Sunday, October 19, 2008

Advisers of shanee-qinijjit / Shanee Asmera/ and Shanee jijjiiramaa soon resume talks in Ethiopia

By Abera Oluma
Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) was founded early 1970s to liberate Oromia from the Abisinian colonizers. In the 40 years struggle for freedom, different factions have been twisted in the organization. The enemy has been fostering insiders using different systems, to eliminate OLF. But it was felled by the defence of actively bonded Oromoo nationalist and gallant fighters.

These obstacles reappeared by reorganizing themselves with modified strategy in relative to their previous actions in the year 2000. Their primary objective was to erode the struggle for liberation to self determination and change the direction by blunting the Oromo vision. They decided to mark a borderline against the genuine OLF leaders and members. Then they snatched the name OLF and secluded at the Asmara based cage.

Their new slogan is ‘democratization of Ethiopia’ which is completely contrary to the interest of Oromo people. They became part and parcel of coalition for Democracy and unity (CUD).

With the help of foreign governments they held Bargain conference in 2004 to make their interests official in front of their mediators. Then on the stage they pledged their denouncement of arm struggle and to start discussion with the dictatorial government of Ethiopia, for power share. Their step was not less than surrendering to Absinian government who colonized Oromia.

Fortunately, their trial couldn’t be accomplished due to Mr. Meles’ precondition requirements. So Shane Qinijit remained with uncertainty and handicapped messengers to sit-down for talk with Meles. As a result, they lagged behind their own dream of power sharing in election. As the result, Shane kinijit paused and became stagnant.

As the consequence of their tires’ flatness, Shanee Qinijjit has encountered internal division on its leadership into two classes two months ago.

The new faction branch named itself, “Jijirama”. The difference in between these two factions is the Jijjiiramaa members are from the same region but their policy is similar to the Shane Qinijjit’s. They are just to reform the Shane Qinijit’s program.

The current breakaway indicates that by the name of the OLF, the two factions are going to resume soon talks in Addis Ababa with a negotiating team drawn from Ethiopian elders.

The agreement was reached after an Ethiopian negotiating team led by Professor Efrem Yisahk held first round talks with the Shanee-Qinijjit and Jijjirama leaders in the Netherland.

During their first round talks which stayed 3 days from sep19-21, the negotiating team including Ethiopian Ambassador to Netherland and Pastor Daniel Gebreslase, has met and discussed with top leaders of Shanes’ including Lencho Leta, Abbaabiyya Abbaa-jabir and Dima Nego.

Mr Lencho lata is presented on this talk as representative of Shane-Qinijit led by Mr. Daud Ibsa and Mr. Dima Nago and Abbabiyyaa Abbaa-jobir are presented as representative of Shane-Qinijjit called itself Shanee jijjiiramaa led by defector of OPDO Kamal Galchu.

After the discussion, both Shanees’ leaders have agreed to hold second round talks at Addis Ababa in the near future.

The governments of Netherland, Norway and Germany have financially assisted for the success of the talks.

Professor Efrem Yisahk was one of the former amnesty committee who enabled a successful negotiation for the release of 38 opposition figures, including several CUD members and leaders.

As of the previous program of Oromo liberation (self determination) either of these groups will do nothing. The struggle for liberation requires pertain motivation and sacrifice.

As an individual, they have the right to go anywhere they like, including Ethiopia and share the brutal government’s policy.
But as of the OLF’s program they can’t find any recognition from Oromo people. Because morally and historically it will not be right to give-up the struggle and handover to the enemy in which our youths, men and women have been sacrificed.

The reckless group of power hunger can’t bring fundamental change for Oromia.
Even if they continue to pursue the genuine oromo people to find endorsement, their chance is very low. Despite of all the obstacles created by the enemy, OLF is implementing the well designed and accepted program with its fully committed members and supporters.

British minister withholds aid as Ethiopia hides famine victims

Britain is to withhold future aid commitments to Ethiopia over concerns that its Government is obstructing efforts to help millions at risk of famine in the drought-stricken Somali region in the east of the country.

Douglas Alexander, the Minister for International Development, flew to Ethiopia on Thursday with a proposal committing millions in funds to the vast African nation over several years.

After visiting the Somali region and hearing the testimony of aid organisations as well as evidence of attempts by the authorities to hide the scale of the crisis, Mr Alexander told the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, that he had reconsidered. “In light of our continued concerns, I said I was now not prepared to make a multi-annual commitment,” Mr Alexander said.

At the moment Britain gives Ethiopia £130 million a year in aid.
He characterised the Government's reaction to the crisis as “deny and delay,” fuelled in part by Ethiopia's extreme sensitivity to its global image as a famine-stricken nation, which the Government views as an impediment to foreign investment.
Mr Alexander saw the sensitivity at first-hand on his trip to Somali when he was taken to the infant malnutrition ward in Kebri Dehar hospital to see seriously ill mothers and babies being treated.

Aid workers were surprised to find that the most severely malnourished babies and their mothers had vanished from the ward where they had been for several days, leaving only one mother and her fast-recovering child.
The health worker who had taken them to the hospital expressed fears that the children had been spirited away before the minister's arrival to avoid “embarrassing” press pictures of starving Ethiopian babies.

“I come here every day and they are always here,” the health worker said. “I don't know where they are now.”

“They've hidden them,” an international aid worker with a lot of experience in the region said.

“The Government doesn't want to acknowledge this crisis because it's bad for their image. It's not the image of Ethiopia they want to project. It doesn't encourage investment.”

Mr Alexander raised the incident later in his meeting with Mr Zenawi. “If it's true that they moved severely malnourished children, that is unconscionable,” he said. Mr Zenawi promised to investigate, calling the incident “despicable”.

In Kebri Dehar, Mr Alexander also heard concerns from local and international aid workers that the Ethiopian Government was actively frustrating efforts to reach the worst-affected areas of the region, using the insurgency as an excuse - an allegation that Mr Zenawi denied.

Aid agencies are unable to conduct surveys into the scale of need in the region because they require government permission and military escorts, which the Government is failing to provide.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Donor Governments Should Condemn Assault on Rights" Hurman Rights Watch

Draft Law Threatens Civil Society

Donor Governments Should Condemn Assault on Rights

Ethiopia’s parliament should reject a draft law that would criminalize human rights activity and seriously undermine civil society groups, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called on donor governments to speak out publicly against the bill, which is expected to be introduced in parliament this month.

The Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSO law) would provide the government a potent tool to intimidate and weaken Ethiopia’s long beleaguered civil society. Although the bill has been revised twice since May 2008, the current version retains many of the most alarming provisions.

“The only reason to have such a repressive law is if it would be used to strangle Ethiopia’s few remaining independent voices,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Donor governments should make clear to Ethiopia that enacting this law will threaten future funding.”

The CSO law would bar both foreign and Ethiopian organizations that receive more than 10 percent of their funding from abroad from undertaking any activities in human rights, gender equality, children’s rights, disabled persons’ rights, conflict resolution, and strengthening judicial practices and law enforcement, among related activities. The law would also exclude groups that are largely funded by Ethiopians living in the diaspora from working on these issues. The law would carry severe criminal penalties for violations, including three to five years of imprisonment for minor administrative violations.

The draft law would establish a Charities and Societies Agency that would have enormous discretion to “regulate” civil society organizations, with few procedural safeguards and virtually no right of appeal of most of its decisions. Agency officials could arbitrarily refuse to register an organization, order organization staff or leadership suspended, and make onerous demands for documents and other information.

The proposed law violates Ethiopia’s obligations under its own constitution, regional African treaties, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Ethiopian officials claim that the law is intended to create “improved mechanisms to monitor nongovernmental organizations,” but the bill presents a far more intrusive regulatory framework than legislation adopted by many other countries, including Malawi, Tanzania, and South Africa.

“Ethiopia claims the civil society law would promote accountability, but other countries achieve this without banning human rights activity,” said Gagnon. “As the seat of the African Union, Ethiopia should be at the forefront of efforts to promote good governance instead of a leader in civil society oppression.”

Independent or critical voices, including those of political opposition, already face increasing pressure in Ethiopia. The country’s human rights situation has markedly deteriorated since the disputed 2005 elections, when security forces killed scores of demonstrators during street protests and arbitrarily arrested tens of thousands of others.

The government detained dozens of human rights defenders, opposition leaders, and journalists in November 2005 and tried them on treason charges. More than 100 of these people, including 25 journalists and publishers, were finally acquitted in April 2007, and 38 people, mostly opposition leaders, were pardoned in July 2007 after pleading guilty. Two civil society activists who were arrested in the same round-up and refused to plead guilty were finally released in March 2008 after spending more than two years in prison and being convicted on baseless charges of incitement.

Ethiopia’s bilateral donors provide more than US$1 billion in aid each year to what is one of the world’s poorest countries and an important ally in regional counterterrorism efforts. Key governments, including the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, have quietly pressed the Ethiopian government to amend the most repressive provisions of the proposed law, to little apparent effect.

Donor governments have refused to condemn serious human rights abuses in Ethiopia publicly, claiming that quiet pressure achieves more impact. Over the past two years, though, Ethiopian security forces have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, both within Ethiopia and in neighboring Somalia, without being called to account for their actions.

“Quiet diplomacy has failed to convince the Ethiopian government to address serious abuses,” said Gagnon. “Donors need to say loud and clear that continued repression will have financial consequences.”