Reprint from 12/07/11 on this page: Meles’s appearance in parliament exposes latter’s unhelpful role in defense of the public’s interests

4 Feb

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin
http://www.ethiopiaobservatory.wordpress.com

Why this article now?

Initially, this piece was conceived in my mind as a personal reaction to the 5 July 2011 debate in the Ethiopian parliament at the conclusion of its debate on the 2011-2012 federal budget. I would return to that shortly with some observations, based on experience and career in another piece .


The intervention of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has shed light on a number of important economic and financial issues in today’s Ethiopia, especially why things are the way they are. More importantly, I have been educated a great deal about the politics of governance in Ethiopia. This has weighed on me in a profound way, unable to answer where personal interests of politicians at the height of power should end and the national interest should predominate.

The fact that Ethiopia’s existing budget methodology is revamped and replaced by the results based program budget is an advance on its own. However, as I would discuss at some point in a separate article, what dumbfound me during the debate, among others, was how reforms and change are easily compressed and shown as policy advancements. In reality, however, the approach of the leading politicians has been akin to the methods of bees or ants how tirelessly they update their means of control, in like manner subordinating purported reforms or any anticipated or implied progress as means of consolidating more power by the ruling party, whose preponderance in every nook and cranny of the country—a favorite phrase of the prime minister’s—has already been overwhelming.

After watching the question and answer session on YouTube, I bottled inside me my reactions, for whatever reason. Probably I was extremely disappointed and shocked by what I saw and heard. I was restored only when I began leafing though the latest edition of Addis Fortune (10 July 2011) in the morning of 12 July, especially the excellent articles by Staff Writer Samson Haileyesus
 (http://www.addisfortune.com/Meles’%20Candid%20Admissions.htm) and the Editor-in-Chief Tamrat Gebre-Giorgis’s (http://addisfortune.com/Meles Dismissive of-Elusive on Former WB Director.htm). I was happily awakened from my inertia, realizing that others had also felt the same way and are writing about it fearlessly in a country where they can easily become victims the next moment.

Their articles are rare pieces of journalistic jewel, which I have so much enjoyed and for which I am very grateful. I did not realize until I wrote this piece that I was badly in need of therapy to overcome the shocks I suffered in watching that political drama on the Ethiopian parliamentary floor, until their observations encouraged me to do my part—go to my computer and write my observations as a concerned citizen.

Parliaments as a place where crooked whips prevail

In all countries, parliaments are politically cleansed of unwanted elements, i.e., opposition to the government in power, in democratic countries through democratic means winning by substantial majority of the electorate. In Ethiopia, this is done by doctoring the ballot box. In those other circumstances, experiences of ruling parties have shown that chance of parliamentary whips losing good night sleeps is one of the rare things in politics.

On occasions, when tough but non-fatal questions are asked in full public view in parliament in those other situations, the whips usually spend their pre-voting days harmonizing the thinking and actions of those members that dare to ask the tough questions. When the big mouth in question is their own, the whips may give him/her dress-down in private, bearing in mind the need to curtail such behavior in future.

For some, depending on their effectiveness, this may even bring rewards and promotion to buy their diffidence. Party whips keep in mind the need for balance between image of the party on one hand, i.e., avoiding criticisms by public that the party has become floor mat to critical remarks by unworthy opposition, which could be perceived by the electorate as sign of poor performance and poor delivery. On the other, account is taken of avoiding the danger of individual party members bolting out and joining the opposition altogether.

Such situations depend on political maturity and to some degree on appreciation for openness, i.e.e, after lessons learned-—never indulge the party into physical violence, which can sooner or later be traced to the culprit. They cannot venture into this in countries where the institutions of government first and foremost uphold the right of citizens, the public’s interest and the equality of everyone before the law. Nixon forgot that and lost the presidency on account of which he chose to go into thuggery and paid the ultimate price, after his involvement in the Watergate break-ins.

Aware of that, therefore, the other parties leave openings for internal debates so that individual parliamentarians speak their minds and get things corrected on societal concerns. Or they even systematically cultivate an internal dissident(s), deliberately making out of them heroes of the party that speak their minds. These individuals are assets to the party, whose credibility is an asset that can be used when things get pretty rough during the days of political slippage or misfortunes on hand.

The Ethiopian experience

When the questioning individual (parliamentarian) is from the opposition bench, as we saw it during the life of the last parliament in Ethiopia especially, senior officials of the ruling party usually from top down pounce at the questioner in public with manufactured accusations and embarrassments. They do that talking in codes, which in the end compels uninformed citizens to question the loyalty such marked individuals would have for the country. Allegations or charges of supporting or advocating secessionist and terrorist tendencies, e.g. Eritrean agency, OLF, ONLF, SLF, etc. are leveled at them, especially more often by the prime minister. His lieutenants and their media echoed this to the extent of making the individuals outright criminals and outcasts, without any investigations.

After they were out of parliament, none of them has been charged with treason and sentenced to imprisonments nor eliminated, even if the prime minister at the time had claimed before parliament that he had the evidences against them on hand. Why not?

Not only that, when convenient the state representatives position themselves into knitpicking a galore of human failures with intention to take away from either the truth uttered by any parliamentarian, or deprive him or her of credibility to speak again about anything, others—especially the government in particular. On moments of occurrence, at their lowest, their actions become no different from schoolyard ridicule by bullies. Recall the example of pronunciation differences between ‘fiscal’ and ‘physical’. Last time we witnessed rapping by the prime minister in public view, portraying the individual as incapable of pronouncing properly what he wanted to say in terms of ideas. This was intended to inject doubt whether that member of parliament was educated after all, although gossip had it at the time he is holder of MSc from a US university. Recall in this regard, the exchange at the close of the last and final session of parliament in 2010, when the PM jumped on a non-point on parliamentary opposition leader Temesgen Zewdie.

Perhaps it was then, the PM had vowed there should no more be opposition members in this parliament beyond one seat, which now is occupied by Ato Girma Seifu, whose interventions always are boiling the blood of the prime minister. Fortunately, during the 5 July parliamentary debate on final hearing of summary conclusions on the budget, it was only the rolling of eyes by the PM that the camera caught when he heard that member’s voice.

As a matter of fact, he was asking the right questions with utmost politeness. Evidently, many on the government side had displayed implicit doubts on government plans, but only feigning ignorance were asking the same questions to be educated, what is and what is not in the agreed document at the level of the parliament’s budget and finance committee in the Birr 118 billion. Clearly, from the point of view of the processes of considering and approving the budget, their questions have already made explanations provided by the PM after the budget was approved, which is superfluous. That is not what I am concerned about at this stage.

Was Ken Ohashi really an incompetent World Bank Country Director?

Among the many questions that were darted at the prime minister was what Parliamentarian Tadesse Meselu raised that got the PM reverting to his less statesmanly demure. The question was in connection with the critical article written by the outgoing World Bank’s Ethiopia Country Director Ken Ohashi, at a moment could not respond in self-defense, he suffered unfortunate lashing on the floor of the Ethiopian parliament from the usually unrestrained tongue of the prime minister’s on 5 July. He could in the right place, but absent as he was, Ken Ohashi could not defend himself against [Meles’s] charges of incompetence in his work.

He was also accused of being spoiled–a behavior, it was said–he allegedly acquired, when serving in an ‘underdeveloped country’ (emphasis added) before he came to Ethiopia. The prime minister went to the extent of stating that his evidence was the fact that Ohashi spoke with such liberty at his exit in retirement, meaning without any sense of accountability, as abnegation of responsibility both to the Bank and Ethiopia.

This he said was in complete contradistinction with the position of the World Bank that pumps money into Ethiopia, by the PM’s claim, with uninterrupted regularity in support of the government’s program, because it believes in Ethiopia’s programs. Astonishingly, the latest victim of this sharp tongued out of pocket attack by the Ethiopian prime minister was not a parliamentarian from the opposition side. It was the outgoing World Bank Country Director for Ethiopia Ken Ohashi and the incident took place on the floor of parliament.

Simply put, Ohashi was caricatured as a person heading to his twilight with frustration, meaning retirement years. The prime minister accused him of failure to change the lots of those countries he served before coming to Ethiopia. He added that in the years he was in Ethiopia the representative’s arrogant behavior and mentality was rejected as was his attempts at imposition of his neoliberal ideology.

What did Ohashi do to deserve this? What has that neoliberal subversive ideology tried to push that we Ethiopians do not and should not want to the extent that it should force the Ethiopian prime minister to engage in discrediting the personality and contributions of a worthy helping hand our country has ever had from the World Bank?

The answer to this could be found in the partying message Ken Ohashi penned on the 12 June issue of Addis Fortune as a commentary entitled “National ideologies and national blinders”

"I believe that this lack of bottom-up feedback may be the biggest blind spot for Ethiopia. A system that is long on top-down discipline and control may be strong in the sense that it is able to impose its will and execute certain kinds of plans well. It may also be stable, for changes are not readily permitted. But it may be “brittle,” as it is short on ability to adapt; it could break down when faced with a major crisis.The long-run stability and resilience of any system come from continual adaptation to changing circumstances. That in turn requires the free flow of information, even when the message is not what the top leaders hoped to hear, and the space for vigorous contestation of ideas.For Ethiopia to be a thriving nation in the globalised and fluid economic setting of today, it must become a system in which there is a profusion of new ideas, new technologies, and new products. To create such a system, Ethiopia will need more “empowered” children who would not have hesitated to say, “Teacher, we have a problem.”The government will also need much more feedback, from its own officials, the media, opposition parties, academics, the private sector, and citizens at large. And the country will need to expand the space in which different ideas are debated vigorously, to forge and sustain a national vision and to identify the best policies to achieve the vision. (In the diverse traditions of Ethiopia, there are ethnic groups that are far less top-down and more egalitarian, as Professor Donald Levine has shown in his works. In fact, such traditions can play a catalytic role in changing the dominant tradition of hierarchy.)I leave Ethiopia with a conviction that it is a country with immense potential. If it succeeds in reorienting its past approach and develops a more bottom-up and open way of achieving collective efforts, I believe that its future will be bright.”

Open up the system, respect your people, listen to their views are the sort of things that flustered Ato Meles Zenawi. The best I can say in the circumstances is I found the public hacking of an international civil servant embarrassing, for that matter with lies. For that matter, his professionalism and uprightness is appreciated by those who knew him closely. In his years of service to Ethiopia, Ken Ohashi had been upfront about speaking his mind. Those who knew him better, even outside office, say that he was itching to engage the Ethiopian government on its programs to discuss alternative mechanisms for effective program implementation and least cost possibilities.

By the same token, he was lightening road against international critics of Ethiopia, when he seriously thought their criticisms were unfair. A case in point is what he wrote on The New York Times (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/24/cruel-ethiopia/) about allegations that aid to Ethiopia was waste of good monies. In his letter, he defended government policy and actions on elimination of poverty and realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), indicating Ethiopia was one of the few African countries likely to attain their targets, as stated below:

Development assistance is a complex and difficult task. In a recent article, “Cruel Ethiopia” [NYR, May 13], Helen Epstein highlights some of the challenges. However, I think that Ms. Epstein’s argument conflates two closely linked, but separable, topics.

Fundamentally, development assistance aims to promote national development for the country and the reduction of poverty for its people. In this regard, Ethiopia has an impressive performance, with economic growth accelerating sharply on a sustained basis since about 2003, despite the global economic crisis. Since 2000, Ethiopia has recorded the second-fastest improvement in human development in the world, according to the UNDP Human Development Report 2009. This measure relates to more Ethiopians living a longer and healthier life, being better educated, and having a decent quality of life.

With regard to the globally agreed Millennium Development Goals, Ethiopia is making significant progress in all areas. The country is on track to meet goals relating to extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, and developing a global partnership for development. Good progress is also being made in reducing child mortality and ensuring environmental sustainability. Despite having already achieved gender parity in primary schools, Ethiopia is likely to fall short, as of 2015, on the targeted improvements for promoting gender equality and empowering women and improving maternal health.

These achievements in national growth and poverty reduction are important measures by which donors assess the effectiveness of their support to Ethiopia. They show that donor funding to the country and peoples of Ethiopia has yielded substantial results that have had a significant impact on improving the lives of the poorest families. They are also testimony to the government’s strong commitment to improving basic services and building a backbone of infrastructure (i.e., roads and electricity) that can facilitate economic growth. Such government commitment is central to sustained progress in the development process.

As important as they are, the results sketched out above are not enough, for ultimately the goal of development in every country is the freedom for every individual to realize his or her full potential. There are concerns about the overall governance of the country, efficiency and fairness of resource use, the risk of dependence on aid, and protection of basic human rights, as Ms. Epstein points out. We recognize these concerns, and development partners in Ethiopia take them seriously.

We start, however, with a belief that in every country people want to be self-reliant and prosperous, and to develop a transparent, accountable, effective, and efficient governance system. Ethiopia is no exception. Our task, as an external development partner, is to support that innate tendency.

However, building institutions, public and private, that assure every citizen’s right to and effective delivery of public services takes a long time; indeed, it never ends, as we can see even in the most industrialized countries. Changes are incremental, and at times they may suffer serious setbacks. It is, therefore, crucial that development partners work with the long-term process of change, always in support of it, not in control of it (which is impossible in any case).

Of course, this does not mean that we ignore the negative impact that our assistance may bring. That is why we monitor the effects of our assistance closely and maintain continual dialogue with the host government on issues that hinder a robust and sustainable development process. And this is precisely the approach we follow in our efforts to assist Ethiopia.”

After all, is it not ridiculous that the government of Ethiopia should now claim that Ken Ohashi has proved ineffective in countries he served before he came to Ethiopia? His appointment by the World Bank to Ethiopia was supported by Ethiopia itself, when it gave its concurrence. How come that it did not reject him right from the start, if it knows full well, as it alleges, that he was incompetent and ineffective in countries he served previously?

The established practice in such appointments is that, just like the appointment of ambassadors, sort of agrément is sent for of reaction of receiving government. The person assumes his duties only when written approval is given in writing. All UN agencies do follow the same procedure, accepting or rejecting being the prerogative of governments, with no further questions asked about it at any time by anybody, not even informally. That is what all governments do in such circumstances. They carefully vet the person proposed to see if they accept or reject for such positions. In the circumstances, if the Meles regime has not done that in the case of Ken Ohashi, it must own its failures; it should neither blame Ken Ohashi or World Bank, although in this case, the source of the problem is official and habitual lose talk to which the prime minister is never criticized for his lack of proportion publicly or called upon to apologize to individuals over whom he usually rides roughshod.

The situation brings to mind the fact that availing oneself to statesmanship may seem a free ride to the ambitious, whose rise to power is a function of military might, not politics, as vetted by ordinary people in a free and democratic environment to reach that decision. In reality, statesmanship is not a cap one can pick up during a free ride. It comes with a very accurate measure of the individual possessing and demonstrating in action three long established criteria. I was recently reminded by the 2011 Reith Annual Lecture what Max Weber has brilliantly defined as the three pre-eminent qualities of a politician should be — “passion, responsibility and a sense of proportion.”

What have utterly been lacking all this time in Ethiopia have been a good sense of responsibility and a sense of proportion, as the above has demonstrated. How could a polarized society, such as Ethiopia constantly kicking and crying on the brinks of disaster and all round crises could heal, when political power simple-mindedly and single-mindedly pushes what only advances its stay in power?

አይ ሕወሃት! አቤት ቅሌት!አ ይ ጊዜ!

10 Jan

The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

ስብሃት ነጋንም ኣጓጉል አደረግሽዉ አይደል! ሰዉ ነንና ይህን ፎቶ ያየ ሁሉ ሠቅጠጥ ይላል!

ስብሃት ነጋ ሌላ ሰው ቢሆን ‘አይ ምሥኪን’ ብዬ ውስጤ ትንሽ መራራት ሊሰማኝ ይችል ነበር! ነገር ግን ቀበጦቹ/ባለጌዎቹ ሕወሃቶች ኢትዮጵያን ልታከናንቡ ያዘጋጃችሁላትን ውርደት በዚህ በሚታየው መልክ ራሳችሁ ተላበሳችሁት!

የኢትዮጵያ አምላክ እግዚአብሔር ክብሩ ይስፋ! 

ምርኮኛዉ ስብሃት አዲስ አበባ ደርሶ ወደ ‘መጨረሻ’ ማረፊያው ሲወስድ! (Picture credit: Fana)

የሕወሃቱ ስብሃት ነጋ! የክፋትህ መጠን~~አነተም ጓደኞችህም~~በጠቅላላው ሁላችሁም የተጠናወታችሁ መጥፎነት፣ ሌላው ቀርቶ በአሁኑ ሰዓት ሕዝባችን ደግነቱን እንዲነፍጋችሁ አድርጓችኋል! ዛሬ ስብሃት ነጋ በወከላችሁ ሃፍረትና አመድ መሰል ሁኔታውም የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ ፊቱን ቢያዞር አልገረምም!

የሚገርመው ስታንጓጥጠው የኖርከው የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ ፊት ዛሬ በአንድ እግርህ ብቻ ካልሲ አድርገህ፡ እውነተኛውን ማንነትህን በሚገልፅ መልክ መቅረብህ፣ ትላንት አንተ የነበርክበት ቦታ ዛሬ እንዳንተው ሁለት እጆቻቸውን ኪሶቻችው ውስጥ ሰንቅረው—’አለኛም ሰው የለም ባዮቹን— ‘ከኔ ሁኔታ በጊዜ ትምህርት ውሰዱ!’ በላቸው! ‘አሁን የኔ ለፈጸምኩት ግፍ፡ ጥጋብና ወስላታነት የምከፍለው ዕዳ ነው!’ በላቸዉ!

በዚህ እርጅና ባዳከመው ዕድሜ ተከብረህ መኖር ሲገባህ፣ ያላጣኸውን ስታሳድድ፣ ሁሉንም አጣኸዉ! ለዓመታት ያንተና የጭፍሮችህ ‘መሬት አልበቃ አለችን’፡ ሃገራችንን ብዙ ጎድቷል! ብዙ ወገኖቻችን ሕይወቶቻቸውን አጥተዋል!

የኢትዮጵያ አምላክ ግን ኢትዮጵያን እንደማይጥላት አሳይቷል! የትግራይ ሕዝብስ በምን ዕዳዉ?

ኢትዮጵያ ይህ በሽታ ከሥሩ እንዲነቀል ትሻለች!

እኔም ጆሮዬን አቁሜ የቀሪዎቹን ወንበዴዎች ፍፃሜ ጠብቃለሁ!

የኢትዮጵያ መከላካያ ሠራዊት በዳዮቿን ለመቅጣት በቀላሉ ሰው ከማይደርስበት ድረስ ወርዳችሁ—ፊቱ ሳይላላጥ፡ የቡጢ ምልክት ሳይኖርበት፡ ሳይሠበር፡ ሳይገረፍና ሳይጎሳቆል መምሰል የሚገባውን አስመስላችሁ በማቅረባችሁ—በምወዳትና በምኮራባት ብቸኛ ሃገሬ ስም ፍቅሬንና ከበሬታዬን እገልጽላችኋለሁ!

ኢትዮጵያ ለዘለዓለም ትኑር!

ዕሠይ ኢትዮጵያ! ሠራዊታችን መላ ትግራይን ተቆጣጥሯል! ወንበዴዎቹን እንደ ዐይጥ ከየጉድጓዳቸው ነቅሶ መልቀም ለነገ የማይባል ግዴታችንነው!

29 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

ኢትዮጵያ ከሰሞኑ በሕወሃት ወንበዴዎች ላይ የተቀደጀቻቸው ድሎች ለዜጎች የአዲስ ሕይወትን ተስፋ ይፈነጥቃሉ። አዳዲስ ግዴታዎችን በመንግሥት፥ ሕዝብና ሃገር ላይም ያስከትላሉ!

ሃገሪቱ በነፃነትና ዲሞክራሲ መንገድ እንድትጓዝ: እያንዳንዱ ዜጋም በዲሞክራሲያዊት ሃገሩ ያለፍርሃትና ሥጋት እንዲራመድ፣ ማለትም ዜጎች የሠጭ ተቀባይ ሣይሆኑ በራሳቸው መሪነትና ተጠያቂነት ሕልማቸውን ተግባራዊ የሚያደርጉበት የአስተማማኝ ጅማሮ ፈር ቀዳጅ ተደርጎ መታያት ይኖርበታል። ለዚህም ነው የዛሬውና የሚከታተሉት ድሎች፥ እስከዛሬ የሕወሃት ዘራፊዎችና ሸፍጠኞች ኢትዮጵያውያንን የነፈጓቸውን የዴሞክራሲና በትክክልም ድህነት ከኢትዮጵያችን የሚያስወግድ መንግሥታዊና ሁሉን አቀፍ እኩልነትና ልማት ላይ የምታተኩር ሃገርና ዜጎች በመሆን፡ ለተቃጠሉት አሥርታት ማካካሻ ለመሥራት እንገደዳለን።

የሕወሃት ሥልጣን ላይ ለዘላለም ሃገራችንን መዝረፍ ብቻ ሣይሆን፡ እነርሱ ለእነርሱ— ኢትዮጵያውያን በዘርና ዘርማንዘር በመከፋፈል—ኢትዮጵያ አንድ ሃገር እንዳትሆን የማድረግ ዓላማቸውን በተግባር ለመተርጎም ‘አንድ ሐሙስ…’ ነበር የቀራቸው በሚለው አባባል ብናስቀምጠው ማጋነን አይሆንም!

ይህም ድል ዜጎች ያገኙትን የወደፊቱን ተስፋና አዲሱን የድል ፍሬ የሚመዝን፥ የሚተርክና መሆን ይኖርበታል። ለዜጎች አዲሱን ተስፋ የሚያማትሩበትና በራሳቸውም መሪነት ሕልማቸውን ተግባራዊ የሚያደርጉበት መሆን ይኖርበታል።

ለዚህም ነው የቅዳሜውና የሚከታተሉት ድሎች፥ ወንበዴዎቹ ዘብጥያ ሣሉ ሁሉም ዜጎች በነፃንትና እኩልነት በጥረቶቻቸው ተሳታፊና ተጠቃሚ እንዲሆኑ ሕልሞቻቸውን ዕውን ማድረግ እንዲችሉ በሃገር አቀፍ ደረጃ ቃል የሚገባበት!

የሃገሪቱ ዳኞችና ፍርድ ቤቶችም— ከቅርብ ጊዜ ወዲህ ማየት እንደጀመርነው—በአሣፋሪነት ለፖሊስ ፍላጎት ተገዥ መሆናቸው ተወግዶና ተኮንኖ፣ የሕወሃት ከሃድያን በሠራዊታችን ጥንካሬ እንዳበቃላቸው፣ ይህም ብልግና እዚህ ላይ ተኮንኖ ለአንዴና ለመጨረሻ ጊዜ በቃው ይባል! የድርጊቱ ፈጻሚዎችና አስፈጻሚዎች ለፍርድ ይቅረቡ!

የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ እስካሁን ዲሞክራሲንና ሙሉ ነፃንትን የሚያውቃቸው በወሬና የማይተገብሩለት መንግሥታት በሚገቡለት ባዶ ተስፋ ብቻ ነው! ውስጣዊ ግጭቶችና የመንግሥትም ሆነ ቡድኖች በሚሠጧቸው ባዶ ተስፋዎች ወጣቶችን የሚያንከላውሱት ተወግደው፥ የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ በሃገሩ ያለፍርሃት በነፃነት እንዲራመድ ሁኔታዎች መመቻቸት ይሆርባቸዋል።

ከእንግዲህ የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ በመሰል የውንብድና ቡድኖች እየተዘረፈና እየተገደለ መኖሩ—ቤተሰቡ ፍትህ እንኳ ማግኘት የማይችልበት ሁኔታ—የሕወሃት ወንበዴዎች ጋር አብሮ ማክተም አለበት!

ከወያኔዎች ቀጥሎ የሕዝባችን ምሬቶች ፖሊስ ሠራዊት ውስጥ ተሠግሥገው የዜጎችን ሕይወት በየአስባቡ የሚቀጥፉ ወንበዴዎች በዩኒፎርምና ሥልጣናችውን ተገን በማድረግ በእነርሱ የሚጠቀሙ ሹማምንትም በመላ ሃገሪቱ ለፍርድ ሊቀርቡ ይገባል!

ኢትዮጵያን በልማትና በዲሞክራሲ ጎዳና ማራመድ የሚቻለው መዋቅሮቻችን —እንቅልፍ ላይ ሆኖ ዜጎችን የሚያስጠቃው ፓርላማ ጭምር—ከእንቅልፋቸው ነቅተው ለተቋቋሙባቸው ዓላማዎች በጽናት መቆም ሲችሉ ብቻ ነው!

በአዲሲቷ ኢትዮጵያ መንግሥትም በእያንዳንዷ እንቅስቃሴው፥ ከሕግ በላይ አለመሆኑን በቅጡ ቢገነዘብ፡ ሃገራችን አንድነቷ፥ ተስፋዋና ጥንካሬዋ ይፈረጥማል!

ድል ለመላው የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ!

ዘረኞችና ከፋፋዮች ይውደሙ!

ኢትዮጵያ ሠላሟና ልማቷ ይብዛ!

From today’s briefing by Spokesperson of UN SG on TPLF war in Tigray Region

24 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

“*Ethiopia

On Ethiopia, I can tell you that we remain extremely concerned about the safety of civilians in the Tigray Region, especially the more than half a million people — including more than 200 aid workers — who remain in Mekelle following information that fighting might move into the city in the coming hours. 

We and our humanitarian partners in Ethiopia are urgently calling on all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including health facilities and water systems. 

Our humanitarian colleagues also stress that it is urgent that all parties to the conflict enable the free and safe movement of affected people in search of safety and assistance, including across international and within national borders, regardless of their ethnic identification. 

We along with our partners in Ethiopia are ready to provide humanitarian assistance to people impacted by the conflict.  For this, free, safe and unhindered humanitarian access is urgently needed. 

We continue to receive reports of internal displacement.  Nearly 39,000 people have now fled to Sudan, including 17,000 children.  The response is scaling up, but the influx of arrivals is outpacing the capacity on the ground and additional funding is urgently needed. “

/UNSG Spokesperson https://www.un.org/press/en/2020/db201123.doc.htm

Nov. 23/2020

Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission Preliminary Findings about the Maykadra Massacre

24 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Ethiopian Human Rights Commission 

Rapid Investigation into Grave Human Rights Violation in Maikadra Preliminary Findings 

24 November 2020 

Introduction 

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC/The Commission) deployed a team of  human rights experts to Maikadra, in Tigray Region’s Western Zone, for a rapid investigation  into purported mass killings of civilians and related human rights violations.  

Between November 14th, 2020 and November 19th, 2020, the EHRC team travelled between  Maikadra, Abrhajira, Sanja, Gondar, Dansha and Humera and gathered testimonies and other  evidences from victims, eye witnesses, families of victims, first responders, military personnel  and various other sources including government authorities who were present at the time of  EHRC’s visit. The team also visited hospitals and health facilities and talked to survivors and  other relevant authorities.  

This report presents the mission’s key preliminary findings along with highlights of ongoing human rights concerns and recommendations. The full report will follow with additional  detailed and verified evidence.  

Preliminary findings 

Brief description of Maikadra 

Maikadra is a rural town located in Western Zone, Hafta Humera Woreda of Tigray Region. It is situated 30 kilometers south of Humera and 60 kilometers north of Midre Genet (also known  as Abdurafi). An estimated 40,000 to 45,000 people of Tigrayan, Amhara, ’Wolkait’ and other  ethnic origin reside there. Wolkait is the local name for people of Amhara descent who were  born or have long resided in Wolkait Woreda. 

Seasonal workers, mainly from Amhara Region but also from a few other areas, go to Maikadra  for seasonal work on large sesame and millet farms on the outskirts of the town, locally known  as ‘desert plains’, and live in one designated neighborhood with groups of up to 12 people  sharing a single house. As in every other year, these seasonal laborers, also known as ‘saluks’,  have been in Maikadra since September for the season’s harvest.

Preparation leading up to and start of the attack  

People of non-Tigrayan ethnic origin, and especially of Amhara and Wolkait origin, have been  subjected to great fear and pressure from the day the conflict between the Federal and the  Tigray regional governments broke out on November 4th, 2020. The seasonal labourers, in  particular, were altogether prohibited from moving freely in the town, from going to work and  even from returning to their usual place of residence.  

A few days before the attack, when the Ethiopian Defence Forces were said to be nearing the  town, the local administration police and militia forces shut all the exit points from Maikadra. (Militia refers to armed community security personnel who are not part of the regular police  force but are set up by regional/local administration within the structure of, as applicable,  either the Regional Peace and Security Bureau or the Regional Police Commissions. They are  therefore part of the government security apparatus. In rural towns and villages with no regular  police, in particular, militia serve as first security responders.) 

Some of the Maikadra residents who attempted to escape to the ’desert plains’ or the nearby  Sudanese town of Berehet, fearing attacks by a defeated and retreating Tigrayan militia and  special force, were forced back home by the local militia. Around the same time, members of  “Samri” – an informal Tigrayan youth group -set up and manned checkpoints at all of the town’s  four main exits.  

On November 9, 2020, the day of the attack, from around 11:00 AM onwards, the town police started checking identity cards to differentiate people of non-Tigray origin from the rest and  raided all the houses/huts, stretching from the neighbourhood known as “Genb Sefer” up to the  area called Wolkait Bole (Kebele 1 Ketena 1) which is largely resided by ethnic Amharas. They detained up to 60 people they profiled as Amhara and Wolkait and who were said to use  Sudanese SIM cards on their mobile phones and destroyed said SIM cards. Ethiopian SIM cards had already stopped working by then and the motive for confiscating and destroying the  Sudanese SIM cards was to prevent any communications or call for help during the attack,  according to testimony of the people in the area. Women and children of Tigrayan ethnic origin  were made to leave the town a few hours ahead of the attack.  

On the same day (November 9th, 2020), around 3:00 P.M., the local police, militia and the  informal Tigray youth group called “Samri” returned to “Genb Sefer” where the majority of  people of Amhara ethnic origin live and began the attack against civilians. 

According to eyewitnesses and families of victims who spoke with EHRC, the first act committed by the perpetrators was to execute an ethnic Amhara former soldier called Abiy  Tsegaye in front of his family and outside his house and set the house on fire. Afterwards, they threw his body into the fire. Residents said Abiy Tsegaye was a former soldier and militia member who had declined a request to re-join the militia as tensions began to rise. They surmise  that this might be why he was targeted. The victim’s wife and eyewitnesses have given a  detailed account of how the group of perpetrators forced Abiy Tsegaye out of his house and  had him shot in front of his family by a local militia and former colleague called Shambel  Kahsay, before throwing his body into the raging fire that engulfed their house. The EHRC  team also visited said house, still smouldering, and the area around it, still heavy with burned  body smoke. 

How the massacre of civilians unfolded  

Immediately after the attack on Abiy Tsegaye’s house, members of Samri, with the help of the local police and militia, moving from house to house and from street to street, began a cruel  and atrocious rampage on people they pre-identified/profiled as Amharas and Wolkaits. They  killed hundreds of people, beating them with batons/sticks, stabbing them with knives,  machetes and hatchets and strangling them with ropes. They also looted and destroyed  properties.  

While Samri, comprised of several groups consisting of 20 to 30 youth, each accompanied by  an estimated 3 to 4 armed police and militia, carried out the massacre, police and militia – strategically posted at street junctions – aided and directly participated in the carnage by  shooting at those who attempted to escape. 

It has been made apparent that the attack was ethnicity based and specifically targeted men the  attackers profiled through, amongst other things, identification cards, as Amharas and  Wolkaits; but a certain number of people from other ethnic groups have also been killed.  Moreover, it was men who were the specific targets in the attacks. While it can be verified that  women and children were spared, some women, including mothers who have tried to shield  their families, have suffered physical and mental injuries. Eyewitnesses also said women  received threats from the perpetrators that “tomorrow, they will come after the women. It will  be their turn”. 

EHRC spoke with victims who suffered grave physical and mental injuries, including people whose bodies were maimed by sharp objects or severely bludgeoned, as well as others who  were dragged on the ground with their necks tied to a rope. The team also talked to survivors  who describe how the attackers tied them to other people before attacking and of being the only  ones to come out alive. The fact that the main target of the attack, the neighborhood of Genb  Sefer is an area where, as mentioned earlier, laborers live together in large numbers, made it  possible for the perpetrators to attack between 10 and 15 people at once in a single house; 

thereby aggravating the heavy toll. 

While it is not possible yet to verify the exact numbers of the dead, the physically injured and/or  those who suffered property damage, the members of the Burial Committee, set up after the  attack, eyewitnesses and other local sources, estimate a minimum of 600 have been killed and  say the number is likely to be higher still. A mismatch between the large number of bodies and  limited burial capacity meant that burial took three days. EHRC has visited one mass burial  site and seen bodies still scattered on streets. Locals also said that the bodies the perpetrators  dragged to and hid in the bushes and “desert plains” outside the town were not picked up yet  and were therefore not included in the estimates. During the visit, the Commission’s team also  noted that the pungent smell of decaying bodies still lingered in the air.  

Survivors told EHRC that they managed to escape by hiding inside roof openings, pretending  to be dead after severe beatings, fleeing to and hiding in the “desert plains” and, for a few of  them, by hiding inside the nearby Abune Aregawi Church. The attack which began on  November 9th at around 3:00 p.m. went on throughout the night until the perpetrators left in the  early hours of November 10th. The entry into the city of the Ethiopian National Defence Forces  at around 10:00 a.m. made it possible to start the process of getting medical help to victims. 

The Commission visited victims with grave physical injuries as they received treatment in  hospitals in Abrhajira, Sanja and Gondar. 

Humane acts in the midst of inhumanity 

Victims have also explained to EHRC that even though this atrocious massacre was carried out  by Samri, a Tigrayan youth group, other residents, who were Tigrayan themselves, helped  several of them survive by shielding them in their homes, in churches and in farms. 

An exemplary instance is the case of a Tigrayan woman who hid 13 people in her house first, before leading them to a nearby farm. She went as far as staying with them the whole night in  case the group came back in search of them. Another is also of a Tigrayan woman who was  hit on the arm with a machete while trying to wrestle a man away from attackers who set him  on fire. 

Atrocity Crimes against Civilians  

The overall conduct and the results thereof, all point to the fact that the Maikadra attack is not  a simple criminal act but is rather a premeditated and carefully coordinated grave violation of  human rights. More specifically,  

• The perpetrators killed hundreds of people with full intent, a plan and preparation,  

• The conduct was committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed  against a civilian population, 

• The perpetrators knew that the conduct was part of or intended the conduct to be part  of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population, 

• The conduct took place in the context of an armed conflict between the Federal  Government’s National Defence Forces and the Tigray Regional Government’s  security forces while the latter were retreating following a defeat; and perpetrators targeted civilian residents of Maikadra they profiled based on their ethnic origin,  

• During the conduct, the local security apparatus in charge helped and collaborated with  the group known as Samri, responsible for the attacks while the former aided and  participated in the attacks instead of protecting civilians from harm.  

From the above, EHRC is of the view that what transpired in Maikadra on November 9th, 2020  including the killings, bodily and mental injury, as well as the destruction that went on  throughout night and morning, the overall conduct and results thereof, strongly indicate the  commission of grave human rights violations which may amount to crimes against humanity  and war crimes. The full extent of the evidence and elements of the crime will be examined in  detail in the full report. 

When such grave human rights violations occur, all direct and indirect perpetrators at all levels  must be duly investigated and held to account before the law. 

Ongoing human rights concerns that require urgent attention and recommendations 

• EHRC has learned that at least up to November 14th, 2020, people who have escaped from  or were injured by the attacks were still in hiding in the “desert plains” around Maikadra  or had sought shelter in the towns nearby. Among them are also ethnic Tigrayans who fear  retaliatory measures. While EHRC has learned that some of them are returning to Maikadra  over these last few weeks of the month of November, the safety of those who remain in  hiding is of concern. It is therefore imperative to return these displaced persons. Similarly,  the damage caused needs to be documented in a more systematic manner (Those who have  lost their lives and those who have suffered physical injury and/or property damage need  to be identified and the information gathered appropriately recorded. )  

• The residents of Maikadra are in complete shock, grief and psychological trauma from the  attack and the destruction and the separation of family members that followed. When the  EHRC team visited the town, the streets were still lined with bodies yet to be buried. The  psychological and health impacts on the residents is of concern.  

• Because the attack specifically targeted men and most of the victims are heads of  households/breadwinners for their families, a shortage of basic necessities has arisen. The  need for basic necessities, in particular of women, children, and breast-feeding mothers, is  increasing by the day. Moreover, if the harvest is not carried out soon, it might add to the  humanitarian crisis. It is, therefore, essential to invite humanitarian organisations into the affected area and to provide the support necessary to allow return and  recovery/rehabilitation/redress of residents.  

• Maikadra Residents of Tigrayan ethnic origin who fear for their safety, including women  and children, have been assembled in a temporary shelter under the protection of  government security forces. Residents told EHRC that some perpetrators of the attacks may  have also taken refuge among the people in the shelter but EHRC could not independently  verify this information. While it is appropriate, in such unstable security situations, to  provide protection to groups especially vulnerable to various kinds of threats, assembling  them in one location, might, on the contrary, expose them further to discriminatory  treatment. It is therefore urgent to identify perpetrators, if any, hiding in there and close the  said shelter.  

• The continued interruption of telecommunications, water and electricity supplies has  prevented the delivery of basic necessities, and the reunification of separated families. It  has also made provision of health and related services difficult. It requires urgent attention.  

• The media and influencers must ensure that the information they share regarding the  Maikadra attacks, is sensitive to the psychological pressure this puts on survivors and the  community in general. 

/Ethiopian Human Rights Commission

TPLF terrorism undermining the Ethiopian state; the front can’t give up the Ethiopia it has been illegally robbing!

24 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urges combatants in Tigray to spare civilian population

24 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Ethiopia: Threat of major hostilities in Mekelle seriously imperils civilian lives – Bachelet

GENEVA (24 November 2020) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday urged the parties to the conflict in Tigray to give clear and unambiguous orders to their forces to take constant care to spare – and protect – the civilian population from the effect of the hostilities.

“The highly aggressive rhetoric on both sides regarding the fight for Mekelle is dangerously provocative and risks placing already vulnerable and frightened civilians in grave danger,” the High Commissioner said. “I fear such rhetoric will lead to further violations of international humanitarian law,” she added, expressing alarm at reports of a heavy build-up of tanks and artillery around Mekelle, the capital city of Tigray province following the Government’s issuance of a 72-hour ultimatum.

“Such rhetoric suggests possible breaches of the cardinal principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution in the conduct of hostilities that are designed to ensure the civilian population is protected.”

Responding to allegations that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is stationing itself among civilians, Bachelet stated that under international law, parties to a conflict should take all possible measures to protect the civilian population under their control from the effects of attacks, namely by avoiding, to the extent feasible, locating military objectives in densely populated areas.

“However, this does not then give the Ethiopian State carte blanche to respond with the use of artillery in densely populated areas. I remind all parties to the conflict that the obligation to respect international law is not conditional on the other party’s behavior. All parties to the conflict are bound to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law as applicable. The protection of civilians is paramount.”

In particular, the High Commissioner recalled that it is prohibited to treat as a single military objective a number of distinct military objectives located in a densely populated area.

Bachelet said she was deeply disturbed at the continuing communication blackout in Tigray province, making it very difficult for civilians to communicate with family members, and for the UN to monitor the human rights and humanitarian situation. Reports continue to emerge of arbitrary arrests and detentions, killings, as well as discrimination and stigmatization of ethnic Tigrays. More than 40,000 people have fled from Tigray province into neighbouring Sudan since 7 November.

“I implore all parties to respond positively to attempts at dialogue, and to ensure unfettered access to humanitarian assistance for those who so desperately need it, and protection and security for aid workers,” the High Commissioner said.

My opposition to Tedros Adhanom’s WHO candidacy is finding belated support. If so I urge one & all to approach WHA members opposing his staying on after such glaring breaches of WHO’s Oath of Office and the UN Charter serving outside masters

20 Nov

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

The Editor of The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO) wrote his last article on Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy on 10 May 2017 and published it on this same blog—Why I am opposed to Dr. Tedros Adhanom becoming the ninth director-general of WHO. This was just before the World Health Assembly (WHA) undertook its task of selecting the new Director-General from amongst the candidates whose names it had before it.

At the time I used this picture first, I wrote: ‘Where would Dr. Tedros Adhanom go now since he is no longer cabinet member? Is he going to become full time TPLF cadre?’ [Credit: Ecadf]

Sadly, the Assembly picked the Ethiopian-born Tedros Adhanom, who now has turned into his country’s enemy conveniently utilising his post as the ninth Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Before the election, I was engaged in campaigns for several months on the media and through communications to WHA members urging them to think twice, before they picked up a sort of TPLF houdini—’the escape artist’— who had specialised in malaria diseases, who then was gearing up to head—what until then was this best-run UN organization since the end of World War II and the only UN specialised agency in the field of health for the peoples of the world.

Also recall, the WHO was successively ran by eight medical doctors before him. That in mind, I wrote the following article: Why I am opposed to Dr. Tedros Adhanom becoming the ninth director-general of WHO, giving my reasons for his professional unsuitability as well as indicating integrity problems.

In other words, the question for me then was why this guy—a malaria specialist—should take over as WHO’s ninth DG with qualifications—not suited for the tasks. Better as he was at it, he had surely galvanised strong support mostly from some African and island states and also the pharmaceutical industry—obviously for purpose no other than vaccines marketing permits.

For the situation I was confronted, the professional vacuity, I wrote Does Dr. Tedros Adhanom have the qualifications & integrity to become next WHO Director-General?

In the course of the campaign, I had written over twenty articles, most of which can be found in Articles contending Dr. Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy to WHO’s highest post

Today Tedros Adhanom’s end has now come to this: he has been caught—violating the UN Charter principles—promoting the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) war efforts, and campaigning against his Motherland Ethiopia! In other words, not only has Tedros Adhanom was soliciting weapons from Egypt and a few other African countries, according to Ethiopian official report, but he was also asking them to support TPLF’s political campaigns that falsely alludes Ethiopia and its leaders have been committing genocide against Tigrayans —hiding his role in misrepresenting the May-Kadra genocide!

It would be recalled Amnesty International was the first human rights organization that had the first look at the piles of over 600 massacred Ethiopians, whose killing it has concluded is a war crime!

The flamboyant Tedros Adhanom thought May-Kadra is a genocide he could tiptoe and engage in his habitual denials and falsifications (CNN also has a good record)—at best misrepresenting what has happened to some leaders of African States—who fortunately had reported the matter to Ethiopia!

What his TPLF army has committed crimes against the Amhara people, whose fertile lands Meles Zenawi annexed, as the TPLF first president and later its prime minister until his death in 2012, facilitating the illegal acquisition of it as part of Tigray.

Why we think, after such ignoble crime, Tedros Adhanom must vacate the DG’s post and sent packing. In other words, not only this latest crime, I had argued in the first place that Tedros Adhanom is not fit to serve as WHO’s Director-General, through several articles written for the benefit of the World Health Assembly members.

After all, he is bold person who has not respected the oath of his office (P. 112), as contained in the WHO BASIC Documents. It reads:


“I solemnly swear (undertake, affirm, promise) to exercise in all loyalty,
discretion, and conscience the functions entrusted to me as an
international civil servant of the World Health Organization, to
discharge those functions and regulate my conduct with the interests of
the World Health Organization only in view, and not to seek or accept
instructions in regard to the performance of my duties from any
government or other authority external to the Organization.”

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