Subcommittee Hearing: Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights

Seal of the United States Department of State.

Seal of the United States Department of State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Subcommittee Hearing: Ethiopia After Meles:
The Future of Democracy and Human Rights


Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations | 2172 House Rayburn Office Building Washington, DC 20515 | Jun 20, 2013 10:00am

Chairman Smith on the hearing: “Ethiopia is a vital American ally in Africa, but its human rights and democracy policies fall short of the basic rights that Ethiopians deserve. Our hearing will look at the policies of the current Ethiopian government in hopes that it will better accommodate political opposition and civil society, and respect the rights of all Ethiopians. We also need to consider how the U.S. Government can support ways to improve the rights—and lives—of the Ethiopian people.”

Witnesses

Panel I

The Honorable Donald Y. Yamamoto
Acting Assistant Secretary of State
Bureau of African Affairs
U.S. Department of State

The Honorable Earl W. Gast
Assistant Administrator
Bureau for Africa
U.S. Agency for International Development
Panel II

Berhanu Nega, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Economics
Bucknell University

J. Peter Pham, Ph.D.
Director
Michael S. Ansari Africa Center
Atlantic Council

Mr. Obang Metho
Executive Director
Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia
June 15, 2013
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Ethiopia’s opposition(UDJ) vows sustained national protests against the ruling party

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s main opposition party says it will launch what it said will be a sustained national campaign against the country’s ruling party.The Unity for Democracy and Justice Party

The announcement Thursday follows a peaceful demonstration on June 2. It was the first public protest since 2005 when security forces killed hundreds of protesters in postelection violence.

The Unity for Democracy and Justice Party said the country is heading toward “absolute dictatorship” under the ruling party, which has been in control since 1991.

The party said it would hold rallies to pressure the government to remove the anti-terrorism law. It will also call for the respect of human and democratic rights and will demand the release of jailed dissidents, journalists and political leaders.

The protests are the first show of disapproval against Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

June 22, 2013

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Pen considered as as a “weapon”, Journalists and Political Critics as ”Terrorists”

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To cover up its horrible crimes the regime has decreed in 2009 a repressive law dubbed the AntiTerror Law and proceeded to label opposition groups as terror organizations. Dissent is thus labeled terror and stifled with fury. Eskinder and Andualem did not bear arms at any time –they only used their pen and conscience to dissent and to peacefully call for democracy. This has been called criminal and terror by the repressive regime.
SOCEPP calls on Ethiopians to protest against this injustice and demands that the so called
allies of the dictatorial regime to stop aiding and abetting in the crimes against the people of Ethiopia”
newstatements.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/may-4-injustice-confirmed-in-ethiopia.pdf”

Breaking News: TPLF sentenced Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage ADDIS ABABA (AFP)

Breaking News: TPLF sentenced Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage
ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — An Ethiopian court on Thursday dismissed the appeal of blogger Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage who were jailed last year for terror-related offencesImage

From left: Journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage
“The sentencing is still correct so there is no reduction,” said Supreme Court judge Dagne Melaku, confirming Eskinder’s jail term of 18 years and Andualem’s life sentence.

One of the charges — serving as a leader of a terrorist organisation — was dropped, but had no affect on sentencing.

After the ruling, Eskinder made an emotional appeal to the court which was crowded with family, friends and diplomats.

“The truth will set us free,” he said. “We want the Ethiopian public to know that the truth will reveal itself, it’s only a matter of time.”

Both men are accused of links to the outlawed opposition group Ginbot 7.

“The walls of justice will be demolished,” Andualem told AFP.

Four other men also jailed for terror-related charges had their appeal quashed.

One other defendant, however, Kinfe Michael, had his sentence reduced from 25 years to 16 years.

Rights groups have called Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism legislation vague and accuse the government of using the law to stifle peaceful dissent.

“I am very sad, I am very angry, I cannot talk rationally,” Eskinder’s wife Serkalem Fasil told AFP after the decision.

Defence lawyer Abebe Guta said that justice had not been served, and that if his clients agreed, they would appeal to court of cassation, Ethiopia’s highest court.

Ethiopia has one of the most restricted media in the world and the highest number of journalists living in exile, according to US-based press watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Last year Eskinder was awarded the prestigious PEN America’s “Freedom to Write” annual prize.

Rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned the initial conviction of the Eskinder in July 2012.

Reyot Alemu is awarded UNESCO’S Press Freedom Award

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As the world celebrates World Press Freedom Day today, Ethiopia’s jailed journalist,Activist and teacher, Reeyot Alemu has received UNImageESCO’s Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Press Award through her representative in Costa Rica today. Her letter sent from Kaliti Prison, Ethiopia was also read.
Costa Rica’s President, Laura Chinchila,, who was present at the event, sent her “Solidarity hugs” to Reeyot Alemu.
Live twitter reports by people who attended the event in Costa Rica.

First, I wish to thank UNESCO and its staff for granting UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. I was so impressed when I heard you grant me this great award. The award is not only for me but also for all individuals and institutions that struggle for press freedom around the world. Since this message is presented on World Press Freedom Day, I wanted to say a lot on it. But the situations I live on don’t allow me.

Next, I want to say congratulation for the journalists who live in democratic governments. Enjoy the day very well. You are very lucky. You can write or make programmes on the issues you need. You can admire or criticize your government policies or officials and live peacefully. You can even joke on them and nobody do bad things on you because of it.

But for us, the journalists who live in undemocratic governments like Ethiopia, it is a matter of life or death, be arrested or not, living in our country or flee to other countries. As you understand, it is very hard. No one wants to live this kind of tragic life. We also. But we have only two bad choices. Either stop thinking and writing independently and serve the dictators’ need or continue thinking and writing independently and serve the truth. Some of us choose the second one and we are receiving the prices for our choice.

I can mention some illustrations. Addis Neger newspaper staff were forced to shutdown their newspaper and live in exile because of their logical critics they wrote on our government. Feteh, Awramba Times, other newspapers and their staff are also the victims of our dictatorial regime. Temesge Desalegne is suffering at the hands of tyrants in many ways because of his loyalty to his profession. The courageous and devoted journalist Eskinder Nega is repeatedly arrested. Imagine!

All of these bad treatments of journalists I mentioned have been done after the election of 1997 in E.C. It is difficult to count how many journalists were hurt and their newspapers and magazines are now in defunct before and after that. I have no doubt this will continue as long as EPRDF is on power. When I think about it, I am very worried for those whose voices were heard only through the voices of journalists.

I am very worried for those who are labeled as terrorists and imprisoned because of only they struggle for their rights in a peaceful way. I am very worried for those whose fertile land is being given to multinational corporations and they are in trouble. I am very worried for those poors who can’t get even safety nets because they aren’t the member of the ruling party. Since the journalists are in prison, exile or in trouble, who will expose their hidden truths?

Dear participants of this ceremony and people who follow the programme by different ways, I will ask you to do all of the things you can to stop this suppression of press. Thank you.

Reeyot Alemu.