Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim announced that 29-year-old Saif al-Arab Gadhafi and the grandchildren were killed during what he called a direct attempt to assassinate the Libyan leader… [read more]
Archive for April, 2011
A conference will be held in Toronto, Canada, on May 7, to discuss the current situation in Ethiopia, including the struggle to bring an end to the brutal dictatorship.
Obang Metho (SMNE Director)
Jawar Mohamed (Activist and Political Analyst)
Abebe Belew (Addis Dimts Radio Host)
Mohamed Hassan (Researcher and Founder of Canadian Center for Ogaden Researcher and
Allo Aydahis (From the Afar community)
Date/Time: Saturday, May 7, at 2:00 PM
Address: 40 Donlands, Toronto
More info: Email email@example.com
By David Smith | Guardian.co.uk
Riots have swept across the Ugandan capital, Kampala, as protesters called for an Egyptian-style uprising against their autocratic president.
At least two people were killed and more than 100 wounded after soldiers fired live bullets and tear gas and beat demonstrators with sticks. Civilians fought back, blocking roads with burning tyres and pelting vehicles with rocks.
The growing unrest – sparked by rising food and fuel prices – gained fresh impetus after the brutal arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye on Thursday.
But President Yoweri Museveni, who was been in control for a quarter of a century, has met the protests with a show of force.
His military police were accused of attacking innocent spectators on Friday. One victim could be seen lying in a pool of blood, apparently after being shot in the head at a local market.
In the Karwerwe neighbourhood, police chased a teenager, Andrew Kibwka, with heavy wooden sticks and rained blows on him.
“I thought the police were going to kill me,” he said minutes later, his arm bruised and a finger bleeding. “I was telling them I’m harmless, but they just carried on. I did nothing to provoke them. They beat me because I was running away.”
The 18-year-old added: “I’m in pain all over my body. The police are being too brutal. I think Uganda will get worse if the president does not resign.”
A minibus, a taxi and other vehicles that tried to travel up the street were pelted with stones. Then soldiers in armoured vehicles appeared and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, and people ran away in panic.
Standing at a market, Robert Mayanja, who described himself as an activist, said: “What they are doing now shows that Museveni rigged the last election.
“If you look at Uganda, why should we vote for him after 25 years? We have high prices, we have hospitals without medicine. Is there anything to vote for?”
Mayanja, 31, said a repeat of the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia was “definitely” possible. “What we are seeing here are people who are not armed but are taking a stand against armed forces,” he added. “People are ready. It’s just a question of time.
“We know they are going to arrest many people and put them in torture chambers. We know this regime has expired. These are the signs.”
Eric Mbiro, a 20-year-old student, agreed: “We are tired of this government because of the price of commodities,” he said. “There is no presidency in Uganda. The president rules the country like his own home. He is a dictator. We need change.”
But he was more sceptical about the prospects for an uprising, saying: “We will not manage to do what they did in Egypt because people here are poor. There is too much poverty in Uganda.”
Military police fired live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas at numerous burning barricades blocking the main road out of Kampala to the international airport in Entebbe and sprayed adjacent residential areas with bullets.
Shell casings littered the main road, tear gas hung in the air and security forces beat local residents.
In Ntinda, angry youths shouted and hurled stones and chunks of concrete at passing cars. On one corner, a man ran up to a council vehicle as it drove by and smashed the driver’s window with a rock, raising cheers from onlookers.
A coded sign language is already in place. Motorists who hold two fingers aloft in a “v for victory” symbol, showing they support the rebellion, are allowed to pass unharmed, but a single raised thumb is interpreted as a pro-Museveni gesture.
Roads were blocked by rocks, cones, debris and burning tyres. A bare-chested man lay face down on the grass, his head being bandaged by Red Cross medics.
An eyewitness said the man had been the victim of an unprovoked attack. “The military police were making people clear the road, and this boy worked for 30 minutes,” Timothy Ssenfuma, a 35-year-old electrical engineer, said. “He said he wanted to go, but they beat him on the head and back until he collapsed. They were also beating up even women and young ladies just to clear the road.
“They are killing innocent Ugandans who are not even involved in the uprising. We appeal to the rest of the world to help Ugandans as they have in Libya and elsewhere.”
A teacher, who gave his name only as Nixon, claimed the security forces had launched an indiscriminate attack, saying: “The military police came and started beating up people.
“Some had to run away and others had to fight back to defend their friends. People have terrible anger at the way they were treated.”
The 32-year-old said he could not imagine an Egypt-like revolt in the short term. “But in the long term, I believe it can happen,” he added. “The military is still strong and many of the soldiers are unwilling to turn to the side of the people. But, in time, they might get tired of beating the people.
“I really look forward to it. As your friends are beaten and arrested, the professionals need to come out and organise the people.”
Red Cross official Richard Nataka said more than 100 injured people had been taken to five centres, including 78 , of whom 10 had gunshot wounds, at the Mulago Hospital.
He said one person had died and a pickup truck brought in a second body shortly afterwards. Red Cross vehicles were arriving at the Mulago Hospital every few minutes with more casualties.
Besigye has held five “walk to work” demonstrations against rising prices and what he calls a corrupt government. On Friday, demonstrators carried posters praising Besigye, and asked why police needed to use violence to arrest him.
Besigye has been released on bail, but is said to be in poor health and still unable to see after pepper spray was fired into his eyes.
Funeral services for Biwoded Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfere, one of the most prominent Ethiopians, was held on Tuesday in the eastern Ethiopian town of Assaita in the presence of family members, friends and supporters from different parts of the country, religious figures, and political leaders, including the prime minister of Djibouti.
Conspicuously, but not surprisingly, absent from the funeral was the khat-addicted tin-pot dictator Meles Zenawi.
Although Ali Mirah, 95, is a bitter opponent of Meles Zenawi’s politics, he is more than a politician. He is a spiritual leader of Ethiopia’s Afar community, and held in high esteem by millions of Ethiopians as a great patriot. His influence extends beyond Ethiopia’s borders. That’s why Djibouti’s prime minister came to Assaita to pay his respect.
Abune Mekarios, one of the most senior leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, has called on Ethiopians to unite and say “BEKA” (enough) to Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship. Abune Mekarios sent out his message during an interview with ESAT. Watch parts 1-3 below:
Ethiopia has lost one of its best sons, Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfere, yesterday. Sultan Ali Mirah, 95, is a great Ethiopian patriot, a staunch advocate of Ethiopia’s unity, and a leader of the Afar ethnic community in eastern Ethiopia.
The Sultan is remembered and honored among patriotic Ethiopians for his famous quote: “Even our camels salute the Ethiopian flag.” He reportedly made that comment in response to Meles Zenawi’s description of Ethiopia’s flag as “just a piece of rag.”
In a 1992 interview with Dr Fikre Tolossa, Ali Mirah said:
The people of Afar like other Ethiopians are proud of their heritage and history. We are one with all Ethiopians. No one can make excuses and take this identity from the Afar people. Only the forces who are anti-Afar people will make claims of separation. We will not hesitate to expose them for what they are. This must be done for the unity of our Ethiopian people.”
Sultan Ali Mirah’s political activities have been brutally suppressed for that past 20 years by the anti-Ethiopia ethnic apartheid junta that is currently ruling the country.
Ali Mirah will be buried in the town of Assaita tomorrow.
By Shannon Filed | The New Age
Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of development aid, receiving over US$3.3bn (R22.6bn) annually. Ethiopia is perceived by Western leaders as a largely Christian country bordering two unstable Islamic states, Sudan and Somalia, and viewed as a crucial ally in the “war on terror”.
Prime Minister dictator Meles Zenawi has charmed Western leaders so successfully that he has seen foreign aid more than double in the past six years, while his regime has become increasingly repressive.
Zenawi presided over what were regarded as fraudulent elections in both 2005 and 2010, and in an attempt to maintain his regime’s grip on power, detained tens of thousands of opposition supporters, imprisoned opposition leaders and executed demonstrators. The US State Department acknowledged in its human rights reports the “numerous credible reports of unlawful detention of opposition candidates in Ethiopia, and the politically motivated killings committed by the security forces”. Despite this, Ethiopia remains a top US client state in the East African region and has not been subjected to official public criticism for the ruthlessness with which it deals with its detractors.
Ethiopia’s geo-strategic importance to the US has become the overriding issue, eclipsing the government’s growing political repression. With escalating calls from within Ethiopian society for a people’s uprising, the US finds itself again propping up a dictatorial regime, at US$1bn (R6.8bn) a year, in addition to the provision of military training and weaponry.
The collaborative relationship between the US and Ethiopia has been developing for years, with the common purpose being the rooting out of Islamic radicalism, particularly inside Somalia. The Pentagon has trained Ethiopian troops for counterterrorism operations in camps near the Somali border, and the US believes these efforts have disrupted terrorist networks in Somalia.
The US backed the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006, and has shared its intelligence on the positions of Islamic militants with the Ethiopian military. The US has gone as far as using a base in Ethiopia to capture al-Qaeda leaders, and to use an airstrip in eastern Ethiopia to launch air strikes against Islamic militants in Somalia. Ethiopia’s geo-strategic importance is not only its proximity to Somalia, a known breeding ground for al-Qaeda, but as a backdoor to the Middle East.
This close relationship with Ethiopia is coming under the spotlight as the wave of people power in North Africa and the Middle East has inspired Ethiopian opposition movements to follow suit. In March, the Ethiopian Americans Council wrote to US President Barak Obama about the political situation in Ethiopia and the growing political suppression by the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). They claim the punitive legislation such as the Civil Society Law, Anti-Terror Law and Press Law hamper the ability to organise public meetings and rallies, and to raise funds. They have warned that Ethiopians are organising strikes and demonstrations for the coming months, and claim that an uprising has already begun in the southern region. It is alleged that security forces used deadly force against peaceful protestors on March 7 and 9 in the Gamgofa zone. The Council is seeking US support for the opposition’s campaign.
The Ethiopian regime is concerned about the power and influence of its massive diaspora, and their ability to stage demonstrations in cities around the world. This concern is well placed given that the diaspora is becoming more mobilised and determined to expose the draconian nature of the regime.
The regime is so concerned about the inevitability of a mass uprising at home that any gathering of more than three people in all urban centres has been banned, and there is a heavy military presence in the capital Addis Ababa. Prime Minister Zenawi has articulated his concern about the political turmoil in Yemen, just 150km from Ethiopia’s northern border, and has claimed that some domestic opposition groups are trying to incite a similar uprising.
The regime has taken immediate measures to counter any potential uprising by arresting more than 200 members of the opposition during March to prevent the organisation of demonstrations. The regime has also resumed its jamming of the US-financed Voice of America (VOA) language service broadcasts to Ethiopia. The VOA is the only international radio service broadcasting in the three main Ethiopian languages – Amharic, Afan Oromo and Tigrayan. Any political broadcasts by the VOA are now disrupted, as they provide the opposition with a voice.
An immediate mass uprising may not materialise given the collective memory of the harsh crackdown following public demonstrations in 2005, where 200 peaceful demonstrators were killed by security forces, 765 were wounded, and 30000 detained. At the time the opposition had protested against what they termed fraudulent elections, where the manipulation of election results gave the opposition far fewer seats than they believe they won. Thousands were arrested, the independent media silenced and 131 opposition politicians and journalists were put on trial for treason, outrages against the constitution and genocide. While the Ethiopian Parliamentary Commission report said the security forces did not use excessive force, the commission leaders claim their findings were altered by the government prior to the report’s release.
The 2010 elections were arguably worse, with higher levels of intimidation and coercion used. In the 2005 elections the opposition had won all the national and regional council seats of Addis Ababa, but in 2010 the government claimed to have won them all back. The regime claims to have won an overall 99.6% in the poll.
Prior to the 2010 elections, the government also denied food aid to opposition supporters, using it to reward its political allies – a tactic employed in successive elections. In a country where 3 million people experience hunger every year, this was a gross politicisation of humanitarian assistance. Human Rights Watch has painstakingly documented the regime’s multilayered oppressive strategies in its 105-page report Development Without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian public know any uprising would be dealt a swift and brutal response by the regime. Unless there is reason to believe that segments of the Ethiopian military and Western powers would support their calls for regime change, it may be too much of a calculated risk.
Compared to Egypt and Tunisia, Ethiopia has a much smaller, less educated middle class, with less access to the internet. Internet connection in Ethiopia is 0.5% compared to 21.2% in Egypt. Somalia, which has not had a stable government for more than 20 years, has a higher internet connection rate than Ethiopia.
For any uprising to succeed in Ethiopia a critical mass of support is needed , particularly among the youth, with clear objectives, a well-defined strategy, determination and at least some support from the armed forces. Nationally no political organisation has the influence or credibility to lead a popular revolt, but as in Egypt, a cohesive political leadership is not necessary for an uprising to succeed.
What would be pivotal is the support of the US to opposition forces in the face of a brutal government crackdown.
It is this solidarity with democratic forces that cannot be relied upon given the close relations with the Zenawi government nurtured over time to ensure a virtual US proxy in the region.
(Shannon Field is a independent political analyst)
Alemayehu G. Mariam
Following the Battle of Zela in 47 B.C. (present day Zile, Turkey), Julius Caesar claimed victory by declaring: “I came; I saw; I conquered.” In 2011, Caesar Meles Zenawi, the dictator-in-chief in Ethiopia, scattered his top henchmen throughout the U.S. and Europe to declare victory in the propaganda war on Diaspora Ethiopians. But there was no victory to be had, only ignominious defeat at the hands of Zenawi’s tenacious, resolute and dogged opponents. No victory dances; only a speedy shuffle back to the capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses) to deliver the message: “We went; We saw; We got chased the hell out of Dodge!”
The purpose of the recent official travelling circus was to introduce and generate support among Diaspora Ethiopians for Zenawi’s five-year economic program pretentiously labeled “Growth and Transformation Plan”. In city after city in North America and Europe, Zenawi’s crew received defiant and pugnacious reception. Ethiopians made the various meeting venues and sites virtual mini-Tahrir Squares (Egypt). Ethiopian men and women, Christians and Muslims, young and old, professionals and service workers, students and teachers and members of various political groups and parties showed up in a united front to confront and challenge Zenawi’s henchmen. One need only view any one of the numerous videotapes online to appreciate the intensity, depth and strength of Diaspora Ethiopian opposition to Zenawi’s regime.
In Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, New York, Toronto, London and various other cities, Ethiopians came out in full force and tried to gain admission into the meetings. Many were singled out and turned back. In a widely-disseminated and cogently argued “open letter”,Fekade Shewakena, a former professor at Addis Ababa University, wrote Girma Birru, Zenawi’s official representative in the U.S., complaining about his discriminatory treatment in being refused admission at the meeting held on the campus of Howard University:
I was formally invited by an [Ethiopian] embassy staffer… I faced the wrath of the protestors as I was crossing their picket lines [to attend the meeting]. Then I met the people who were deployed by the [Ethiopian] embassy to man the gate, and do the sad job of screening participants and deciding what type of Ethiopian should be let in and what type should be kept out. I was told I was ineligible to enter and saw many people being returned from entering. One screener told me… “ante Tigre titela yelem ende min litisera metah” [Tr. Do you not hate Tigreans? What business do you have here?...]
The ethnic stripe test was the last straw for many of the protesters who denounced Zenawi and his crew as “murderers”, “thieves” (leba) and “opportunists” (hodams). Inside the meeting halls, those who asked tough questions were singled out and ejected by the organizers, often violently. Some were physically assaulted requiring emergency medical assistance. Nearly all of the meetings were disrupted, cancelled, stopped or delayed. To sum it up, those who made peaceful dialogue impossible, made angry verbal exchanges inevitable.
Zenawi in September, His Troops in April?
It will be recalled that in September 2010 when Zenawi came to the U.S. to speak at the World Leader’s Conference at Columbia University, he set off a firestorm of opposition among Ethiopians in the U.S. Busloads of Ethiopian activists descended on New York City to confront Zenawi, but they were kept away from the campus. A massive campaign (reminiscent of the anti-war protest days at Columbia in the late 1960s) was undertaken to mobilize Columbia students, faculty and staff to put pressure on the university administration to disinvite Zenawi.
Zenawi’s invitation also provoked strong reaction among non-Ethiopians. Prof. Ted Vestal, the distinguished and respected scholar on Ethiopia, outraged by Zenawi’s invitation wrote Columbia President Lee Bollinger: “The only way you can redeem the damaged reputation of the World Leaders Forum is by publicly making known the shortcomings of Prime Minister Meles and his government in your introductory remarks–a refutation similar to what you did in introducing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran in 2007.”
World-renowned Columbia economist Prof. Jagdish Bagwati wrote in disgust: “It seems probable that the President’s [Bollinger] office was merely reproducing uncritically the rubbish that was supplied by one of these Columbia entrepreneurs [Columbia Professors Joseph Stiglitz (Zenawi’s sponsor) and Jeffrey Sachs] whose objective is to ingratiate himself with influential African leaders regardless of their democratic and human-rights record, to get PR and ‘goodies’ for themselves at African summits, at the UN where these leaders have a vote, etc.”
I vigorously defended Zenawi’s right to speak at Columbia because I believed the opportunity could offer him a teachable moment in the ways of free people:
I realize that this may not be a popular view to hold, but I am reminded of the painful truth in Prof. Noam Chomsky’s admonition: ‘If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.’ On a personal level, it would be hypocritical of me to argue for free speech and press freedoms in Ethiopia and justify censorship or muzzling of Zenawi stateside. If censorship is bad for the good citizens of Ethiopia, it is also bad for the dictators of Ethiopia.
Following the Columbia episode, one has to wonder why Zenawi would send hordes of his top officials to the U.S. and elsewhere to evangelize on behalf of his regime. It is logical to assume that Zenawi conducted a “vulnerability analysis” of Diaspora Ethiopians before sending out his crew. It is likely that he studied Diaspora attitudes and perceptions toward his regime and the current situation in the country, the ethnic and political divisions and tensions in the Diaspora, the strength of Diaspora elite cooperation and intensity of conflict among them, etc. and decided to make his move. He likely concluded that any potential opposition to the meetings could be handled by utilizing an “ethnic filter” at the door of the meeting halls.
But what are Zenawi’s real reasons for sending his top cadre of officials to North America and Europe? There could be several answers to this deceptively simple question.
Zenawi’s Arsenal of Weapons of Mass Distraction
Careful evaluation of Zenawi’s propaganda strategy shows that the dispatch of officials to the to the U.S. and Europe is part of a broader integrated campaign to undermine opposition in the Diaspora, energize supporters and reinforce favorable perception and action by foreign donors and banks. Manifestly, the mission of the crew sent to “dialogue” with the Ethiopian Diaspora was to divert attention from the extreme domestic economic, political and social problems in the country and to exude public confidence in the fact that the upheavals in North Africa are of no consequence in Ethiopia. The other elements in this propaganda campaign of mass distraction include belligerent talk of regime change in Eritrea, inflammatory water war-talk with Egypt, wild allegations of terrorist attacks, wholesale jailing and intimidation of opponents, proposals for the construction of an imaginary dam, attacks on international human rights organizations that have published critical reports on the regime (just a day ago, Zenawi’s deputy said he “dismisses” the 2010 U.S. Human Rights Report as “baseless”) and so on. The hope is that the more Diasporans talk about the manufactured issues, the less they will talk about the real issues of stratospheric inflation, food shortages, skyrocketing fuel costs, massive repression, information and media suppression, etc. in Ethiopia.
By alternating propaganda topics from day today, Zenawi hopes to keep his opponents and critics talking reflexively about his issues and off-balance. The more outrageous his claims, the more reaction he is likely to elicit from his opponents and critics, and be able to better control the debate and the minds of those engaged in it. To be sure, by sending his travelling circus to the U.S., Zenawi has succeeded in angering, inflaming and riling up his Diaspora opponents. He knows just how to “get their goat”. He manipulates that outpouring of anger, rage and frustration to keep his opponents’ eyes off the prize.
The Propaganda Value of “In-Yo’-Diaspora-Face” Confrontation
By sending a large delegation into the Ethiopian Diaspora, Zenawi is also sending an unmistakable message: “In yo’ face, Ethiopian Diaspora! I can do what I am doing in Ethiopia just as easily in your neck of the woods.” It is a confrontational propaganda strategy tinged with a tad of arrogance. Zenawi seems to believe that the Ethiopian Diaspora is so divided against itself and inherently dysfunctional that it is incapable of mounting an effective opposition to his regime or even his crew’s visit. By unleashing swarms of regime officials in the Diaspora, Zenawi likely intended to further degrade the Diaspora’s ability to conduct or sustain opposition activities, demoralize and disconcert them and confuse their leadership. On the other hand, if he can muster a successful foray with his crew, he could establish his invincibility and spread pessimism and despair in the Diaspora. But the whole affair proved to be a total failure as have all previous efforts to stage “in yo’ face” confrontation with Diaspora Ethiopians. The Diaspora may be divided but not when it comes to Zenawi’s regime.
Effective Propaganda Tool Against the “Extreme Diaspora”
The other less apparent side of “in yo’ face” confrontation is to make a record of the “extreme Diaspora”. Zenawi will no doubt use this episode to show American and European policy makers that he is reasonable and statesman-like while the opposition, particularly in the Diaspora, consist of an assortment of wild-eyed, hysterical, fanatical, intolerant, irrational, hateful and mean-spirited extremists. He will argue to American policy makers that he sent his top leaders to engage Diasporan Ethiopians in civil dialogue only to be attacked, insulted and berated. He will hand them copies of well-edited videotapes of agitated protesters titled: “Behold the Ethiopian Diaspora!” In short, Zenawi will use the protest videos as Exhibit A to demonize, discredit, dehumanize, marginalize, categorize and sermonize about the Evil Extreme Ethiopian Diaspora. At the end, he will offer American policy makers a simple choice: “I am your man! It’s me or these raving lunatics.” Based on historical experience and empirical observations, some American policy makers may actually buy his argument.
Pandering to the U.S., IMF, E.U.
A third objective of the dog and pony show about the “Growth and Transformational Plan” is to please (hoodwink) the U.S., the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and others. It is an elaborately staged drama for this audience to show that Zenawi has a real economic plan for Ethiopia that exceeds the “Millennium Goals” (e.g. eradicate extreme poverty, reduce child mortality, fight AIDS, form global partnership, etc. by 2015). By making gestures of engagement with the Ethiopian Diaspora, Zenawi is trying to build credibility for his “economic plan” and that it has broad support within and outside the country. He deserves billions more in in loans and economic aid. Zenawi knows exactly what buttons to push to get the attention and approval of donors and loaners.
The “economic plan” itself floats on a sea of catchphrases, clichés, slogans, buzzwords, platitudes, truisms and bombast. Zenawi says his plan will produce “food sufficiency in five years.” But he cautions it is a “high-case scenario which is clearly very, very ambitious.” He says the “base-case” scenario of “11 percent average economic growth over the next five years is doable” and the “high-case” scenario of 14.9 percent is “not unimaginable”. The hype of super economic growth rate is manifestly detached from reality. The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative Multidimensional Poverty Index 2010 (formerly annual U.N.D.P. Human Poverty Index) ranks Ethiopia as second poorest (ahead of famine-ravaged Mali) country on the planet. Six million Ethiopians needed emergency food aid last year and many millions will need food aid this year. An annual growth rate of 15 percent for the second poorest country on the planet for the next five years goes beyond the realm of imagination to pure fantasy. The IMF predicts a growth rate of 7 percent for 2011, but talking about economic statistics on Ethiopia is like talking about the art of voodoo.
Dialogue, Like Charity, Begins at Home
Like charity, dialogue begins at home. Zenawi should allow free and unfettered discussion of his economic plan as well as human rights record within Ethiopia first before sending his troupe into the Diaspora. Conversation is a two-way street. If Zenawi wants to talk about his economic plan to Diaspora Ethiopians, he must be prepared to listen to their human rights concerns.
There is not a single Ethiopian who will oppose food sufficiency in that hungry country by 2015 or decline to contribute to the prosperity and development of Ethiopia. Reasonable people could disagree on Zenawi’s “growth and transformation plan”. History shows that similar schemes based on foreign agricultural investments in Latin America have produced Banana Republics. Whether Zenawi’s economic plan will produce a Barley or Rice Republic in Ethiopia is an arguable question. But there can be no development without freedom. There can be no development in a climate of fear, loathing and intimidation, and one-party, one-man domination. Most certainly, there can be no development without respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law. Though it is very possible to pull the wool over the eyes of people who have very little access to information, it is impossible to fool a politically conscious, active and energized Ethiopian Diaspora community by putting on a dog and pony show.
Woyanne officials take questions from the public at a town hall meeting (reality-based comedy):
(Amnesty International) — The Ugandan government must immediately end the excessive use of force against protesters, Amnesty International said today, after police fired live rounds at crowds of protesters in different parts of the country reportedly killing a child.
Five people have been killed in Uganda since the protests, sparked by a rise in fuel prices and the cost of living, began on 11 April.
“The police have a duty to protect themselves and uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to fire live ammunition at peaceful protesters,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director.
“They must now investigate these deaths immediately in a thorough, independent and effective manner.”
One child was killed and two protesters injured by bullets during protests in the town of Masaka today, a local journalist told Amnesty International. Two police officers were reportedly badly beaten by protesters during the disturbances.
Kizza Besigye, leader of the opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), was today arrested for the third time since the protests began. He has been charged with unlawful assembly and will appear in court on 27 April.
Two men were shot dead by security forces in the northern town of Gulu on 14 April. Adoni Mugisu, a market vendor, and Charles Otula, a mechanic died after police fired into crowds of unarmed protesters. The government expressed regret over the deaths and blamed the deaths on the opposition leaders and protesters.
During the protests in Gulu one other person was reportedly lynched by protesters for wearing a T-shirt with a photograph of President Museveni.
On Monday 18 April, dozens of people were arrested and charged with offences ranging from inciting violence to participating in unlawful assemblies. Among them was Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao, who refused to apply for bail and is scheduled to appear in court next month.
“Uganda must immediately drop all charges against Kizza Besigye and all other opposition politicians, activists and supporters,” said Michelle Kagari.
“Criminal charges must not be used against those taking part in peaceful protests and those detained must be released.
“The government must also launch an independent investigation into all human rights violations alleged to have been committed during the recent events. All those suspected of carrying out acts of unlawful violence must be held to account,” she said.
Since the conclusion of the February 2011 general elections, the Ugandan police have maintained a blanket ban against all forms of public assemblies and demonstrations, on grounds of ensuring public security.
“The ban on public rallies violates the right to freedom of expression provided for under Uganda’s Constitution and international law. It must be lifted immediately, “said Michelle Kagari.
“The Ugandan government argues that the ban is in the interest of public security. But in fact it is having the opposite effect, causing widespread disruption,” she said.