience  and back to politics as usual.

    We desperately need to get our eyes wide –open and see the very dire situation in which the Ethiopian people are struggling. We desperately need the willingness and ability to seriously and timely recognize that we are in a very critical situation where our hearts and minds must be listening to the very voices and songs of misery in our country. We have to feel the very terrible painful experience the people have gone and going through.  It is  then and only then  that we can understand whether we are moving in the direction of hope instead of despair, joy instead of sorrow, human dignity instead of dehumanization and prosperity instead of abject poverty. Yes, if we do not put ourselves in the very situation of the people who have gone and are going through an incredible level of dehumanization and if we do not deeply feel their painful feelings, we will be continuing making empty rhetoric(devoid of sincerity and practical integrity) and become victims of self-deception and self-defeat.

    The songs and voices of misery and despair in our country must strike us hard and penetrate deep inside our hearts and minds. I strongly believe that it is only and only when we are willing and able to make the very horrifying voices and songs of the people parts of our own inner self that we can turn things around.  I strongly believe that our serious weaknesses in this regard has huge contribution to our failure which makes us one of “the wretched of the earth” (as Franz Fanon used it as a title of his book).

    Needless to say, the political arena in our country is not the arena of politics we normally know. It is a political arena in which hundreds and thousands of innocent Ethiopians   are terrorized, intimidated, forcibly disappeared, arbitrarily arrested/jailed, tortured, or murdered. It is a country where millions of parents are in a very tragic situation which goes to the extent of regretting having children. If we have to make a difference, we have to ask ourselves: Why and how the land of immense natural resources and hardworking people has become the land of the voices and songs of extremely painful sorrow? Do we really have justifiable and convincing reasoning why and how we are victims of just decry the voices and songs of sorrow and simply deal with lamentation as usual?

    W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) one of the prominent political and human rights activists and the leading figures of Pan-African Movement who lived in between two centuries (19th and 20th) in his very concise but very powerful book, The Souls of Black Folks (1903, the latest edition of 1994) has a chapter, The SORROW SONGS which painfully describes the miserable consequences of the politics of slavery and racial discrimination.

    I walk through the churchyard
    To lay this body down,
    I know moonlight, I know starlight,
    I walk in moonlight, I walk in starlight,
    I lie in the grave and stretched out my arms,
    I will go to judgement in the evening of the day,
    And my soul and thy soul shall meet that day,
    When I lay this body down.

    Although the very sentiment and kind of implicit practices still exists, America, a country of relatively short period of history is no more a country of voices and songs of sorrow thanks to those who fought against the very evil sentiments and practices that reigned a society in the past. Du Bois describes the very situation through which his black compatriots had to go through as follows; “They walked in darkness, sang songs in the olden days- sang songs – for they were weary at heart.” And he describes how he powerfully felt it by saying “… echo of these weird old songs in which the soul of the black slave   spoke to men.” He expresses what and how he felt when he was fortunate enough to witness the betterment of things after going through incredibly painful struggle when he says, “Out of them (the sorrow songs) rose for me morning, noon and night, bursts of wonderful melody, full of the voices of my brothers and sisters, full of the voices of   the past.”

    Let’s take deep breath and think honestly and courageously where we are now as a people who claim a history of thousands of years and commemorating the 121st anniversary of the great victory of Adwa. Let’s painfully but for good admit that we are in a serious state of paradox. On the one hand, we claim that we are children of great forefathers /foremothers of makers of great history which is absolutely true.  On the other hand, we are generation of failure to make our own history of building a democratic and prosperous country which has made us terribly embarrassed not only in the faces of “donor countries” but also in very faces of countries which we have shown what independence meant to the extent of extending our   assistance for ensuring their struggle for independence.

    It is deeply painful for me when I use the following heart-breaking voices and songs (Yehazen Enguguros) which have got worse and worse from time to time both in terms of intensity and scope.

    በአንድ ሉክ ወረቀት ጀምሬ አቤቱታ
    ስንት አመት ልኑር ስንገላታ: :
    ለምስለኔው ሙግት ለጭቃው ወጠጤ
    እንዲህ ብዬ ነወይ በአገር መቀመጤ ::

    These are voices of a poor peasant (farmer) or pastoralist which powerfully echoed the sorrow of millions of his compatriots because he saw for himself that justice was not only delayed but denied during the reign of the feudal system. Interestingly and logically enough, he (the peasant) reasoned out the very reason for the justice delayed and denied. And that very reason is the practice of offering bribe to local officials with traditional titles whose tasks were local administration, mainly tax collection.  What made the lives of millions of poor farmers unbearably painful was that they had to pay bribe in kind (the best of lambs) whereas their families were unable to feed themselves let alone to afford all basic necessities.

    መላኩ ተፈራ የእግዜር ታናሽ ወንድም:
    የዛሬን ማርልኝ ሁለተኛ አልወልድም::

    This is the voice of an Ethiopian mother which echoed the devastation of millions of Ethiopian mothers after three years of the taking power of the brutal military dictatorship (1977/78). Genuinely concerned Ethiopians, take deep breath and think how the political madness of the time turned the very basic belief and principle of humanity upside down. I do not know what else could be extremely horrifying than witnessing our mothers begging mercy from those who totally lost common human sense to save their children and promising not to give birth  any more. Folks, I am not talking about something that we can bring back. I am talking about our incredible failure to learn a hard lesson and change the very political history of songs and voices of misery, sorrow, despair and helplessness for the better. What happened and what is happening after going through horrifying politically motivated crime against humanity and devastating socio-economic situations for a long period of time?

    Here is how history is repeating itself in a much more horrible manner in this 21st century mainly because of not only the brutality of the ethno- centric tyranny but also our own nonsensical failure of learning a hard lesson, coming together and fighting against the political culture of taking power by hook or crook and perpetuating it by any cruel means.

    በሰማይ ሰማያት የሆነው ዙፋንህ
    እስቲ ፍቀድልኝ አንዴ ልጠይቅህ::

    የዕለት ጉርስ አጉራሼን ልጄን ሲገሉብኝ
    እሪ ያገር ያለህ ብዬ ስለጮህኩኝ
    እግዚኦ ያንተ ያለህ ብዬ ስላዘንኩኝ
    በልጄ አስከሬን ላይ ተቀመጭ ተባልኩኝ::

    የአዳም ዘር ይድን ዘንድ መስቀል ላይ እያለህ
    እንዴት እንደሆነች ብፅእት እናትህ
    እኔ አልነግርህም አንተው ታውቀዋለህ::

    እኮ ልጠይቅህ ምንድነው ዝምታህ፣ መዘግየቱስ ፍርድህ
    እናት መሀፀኗን ስትረግም እያየህ።

    This is how I put the heartbreaking words of an Oromo mother whose child was murdered and most disturbingly forced to sit on his dead body. Needless to say, this devastated mother was forced to bear the unbearable sorrow or grief. Her voice calls for respecting the inalienability and the sanctity of human life, fundamental human right and dignity. This voice is not the voice of one or few mothers. It powerfully tells the untold sufferings endured by millions of innocent Ethiopian mothers.

    I listened to the voice of her deeply broken heart on various media out lets.  It is very difficult to comprehend how the evil-minded security forces of the ethno-centric tyranny made her sorrow and grief unbearably painful. Yes, it is so difficult to find words which could describe why and how we as a people could not able to change the course of a political history of dreadful vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself in a much more horrifying manner. Genuinely concerned Ethiopians, is this not tragically heartbreaking to witness the politics of dehumanization or inhumane (red terror) repeating itself in this 21st century in much more devastating manner?

    Yes, it is much more devastating because what we have witnessed for a quarter of century is that TPLF/EPRDF by its very nature and by all accounts of its behavior and action is the a political entity whose existence is absolutely dependent on its killing machines (especial military force –Agazi, security and police forces).

    As if the untold sufferings of the people of Ethiopia for the past two decades are not enough, what the political madness of the minority ethno-centric ruling circle has done in the last couple of years is extremely hard to comprehend let alone to endure.

    The good thing is that in the midst of all these dreadful situations, Ethiopia is not without sons and daughters who selflessly dedicated and determined to change the political and socio-economic history of suppression and destitution ones and for all. Needless to say, this glorious but extremely challenging mission and operation requires both organizational, material and moral strength which must come from the willingness and ability of each genuinely concerned Ethiopian.

    1. Where the strength of political opposition forces such as Patriotic – Ginbot7 Movement for Unity and Democracy comes from and how it plays the role it should play in this political Environment which is characterized by ticking fast towards its turning point?

    Despite the challenges and weaknesses it has gone through and continues to go through, I sincere believe that the way Patriotic Ginbot 7 has dealt  and continues to deal with the deadly political madness of TPLF/EPRDF is quite encouraging. How and why? Let me proceed.

    • The first and most important step of strength for any genuinely and courageously concerned political opposition force or movement is knowing the very nature, behavior and action of those who are in power. Have we seen (witnessed) this kind of political wisdom in Patriotic –Ginbot 7? Absolutely we have!  Who and how? We have not only read but practically witnessed how Anadargachew Tsegie, who stands the great heroic fighter for freedom and justice has to depict the very dreadful and wicked nature, behavior and actions of TPLF/EPRDF when he titled his book  (2005),  “ነፃነትን የማያውቅ ነፃ አውጪ (A Freedom Fighter Who Does Not Know What Freedom is)”. We do know that this very powerfully worded title of the book which speaks volumes is not from someone who has conducted a study and draws conclusion as usual. This is from a person who have the very first hand information which is obtained through his own hard experience  by being part of the politics of TPLF/EPRDF  hoping that things might have changed for the better. It is this kind of selflessly patriotic characteristic that has lot to do with the strength of Patriotic –Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy.
    • It was not incidental when Dr. (now Professor) Berahnu Nega wrote his book, Yenetsanet Goh Siked (The Dawn of Freedom) in 2006 in his prison cell which describes, analyses and discusses in depth about not only the ruling party which does not know what freedom is but also the very illness of Ethiopian political economy and how to break its vicious cycle. It is quite true to say that these two patriotic Ethiopians share deep and strong conviction as far as how to get rid of those “freedom fighters who do not know what freedom is” and bring about a system of genuine freedom and justice is concerned.

    Here is what professor Berhanu has to say in the introductory part of his book;

    “ለልጆቹ የተሻለ ሕይወትን የማይመኝና  በተቻለ መጠን የተሻለ የሕይወት  እድልን  ትቶ ለማለፍ የማይችል ትውልድና  አገር  በቁሙ እየሞተ ያለ አገር ነው የሚል ፅኑ እምነት አለኝ (  I strongly believe that a generation (a country) that does not wish its children all the best  and cannot do whatever it can to leave better opportunities of life behind is just dying alive.”) This is not a political rhetoric which we usually hear from the majority of our politicians. This is a very powerful argument of belief from a person who has done what he has said. A person of his words! It is this kind of deeply thought and firmly built commitment that gives Patriotic –Ginbot 7 the strength which we are witnessing practically.

    2.3.) Needless to say, the very reason for the coming into being of Ginbot 7 in the year 2008 was based on extremely painful first hand experiences its founding members had to go through. They had strong belief that peaceful transfer of power (genuinely democratic process of election) might have worked if it were given a chance especially by the very inner circle of TPLF/EPRDF. Sadly enough, it did not work.

    Having a very thorough and serious assessment and reassessment of what went wrong for almost two decades (1991-2008) and how the ruling party has made things much more disastrous, those patriotic sons and daughters of Ethiopia founded Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy.

    The founding members of the movement reached a powerfully justifiable and legitimate conclusion.  And the conclusion was that as the ruling party has no any interest and willingness to relinquish its tyrannical power and become a partner of peaceful and democratic transfer of power, there is no choice for them left but waging all-inclusive methods of struggle and make Ethiopia a country of freedom, justice , dignity , equal opportunity  and shared prosperity.

    2.4.) Genuine sense of self- awareness, self-motivation, self-devotion, self-assertion, self-mobilization and above all the determination to pay necessary sacrifices to accomplish the desirable mission set forth is the very central and powerful source where the strength of Patriotic Ginbot 7 comes from. Yes, whenever these highly valued characteristics of individuals or groups originate from within (the very inner soul) and develop by the very challenging environment they belong to, they become the material forces of strength in the process of the struggle to get rid of what is bad and replace it with what is good for the well-being of our society.  That is what I can see in Patriotic –Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy.

    It should be noted and recognized that the deep -rooted sense of willingness and ability of the former Patriotic Front and Ginbot 7 to come together and make a unified movement with a real sense of open mindedness and mutual trustworthiness was and is one of the remarkable sources of strength of the current Patriotic Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy.  This truly patriotic progress had to originate from the minds and hearts of leaderships and members of the two movements who have seen the sufferings of the people for themselves, and have deeply felt the unbearably painful voices and songs of sorrow of the people.

    The leading role played by Andargachew Tsegie in this process of coming together and fighting together against a brutal minority ethno-centric tyranny takes a glorious chapter in the history of the Movement in particular and the political history of the country in general. Andargachew Tsegie did not take much time when he made himself available right at the very forefront of the struggle. His pictures we saw, his videos we watched, his voices we listened to, the house we saw he used to shelter himself, the mats he used to sleep on, the blankets he used to keep himself warm are powerful reminders how the price to be paid  for freedom, justice , liberty and human dignity is immeasurably huge .

    Here is   the very powerful song he wrote while he was with patriots of freedom and justice in areas where all necessary preparatory works take place.

    ላንቺ ነው ኢትዮጵያ ላንቺ ነው
    ላንቺ ነው አገሬ ላንቺ ነው
    ላንቺ ነው ኢትዮጵያ የተሰባሰብነው
    ላንቺ ነው አገሬ እኛ የምንሞተው
    ላንቺ ነው ኢትዮጵያ ደሜን የማፈሰው::

    በባለጌ መዳፍ ጀርባሽ ለጎበጠው
    የስቃይሽ ስቃይ ሰማይ ለነደለው
    ዐይንሽ እስኪጠፋ ደም ለምታነቢው
    ላንቺ ነው አገሬ ሕይወት የገበርነው።

    What he is telling us is not only about an incredibly painful situation our country is forced to deal with; but he is also reaffirming his profound dedication to pay the ultimate sacrifice if a change for the better has to be realized. Now, it is more than two years since he was abducted at Sanaa, Yemen international airport in June 2014. His willingness and determination to keep the promise he has committed even in the face of brutal and merciless state machineries of TPLF/EPRDF has added tremendous strength to the progress being made by Patriotic- Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy. His deep-rooted and unwavering dedication to freedom, justice and human dignity has become the energizing force of unified mobilization in support of the just cause he stands for.

    2.5.) The leadership of Patriotic-Ginbot 7 has practically exemplified how its selfless devotion is firmly built, has shown what leading by example meant to its members and its supporters, and above all shown its unwavering promise to the people of Ethiopia when its chairman, professor Berhanu Nega took over the responsibility and duty on the ground right after the abduction of Anadargachew Tsegie. He was followed by other truly patriotic members of the leadership such as Ephrem Madebo and others who left their well-to-do life styles and beloved families behind for the sake of the prevalence of freedom and justice for this generation and generations to come. It is these types of profoundly powerful political characteristics which determine the strength and subsequently success of the Movement.

    2.6.) Genuine willingness, courage, and ability to engage in any a real sense of conversation with any political grouping of genuine concern as long as it focus on pivotal issues of national or shared concern, not on very trivial if not nonsensical matters of which some fellow Ethiopians provoke intentionally or unintentionally is one of the factors of the strength of Patriotic-Ginbot 7.

    Needless to say, this has been proved when the Ethiopian National Movement which consists of Patriotic-Ginbot 7, the Oromo Democratic Front, the Afar People’s Party and the Sidama People’s Movement was officially declared in October 2106.  I sincerely believe that this extremely desirable step forward is the result of those leaders of opposition forces who have learned from the very hard political path they have gone thorough and have reached remarkably wise, truly realistic and optimistically historic conclusion.

    This is a very significant testimony to the fact that strength of Patriotic –Ginbot 7 and members of the Ethiopian National Movement in the process creating a democratic and just society. I reasonably do believe that this Movement of togetherness should be joined by others who are genuinely concerned about the very notorious politics of ethnic and religious division, hatred, inciting deadly conflicts as weapons of staying in power, and most disturbingly committing politically motivated massacres. I really do not know what else should bring us together and fight for our own freedom, liberty and dignity if it is not an incredibly horrifying situation we are experiencing day in and day out.  The ongoing fundraising events organized in several cities throughout the world by Ethiopians is truly inspiring. Yes, an overwhelming majority Ethiopians have reached a conclusion that it is only and only through their not just active but also powerfully aggressive participation that the very strengths of the coming together of  freedom fighters can get much more stronger and make historic breakthrough sooner rather than later.

    1. Opportunities and Challenges

    3.1. Opportunities

    3.1.1) As a matter of fact, in a country like ours where people have never had the right and power to use favorable situations to their benefits throughout a long period of political history, the challenges we have gone thorough have been extremely painful. This was not because we were and are supposed to be challenge –freed which is realistically nonsense, but it was mainly because of our terrible failure to deal with them appropriately and effectively.

    We regrettably remember when the monarchy refused to make some kind of reform in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the loss of opportunities that might have helped the people escape the politics of bloodbath for 17 years if it were dealt with rationally and compassionately.

    Devastatingly enough, because we could not learn the bitter lesson, we lost opportunities and we end up in the political game of not only tyranny as we know but also a tyranny of which its policies are formulated and implemented on the basis of ethnic division, hatred, animosity, mutual exclusion and conflicts, economic destitution and moral degradation.

    Are there encouraging forces of political movements which are making their own efforts so that we should not continue the history of losing opportunities? Are these movements winning strong public recognition and support at this very critical moment of Ethiopian politics? My answer is reasonably positive (Patriotic-Ginbot 7). The reason I want to express this point of view is to highlight the critical importance of seizing opportunities which have presented themselves to the people of Ethiopia more clearly than before.

    3.1.2) In relation with the ongoing encouraging effort, I want to believe that the coming together of the four opposition forces (Ethiopian National Movement) is an exemplary step forward. I want to be optimistic that others which have genuine concern about living in a country of freedom, justice, and dignity and shared prosperity will join this movement in order to not to lose this 21st century political opportunities and not to repeat painfully regrettable failures.

    3.1.3)  It goes without saying that the ongoing truly patriotic fight for freedom and justice deep inside the country where the killing machines of TPLF/EPRDF are deployed is one of the main fronts of the political struggle with great opportunities to make things happen the way people want them to happen.

    3.1.4)  The ongoing popular resistance movement against evil-minded ruling elites who instructed the killings of innocent people in mass and most shockingly thanked agents of their killing machine via their speaking tool Prime Minster, Ato Hailemariam Dessalegn   is a very great opportunity never to slow down let alone to lose.

    3.1.5)  More and more Ethiopians in the diaspora have seriously realized that the minority ethno-centric tyranny must be forced either to come to the negotiating table or else to step down by all-inclusive method of political struggle. And they sincerely know which opposition forces are wisely and selflessly leading this very time sensitive and determinant opportunity.   Events of fundraisings, serious and issue-focused exchanges ideas and views of how to move proactively and aggressively we are witnessing throughout the world where Ethiopians reside are evidences of the self- devotion and self-mobilization not to lose great opportunities any more.

    3.1.6) Externally, although those foreign governments which continue to play their double standard in the name of anti-terrorism cooperation in the Horn of Africa , we are witnessing that they are showing a little more moving beyond the empty political words of “we are concerned”. This is because they are very well aware than before that the people of Ethiopia are determined to get rid of the minority ethno-centric tyranny and be the beneficiaries of a democratic system to be established. This is a very great opportunity to be firmly seized and exploited.

    3.1.7)  Needless to say, one of the most critically important inputs which should be taken very seriously in the process of the struggle for freedom and justice is the prevalence of freedom of information, press, speech and expression. Is there any existing opportunity of strengthening and expanding in this front of the struggle?

    I want to believe that the birth of ESAT almost seven years ago (April 2010) and how it  not only survived but also the way it has made truly impressive progress is a powerful evidence of the existence of great opportunities to be firmly seized and exploited. For the people who are totally deprived of their fundamental values of freedoms, the very vibrant and consequential effort being made by ESAT is priceless.  I am not saying we have done what we are supposed to do and ESAT is at its full capacity. Not at all! What I am trying to say is that the direction ESAT is moving and the efforts it is making is truly encouraging. Needless to say, there is a long way to go and a lot to be done. I am reasonably optimistic!

    3.2. Challenges

    It goes without saying that our political culture of notoriously non-compromise and incivility which keeps going from bad to worse in this 21st century cannot go way without exerting a concerned and resilient efforts by those who seriously and genuinely concerned and dedicated doing something right and just. Let me highlight just a few of the serious challenges which those political opposition movements more particularly Patriotic-Ginbot 7 and recently formed Ethiopian National Movement and those who truly share the concerns of these movements have to deal with.

    3.2.1) The first and most serious challenge will be the continuation of the deadly political game by minority ethno-centric tyranny. I strongly believe that there must be rational and realistic mutual understanding by all genuinely concerned political opposition forces that it is this notoriously brutal ruling circle that should be the very target of the struggle. I know this is a very daunting task. But there is no choice other than dealing with it with a strong sense of optimism and action of resilience.

    3.2.2)  I understand that the above task is not and will not be as easy as the political rhetoric of diaspora politicians who keep breeding parties or groups of friends or cronies and pretend that they are doing great.  I do not think I need to conduct especial study or survey to argue that despite we do experience both political, socio-economic and cultural life of the world we live in (especially Europe and North America), we disgracefully and terribly failed as far as coming together and help the people of Ethiopia defeat the ruthless minority ethnic-based tyranny and replace it with a system of government which should be governing with only and only people’s consent.

    Although we are witnessing the better way of seeing and doing things, thanks to the efforts being made by movements   such as Patriotic –Ginbot 7 and newly formed Ethiopian National Movement as well as those freedom fighters back home who are playing their heroic part; the notoriously disruptive challenge from the diaspora politics will continue to be dealt with critically, rationally, with a sense of civility, constructively, resolutely, and straightforwardly. Having big and attractive names of ethnic-based, multi-ethnic (nation-wide) political or civic organizations or even religious intuitions in the diaspora and making big and well-articulated rhetoric but devoid of action must   be looked into and  put in the right direction so that it should serve the very purpose of  bringing about freedom, justice and human dignity.

    3.2.3) I do not think it is either simply undermining or creating a sense of pessimism to say that as those parties which have been operating with the blessing of TPLF/EPRDF ( respecting the constitution/punishment document  which is mainly used to destroy them)  are now practically non-existent. And its psychological impact on an ordinary Ethiopian cannot be ignored. Not only this, but the very behavior of the majority of the leaders of so-called opposition parties may be comfortable to accept few parliamentary seats and executive branch posts and make TPLF/EPRDF look “beautiful” especially in the face of international politics and diplomacy. I am not saying that all these dirty games by TPLF and its cronies will totally stall the popular resistance movement in a long-lasting manner. What I am saying is that the challenge in this regard requires well-thought and coordinated strategic move.

    3.2.4)The question of serious assessment and reassessment of anger or emotion- driven and disorganized popular resistance movement which is very easily vulnerable to the brutality of the ruling party is one of the serious challenges in advancing the desirable path of freedom and justice. Yes, the politics of sporadic and simply anger-born response does not only become victim of visible brutal reaction by TPLF/EPRDF but it also opens itself to the messengers/securities of the killing machine and suffers a very painful consequences. I strongly argue what we have witnessed since the last couple of years has partly suffered from this aspect of very tough challenge.

    3.2.5) Of all these serious challenges of this time, the very deeply painful challenge is our repeated and incredibly nonsensical failure to make a genuine and effective political gravity center which attracts all genuinely concerned political forces which should go beyond the notoriously wicked personal or group egos. If we are honest enough with ourselves , it is not because the ordinary people of Ethiopia are interested in  or happy with our bogus claims of representing this or that  ethnic group or any other form group that contributes to the perpetuation of a brutal ethnic-based tyranny . It is we who foolishly or stupidly try to create our own small kingdoms and become princes /princess or kings/queens of absolute reign that makes the people of Ethiopia one of the most dehumanized and destitute people of the world.  That is why we are witnessing individuals and groupings making big and notoriously nasty noises whenever genuinely concerned Ethiopians are trying to come together to find solutions of common concerns without losing their own identity and  concern.

    On the other side of the story,  ,it is not  the people of Ethiopia  who are interested in or happy with our politics of unity without taking our diversity of ethnic –identity, language, socio – cultural uniqueness and the way how  we look at  Ethiopia as our  common homeland . It is we the politicians or educated elites who terribly mislead and manipulate the minds of the people for our own voracious ambition in the name of unity. That is why we hear and listen to very loud and nasty noises whenever multi-ethnic (national) political movements are trying to reach out those fellow Ethiopians with ethnic-based political parties/organizations and make a concerted effort to make their country a country of freedom, justice, dignity, and equal opportunity for all her citizens. A huge and serious challenge!

    3.2.6) As a matter of fact, our deep-rooted political sentiment and thinking(the politics of Divine or God-chosen authority)  which had been systematically inculcated in the minds of the people for centuries by many absolute monarchies and their cronies have their own contribution to the situation where we are now. Sadly enough, this very long history of political inculcation had to give its place to systems of naked and brutal coercion which encompasses intimidation, harassment, politically motivated incarnation, torture and mass killings since the 1970s which has gone out of control for the last quarter of a century. Think deeply and regrettably how many innocent citizens have been massacred by the brutal forces of TPLF/EPRDF in Gambella, Sidama, Ogaden, and very recently in Oromia (especialy in Bishoftu), different parts of the Amahara regional state, in Konso of southern regional state??? How can we explain the recent tragedy of perishing hundreds of citizens by the slide of mountain of garbage right in the capital city due to irresponsible behavior of the ruling elites of TPLF/EPRDF?

    I understand that it is foolish to unsystematically confront the TPLF/EPRDF death squad face to face and with no well-thought and planned operation. Retreat, reorganize /mobilize/remobilize and strike back is the right and effective method in the current Ethiopian political reality.

    But this very challenging task is terribly difficult in a society which is vulnerable to the very self-defeating mentality of waiting for some kind of miracle to happen.  I honestly fear that this sentiment of “adapting” to the situation itself instead of resolutely fight against it and get out of it is a serious challenge.  I hate to say but I have to say that this kind of sentiment/mentality of “I tired but I couldn’t make it and therefore the alternative is just wait for a miracle to happen” is part and parcel of the teachings and preaching of  the majority of our religious leaders, preachers (be it Christianity or Islam). Simply put, religious belfries which try hard to avoid standing for the prevalence of human rights and dignity with the pretext of being apolitical is a very notorious challenge to be dealt with accordingly.

    To my understanding, the great teachings of Jesus and his followers (the Great Book-the Bible) is to strongly remind us that to deal with life in this world desperately requires a very strong and wise patience of doing things; not to step back from the role we have to play in this world but to move forward, rationally, cautiously, compassionately, and make what goes wrong right.  I am not a student of the Bible; but as any ordinary follower of Christianity with basic understanding, I strongly believe that preaching the people that tolerating any suffering in this world will be a silence or permit to enter the eternal life after death is self-defeating if not killing of people’s moral and gut which are necessary to reject injustice and dehumanization. It is a common religious knowledge that religious believers absolutely need the help of their creator in their endeavors to fight back what is injustice and accept what is just and right in this earthly life.  Fellow Ethiopians, this is one of the challenges we need to deal with if we are truly concerned about the dignity and inalienability of life. If we do not internalize this priceless aspects of human life and try to maintain and make it better, it is not possible to make a difference in our ongoing struggle for freedom and justice.

    Ethiopians are determined to get rid of their bad guys (TPLF/EPRDF) with a leadership of selflessly patriotic Ethiopians. This opportunity should not be lost at all. How? By not simply telling about the horrible story of TPLF/EPRDF; but by practically showing the inevitability of victory over ethno-centric tyrannical regime.

    3.2.7) The notoriously brutal minority ethno-centric ruling circle will continue to spend the poor tax prayers money and monies from foreign assistances for making sure not only  the non-existence of free media and press in the country but also for disrupting and jamming media broadcasting from abroad such as ESAT . This is a serious challenge to be dealt with wisely, appropriately and aggressively. How? By coming together and supporting ESAT and other pro- freedom and pro-democracy media in a consistent, systematic and resolute manner.

    To conclude: Challenges and opportunities are two aspects of any societal action and interaction. As these are intrinsic aspects of life itself under normal circumstances, the only thing we can and should do is deal with them wisely and appropriately.

    The political challenges in our country are not challenges we normally know and endure. They are extraordinarily difficult.

    But in the midst of those challenges, there are opportunities which presents themselves if we wisely cultivate them and work on them in a real sense of courage, collective vision, persistence/resilience, togetherness/cooperation/unity, tolerance/patience and of course with a real sense of urgency. As all these cannot be done without the existence of organizational leadership, the concerted efforts to strengthen political opposition Movements such as Patriotic –Ginbot 7 are indispensable if we want to make our dreams of freedom, justice and human dignity realities.

     I reasonably remain optimistic!

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  • Letter on Ethiopia to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs

    Human Rights Watch: Letter on Ethiopia to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs / Vice-President of the European Commission Mogherini

    Federica Mogherini

    High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs /
    Vice-President of the European Commission
    Rue de la Loi, Wetstraat 200
    1049 Brussels

    Brussels, March 23, 2017

    Dear High Representative Mogherini,

    Human Rights Watch wishes to express our deep disappointment over the one-sided statement issued by your office during your official visit to Ethiopia last week. In the public statement of March 17, 2017, you focus only on the important European Union partnerships with Ethiopia on humanitarian assistance, migration, refugees, and economic growth, and reiterate your support for the dialogue with the political opposition currently underway.

    In our view the statement was a missed opportunity to state publicly and unequivocally that Ethiopia’s repressive response to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly –  illustrated by the government’s brutal crackdown on protests– is not conducive to Ethiopia’s long-term stability or the EU’s ability to partner with Ethiopia on areas of mutual interest.

    As you are aware, Ethiopia’s widespread human rights violations against its citizens means that Ethiopia is a country producing refugees and asylum seekers seeking safety.

    Since November 2015 state security forces have killed hundreds and arrested tens of thousands of protesters, plunging Ethiopia into a human rights crisis. A state of emergency, called in October 2016, prescribes sweeping restrictions that go far beyond what is permissible under international law, eliminating what little space there was for the peaceful expression of critical views. The government has detained over 20,000 in “rehabilitation camps” since the state of emergency was declared, according to official figures. Widespread and long-standing restrictions on media and civil society groups continue to be enforced. Opposition leaders remain in detention on politically motivated charges, including Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) leader Dr. Merera Gudina, who was arrested following his attendance at a briefing on November 9 in Brussels organized by an MEP. Just three weeks before your visit, he was charged with “outrages against the constitution” and faces up to life in imprisonment.

    Harassment through criminal charges, arbitrary detention of political opposition members and supporters, restrictions on financing, and registration problems have decimated opposition parties since the 2010 election. Actual or perceived members of opposition parties have difficulty accessing the benefits of development and humanitarian assistance, including that provided by the EU and its member states. This partisan system ensures that Ethiopians in rural or drought-vulnerable areas of the country are dependent on the government, bolstered by EU support, for their livelihoods, food aid, employment, and health care. This further constricts the space for political expression, dialogue and further undermines the effectiveness of opposition parties. From the government’s perspective, the strategy has been successful — the ruling party and its affiliates won 100 percent of the seats in federal parliament in 2015 despite strong anti-government sentiments in many parts of the country as the protests would later illustrate.

    Dismantling opposition parties, imprisoning critical opposition voices, and then inviting whomever remains to engage in a dialogue is not the “right direction,” as your statement said. Nor is having such a dialogue in the shadow of a state of emergency with wide-ranging restrictions on free expression rights. Moderate, yet still critical opposition voices, including Dr. Merera, should be part of any credible dialogue with the opposition, and this should have been stressed privately and publicly to the prime minister as critical for any meaningful dialogue. Your expression of support for political dialogue without acknowledging the systematic destruction of legally registered opposition parties and the suppression of basic human rights is not constructive to the EU’s partnership with Ethiopia.

    Discussing economic partnerships during the state of emergency that followed 18 months of brutality partly triggered by the government’s abusive economic development approach illustrates our concern with your recent statement. The Ethiopian government has ignored the rights of those displaced by investment projects, failing to properly consult and compensate them. It begs the question: what polices or safeguards is the EU insisting are in place to ensure that economic development occurs with professed EU commitments to human rights respected?

    In this light, the EU-Ethiopia Business Forum should be postponed until the abusive provisions of the state of emergency are lifted. Moreover, the government should make progress on implementing reforms that are crucial for a rights-respecting business environment, such as the repeal or substantial amendment of the Charities and Societies Proclamation.

    The contrast between recent statements by the European parliament and the European Union could not be more stark. Parliament has consistently issued strong statements about the government’s brutal crackdown, including a resolution adopted in January 2016 that stated “respect for human rights and the rule of law are crucial to the EU’s policies to promote development in Ethiopia.” The resolution also stressed that the “EU should measure its financial support according to the country’s human rights record and the degree to which the Ethiopian Government promotes reforms towards democratization.” Parliamentary subcommittee hearings on Ethiopia followed in October. European Parliament actions signaled to the Ethiopian government and its people that there are repercussions for brutality against their own citizens – brutality that undermines European priorities in the Horn of Africa.

    In contrast, the EU’s tepid approach, epitomized by your recent statement merely sends the message to the Ethiopian government that its repression and brutality carries no consequences or public condemnation from its most trusted friends, donors, and partners.

    As all recognize, Ethiopia is an important partner of the EU in the areas of migration, development and economic growth. But these partnerships are dependent on long-term stability in Ethiopia and, thus, should be dependent on respect for basic human rights.

    A further downward spiral in the human rights situation in this country of 100 million people could lead to dramatically increased humanitarian needs and out-migration from Ethiopia, all of which would contravene European and Ethiopian interests. This is where the EU’s focus should be.

    We strongly urge you to use future meetings with Ethiopia’s leadership to publicly and unequivocally call for the release of key opposition leaders such as Dr. Merera and Bekele Gerba, the lifting of abusive provisions of the state of emergency, an international investigation into the crackdown on government protests, and the repeal of longstanding restrictions on media and civil society. And as stated in the European parliament resolution, it would be beneficial to clarify what progress on human rights you expect from Ethiopia to maintain ongoing EU support. The European Union’s interests in Ethiopia are best served by taking a principled stance on the importance of human rights protections.

    Kind regards,

    Lotte Leicht
    EU Director
    Human Rights Watch

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  • Ethiopia: fasting for 55 days

    Ethiopia is one of the world's most religious countries. Orthodox Christians can fast seven times a year and wear religious-themed tattoos. In a politically troubled nation, people are "praying harder than ever.

    For Ethiopians, religion and fasting inhabits a realm of faith and spirituality which many in the West can’t fathom nowadays. "Official theology teaches fasting is needed to come closer to God by repressing the flesh," says Makonnen, an Orthodox Church deacon. "Fasting is good because it clears one's mind from unnecessary energy. To be fully human you need a balance between spirit and body.”

    The impact of fasting includes a serious downturn in business for café and restaurant owners. But Ethiopia is one of the most religious countries in the world

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  • Ethiopia: Who wants to live in the United States? - Phyllis Zagano

    by Phyllis Zagano

    You can’t see the Koshe landfill from the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The 293-room hotel, nestled between the National Palace, where the president lives, and the Menelik Palace, where the foreign minister lives, is part of the Starwood Luxury Collection. They say they “relocated” over 500 families for its construction in 1998. They removed another 3,000 families from nearby land to build a shopping mall, a mosque and apartments.

    Which brings us across town to the 74-acre Koshe landfill, where hundreds of people were buried by a garbage landslide March 11, and at least 113 were killed. That’s where they lived. That’s where their homes were. That’s where they stored their hopes and dreams, and not, incidentally, survived on what their rich neighbors threw out.

    The Sheraton Addis tells prospective employees on its website that it has “an array of dining options including Italian, French, Indian specialty restaurants,” a poolside restaurant, an all-day dining international restaurant, and five bars and lounges.

    The city is building a biogas plant atop the Koshe landfill. Survivors who lived there and scavenged for a living blame the landslide on bulldozers flattening the top of the garbage pile they called home.

    The Sheraton Addis has a private water treatment plant that “ensures sterilization and bacteria free purification of water.” It has generators powerful enough to ignore the city’s blackouts and power cuts.

    I have never visited the Koshe landfill, but I have been to at least one of the numerous favelas in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Real people live there: mothers and fathers and children and babies. They eat and wear what they can. They go to work where they find it.

    Then there are the villas miseria in Argentina, and the 400,000-person Khayeltisha slum in Cape Town, South Africa. There are gigantic slums in Nairobi, Kenya, in Mumbai, India, and in Karachi, Pakistan. They say the Neza-Chalco-Itza barrio in Mexico City, Mexico, with close to four million inhabitants, is the largest slum in the world. Compared to the Koshe landfill, it’s a high-class suburb.

    For better or for worse, millions of people are trapped in various levels of awful situations, with no way to escape. Too many people on the planet are scraping by, depending on other people’s garbage. Whether because of landslide or famine or war or just plain old poverty, they must go someplace else.

    Why try to come to the United States?

    Would a stable government and peaceful streets have anything to do with it? Would educational opportunities and running water be of interest? How about financial opportunities? Or just some food, clothing and a clean place to sleep?

    The Sheraton Addis offers bottled water daily, 42-inch televisions and free Wi-Fi, starting at U.S. $211 per night. (Suites run between $461 and $514.)

    The per capita income in Ethiopia, the second poorest country in the world, averages $590.

    There are 103 million people in predominantly Christian Ethiopia. Very few are destined to come to the United States.

    The lucky ones will find first-degree relatives to sponsor them, perhaps in California, Maryland, Minnesota, Virginia or Texas. In those states, U.S. Department of State statistics count nearly 250,000 Ethiopian-born immigrants and their children who, in 2012 at least, sent $181 million back home to Ethiopia.

    The last time I was in a taxi in the United States, I had an Ethiopian cab driver. He had four or five children, all born here. They were doctors and lawyers and teachers. He had a green card, but the people helping him get citizenship kept cancelling appointments or misplacing paperwork. Then the staffers handling his case moved on, and he lost his contact and had to start all over again with a new person. It had been going on for years. I suggested he turn to the Catholic archdiocese we were traveling in. Oh, he said, they were the ones handling his case.

    [Phyllis Zagano is senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Her books include Sacred Silence: Daily Meditations for Lent and In the Image of Christ: Essays on Being Catholic and Female.]

    Source: National Catholic Reporter

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  • Ethiopia, DRC & Mali: 183 killed in protests between July-December 2016

    This statement was originally published on africafex.org on 21 March 2017.

    A total of 183 deaths were recorded from July to December 2016 following clashes between protestors and security agents in three countries – Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mali.

    In each of the three countries, security agents used excessive force to disperse protestors who were demonstrating against specific issues in their respective countries. The police brutalities resulted in several deaths. A death toll of 150 was recorded in Ethiopia, 32 in DRC and one in Mali.

    To date, not one security agent has been prosecuted for any of the killings in the three countries.

    Unfortunately, this is just one of the many violations perpetrated against protestors, journalists and media organisations in Africa as reported in the maiden edition of the Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa report by the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) compiled for the period July to December 2016.

    The periodic Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa Report is an intervention by AFEX that seeks to monitor and report on FOE violations (including violations against freedom of assembly and association) and other developments in Africa for the timely intervention by appropriate stakeholders.

    Over the six-month period, 63 incidents of violation were recorded in 19 countries across the African continent. State security apparatus were the main perpetrators of the violations. Together, they were responsible for 57 percent (36) of the 63 violations.

    State security agents were not only responsible for the killing of the 183 protestors in the three countries; they were also the perpetrators of all 19 incidents of arrests and detentions in 10 of the 19 countries covered in the report. in addition, five out of six media organisations were shut down by state security agents.

    State officials were also found to be perpetrators of media and FOE rights violations both online and offline. Of the 63 violations, 10 were carried out by/on the orders of state officials. Thus, state actors were generally the main perpetrators of the various violations reported in the Freedom of Expression Situation in Africa report.

    Sadly, only seven out of 63 recorded violations received some form of redress actions.

    For the full report on the types of violations cited, other perpetrators, the 19 countries monitored and the targets of the violations, click here.


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  • Human Development Report 2016: Human Development for Everyone

    Stockholm, 21 March 2017 – Despite outpacing global human development growth rates over 15 years, sub-Saharan Africa remains burdened by the world's most uneven distribution of development gains, with women, girls, people living in rural areas, migrants, refugees and those in conflict-affected areas systemically left behind. Gender inequality remains a serious challenge to human development in the region.

    These are among the findings of the Human Development Report 2016, entitled "Human Development for Everyone‟, released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

    The report finds that although average human development improved significantly across all regions from 1990 to 2015, one in three people worldwide continue to live in low levels of human development as measured by the Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: having a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable, and enjoying a decent standard of living.

    Despite improvements in sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades, almost 60 percent of people still experience deprivations in these three areas. Around a third of children under the age of five are malnourished and affected by stunting. Over 35 percent of adults are illiterate. Some 70 percent of working adults earn less than $3.10 per day.

    “The world has come a long way in rolling back extreme poverty, in improving access to education, health and sanitation, and in expanding possibilities for women and girls,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, speaking at the launch of the Report in Sweden‟s capital Stockholm today, alongside Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and the report‟s lead author and Director of UNDP‟s Human Development Report Office, Selim Jahan.


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  • Ethiopia: African governments learn to block the internet

    Internet blocked in Ethiopia

    For authorities in a country that has seen just one president since 1986, the critic who goes by Tom Voltaire Okwalinga is an example of the threat some African governments see in the exploding reach of the internet — bringing growing attempts to throttle it.

    Since 2015 about a dozen African countries have had wide-ranging internet shutdowns, often during elections. Rights defenders say the blackouts are conducive to carrying out serious abuses.

    The internet outages also can inflict serious damage on the economies of African countries that desperately seek growth, according to research by the Brookings Institution think tank.

    Uganda learned that lesson. In February 2016, amid a tight election, authorities shut down access to Facebook and Twitter as anger swelled over delayed delivery of ballots in opposition strongholds. During the blackout, the police arrested the president’s main challenger. Over $2 million was shed from the country’s GDP in just five days of internet restrictions, the Brookings Institution said.

    The shutdowns also have “potential devastating consequences” for education and health, says the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, an organization founded by a mobile phone magnate that monitors trends in African governance.

    As more countries gain the technology to impose restrictions, rights observers see an urgent threat to democracy.

    “The worrying trend of disrupting access to social media around polling time puts the possibility of a free and fair electoral process into serious jeopardy,” said Maria Burnett, associate director for the Africa division of Human Rights Watch.

    In the past year, internet shutdowns during elections have been reported in Gabon, Republic of Congo and Gambia, where a long-time dictator cut off the internet on the eve of a vote he ultimately lost.

    In Uganda, where the opposition finds it hard to organize because of a law barring public meetings without the police chief’s authorization, the mysterious blogger Okwalinga is widely seen as satisfying a hunger for information that the state would like to keep secret. His allegations, however, often are not backed up with evidence.

    It is widely believed that Uganda’s government has spent millions trying to unmask Okwalinga. In January an Irish court rejected the efforts of a Ugandan lawyer who wanted Facebook to reveal the blogger’s identity over defamation charges.

    “What Tom Voltaire Okwalinga publishes is believable because the government has created a fertile ground to not be trusted,” said Robert Shaka, a Ugandan information technology specialist. “In fact, if we had an open society where transparency is a key pillar of our democracy there would be no reason for people like Tom Voltaire Okwalinga.”

    In 2015, Shaka himself was arrested on suspicion of being the blogger and charged with violating the privacy of President Yoweri Museveni, allegations he denied. While Shaka was in custody, the mystery blogger kept publishing.

    “Who is the editor of Facebook? Who is the editor of all these things they post on social media? Sometimes you have no option, if something is at stake, to interfere with access,” said Col. Shaban Bantariza, a spokesman for the Ugandan government.

    Although the government doesn’t like to impose restrictions, the internet can be shut down if the objective is to preserve national security, Bantariza said.

    In some English-speaking territories of Cameroon where the locals have accused the central government of marginalizing their language in favor of French, the government has shut down the internet for several weeks.

    Internet advocacy group Access Now earlier estimated that the restrictions in Cameroon have cost local businesses more than $1.39 million.

    “Internet shutdowns — with governments ordering the suspension or throttling of entire networks, often during elections or public protests — must never be allowed to become the new normal,” Access Now said in an open letter to internet companies in Cameroon, saying the shutdowns cut off access to vital information, e-financing and emergency services.

    In Zimbabwe, social media is a relatively new concern for the government following online protests launched by a pastor last year. Aside from blocking social media at times, the government has increased internet fees by nearly 300 percent.

    In Ethiopia, where a government-controlled company has a monopoly over all telecom services, internet restrictions have been deeply felt for months. The country remains under a state of emergency imposed in October after sometimes deadly anti-government protests. Restrictions have ranged from shutting down the internet completely to blocking access to social media sites.

    Just 30 days of internet restrictions between July 2015 and July 2016 cost Ethiopia’s economy over $8 million, according to figures by the Brookings Institution. The country has been one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.

    Ethiopia’s government insists social media is being used to incite violence, but many citizens are suspicious of that stance.

    “What we are experiencing here in Ethiopia is a situation in which the flow of information on social media dismantled the traditional propaganda machine of the government and people begin creating their own media platforms. This is what the government dislikes,” said Seyoum Teshome, a lecturer at Ethiopia’s Ambo University who was jailed for 82 days last year on charges of inciting violence related to his Facebook posts.

    “The government doesn’t want the spread of information that’s out of its control, and this bears all the hallmarks of dictatorship,” Seyoum said.

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  • Ethiopia: Government failures to blame for dozens of deaths at rubbish dump - Amnesty

    The death of more than 60 people in a landslide at a vast rubbish dump on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital over the weekend is a clear case of dereliction of duty by the Ethiopian authorities, said Amnesty International today.

    Dozens are still missing since the landslide at the 36-hectare Repi municipal dumpsite in Addis Ababa on 11 March, and many families have been left homeless after their makeshift houses were buried under tonnes of waste.

    “The Ethiopian government is fully responsible for this totally preventable disaster. It was aware that the landfill was full to capacity but continued to use it regardless. It also let hundreds of people continue to live in close proximity to it,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. 

    The Ethiopian government is fully responsible for this totally preventable disaster. It was aware that the landfill was full to capacity but continued to use it regardless

    Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

    “These people, including many women and children, had no option but to live and work in such a hazardous environment because of the government’s failure to protect their right to adequate housing, and decent work.”

    Now in its fifth decade, Repi – also known as Koshe, which means “dust” - is the oldest landfill in Addis Ababa, a city of more than 3.6 million people. More than 150 people were at the site when the landslide happened. Many of them had been scavenging items for sale while others lived there permanently, in unsafe makeshift housing.

    “The government must do everything in its power to account for all those who are missing, provide survivors with adequate alternative housing, and safe and healthy working conditions,” said Muthoni Wanyeki.

    “It must also ensure that a full-fledged inquiry is held to determine the specific causes of the landslide, and hold the individual officials responsible to account.”

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