Friday, April 2, 2021

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Ethiopia

 Abiy’s assumption of office was followed by positive changes in the human rights climate. The government decriminalized political movements that in the past were accused of treason, invited opposition leaders to return and resume political activities, allowed peaceful rallies and demonstrations, enabled the formation and unfettered operation of political parties and media outlets, and carried out legislative reform of repressive laws. The opening of political space has also met with challenges. Reforms are taking place in an environment with weak institutions including in the security sector. Ethnic tensions increased, resulting in significant violence in some cases. Citizen-on-citizen violence caused the majority of human rights abuses.

On November 4, fighting between the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front Regional Security Force resulted in protracted conflict in the northern Tigray Region and reports of serious and widespread abuses. As of the end of the year, there was very limited access to the majority of Tigray, except for the capital Mekele, resulting in a lack of reporting and making it difficult to ascertain the extent of human rights abuses and violations.

Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings by security forces and private entities; forced disappearances by unnamed armed groups; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; serious abuses in an internal conflict, including killing of civilians; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including harassment of journalists, and blocking of the internet and social media sites; interference with freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; serious acts of corruption; lack of investigation of and accountability for violence against women; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting members of racial or ethnic minority groups; and existence or use of laws criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct.

The government at times did not take steps to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses, resulting in impunity for abusers due to a lack of institutional capacity. The government took positive steps toward greater accountability under the Abiy administration to change the relationship between security forces and the public. In June the attorney general’s office and the government-affiliated Ethiopian Human Rights Commission investigated Amnesty International’s allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by security forces. The administration also addressed past reported abuses such as restrictions on freedom of assembly, political prisoners, and interference with privacy. In late August the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and human rights nongovernmental organizations deployed investigators to 40 sites in Oromia Region to probe ethnic-based killings after the June 29 killing of Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Ethiopia: Account for all people arrested after Hachalu Hundesa’s killing


The authorities in Ethiopia must immediately reveal the whereabouts of dozens of politicians and journalists who were arrested alongside other people following widespread protests and violence on 29 June, Amnesty International said today.

The killing of Hachalu Hundesa, a popular outspoken Oromo singer, sparked protests, some of which degenerated into intercommunal violence, which together with a police crackdown left at least 177 dead and hundreds wounded.

In Addis Ababa and Oromia region, the police arrested at least 5,000 people, many of whom are in incommunicado detention with their whereabouts unknown. Those arrested include leading opposition politicians like Jawar Mohammed from the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), leaders of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Eskinder Nega of Balderas for True Democracy party, and journalists.

Hold Your Fire: Ethiopia's Political Crisis In this podcast series, Crisis Group President Rob Malley and Board Member Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict, dive deep into the conflicts that rage around the globe, along with Crisis Group field analysts and special guests. This week, they discuss U.S. support for the Yemen war and the absence of the Palestinian issue from the normalisation agreement among Israel, the UAE and Bahrain. Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for Ethiopia, Will Davison, also joins them to discuss the challenges facing Ethiopia.

Toward an End to Ethiopia’s Federal-Tigray Feud A disputed regional election plan has ratcheted up tensions between Ethiopia’s federal government and its rivals in Tigray.

Why does it matter? Although Abiy has ruled out military intervention, federal officials threaten other punitive measures that could lead the parties to blows. Ongoing tensions also could push Tigray to trigger constitutional secession procedures, further raising the stakes and intensifying conflict risks with Addis Ababa and Amhara region.

I. an End to Ethiopia’s Federal-Tigray Feud

A disputed regional election plan has ratcheted up tensions between Ethiopia’s federal government and its rivals in Tigray. To avert a confrontation, Tigrayan officials should press pause on election preparations and both sides should embrace dialogue to address the dispute and underlying causes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Mitigating Risks Ahead of Ethiopia’s Pivotal Elections

Ethiopia’s federal and regional elections, now scheduled for August, will be a critical test for one of Africa’s most closely watched political transitions. Since taking office in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has brought rapid change: he has extended his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn’s policy of releasing political prisoners and welcoming back regime opponents from long exile, restored relations with Eritrea, boosted the number of women in the cabinet, accelerated modernisation of an indebted state-led economy, refreshed institutions like the electoral board and set the country on a path toward multi-party politics. Many at home and abroad have welcomed these reforms. On 10 December, Abiy collected the Nobel Peace Prize.
 The changes have uncorked social tensions long bottled up by an authoritarian state. 
Yet the changes have uncorked social tensions long bottled up by an authoritarian state. Intercommunal violence has proliferated, spurring the most conflict-related internal displacement in the world in 2018. Ascendant ethno-nationalist parties are jockeying for power in urban areas, including the federal capital Addis Ababa, and the countryside. Boundary disputes between ethnically defined regions that control autonomous security forces could tip into open inter-regional conflict. Moreover, Abiy’s transformation of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has aroused opponents’ suspicions that he intends to do away with the hard-won “ethnic federalist” system that guarantees those regions self-rule. The EPRDF, whose four core parties have controlled the central state, as well as the most politically powerful regions, for three decades, is being replaced by a single national party that also absorbs ruling parties from the five regions not governed by EPRDF parties. Ethnic federalism’s future could be a divisive issue in the forthcoming vote.
The challenges of managing a competitive election – chiefly, overcoming mistrust among rival elites and strengthening electoral institutions – are formidable in themselves. In parallel, however, authorities will also need to boost an economy that has struggled to generate sufficient jobs for the country’s ranks of unemployed and underemployed youth. Satisfying this constituency, whose protests between 2015 and 2018 set the stage for Abiy’s ascent to power, and which now demands a better future, will be essential to keeping the transition on the rails.
The EU and its member states can help by:
  • Urging authorities in Addis Ababa to convene a national conversation about how to manage the election schedule, pre-election tensions and security issues. This conversation should include politicians, activists, religious leaders and elders. All these actors should aim to set ground rules ahead of the vote and discuss ways to prevent violence, such as pledges by candidates and party leaders to avoid incendiary campaign rhetoric.
  • Encouraging Abiy to reach out to rivals who fear an end to ethnic federalism, making clear to them that review of Ethiopia’s constitution, if it occurs, will take place down the road and will include the opposition and civil society.
  • Intensifying financial and technical support for Ethiopia’s electoral board, which needs significant support to deliver a credible vote crucial to averting violence. The EU and member states should keep working with other partners to build up the board’s capacity while simultaneously supporting efforts to boost voter education and preparing to deploy an election observation mission.
  • Pressing Abiy to promote dialogue among political elites embroiled in territorial and power-sharing disputes.
  • Working with authorities to carry out macro-economic reforms, by way of increased supplemental funding for job creation programs, welfare schemes and other safety nets.

Fault Lines

Four flashpoints pose immediate threats to Ethiopia’s transition. First, in Abiy’s home state of Oromia, the prime minister’s rivals (and some of his erstwhile allies) accuse him of doing too little for the Oromo people and being too close to pan-Ethiopian nationalists whom they see as adversaries. Secondly, elites from the powerful northern highland regions of Amhara and Tigray are locked in a bitter dispute focused primarily on boundaries. That standoff has inflamed ethno-nationalist sentiment and could lead to widespread violence. Thirdly, Oromo nationalists are bidding for greater sway over Addis Ababa, which is both the federal and Oromia capital. Amhara factions and activists in Addis Ababa oppose this drive for more benefits for Oromos – greater political representation, more revenue shared with Oromia, enhanced Oromo rights in education, for example – from the city. The vote for the Addis Ababa council leadership will therefore be keenly contested, and disputed results could lead to intercommunal violence in the multi-ethnic city that is Ethiopia’s main commercial as well as political hub. Fourthly, the formerly dominant elites from Tigray resent their loss of power under Abiy and protest his prosecutions of Tigrayan officials for past abuses, which they see as politically driven.
 The vote for the Addis Ababa council leadership will [...] be keenly contested, and disputed results could lead to intercommunal violence. 
Another important fault line, which Abiy’s ruling party reform plays into, pits supporters of Ethiopia’s ethnic federalist system against its opponents. The former camp includes Tigrayan leaders, Oromo opposition politicians and others, who view the reform as a first step toward dismantling that system, because it centralises power in Addis Ababa, so reducing the autonomy of regional party structures. They are committed to ethnic federalism because they view its provisions for self-rule as reversing decades of domination by an unaccountable centre. Proponents of the merger tend to dislike the existing federalist system, arguing that it weakens the nation by accentuating ethnic differences. Stakes in the debate are high. On 23 October, an ardent defender of ethnic federalism, the influential Oromo politician Jawar Mohammed, posted on Facebook accusing the government of endangering his personal safety. His post brought thousands of his supporters into the streets of Addis Ababa and Oromia’s multi-ethnic towns. At least 86 were killed in confrontations triggered by the protests.

Dialling Down the Tensions

Ethiopian authorities will need to take the lead in tamping down tensions, but the EU, member states and other external partners can also play a constructive role. Prime Minister Abiy has urged the country’s international partners to support his government’s efforts at far-reaching reforms. The EU and member state leaders who are in contact with Abiy and other key Ethiopian actors should remain engaged and urge them to prevent violence before, during and after the election, including by taking some of the steps below:
An urgent priority is fashioning a consensus on ground rules ahead of the vote including on the election date. Ethiopia’s electoral board announced on 15 January that the election would tentatively be held on 16 August, saying that neither the authorities nor the electoral board would have been ready for the earlier planned date of May. That new schedule is contentious, however. Opposition leaders have complained that the new date falls in the middle of the rainy season and so campaigning may be difficult in rural areas. These concerns are reasonable, and authorities and the electoral board should reach out to the various parties to craft agreement on the issue. Although the August date affords a bit more time to prepare, the schedule is still constrained given the challenges. The EU and its member states should urge the premier to immediately invite the main ruling party and opposition leaders from across the federation to talks aimed at ensuring that electoral campaigning does not spark conflict. This select group could discuss campaign rules and electoral procedures, including security provisions in contested districts and how complaints should be made and handled. Aggrieved parties should be told to direct their complaints through official channels before airing them in public. Abiy could also use this forum to assure rivals that, if he plans to propose any constitutional changes, he will do that down the line and in a consultative manner.
Separately, the EU and its member states should encourage Ethiopia’s electoral board to convene as soon as possible a national conversation with opposition parties and civil society, including activists, religious leaders and elders. That would be a venue for all players to express their views on issues related to election management, building on a code of conduct signed by over 100 parties in March 2019 in which all committed to peaceful campaigning. In particular, it could tackle questions such as how to ensure that state institutions and public officials do not tilt the scales in favour of the ruling party, as has occurred extensively in past elections. At this conclave, all political actors should promise to eschew inflammatory rhetoric.
A third strand of EU support should involve technical and financial backing for the electoral board. This institution won some praise for its management of a November 2019 referendum on whether to create a new Sidama federal state out of the Southern Nations region. The national vote will pose much greater difficulties, however. Initial signs of EU involvement are positive: the new European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, picked Addis Ababa as the site of her first official visit abroad, showing that she intends to make Ethiopia a top priority. She announced that the Commission would channel €10 million to Addis Ababa to support the election and noted that Germany would add another €10 million to the same basket of funds. The EU and member states should complement these initiatives with substantial support for voter education efforts. The EU, which has already deployed an exploratory team, should accept the government’s invitation to deploy a strong observation mission as early as feasible to monitor the process from campaigning to the certification of results. The EU should coordinate closely with the African Union if that body also observes the polls.
 Negotiated settlements to disputes are the only acceptable way forward. 
Meanwhile, the EU and its member states should also support Abiy’s continued encouragement of talks between leaders in the main hotspots of potential communal conflict: within Oromia; between Oromia and Amhara factions; and between Tigray and Amhara. The premier should urge the various leaders to signal to their constituents that negotiated settlements to disputes are the only acceptable way forward. Political actors should publicise the outcomes of their meetings and consider joint appeals for calm. All these measures are critical in light of chauvinistic appeals to ethnic sentiment, which contributed to the October unrest in Oromia and has led security forces to deploy to turbulent university campuses. The EU, through the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, and European states are already supporting dialogue initiatives among political parties and other stakeholders. Some member states also back a separate civil society-led process to forge channels of communication across fault lines between and within ethnic groups and should encourage these non-governmental actors to step up these efforts in the run-up to the election.
In the long run, the economic front poses as great a danger to Ethiopia’s transition as do political tensions. After political grievances, concerns about the lack of economic opportunity were the second driver of the youth protests that rocked much of Oromia and, later, Amhara, between 2015 and 2018. The previous administration’s state-led economic model brought advances in infrastructure, primary health care and education, but could not deliver enough jobs to meet the aspirations of the large number of youth graduating from the expanded school system. Much of the country’s stability in the next few years will hinge on how many opportunities the government can foster to keep this segment of the population happy.
Abiy’s administration says it needs at least $9 billion to set the economy on a path to sustainable growth. On 11 December, the International Monetary Fund announced the outlines of an agreement to loan Ethiopia $2.9 billion over three years, primarily to support the central bank as the government moves toward a free-floating currency, which comes on the back of a $1.2 billion World Bank program primarily supporting economic reform that began in 2018. The administration also aims to ease businesses’ regulatory burden and increase private-sector participation as it pivots away from a public investment growth model. It plans to introduce a spate of privatisations and liberalisations in state-run sectors such as energy and telecommunications and to gradually open up the financial sector. The EU and member states could backstop these efforts by ensuring that adequate support for the poor and most vulnerable is in place, including drought victims, internally displaced people and those who have recently returned home. It could also look for ways to bolster rural and urban safety nets in case the cost of living rises further as state subsidies taper off and prices rise, while encouraging member states to continue supporting government spending on basic services such as health, education, water, agriculture and roads.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

ጋዜጣዊ መግለጫ

“በተከሰተው ሁከት በቀጥታ ወይም በተዘዋዋሪ መንገድ በጥፋቱ ተሣታፊ የሆኑ ሰዎች ሁሉ በሕግ ተጠያቂነታቸው መረጋገጥ አለበት!”
(አዲስ አበባ ጥቅምት 18 ቀን 2012 ዓ.ም.) ፤በወቅታዊ የሰብዓዊ መብቶች ሁኔታ ከኢትዮጵያ ሰብዓዊ መብቶች ኮሚሽን የተሰጠ መግለጫ
በኢትዮጵያ የተጀመረው የለውጥ እና ተሃድሶ እርምጃ በአጭር ጊዜ ውስጥ በርካታ ተጨባጭ ውጤቶች እንዳስገኘ ሁሉ ውስብስብ ተግዳሮቶችም እየገጠሙት ይገኛል፡፡ በተለይ ጥቅምት 12 ቀን 2012 ዓ.ም. ጀምሮ በተቀሰቀሰው ውዝግብ እና ሁከት የተሞላ ነውጥ የበርካታ ሰዎች ሕይወት ከመጥፋቱ፣ የአካል ጉዳት ከመድረሱ፣ ንብረት ከመውደሙ እና የሰዎች መደበኛ ኑሮ እና ሰላማዊ ሕይወት ከመረበሹ በተጨማሪ፤ የህግ በላይነትን በእጅጉ የተፈታተነ እና መሠረታዊ ሰብዓዊ መብቶችን ከፍተኛ አደጋ እና ስጋት ላይ የጣለ እጅግ አሳሳቢ ክስተት ነበር፡፡
በዚህ ሁከት ምክንያት ከሚዲያዎች ዘገባ መሰረት እስከ አሁን ባለው መረጃ ከ70 - 80 የሚደርሱ ሰዎች ሕይወት ጠፍቷል፡፡ ከእነዚህ ውስጥ አስር ያህሉ ከፀጥታ ኃይሎች ጋር በተፈጠረ ግጭት በጥይት ተመተው የሞቱ ሲሆን አብዛኛዎቹ ሰዎች በሁከቱ ተሳተፉ ሰዎች እጅግ አሰቃቂ በሆነ መንገድ በግፍ እና ጭካኔ በተሞላበት ሁኔታ በዱላ በድንጋይ እና በስለት ተደብድበው እንዲሁም በእሳት ተቃጥለው ተገድለዋል፡፡ በመቶዎች የሚቆጠሩ ሰዎች ደግሞ የአካል እና የሥነ ልቦና ጉዳት ደርሶባቸዋል፡፡ በሚሊዮኖች የሚገመት የግለሰቦች፣ የሕዝብና የአገር ንብረት ወድሟል፡፡ እንዲሁም የሃይማኖት ተቋማት ሆን ተብሎ በተፈጸመ ጥቃት ለጉዳት ተዳርገዋል፡፡
አሁን ባለው የኢትዮጵያ ተጨባጭ ሁኔታ ማናቸውም ዓይነት ቅሬታ ወይም ጥያቄ በሕጋዊና ሰላማዊ መንገድ ሊቀርብ የሚችልበት ምቹ ሁኔታ መኖሩ ይታመናል፡፡ ለዚህ ውዝግብ መነሻ በሆነው ጉዳይ ላይ በሰላማዊ መንገድ ሃሳባቸውን ለመግለጽ የሚሹ ሰዎች ቢኖሩም ሁከት የቀሰቀሱ፣ የፈጸሙ እና ያስፈጸሙ እንዲሁም ቀጥተኛና ተዘዋዋሪ ድጋፍ የሰጡ ሰዎች መኖራቸው ግን አይካድም፡፡ ማናቸውንም ዓይነት ቅሬታና ጥያቄ በአመፅ እና በእልቂት ማስፈራሪያ ለማስፈፀም የታየው ተግባር እና የአስከተለው ጉዳት የሕግ የበላይነትን፣ የአገር ሰላም እና ሥርዓትን በአደባባይ በመገዳደር እና በመጣስ ከፍተኛ የሰብዓዊ መብቶች ቀውስ ያስከተለ በመሆኑ በየደረጃው በቀጥታና በተዘዋዋሪ መንገድ በጥፋቱ ተሣታፊ የሆኑ ሰዎች ሁሉ በሕግ ተጠያቂነታቸው መረጋገጥ አለበት፡፡ ይህን ጥፋት የፈፀሙ እና ወይም የጥፋቱን ተግባር እንደ መልካም ሥራ ያወደሱ ሰዎች ሁሉ በዱላ እና በስለት ተደብድበው በእሳት ተቃጥለው የተገደሉ ሰዎችና ቤተሰቦቻቸውን ለአፍታ እንኳን በእራሣቸውና በቤተሰቦቻቸው ተክተው አለማሰባቸው የደረሰውን ጉዳት ይበልጥ መሪር አድርጐታል፡፡ የድርጊቱ ተሳታፊዎች በደረሰው ጥፋት ማዘን መፀፀት እና ለሕግ የበላይነት መከበር የመተባበር ኃላፊነት እና ግዴታ አለባቸው፡፡
መንግሥት የሕግ የበላይነትን ለማረጋገጥና አጥፊዎችን በሕግ ፊት ለማቅረብ ሳያወላውል እንደሚሠራ መግለጹ ተገቢ ሲሆን፤ ይህ የመንግስት ኃላፊነት እና ተግባር በስልታዊ የምርመራ ሥራ እና በሕጋዊ ሥርዓት በአፋጣኝ በሥራ ላይ ሊውል ይገባል፡፡
ከዚህ በመቀጠል ለሚደረገው የወንጀል ምርመራ ሥራ ማንኛውም ሰው በመተባበር እና ውጤቱን በትዕግስት በመጠባበቅ፣ በየአካባቢው የተጐዱ ሰዎችንና ቤተሰቦችን በማጽናናት በመደገፍ እና በመጠገን፤ እንዲሁም የመንግሥት፣ የፖለቲካ እና የልዩ ልዩ ቡድኖች መሪዎች የፖለቲካ ውጥረቱን ከሚያባብሱ ቆስቋሽ ንግግሮች እና ድርጊቶች እራሳቸውን በመቆጠብ ሰላምና መረጋጋት ለማስፈን እና ሰብዓዊ መብቶች ሁሉ እንዲከበሩ የሚደረገውን ጥረት ማገዝ እና ይህን የመሰለ ጥፋት ዳግም እንዳይፈጸም የሚመለከታቸው አካሎች ሁሎ በከፍተኛ ኃላፊነት ስሜት ሊሰሩ ይገባል፡፡[0]=68.ARDlYrPWhLB1C8l2VdsdrTV2_gooyGmC7Ya2feOhUDHtmK4U9ADK9EguyUoGDZOD3r1LwZMhN3jWxpHDl7_EakopDM0X-lei-XPvfT0cqzI-6fXL5bXdzU3cHLLNZJ4ehDNI65yydD9uNBNgrJdY6CHGPhQ1d2YEnJPRyDDocYv5adVl42jbYhYc3IN9bMmH3U62Ri9rkgUCbvOgpDT66yq_XjJgKm06EAtZNkDzUnnZvtVi2RUzA0IUykLQ4_m1yhCYtLMYgTfS8En0V2GmXjpvClN9ZA_fen8jYj6hk0Y_SLYtfltO1MgXmdTFwH2m-rgH-bIg4WDsiTHVXrQ

Sunday, October 27, 2019

AHRE in utmost terms alerts the international community about the looming threat of civil war in Ethiopia.

Press Statement
October 27, 2019
The news coming from Ethiopia this week is extremely disturbing and alarming. Dozens of people are ruthlessly killed based on their ethnicity and faith. At least 67 people have died, according to reports, out of which 54 were stoned to death and remaining died from gunshot from police. The violence had started after Jawar Mohammed, executive director of Oromo Media Network (OMN) and prominent activist, posted a note to his over a million followers on his Facebook page that police had circled his house and tried to withdraw his security forces this Wednesday around 2 AM Ethiopian time. Many of his followers in different parts of Oromia region marched on the streets stating their loyalty to Jawar, which then escalated into violence. Dozens of people were violently killed by crowds of youth, businesses and places of worships were burned to the ground.
According to DW Amharic, in Dodola, 14 people were killed since Wednesday. Residents told DW that, many whose houses had been burnt by mob, are still taking shelter in Churches. In Bale, in two days nine people were buried while two bodies had been sent to families elsewhere. AHRE has videos of helpless citizens who took shelter in churches begging the outside world for help. The number of recorded videos and audios from ethnic minorities is deeply disturbing to hear. Several others have been killed in different parts of Oromia, including in Sebeta, town located in the Oromia Special Zone Surrounding the capital, where eight ethnic Gamos were violently killed two days ago. 
In an extremely worrying development, a video is circulating on social media today where a group of people had summoned a large number of people in Bale Robbe, Oromia region. They instruct the crowd, among other things to evict ‘Neftegnas and Dorzes’, terms largely used to describe Amhara and Gamo ethnic group respectively. They also say, “we will no longer trade with Neftegnas and Dorzes; anyone who refuses order shall be cursed. in addition, they warn against eating with, worshiping, and living together with the Neftegnas. The video was in afaan Oromo and AHRE has not independently verified the translation, however different sources have similar translation.
AHRE has released many statements for the past couple of years alerting international institutions and the government about increasing ethnic based attacks, violence and displacement. Executive Director of AHRE, Mr. Yared Hailemariay, says that “Having closely followed these unfortunate incidents, AHRE strongly believes that the current situation is grave and particularly different because the killings have occurred at the same time in different parts of Oromia, including in the outskirts of the capital city; because of the tensioned political climate between the prime Minister and Jawar Mohammed and in general the weak nature of the central government; and because the video circulating will likely lead to more killings.” He also says that “The death toll and violence does not seem to abate and AHRE was still receiving unconfirmed reports of violence in Oromia when preparing this report.” Majority of the deceased are ethnic minorities and Christians.
There are a number of cases where police have ceased a high number of firearms; local news has reported about these firearms repeatedly in this year alone. This is particularly worrisome because officials and police have collaborated in the attack against minorities in recent violence, which worsens the already dangerous situation.
Therefore, it is with utmost urgency and gravity, that we alert the international community about the looming threat of civil war and likelihood of genocide in Ethiopia. Action must be taken swiftly by government forces, international community and all concerned bodies. We urge and alert all concerned bodies that every important action must be taken immediately to avoid civil war in the country. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

67 Killed in Ethiopia Unrest, but Nobel-Winning Prime Minister Is Quiet

Supporters of the opposition leader Jawar Mohammed demonstrating on Thursday in Addis Ababa.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Weeks after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is coming under harsh criticism over his silence in the face of protests this week that police said had resulted in the deaths of 67 people.
Mr. Abiy remained at a summit meeting of African leaders in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, Russia when thousands of people took to the streets of the Ethiopian capital and several regional towns on Wednesday.
The protests were spurred by a prominent critic of the prime minister who had accused the police of plotting an attack on him. The critic, Jawar Mohammed, is the founder of an independent media network, and claimed that there was a plan to arrest or possibly kill him at his house in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

In Ethiopia, a forgotten refugee in her own land

Sululta, Ethiopia - The rain beats loudly on the metal roof of Amina Yuya's new home, as her neighbours hastily gather clothes from a washing line and bundle a foam mattress through a doorway to escape the downpour.
Under the glow of a single light bulb, Amina tells the story of her flight from the eastern Ethiopian town of Jijiga, the capital of Ethiopia’s Somali region, almost exactly two years ago.
"They came at night at around 7pm," she recalls, as the youngest of her seven children squirms on her lap. "There was about 10 or 15 of them. They dragged us from our home and began beating us. They set houses on fire and killed three of my neighbours. I was lucky to escape."
She does not know what happened to her husband that night but she assumes he, too, was killed.
The 35-year-old mother was one of tens of thousands of ethnic Oromos chased from their homes by armed gangs in eastern Ethiopia two years ago.
During 2017 nearly one million people were displaced following clashes between ethnic Oromos and ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regions.
Hundreds were killed, on both sides, mostly by regional security forces.
Amina fled with her children to a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), where she stayed for seven months.

Once they brought us here we were crushed morally ... we didn't get what we expected. We are starving, we are suffering, and we are all alone.

She was then taken by bus to the town of Sululta, near the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. That's where she now lives, 650km from her old home town, in a block of corrugated iron sheds with some 30 other families.
"They told us they'd build us a house in Finfinee," she says, using the Oromo name for the national capital. "But once they brought us here we were crushed morally ... we didn't get what we expected. We are starving, we are suffering, and we are all alone."

'I don't have full hope in the government'

Amina's story is echoed across Ethiopia, which in the past two years has witnessed an eruption of land, resource and identity-related conflicts resulting in vastly swollen ranks of IDPs.
In 2018, following the appointment of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister and the process of liberalisation he set in motion, nearly three million people were displaced - the highest figure for new displacements recorded anywhere in the world.
The government's response to the humanitarian crisis was widely criticised, although today it claims there are almost no IDPs left. For several months aid to some camps in the south was blocked, in order to encourage the displaced to return home. In some parts of the country IDPs were forcibly returned, despite fears for their safety.
Oromos like Amina, who said they wished never to return to the Somali region, were promised resettlement within Oromia and in the booming satellite towns which surround Addis Ababa.
Yet two years on, Amina and her neighbours feel they have been abandoned by a government which promised to support them.
She says her view of Abiy, who comes from Oromia and heads the Oromo faction of Ethiopia's ruling party, is mixed.
"At times it seems good things are happening in the country, but at the same time people are still suffering. So I don't have full hope in the government."

Friday, June 28, 2019

Restoring Calm in Ethiopia after High-profile Assassinations

The shocking murders of five high-ranking officials have exposed the gravity of Ethiopia’s crisis. To mitigate risks, politicians should refrain from doing or saying anything provocative, while the federal government and ruling elites take urgent steps to heal deep and dangerous internal rifts.

A series of assassinations on 22 June has jolted Ethiopia. That evening, in Amhara state, the country’s second-largest federal region, gunmen killed regional leader Ambachew Mekonnen and two of his advisers. A few hours later, a bodyguard reportedly shot dead General Seare Mekonnen, chief of staff of Ethiopia’s military, along with a retired officer, at the general’s home in the capital, Addis Ababa. The Prime Minister’s Office linked the killings and cited a coup attempt in Amhara, the federal government imposed an internet blackout across the country – still in effect – and the military launched a manhunt for the alleged mastermind, the hardline Amhara security chief named Asaminew Tsige. State media announced that Asaminew was killed by the military in a firefight on 24 June.
For now, order appears to have returned, in both Addis and Bahir Dar, seat of the Amhara regional government. Still, the events laid bare the extent of the country’s political crisis. To prevent an escalation, politicians from all camps should avoid inflammatory speech or actions. The authorities should take urgent steps to convene discussions – including considering mediation by respected Ethiopians – to calm the wrangling within the governing Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) on issues including power sharing, territorial disputes and demands in certain regions for greater autonomy. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed should consult broadly on General Seare’s replacement to minimise suspicions of ethnic favouritism.
 The killings highlight the volatility at the heart of the country’s political system despite the enormous promise of the 2018 transition. 
Ethiopia’s political crisis is, in a sense, an extension of the crisis within the EPRDF. Since taking office in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy has carried out significant reforms at breakneck speed, overhauling the federal security apparatus, making peace with neighbouring Eritrea, releasing political prisoners and inviting exiles back home. These steps, while long overdue, have come at a cost: they weakened the unity of the EPRDF, an alliance of four regional parties that has controlled all tiers of government from the federal to the village level since 1991 and routinely used repressive tactics to sideline challengers. Security reform in particular altered the balance of power in the central government by reducing the number of top officials from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), one of the EPRDF’s four component parties, representing the Tigray minority that had long dominated the ruling coalition and security apparatus.
One upshot is that ethno-nationalist parties are presently on the rise in Ethiopia’s regional states, pushing strident agendas and presenting themselves as true defenders of communal interests. The EPRDF parties – themselves created to govern autonomous federal states and represent regional demands in the capital, as per Ethiopia’s ethnic federalist system – now feel compelled to outflank them. The heightened ethno-nationalist rhetoric contributes to intercommunal violence, which over the past eighteen months has reached levels unprecedented in many decades in Ethiopia.
This dynamic is particularly evident in the two most populous regional states, Amhara and Oromia. In the former, the one-year-old National Movement of Amhara challenges the EPRDF's Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) by presenting itself as the standard bearer of Amhara interests. It is pressing territorial claims on neighbouring Tigray region and asserting that it would stop the “persecution” of Amharas living outside Amhara state. In the case of Oromia region, leaders of a formerly exiled insurgency, the Oromo Liberation Front, returned in September 2018 amid joyous demonstrations, and on the understanding they would continue its struggle for Oromo rights and autonomy through peaceful and democratic means. Yet since the movement’s return, the military has confronted armed groups associated with it in western Oromia.
Against this backdrop, the 22 June assassinations are ominous signals. The Prime Minister’s Office claims that Asaminew orchestrated the Amhara chief administrator’s killing to oust the regional government. It also has alleged that the two sets of murders – in Addis and in Bahir Dar – were connected, and part of the same plot. Whether or not these claims are correct, the killings highlight the volatility at the heart of the country’s political system despite the enormous promise of the 2018 transition.
 The most pressing threat is that the 22 June killings could trigger intensified power struggles and violent reactions in politically sensitive locations across the country. 
Conflicting accounts of the killings’ aftermath have added fuel to the fire. The Prime Minister’s Office said on 23 June that authorities had detained Seare’s assassin. The following day, the Federal Police said he committed suicide just after the killing, but then amended their position to say he was in hospital injured. The confused messaging has led to theories that contest the official account. One such theory is that an Oromo-led federal government used the crisis to assert control over Amhara region, which is indicative of a brewing power struggle between Oromia and Amhara. A tactical alliance against the TPLF between parts of the Amhara and Oromia EPRDF parties was critical to bringing Abiy to office last year, but is now under strain.
Asaminew has long been a controversial figure. He was jailed along with other ex-military colleagues in 2009, allegedly for being part of the Ginbot 7 opposition group, then banned, and plotting a coup against then Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government. He was released in February 2018 as part of an EPRDF amnesty before Abiy became prime minister; nine months later, the ADP and the regional government appointed him security chief. His appointment was an indicator of the Amhara ruling party’s increased chauvinism and appeared to be an attempt to claw back popular support from the Amhara ethno-nationalists: Asaminew championed many of the same issues as the National Movement of Amhara and backed efforts to reclaim land that Amhara state leaders say they lost to Tigray in the early 1990s. But his appointment drove the EPRDF parties further apart, worsening the Amhara-Tigrayan territorial dispute and fuelling Amhara-Oromo tensions. Oromo leaders suspected Asaminew of ordering violence against Oromo in an administrative enclave of Amhara region in April and training local Amhara militias across the state.
As a result, federal and regional leaders increasingly considered Asaminew a liability. Ambachew, appointed in March by the regional parliament as Amhara chief, was reportedly about to fire him before being murdered. Asaminew’s death at the military’s hands, and conflicting accounts of the other assassin’s death, could further polarise the situation, particularly by sharpening discord between Amhara and Oromo. The 22 June killings confirm the dangers in handing security portfolios to hardliners like Asaminew who are ready to pander to extreme ethno-nationalists, from whichever of Ethiopia’s ethnicities.
Addressing Ethiopia’s many economic, political and security challenges will require time. For now, however, the most pressing threat is that the 22 June killings could trigger intensified power struggles and violent reactions in politically sensitive locations across the country. The EPRDF and government should take urgent steps to restore calm, including:
  1. A clear commitment by Prime Minister Abiy to try to rein in intra-EPDRF dissension, in recognition of the gravity of the country’s political crisis. The EPRDF parties will have to resolve differences over sharing federal power, internal borders and regional autonomy. For now, however, they need to put those differences aside in order to help the government maintain order. That may be difficult, given the pressure they face from within their own ethnic constituencies, but it is necessary. All party leaders should be open to mediation by respected Ethiopians if they cannot ease problems in EPRDF forums and should publicly commit to work with the Reconciliation Commission, established by parliament in December 2018, to investigate the causes of past conflicts in order to prevent future violence.
  2. A concerted effort to counter damaging rumours. The federal and Amhara governments should, as best they can, keep the public informed about what they know and do not know as the situation unfolds. The Prime Minister’s Office statement issued on 23 June went some way toward that goal, though it should release any evidence it has linking the Ambachew and Seare assassinations in order to quell speculation.
  3. A push to keep the military united and prevent its politicisation. Seare’s assassination raised troubling questions about divisions within the military, though government sources stress that it was an isolated incident. For the most part, the military has remained cohesive and effective during the transition, even as Abiy has taken steps to reform it, notably by seeking to rebalance its upper echelons away from Tigrayan predominance. An initial challenge lies in the appointment of a new chief of staff. The next in line, Deputy Chief of Staff and Head of Military Operations Berhanu Jula, is an Oromo, and his appointment could fuel tensions with Amhara nationalists and other opponents stemming from allegations that Abiy favours his own Oromo ethnicity. The prime minister should consult across the political spectrum and take a consensual decision on Seare’s replacement.
  4. In tandem with these official steps, all politicians – inside and outside the EPRDF, and representing all the country’s regions and peoples – ought to refrain from exploiting the situation through provocative rhetoric or hate speech, whether out of anger or as part of calculations of self-interest.

Ethiopia’s transition has been an inspiration across Africa and beyond. The 22 June assassinations have shaken that transition but, if prudence and precaution prevail, they need not derail it.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Obang will give talk about his extensive travel in Ethiopia, and his assessment of the country's transformation/regression towards better future. Please join us for an informed discussion on this topic and support Obang's voice of reason
Image may contain: 1 person, text

Monday, April 1, 2019

Press Release

Press Release regarding the Gross Human Rights Violations
Targeting Renowned Journalist Eskindir Nega and Colleagues

On March 30, 2019, the Ethiopian police banned Mr. Eskindir Nega and his colleagues from holding a press conference at the Ras Hotel for the recently formed Council of Concerned Ethiopians to Protect the Rights of Residents of the City of Addis Ababa.
Members oh UHD and particularly, Ethiopian Asylum seekers, in Toronto and surrounding area discussed the ban and expressed their concern with the government’s extreme reaction to Eskinder’s and the Council’s peaceful and lawful activities. At the end of the meeting, the participants issued a four-point declaration:
1. Every Ethiopian has freedom of expression and assembly that includes advocating for and organizing for a legitimate cause and engaging in activities to advance such a cause by peaceful means. By establishing the council to advocate for the rights and interests of the residents of Addis Ababa, Eskindir and colleagues were only exercising their right to freedom of assembly and association as enshrined in Article 30 and 31 of the Ethiopian constitution and other international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2. The ongoing acts of intimidation and harassment, including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s recent statement using the rhetoric of war against Eskindir Nega and colleagues for establishing the Council of Concerned People for Addis Ababa, are unjustified and represent an outright attack on freedom of expression and assembly.
3. The recent ban of the press conference is a violation of Eskinder Nega’s freedom of expression, and a violation of the freedom of assembly of the Council established to protect the rights of the residents of Addis Ababa.

4. The government must cease its threats and illegal prohibiting of Eskinder and his colleagues from reaching out to Ethiopians and the residents of Addis Ababa through the mass media, and its prohibiting of Addis Ababa residents from exercising their right to freedom of assembly by establishing the Council and its branches in various part of the city.

We call upon the government of Canada, the international community and human rights organizations, including the United Nations, African Union, European Union, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Freedom House to denounce in clear terms the Ethiopian government’s violation of its citizens’ freedom of expression and assembly.

Unity for human rights and democracy Toronto
March 30, 2019

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Managing Ethiopia’s Unsettled Transition Ethiopia’s charismatic new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, has generated great excitement with initiatives breaking with the past. But he faces challenges as formidable as his promises are bold: he urgently needs to halt communal strife, smooth the road to elections and boost the ailing economy.

Related image
Executive Summary After four years of street protests, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) elected Abiy Ahmed Ali prime minister on 2 April 2018. For many Ethiopians Abiy is a breath of fresh air. He admits the ruling coalition’s shortcomings, pledges reform, preaches unity and has made peace with Ethiopia’s old foe, Eritrea. Yet if Abiy has raised enormous expectations, he also faces daunting challenges. Insecurity has intensified and proliferated across the country, with communal violence tearing at the multi-ethnic fabric of Ethiopian society. Regional leaders demand more power. The economy is on life support, with foreign debt in excess of $24 billion, many young people without jobs and an old guard resistant to reform. There are no easy fixes for these challenges, but Abiy can give himself the best odds by focusing on three priorities – working to stop communal conflict, preparing for 2020 elections and reforming the dangerously weak economy. The crisis that led to Abiy’s assumption of power was years in the making. Protests broke out in 2014 over discrimination against the Oromo – the country’s largest ethnic group – and spread to other groups, especially the Amhara, its second largest. Discontent with tough socio-economic conditions, as well as with the ruling party’s 27 years in power and its domination by a small, mostly Tigrayan, elite, was already widespread. The EPRDF, weakened by factional quarrels after the August 2012 death of strongman Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, struggled to contain the unrest. Meles’s successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, veered from cabinet reshuffles and political prisoner releases to crackdowns including new arrests of opposition leaders and demonstrators. In October 2016, a state of emergency brought temporary calm, but the protesters’ demands for political reform and socio-economic improvements still largely went unmet. On 15 February 2018, Hailemariam resigned. By then the EPRDF elite – and especially its Tigrayan component – had lost its grip. With power dispersed among the security sector’s upper echelons, who were divided over whether to reform or protect the status quo, the EPRDF proved unable to steer the battle for succession. The Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, one member of the EPRDF coalition, stepped most assertively into the breach. Backed – in a break from tradition – by the Amhara National Democratic Movement, another EPRDF party, it propelled the Oromo nominee, Abiy Ahmed Ali, into the premiership. At age 42, Abiy is considerably younger than the old guard and, with the sympathy of many protesters, he appears well suited to the task of assuaging the grievances of the country’s neglected groups