Thursday, August 31, 2006

12 Ethiopian soldiers missing from Puntland base

31 Aug 31, 2006, 11:56

At least 12 Ethiopian soldiers based in the Puntland city of Galkayo are missing from their base since Tuesday night, according to the Garowe Online reporter in the city.

The soldiers carried out their ordinary military duties during the day but failed to return to base, raising more concerns regarding the morale of the Ethiopian military.

The missing soldiers are said to be from Ethiopia's Oromo ethnic group, just like Brigadier General Kemal Gelchi, who defected to rival Eritrea on August 10.

Ethiopian troops have been inside Puntland regions with the blessing of Puntland President Mohamud "Adde" Muse, who said the Ethiopians are in Galkayo to help train Puntland's security forces.

Source: Garowe Online News

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Fear of torture or ill-treatment in Oromia

Detention without charge / fear of torture or ill-treatment
August 30 2006 UA 233/06 Detention without charge / fear of torture or ill-treatment
Belama Nigga (m)
Chale Nigga (f)
Gaddise Dagafa (f)
Imabet Taressa (f) High School students
Tadalu Nigga (f)
Tafarra Galasaa (m)
Zannu Nigga (f)
Irena Iticha (m), Oromo National Congress member of parliament Dejene Chimdi (m)At least two people aged over 70Other civilians from the Tukur Inchinni district, Oromia region.

Over 250 civilians, including those named above, from the Tukur Inchinni district of the Oromia region, have apparently been arbitrarily arrested by the Ethiopian government in recent days. Among those arrested are several high school students and at least two elderly people over the age of 70, as well as Irena Iticha, a member of parliament for the opposition Oromo National Congress. They are at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

The detainees are being held at three locations: Sankele Police Training Centre, Ormat Military site and Ambo Police Station. To Amnesty International's knowledge, none of those arrested has been charged and most, particularly those held at Sankele and Ormat, have been denied access to relatives and legal assistance.

The arrests reportedly occurred after students and other civilians protested against the Ethiopian government?s programme of redistribution land to members of the Ethiopian ruling party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). However, it is feared that the detainees are being targeted because they are members of the Oromo ethnic group. The group has suffered a pattern of human rights abuses at the hands of the authorities.


The Ethiopian government has been engaged in an ongoing conflict with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and there have been several incidents in the Oromia region over the past two years which have led to arrests, detentions and sometimes killings and torture.

In January 2004, over 100 people were detained at a demonstration organized by the Mecha Tulema Association, a long-established Oromo welfare organization. Eight Oromo students at Addis Ababa University were also arrested for criticizing the Oromo regional government at a student cultural event on 18 January. Some 300 other students who demonstrated for their release were also arrested on campus. While in detention they were reportedly beaten and subjected to other inhuman treatment. Most were released without charge after a few days. The university administration suspended most of the affected students and later expelled others.

In May 2004 police arrested three leading officials of the Mecha Tulema Association, including its president. They and 24others, including several university students arrested in January, were charged with armed conspiracy and membership of the OLF. The three were released on bail in November but were re-arrested in February and remained in prison throughout 2005.

In August 2004, more than 300 people were arrested in Agaro town in western Oromiya.
Most were released in October but some were charged. It was alleged that detainees were tortured and that some "disappeared." Some were believed to be held in secret detention centres.

In November and December 2005, following demonstrations which were largely peaceful, several thousand students and others were detained incommunicado without charge or trial. A few thousand are still believed to be held in different prisons and police stations, with only a few so far brought to court and charged. Several demonstrators were reportedly shot dead by the security forces, and many were allegedly tortured or ill-treated, particularly in Ambo palace prison and Sankele police camp

In January 2006, further anti-government protests led to the arrest of several thousands students. Several demonstrators were also reportedly shot dead and others wounded by the security forces. Many protesters were beaten by police. Some detainees were released, but the whereabouts of many of the others, some taken to remote rural prisons, are not known.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language expressing concern at the detention of over 250 members of the Oromo ethnic group since 22 August; expressing particular concern for the safety and wellbeing of a number of high school students, and at least two people aged over 70, who are among the detainees;- requesting details of the charges being faced by the detainees; appealing for them to be taken before a court within 48 hours, as prescribed under Ethiopian law, and either charged or released; calling for them to be given immediate access to their families, legal counsel and any medical care they may require; calling on the authorities to guarantee that none of the detainees shall be subjected to torture or ill-treatment.

APPEALS TO:-Prime MinisterHis Excellency Meles Zenawi,
Office of the Prime Minister,
PO Box 1031, Addis Ababa,
Fax: + 251 11 1552020 / 1552030 (please keep trying)Salutation.

Your Excellency Minister of Justice Mr Assefa Kesito,
Ministry of Justice,
PO Box 1370, Addis Ababa,
Fax: + 251 11 5517775 / 5520874
Email: Salutation.

Dear Minister

COPIES TO:President of Oromia Region Mr Minassie Woldegiorgis
Oromia Region State Council
P O Box 101769 Addis Ababa,

To diplomatic representatives of Ethiopia accredited to your country

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 11 October 2006

New circular from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

It is harvesting time for TPLF spy "diplomats"
By Workie Briye August 29, 2006

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the TPLF Government has recently distributed a circular for its Embassies and Consular Affairs throughout the world. The circular, which is a follow-up of a previous “Strategic Plan” which was sent to Embassies earlier this year, orders all Embassies to prepare a comprehensive report on the implementation of the “Strategic Plan” that was targeted against opposition leaders, popular Ethiopians, former diplomats and all Ethiopians in the Diaspora who are active in the struggle against the regime.

The latest circular reiterates the goals and objectives of the previous plan: that of identifying opposition leaders and other individuals who coordinate the struggle, with a view to bringing charges of genocide and embezzlement against them. The circular urges its embassies to finalize the preparation of a comprehensive list of opposition leaders, politically active individuals, and diplomats who left the regime at various times. According to the circular, the report had to be finalized before the end of August (Ethiopian calendar) so that the planned charges would be instituted against the targeted Ethiopians.

Unlike the original plan that was distributed in January this year, this circular is signed by a TPLF member called Fesseha Tesfu. (Fesseha Tesfu is known by the staff of the Ministry for his incompetence, phony commitment to TPLF, and shallow personality. Former employees of the Ministry say that Fesseha has an open access to the “court” of Seyoum and is a confidant to the vice-Minister, merely as a result of his exceptional qualities of tale-tale behavior and toadying manner towards his bosses.)

The Ministry’s circular reveals that the TPLF regime has continued in the execution of the 52-page “Strategic Plan” of the regime aimed at taking revenge against opposition supporters and activists in the Diaspora, through some of its diplomats and a number of other TPLF spy agents who are sent in disguise to infiltrate political activities within the Ethiopian community in many foreign countries, mainly in the United States and Europe.

In a related development, several Ethiopian diplomats who refused to implement the so-called “Strategic Plan” (diplomats call it a “Vendetta Plan”), outlined by the TPLF regime have been dismissed from their posts while many of their colleagues ranging from Ambassadors to attaché decided to leave their job and seek asylum in various countries in Europe and North America. It has been confirmed that so far more than fifty diplomats and other staff members from several Embassies have recently left the regime refusing to serve what many of them call “a criminal regime”.

Since the crisis that followed the 15 may 2005 national and regional election, in which TPLF suffered a humiliating defeat, a significant number of diplomats and other professional experts left their country as a result of the witch-hunt and McCarthyism unleashed by the TPLF security machine. It has been reported that in the past week alone, more than twenty medical experts and researchers who represented the Ethiopian delegation at an International HIV/Aids Conference held in Toronto (Canada), have decided not to go back to their country due to political problem persecution and have requested the Canadian government to grant them political asylum.

The recent circular from the TPLF Ministry of Foreign Affairs is self evident that the regime has now embarked upon a desperate attempt to blackmail opposition leaders, supporters and coordinators by pressing flimsy criminal charges against them. This is in deed a clear sign that TPLF has reached a brink of total insanity. Observers say that it is also emblematic of the TPLF infantile behavior to continue its futile campaign to apply its so-called “Strategic Plan” against former diplomats who left the regime refusing, inter alias, to execute the very same plan against their own compatriots. Former diplomats also observe that, although TPLF diplomacy has never been anything better, the squandering of its staff and the country’s meager resources on this kind of puerile activity shows that the TPLF diplomatic activity is yet in a state of deeper confusion.

According to the recent circular, the reports from the Embassies would have to be finalized so that the next phase of the drama, which is the court-led drama of “genocide and embezzlement”, charges, could begin in earnest. It is known that TPLF cadres have never been bright and creative in coming up with new intimidating tactics. TPLF geniuses believe that these charges of “genocide...” do the whole trick in stifling the struggle of millions of Ethiopians, as they did incarcerate the democratically elected leaders of the people.

Many Ethiopians know that these chip tactics of intimidation by TPLF cadres only reinforce the resolve of many Ethiopians to see their country free from tyranny and murder. However, all Ethiopians in the Diaspora are advised to caution their family members, relatives and friends who live back home, to protect themselves from all kinds of vengeful attacks, as the regime attempts to take such convulsive measures in its desperate attempt to smother the democratic struggle going on both abroad and at home.

Enclosures: Copy of the circular sent from the Ministry to its Embassies.
List of diplomats who left the regime in the past few months.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Flood death toll in S.Ethiopia possibly exaggeratedWill Connors

Middle East Times
August 28, 2006
OMORATE, Ethiopia- Almost two weeks after the Omo River burst its banks and flooded the surrounding plains, many local observers continue to question the number of displaced and dead reported by government officials and media.

According to regional administrators 364 people perished when a "flash flood" produced by rains in the highlands caused the Omo to spill over its banks, catching the local Dasanech nomads by surprise.

This assessment, however, is not universally accepted here. Several locals interviewed said that the Dasanech know the river well, and had moved themselves and their livestock to higher ground before the water rose.

Many also question that any loss of life occurred at all. One foreigner with long-standing ties to the community said that in all his conversations with the Dasanech, whose language he speaks fluently, not one mentioned the death of a relative or a neighbor.

A doctor from a nearby district who had come to the South Omo region to assist in the recovery efforts supported this belief. He said that in the four days that he had spent living and working in rural villages, he had neither heard nor seen of any dead. "I treated several cases of diarrhea and one or two possible malaria cases," Dr. Getachew said. "But I heard of no dead. There actually isn't much for me to do here, so I'm going back to my own district."

Government officials stand by their earlier claims of reported deaths, but it remains unclear whether these numbers are too high - or even too low. Kadaike Gezahain, head administrator for the South Omo regional zone, highlighted the difficulties of working in such an area and thus the confusion that arises.

"In some places we registered the dead by name from members of the community, but we didn't collect any bodies and bury them," he said. "The people are saying that the dead bodies are floating in [nearby] Lake Rudolph." But because of the water levels and the inaccessibility by car and even boat, "the situation is very difficult."

The reported number could even be an underestimate, according to one local villager. "I know of one man who died from my village, but in a nearby village there live 1,500 people, and we suppose them all to be dead," a man named Yerbur said.

Nega Bamago, food monitor of the Awassa field office of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), has been in Oromate for two weeks, and was the first aid agency representative to arrive in the area. He says that although he also doubted the initial death toll reports, the need in the South Omo is real.

"The local officials wouldn't even talk to me the first few days I was here because I didn't accept their assessment of number of deaths," Nega says. "But a number of people are surrounded by water, so I can't say [the numbers] have been exaggerated. Many of their grain stores were taken by the floods, and that is why food is needed."

Eight Ethiopian Generals Missing

Aug 27, 2006 Reports from Addis Ababa, the capital of the Ethiopian Autocracy,
confirm the disappearance of up to eight generals. These generals have been missing for a while now and their whereabouts are unknown.

Reliable sources who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of their role within the Ethiopian army indicate that the eight generals were linked to the defection of General Kemal Gelchi.

The same sources add that Meles Zenawi, the head of the autocracy in Addis Ababa ordered the detention of the eight generals. The missing eight generals are ethnically from Oromo and Amhara.

It is unconfirmed whether the generals were killed or whether they are held in detention in an unknown destination. What is known so far is that the disappearance of these generals has created a state of apprehension both within the army and the state. It is feared that an army mutiny may be possible.

Our reporters in Addis Ababa are working closely with reliable sources in order to find out the names of the eight missing generals.

Source:Ogaden Online News

Thursday, August 17, 2006

In the Oromiya and the Southern Nations and Nationalities Acute watery diarrhoea claims more lives

Acording to IRIN Africa news on, 14 Aug 2006 The number of deaths from acute watery diarrhoea in the Oromiya and the Southern Nations and Nationalities regions of Ethiopia has increased to an alarming level, a United Nations agency has warned.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in its weekly bulletin on Monday that the disease had claimed the lives of 89 people and affected 9,270 in the regions since June. The highest number of cases was reported in Shashamene and Arsi Negele districts.

Last week, a mission comprising UN agencies and government representatives visited West Arsi zone to assess the situation. "A regional response plan on the basis of gaps identified by the [assessment] team is under preparation," said Sophie Yannoutsou, regional programme coordinator for the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Oromiya.

So far, 44 treatment centres have been established in the affected areas in a bid to contain the outbreak and local authorities have been coordinating the response.

OCHA said the outbreak is believed to have been caused by lack of access to clean drinking water. The lack of appropriate awareness of hygiene procedures had also helped its spread.

The disease initially started in Gambella Region then spread to West Arsi zone, seriously affecting two districts - Shashamene and Arsi Negele.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tens of Ethiopian soldiers arrive in Eritrea

Asmara, 16 August 2006. In continuation of the escalating uprising within the Ethiopian Army, tens of Ethiopian soldiers including captains and middle rank commanders recently arrived in Eritrea.

The Ethiopian soldiers led by Captains Bededa Regassa and Negesso Watyo said that the uprising is spreading to different corners of the country.

In a related report, students and youths opposition to the TPLF regime in Jimma town is gaining momentum.

It is to be recalled that Brig. General Kemal Gelchu and tens of other Army commanders, including colonels and hundreds of soldiers safely arrived in Eritrea along with their full logistics, communication equipments and military hardware.

Monday, August 14, 2006

video of Brig.General Kemal Gelchi’s interview with ERI-TV

In an interview of General Kemal Gelchi with ERI-TV, Brig General Kemal Gelchi who arrived in Eritrea along with hundreds of Ethiopian soldiers opposing the TPLF regime, stated that their arrival in Eritrea is in continuation to the popular uprising by the entire Ethiopian people and members of the armed forces in a bid to ensure respect to the rule of law in the country. Click here to see the whole


Flash floods kill 125 in southern Ethiopia

At least 125 people have died in flooding in southern Ethiopia, a week after heavy rains caused some 250 deaths in the east of the country.

Local police were quoted as saying some were swept to their deaths in flash floods on Sunday when the Omo river burst its banks.

Helicopters are being sent to assess the damage and evacuate anyone trapped.
Flooding often hits low-lying parts of Ethiopia between June and September,
when heavy showers fall on dry regions.

"We have been told that villages are surrounded by the flood water and have requested for motor boats and helicopters to evacuate them," a local official who asked not to be named told Reuters news agency by telephone.

Last week, more than 250 people died when a river burst its banks and floodwaters swept through the city of Dire Dawa in the east of the country.

Over the past two years flooding has afflicted several areas of eastern and southern Ethiopia, killing hundreds and displacing hundreds of thousands.

Source:BBC News

Oromo: Statement at the Working Group on Minorities 2006

At the 12th Session of the Working Group on Minorities, held in Geneva from 8 until 11 August 2006, an Oromo human rights defender brought attention to the current situation of the Oromo, calling for the right to self-determination of the Oromo people to be implemented and respected.´

Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Working Group on Minorities 12th Session, August 8 - 11, 2006, Geneva, Switzerland. Thank you distinguished chairperson for giving me an opportunity to introduce to the Working Group the situation of the Oromo people in Ethiopia and their plight.

Ladies and Gentlemen The Oromo people represent the largest national group in the country accounting about 35 million people out of the total 75 million people of the total population of Ethiopia. They are considered as one of the indigenous peoples inhabiting the Horn of Africa.

Despite their numeric majority, the Oromo people are in a minority-like situation in the country. Since the colonization by the Abyssinians, at the end of 19th century, the political, economical social and cultural life of the Oromo people in the Ethiopia has been marked by discrimination and marginalisation. The egalitarian and democratic institution of governance of the Oromo people, known as the Gada system, their belief in one God- Waaqa-, their cultural and language were banned; their means of subsistence including their traditional land were confiscated and the people were reduced to serfs and slaves. Since then, the situation of the Oromo people has been worsening under the various successive regimes in the country.

The current Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has reportedly continued the subversive autocratic rule of Oromia in the name of the national territorial integrity of the Empire. It allegedly musters total control of all government machineries, the judiciary, the army, and the press. Attacks and harassment against the Oromo people continue allegedly by the security forces perpetuating the fears of the people in Oromia and other southern parts of Ethiopia. Human rights violations such as cases of arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killings are constantly reported by the people. Furthermore, the Oromo people, as well as other nations and nationalities in the southern belt of the Empire, reportedly face forced evictions and resettlement, growing epidemic diseases, extreme poverty and skewed educational programmes.

Since the TPLF/EPRDF regime came to power in 1991, systematic repression has been reported against Oromo people resulting in untold sufferings in the whole of Oromia, particularly in the countryside far from the sight of the international community. The government reportedly subjects often its critics to harassment, extrajudicial killings, imprisonment and torture. As a result countless Oromos languish in detention camps and prisons in the country. In 2005, over 25, 000 people were in prison throughout Oromia and Finfinne (Addis Ababa). This number, if anything, has grown ever since as a result of the repeated unrest following peaceful demonstrations.

Intellectuals, students, teachers, journalists, aid agency workers, artists, human rights activists and peasant farmers are particularly targeted solely on the basis of their origin. Children are as well reportedly subject to harassment and abuses. Accordingly renowned international Human Rights Organisations believe that the Ethiopian authorities are guilty of racism.

Mr. Chairperson, aloud me to provide some examples.

The Macca and Tulama self-help Association (MTA), Oromo high school and university students, civic organisations, farmers and journalists peacefully protested against deforestation, skewed taxes, exorbitant rise in the price of fertilizers, educational policies, change of the capital city of Oromia from Finfinne (Addis Ababa) to Adama etc were met with heavy handed forces of the security and police who acted with impunity. At the moment of finalization of the present statement, all detained in connection with the mentioned protests were still detained in different prisons. According to reports, some of the protesters died allegedly as a result of torture. Some were denied medical treatment and died. And still more are suffering from diseases related to poor conditions in the prison. Those who managed to run away are suffering as refugees in the neighbouring countries. Related to these incidents over 350 University students were dismissed from classes and some were thrown into to the jails in 2004. Two of these Gaddissa Hirpassa and Alemayehu Gerba were killed from torture and live bullet in the Kallitti prison.

The leaders of MTA Dirribi Demissie, Gemechu Feyera, Sintayehu Workneh and Ayelu Ittisa and more than a dozen of Oromo university students and journalists Shiferaw Insarmu and Dhabasa Wakjira are still in custody even though different benches of court ordered their release on several occasions. Amnesty International and other human rights organisations consider them as prisoners of conscience and appealed for their release since 2004.

These peaceful demands of students and farmers continued in May 2006 in the high schools and universities across Oromia. Following the incident, 22 farmers were massacred in Horro Guduru in February of this year, dozens of students were killed and wounded from live bullet from security forces, several thousands of Oromo nationals were kidnapped and detained in different prisons in Oromia state and Finfinne (Addis Ababa). Students like Jagama Badhane and Kabada Badhasse were killed just in front of their school in town of Ambo. Events coming from different Universities, report that graduates of Oromo origin, in particular from Makalle University, are denied of their certificates after completion of their studies.

The Government is reported to contrive the conflicts in neighbouring Borana and Gujji Oromos led to the internally displaced persons of over 100, 000 people and over 135 deaths. Similarly, in August 2005, 73 people were killed and more than 85,000 flee their homes from villages in Miesso in West Hararge region of Oromia. Most of them remain displaced without proper attention and support.

Uncompensated evictions of Oromo farmers from their ancestral land in Oromia, particularly around Finfine (Addis Ababa) and other cities in Oromia have reportedly reached untold proportions. In the name of investment, the Government has systematically uprooted farmers from their ancestral lands without due compensation and turned thousands of farmers landless and victims of ecological degradation and hazardous health problems emanating from the new agglomerations. The expansion of flower farms has aggravated the situation around Finfinne (Addis Ababa.)

Control over fertilizer and agricultural inputs and credits in particular have given the government an effective tool for quashing dissent in rural parts of Oromia. A TPLF owned company in charge of importing fertilizers systematically regulates distribution and price of fertilizer and other agricultural inputs. Farmers are forced to pay exorbitant prices that do not often compare their income. Those who as a consequence fail to pay are thrown into the prison and finally were forced to auction off livestock or household goods to get out of prison. This is in a stark contrast to the hypocritic claim that the government of Ethiopia boast to achieve food security.


Macca and Tulama association leaders, journalists, teachers, students, farmers and other thousands of Oromo citizens arrested should be released immediately and unconditionally,
• Those responsible for the extra judicial killings, torture and severe beatings in different schools around Oromia should be brought to justice.

• The right to association, freedom of expression, education and the right of the Oromo to Waqeffanna as a religion should be respected and the investigation through concerned special rapporteurs should be conducted,

• The right to self-determination of the Oromo people should be implemented and respected.

Thank you for your attention Intervention.

by, Tarekegn Chimdi

UN Working Group on Minorities

Friday, August 11, 2006

IFJ Urges International Community to Demand Release of 20 Journalists Imprisoned in Ethiopia

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is demanding the release of 20 journalists who have been jailed during the last nine months in Ethiopia for political reasons and called on other world leaders to pressure the Ethiopian government for their release.

Seventeen journalists were arrested during the violent suppression of anti-government riots that followed the November 2005 elections in Ethiopia. The journalists are charged with treason and could face possible death sentences or life imprisonment. The journalists have refused to be defended in court because of the political nature of their arrests and detentions.

“We strongly protest against the blind repression of freedom of expression and demand the immediate and unconditional release of all the journalists held in Ethiopia, since there is no solid evidence against the charges," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the Africa Office of the IFJ. “The government of Meles Zenawi holds the sad record of the country with the highest number of imprisoned journalists, as well as the country with the largest number of journalists in exile in Africa."

Among the detained journalists is, Serkalem Fasil, who was pregnant when she was arrested and subsequently gave birth in prison. She has yet to receive proper medical attention for herself and for her baby. Fasil’s husband, journalist Eskinder Nega has also languished in prison since November 2005 with other hundreds of political detainees.

Also among the detainees is Abraham Reta, a freelance journalist who was arrested on 24 April 2006 and condemned the same day to one year imprisonment. Two journalists from the public television channel ETV, Shiferraw Insermu and Dhabassa Wakjira, have been in jail since 22 April 2004.
A number of the journalists and political prisoners are suffering from health problems due to the poor prison conditions. According to reports, a significant number of the prisoners were absent from a June 21 court hearing. Prison police stated that the journalists were sick and some of them were hospitalised at the time of the hearing.

Prison sources said that Kaliti prison, where the prisoners are held, is at its worst during the Ethiopian rainy season when wild mice invade the cells to avoid the harsh weather and bring with them contagious diseases. Most of the cells are made of corrugated iron sheets, which are extremely cold when it rains and extremely hot during the dry season.

On a mission to Ethiopia in May, the IFJ and the global education workers’ union federation Education International complained about the lack of freedom of association and freedom of expression in Ethiopia and the harassment and attacks on journalists, teachers and theirs associations.

“The Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA) is completely disbanded; there is no independent media in Ethiopia, as most independents journalists have gone underground and about 100 journalists are in exile, including EFJA President Kifle Mulat,” said the IFJ’s Baglo, who was part of the mission.

"We strongly call on the African Union Chairperson, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, and the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Alpha Omar Konare, to pressure the Ethiopian government to release all detained journalists unconditionally. We also called on US President George Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and European Union President José Manuel Barroso who support the Ethiopian government, to make sure that press freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of association and human rights are respected in Ethiopia.”

For further information contact the IFJ: +221 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries
source: IFJ

Ethiopian commander joins rebels

An Ethiopian Army general says he has defected to join the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a rebel group backed by neighbouring Eritrea.

Brig Gen Kemal Geltu told the BBC he had crossed the border into Eritrea with more than 100 soldiers.

He said would fight the Ethiopian government because force was the only language it understood.
He said his hopes of peace had been dashed after last year's turmoil that followed disputed elections.

Gen Kemal previously commanded Ethiopia's 18th army division.

Last year's experience is war, not peace. Our hopes were dashed and that's why we went out
Brig Gen Kemal Geltu
Shooting is reported to have broken out as he crossed the frontier, during which two soldiers were killed. Reliable sources say he was accompanied by a colonel and 150 troops.

"It's a big force in hundreds. I don't want to mention the number. It will continue, I can confirm this. There are other soldiers in other areas in big numbers," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme through a translator.

Gen Kemal, who was speaking from Eritrea's capital, Asmara, said his intention was not "to give [military] secrets to the Eritrean government".
'Pure lies'

Ethiopian television said Gen Kemal had asked for further promotion soon after being promoted to the rank of brigadier general, but after this was rejected in engaged in "divisive activities".
"Although his colleagues repeatedly tried to correct the commander from his anti-government and inappropriate activities, the commander was not willing to change," the television report said.

But the general said reports that he feared military reforms were "lies, pure lies".

"Our first hope was to bring about a change in Ethiopia to bring about peace and for the peoples to live in equality, including the Oromo people, but the last year's experience is war, not peace. Our hopes were dashed and that's why we went out," he said.

"The language they (the Ethiopian government) understand is force and we're going to challenge them by force."

The OLF which was at first a secessionist movement says it is fighting for more rights for the Oromo people in Ethiopia.

The Oromo are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, comprising about half of its 70m people.
Demonstrations after Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was re-elected in May 2005 led to a crackdown on many Oromo and other opposition organisations.

Ethiopia and Eritrea ended a border war in 2002, but Ethiopia has not withdrawn troops from the town of Badme which arbitrators awarded to Eritrea, and tensions between the two countries remain high.

Source: BBC News

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ethiopia rebels 'ready for talks'

Separatist rebels in Ethiopia say it is untrue that they are not willing to talk peace with the government.

Ethiopian troops are currently engaged in a big operation to flush out Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels near the border with Somalia.

The ONLF chairman told the BBC that it was the government that was hindering dialogue and he denied accusations that his fighters were killing civilians.

Analysts say that in recent months ONLF forces have strengthened significantly.
They have reportedly been receiving help from Eritrea and from Somali Islamists.
In response, the Ethiopian army has deployed thousands of troops to the desolate region and there have been heavy causalities on both sides.


The Ogaden region in eastern Ethiopia shares a long and porous border with Somalia, and most of its people are of the Somali ethnic group.

Last week, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said that attempts at dialogue brokered by Somali elders between his government and the ONLF had failed.

He claimed the elders had subsequently requested the offensive.
But the ONLF's Admiral Mohammed Omar Osman said the government had sent mediators who were biased and that the current crackdown was "nothing new".
Correspondents say the region's pastoral nomads have borne the brunt of the fighting as the government and ONLF rebels accuse each other killing members of the public.

"Our policy is not to fight the same people we're fighting for," Admiral Osman told the BBC.
"The people in Ogaden are the backbone of the our struggle. They give us the milk and food we need as well as nurse our injured," he said.

He said that any civilians who had been killed had been armed by the Ethiopian government. When asked if the ONLF were being armed by Eritrea and Somalia, Admiral Osman said that any group that supported their cause was a friend.

The ONLF took up arms against Mr Meles' government in the early 1990s demanding independence for Ogaden because of what they said were injustices in the region.

source:BBC news

Brig. General Kemal Gelchi and other senior Ethiopian Army commanders arrive in Eritrea

By Staff
Aug 9, 2006, 17:27

Asmara, 9 August 2006 – At a time when the TPLF regime, denying the Ethiopian people the right to equality and democracy, suppressing the struggle of opposition organizations and failing to honor the outcome of the popular election and desperately trying to prolong its stay in power on the one hand, and at a time when the OLF and other opposition organizations are strengthening their resistance on the other, the Ethiopian people’s popular uprising is gaining momentum.

Accordingly, in continuation of the aforementioned mass opposition inside the country and abroad, massive uprising is equally being witnessed within the ranks of the Ethiopian Armed Forces.

As a vivid demonstration of these developments, Brig. General Kemal Gelchi, senior commander of the enemy force deployed along the Tikul-Adi Teklai front, and tens of other army commanders including colonels together with hundreds of soldiers safely arrived in Eritrea at dawn today, August 9 along with their full logistics, communication equipments and military hardware.

Moreover, security sources disclosed that besides these developments that occurred around the surroundings of Badme in the Eritrean border, hundreds of Ethiopian soldiers and tens of their commanders are also joining opposition groups in eastern and western Ethiopia.

Latest reports further indicated that the number of Ethiopian soldiers arriving in Eritrea and other areas is on the rise.

Regarding details on these and related matters, we would like to announce that an interview with Brig. General Kemal and other senior Army commanders who arrived with him would be conducted shortly.

Monday, August 07, 2006


Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Date: 07 Aug 2006

Flooding of the upper basin of the Awash River affected as many as 15,000 people in Southwest and West Shewa zones of Oromiya Region, on 28 July. The flood has affected three woredas in the zones. The full extent of the damage and casualties is yet to be assessed. Rescue operations commenced on 1-2 August, according to a WFP team deployed in the affected areas. The operation was expanded with the involvement of the military using boats to rescue individuals trapped in their villages. A joint Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency and Regional Bureau (DPPA/DPPB) mission conducted a rapid assessment on 31 July. So far, DPPA has dispatched 9.8 tonnes of grain, 2.7 tonnes of high-energy biscuits, 0.3 tonnes of vegetable oil, 8,800 plastic cups and plates, 1,800 blankets, 115 tents and 240 jerry cans to the affected population. A temporary clinic has been set up to provide service for people who are temporarily displaced. Local authorities predicted the floods will not adequately recede until the end of September. It is therefore expected that regional authorities will request additional assistance for the population in need. The affected areas are normally flood prone but the present flooding occurred earlier than usual and many residents were caught unprepared. Floods of a similar magnitude occurred 10 years ago in this area. Contact:

Igad warns Ethiopia, Eritrea on meddling in Somalia

Special Correspondent

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) has warned Eritrea and Ethiopia to stop taking unilateral actions that undermine the powerless but internationally-recognised transitional government of Somali.

An extraordinary meeting of Igad foreign affairs ministers in Nairobi last week also directed that chiefs of defence staff from member countries meet and hammer out a planned deployment of African peace forces in Somalia. The ministers were from Djibouti, Kenya Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Eritrea and Sudan.

"The Igad chiefs of defence will work jointly with the African Union to prepare the detailed revised operational mission plan in line with Somalia's National Security and Stabilisation Plan," said Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister Raphael Tuju in a joint communique.

Igad's main concern is the presence of Ethiopian troops in Baidoa, Somalia, which threatens an eruption of violence given the opposition from the Islamic Courts Union.

Kenya – which hosted the two-year Somalia peace talks – has offered to lead efforts to restart the stalled talks between the besieged Somalia Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Islamists.

The takeover of Mogadishu by Islamists on June 5, the ineffectiveness of the TFG since its formation in Kenya in 2004, and the recent resignation of ministers of the TFG, threatens to render the two-year Somali peace process irrelevant.

So far, some 34 ministers and assistant ministers of the TFG have resigned, accusing Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi – who recently survived a non-confidence motion – of blocking reconciliation between the interim government and the Islamists.

Mr Tuju who chairs the Igad Council of Ministers, is planning to visit Somalia as well as to the countries of the five permanent members of United Nations Security Council.

He will be accompanied by a delegation from Igad member states and is expected to advocate a unified international approach to the crisis in Somalia. A meeting of the Committee of Ambassadors from Igad member states is planned. The announcement came as four more ministers in the TFG resigned last Tuesday from the President Abdullahi Yusuf-led government.

This week, talks are planned for Khartoum for a new power-sharing deal. On June 22, Sudan hosted a second round of talks, but the TFG boycotted it to protest to alleged Islamist violations of a pact against military expansion.

UN Special Representative to Somalia Francois Loseny Fall said the five-member council will also consider easing an arms embargo to enable the government to build up an armed force.
This follows last month's request by AU leaders to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to consider an exemption to the 1992 arms embargo on Somalia to allow for thepossible deployment of a peace keeping force.

The force is intended to secure the weak, UN-backed transitional government that the Islamists are challenging, and is expected to help disarm an estimated 55,000 militia fighters and train a new national army.

Mr Tuju said Igad had issued a joint statement saying it was willing to consider the request for a force if it feels that deployment of peacekeepers will lead to peace and stability in Somalia.
Additional Reporting by Fred Oluoch.

Nearly 200 dead in Dire Dawa town (Ethiopia) floods

The death toll from flash flooding that swept through an eastern Ethiopian town over the weekend has risen to nearly 200 people and 300 others were still missing, police said on Monday.

The Dechatu river burst its banks and flooded Dire Dawa town overnight on Saturday, drowning many or burying them in sandy debris as they slept. The death toll rose as police recovered bodies after clearing sandy debris with bulldozers on Sunday.

Dechatu river overflowed,
sweeping water through the city

"One hundred and ninety-one people are dead, and we have 300 others unaccounted for, based on reports from relatives and our officers," police inspector Benyam Fikru told Reuters.
Police on Monday were expected to resume recovery operations, after pausing for the night.
The surge destroyed at least 220 homes in the town located in Ethiopia's lowlands, 525 km (326 miles) east of the capital Addis Ababa.

Heavy rains in Ethiopia's highlands during the June-August season usually cause rivers in lowland areas to overflow.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Unjustifiable Denial Of Certificate Of Graduation

To: -

  • United Nations Human Rights Commission
    African Human Rights Commission
    European Economic Commission
    African Union
    Amnesty International
    Institution of the Ombudsman
    Human Rights Watch
    Ethiopian Human Rights Commission
    Ethiopian Ministry of Education
    Embassy of Finland
    Embassy of Germany
    Embassy of Austria
    Embassy of Norway
    Embassy of Sweden
    Embassy of USA
    British Embassy
    Embassy of Canada
    House of Peoples’ Representatives
    Office of Ethiopian Prime Minister
    Mekelle University President
    Oromia National Regional State

Applicants : - Mekelle University Oromo Graduates of 2006.
Subject : - Unlawful Denial of Temporary Diploma of graduation and student copy
As mentioned in the headline, we, the following listed 19 students: - Namely,

  • 1. Abebe Gadisa
    2. Gana Jundi
    3. kebede Adugna
    4. Habib kemal
    5. Tubaa
    6. Fikiru
    7. kasehun Amenu
    8. Kedir Kiso
    9. Fitsum Babu
    10. Haile
    11. Demelash Afewerk
    12. Shami Mohammed
    13. Mohammed
    14. Deressa Gadissa
    15. Bikila Negasa
    16. Hunduma Fufa
    17. Abebe Birra
    18. Demis Alemayehu
    19. Dirirsa Kejela

Are among Oromo graduates of Mekelle University who have been deprived of our right to get our certificate of graduation by Mekele University. We all graduated from Meklle University on Sunday 16 July 2006 but the University like all other students when we approached the University to obtain our degree and student copy, the University refused to give us the documents we are entitled to get like other graduates of the University.

Having known about the unjustifiable refusal, we tried to inquire from the University the reason for the refusal repeatedly but it was in vain. Until now, we have not succeeded in getting any satisfactory explanation for the refusal from the concerned university authorities.

As a result of this unexplained action of the University, we are being tortured by all those unexpected problems to which this particular action of the University has exposed us.

We firmly believe that this is a country where rule of law exist. Accordingly, any action taken by any official has to be based on the law of the country. As graduate students, we are fully entitled to get our certificates. In the absence of any law justifying the action of the University, we consider the act of refusal to give us our certificates as discriminatory and unlawful.

In the absence of any lawful charge against us, which formally requests not to deliver to us our certificates, the act of the University would still be unlawful. Even if there is any charge against us, that does not justify refusal to give us our documents.

In denying us our documents, the University is depriving us of our human rights. As a result of the action of the University, our right to seek and get employment has been completely shattered. The University has ruined the expectation of our parents who have suffered with us for decades.

This act of the University has the effect of damaging our potential as young Ethiopians well educated and capable of taking part in the development of the country. This act has the negative effect of multiplying the number of unemployed youngsters, which does not in any way help the country. Hence, as we are poor and have nobody to respond to our dilemma, we seek your immediate intervention by way of influencing the concerned bodies so that we may get our certificates of graduation and be able to get employment. Now as things stand, we have nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, let alone following our case and bring it to the attention of the concerned authorities at different levels of government officials.

We want you to help us by making the necessary call to all the concerned authorities on behalf of us based on humanitarian considerations. Our poor parents have invested on us any small penny they had hoping that their children one day would get jobs, but all of a sudden, we are going to depend on our poor parents.

With Best Regards!

Oromo Graduates of Mekelle University (2006)