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Friday, May 19, 2006

Why the Americans support Meles Graziani

US military presence in Horn of Africa grows
Both military and humanitarian efforts undertaken

By staff writer

CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti- Surrounded by lush green mountains in rural southern Ethiopia, U.S. Charge d’ Affaires Ambassador to Ethiopia Vicki Huddleston grips the gun and fires into a plywood target. The M4 machine gun kicks slightly, and she turns to the small crowd of soldiers and officers standing behind her, smiling. “Did I hit anything?” she asks. “You hit his throat,” a soldier replies, stifling good-natured laughter. “He’s dead, ma’am.”
The Ambassador was visiting an American-run training facility for Ethiopian counter-terrorists in Bilate, part of the U.S. military mission based out of Camp Lemonier in Djibouti, the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).
Ambassador Huddleston, who watched several demonstrations of weapons and tactical techniques, called the work “impressive,” and was joined in concurrence by Rear Admiral Richard Hunt, commander of the CJTF-HOA, and Ethiopian General Tadesse, who is in charge of soldier training.
“I want to thank you for your excellent work,” Admiral Hunt told the American and Ethiopian soldiers. “We appreciate what you are doing in the war against terrorism.”
This statement and this trip are indicative of the growing American military presence in Africa, a presence many in both the United States and African countries are still largely unaware of.
The CJTF-HOA mission covers an immensely wide expanse of land, and includes the countries Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Seychelles, and Yemen.
The mission, according to press notes, aims to “wage peace” by countering “the reemergence of transnational terrorism in the region through civil-military operations and support of non-governmental organizations operations, enhancing the long-term stability of the region.”
This language is part of America’s new look strategy in the fight against terrorism, one it is fighting not only with military engagements,but also with humanitarian efforts.
Over this two million square mile area (roughly 68% of the United States), a wide scope of projects is being undertaken.
In Dikhil, Djibouti, school dormitories are being built in plus-110 degree heat to ease the long commute many students face, and to allow girls to attend school past the age when many are normally forced to stay home.
In Jijiga, Ethiopia, wells are being dug in drought-riddled areas to provide reliable water sources for pastoralists.
Military-to-military soldier training like the one in Bilate is going on in several of the HOA countries.
And though there are currently no American military activities in violence-plagued Somalia or diplomatically-challenged Eritrea, CJTF-HOA press notes include them in their Area of Operations.
In an interview, Admiral Hunt stressed that military operations were just one piece of the overall mission goals.
“One of the things I would like to emphasize is that when we train it is not just learning the combat arms part of it, how to shoot, how to maneuver, we also spend a lot time talking about things like rule of law, human rights, the way the American armed forces does business with [their commanding officers], stressing that we have an all-volunteer force. It sets a certain tone…and it does have an effect, in a very positive way,” the Admiral said.
The reaction of the host countries to this foreign military presence is mostly one of welcome, certainly by the governments, who lack the resources to build sophisticated projects and train elite soldiers.
Children are unabatedly curious, waving at passing trucks and crowding around work sites. Adults are a bit more skeptical, but there have been almost no incidents between soldiers and civilians.
The eventual goal, according to military sources, is to leave these sites in the control of competent local officials, to build their capacity and then let them take over.
This belief, however, is at odds with the reality on the ground, and the mission admits that its “personnel are ‘global scouts’ on the front line of a long mission.”
CJTF-HOA operations seem to be expanding, not shrinking, as bases grow and new projects are taken up.
Officials visiting the military training site in Bilate this week, for example, mentioned plans for additional training packages, and as certain American soldiers leave, others arrive.
And Camp Lemonier is a bustling facility with some 1,700 officers and enlisted soldiers, a number that has been slowly increasing since the camp opened three years ago.
Admiral Hunt admitted that the mission has changed tracks, but could not give a definitive timeline on an American presence in the Horn of Africa.
“We have clearly shifted the mission focus,” the Admiral said. “When the mission began it was because we thought there would be a large number of terrorists coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan and we were going to interdict them. That didn’t materialize and as a result we shifted our role…[to help] the host nations develop capacity on their own side. My ultimate goal is to provide regional stability.”
Further comments from Ethiopian military officials were unavailable at the time of this printing.

Monday, May 15, 2006

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Ana Gomez: Message to the Ethiopian people on May election Anniversary
Courtesy: EthioMedia
May 15, 2006


"Dear Friends: In your just struggle for democracy, justice and freedom, it is important that you resist peacefully and legally the violence and the lawlessness of the current rulers. Also you need to avoid ethnic hatred, mistrust and fear amongst you. You know this is exactly what the current rulers will want and will foster among you to divide you, and to weaken your position to their rule." Ana Gomez, Member of Parliament, European Union, May 15, 2006
"On the occasion of the anniversary of the May 15 election, I want to send you a message of solidarity, sympathy and hope. A message to all those Ethiopian men and women, young and old, prominent leaders and anonymous citizens who have fallen and continued to fall victims to extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, harassment and intimidation in the aftermath of the May elections in the hands of the current Ethiopian government."
As you all know, I went to your country as chief of the European Union Election Observation Mission. I was fascinated by the law-abiding nature of the people of Ethiopia. And I admire their democratic ferver. Like most Ethiopians in Diaspora, I'm now not allowed to set foot in Ethiopia for saying the truth and fulfilling my duty as Chief Observer.

We've recognized and openly declared that the EPRDF government deserved credit for organziing an open national debate during the months leading up to the May elections. Despite some shortcomings, the overall process leading to the election day was commendable. But elections cannot be reduced to the pages and campaigns. They are futile if the people's votes are not properly counted, verified, and certified, and the will of the people duly determined. This is the essence of democracy.

In the May elections one year ago, the voice of the Ethiopian people was loud and clear: they wanted change. But the current rulers of the country did not care to listen and it is why the democratic will of the people of Ethiopia remains unfulfilled. The Ethiopian people have been, therefore, betrayed by those who continue to govern in their name without their proper mandate. My hope is that it will not be betrayed by Ethiopia's democratic forces who should live up to the huge challenges of addressing centuries' of injustice and poor governance.

This can only be achieved by standing together on democratic and pluralistic principles, acting in unison, avoiding divisions and fragmentation, and by focusing on the main pressing task of restoring the chequered hope of the people.

The struggle for the respect of the people's voice must and will continue, I'm sure. I say this [because] I know I'm addressing myself to a great and courageous people who have gone through so many ups and downs in their long march to freedom. It will be up to you - those in Ethiopia and outside - to see to it that this latest setback will be the last on the path to democracy, and social justice.

Dear Friends,
In your just struggle for democracy, justice and freedom, it is important that you resist peacefully and legally the violence and the lawlessness of the current rulers. Also you need to avoid ethnic hatred, mistrust and fear amongst you. You know this is exactly what the current rulers will want and will foster among you to divide you, and to weaken your position to their rule.

I know from the history of your country, which I studied, and from what I've seen and heard there from every body that Ethiopians are ...and morally very strong, and that they will always rise to the occasion to defend what's their own, even when powers who claim to defend and promote human rights and democracy turn a blind eye and are reluctant to lend a helping hand.

At present, your struggle is gaining international support. We in the European Parliament, for example, have voted a series of resolutions and forwarded recommendations to solve the current political crisis in Ethiopia to European governments and elsewhere. But much more needs to be done to unmask the true face of the current rulers of Ethiopia.

On my part, I promise to do all what I can, together with democrats and peace-loving peoples all over the world to see to it that the Ethiopian people will not be once again let down by the international community. In the coming weeks and months, we in the European Parliament will continue to struggle for the implementation of these resolutions and recommendations.

We believe all political leaders, members of independent press, human rights groups and civic society organizations along with thousands of students and other innoncent citizens of Ethiopia who are arbitrarily held by the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi must be released without delay and without pre-conditions.

We believe that the Ethiopian government must be accountable for human rights. To that end, we repeat our Parliament's call for the setting up of an international indepedent commission of inquiry to investigate the massive human rights violations that occurred during the past year, and to bring to justice all those responsible for those atrocities.

We also believe that the target of sanctions should be imposed against the leaders of the regime who persist in abusing human rights.

Above all, we believe there is an urgent need to find peaceful, legal and negotiated solutions to the current crisis. Allowing the crisis to fester will lead to further turmoil and unrest in the country, with adverse consequences for the entire region in Africa as well.

As I see it, the only visible alternative is to put the derailed democratization process back on track. All stake holders in the country should come forward with concrete proposals to revive the democratization process, and to promote peace and national reconciliation.

South Africa built democracy by opting for reconciliation, and an all-inclusive political solution was found. I believe EPRDF should be part of the solution, and should play a role in building democracy in your country as did the former ruling party in South Africa.

Proposals that focus on peace, democratization and national reconciliation offered by the two major political groups - UEDF and CUD - in this regard should be encouraged. Also the Oromo organizations, including OLF, should be involved in this joint effort.

Dear Friends,
I hope you stay united and do your share; we will do in my own side in the coming weeks and months I assure you that I will do whatever is possible so that the struggle for justice by the courageous people of Ethiopia will stay on the agenda of the international community.

We in the European Parliament also commit to coordinate our activities with parliamentarians and other democrats throughout Europe, Africa, America and elsewhere.

I must tell of my own experience. I lived for 20 years under dictatorship in my own country: Portugal. At times, everything seemed blocked, depressing, desperate. There seemed to be no way out. There were few voices of support outside the country. But the Portugese people resisted in all manners, and in many imaginative ways.

All democratic forces managed to unite against the oppressors despite our political and ideological disagreements. And suddenly the opportunity to grab freedom was there; and we grabbed it with both hands. And I can assure you that no one can take away the democratic rule, the rule of our people, any more.

This is to tell you that the commitment of the international community to democracy in Ethiopia is important. Yes. But ultimately not decisive. Reaching democratic governance in Ethiopia will primarily be the responsibility of the Ethiopians. If you keep this in mind, if you stick to a strategy of unity in the struggle, I'm sure that we will meet in Addis Ababa to celebrate democracy in Ethiopia in the near future.

Long live Ethiopia.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cartoon on US role in propping a defeated regime

Cartoon on US role in propping a defeated regime

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

SOS: Muluneh Eyuel - a Kinijt Hero is missing

Pic:Muluneh Eyuel with Birhanu Nega flashing the kinijit sign when the arrived for a court hearing.

The whereabouts of Muluneh is still unknown.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Red Terror in the city of Gondar - Meles' hidden killing of children continues

Here is an Amharic news clip.

In February of this year, the Fascist Meles security people killed the following students in the ancient city of Gondar protesting the government's stealing of the 05 election.
Dawith Tesfaye - 8th grade student
Bereket Fantahun - 11th grade student
Abebe Wondemagegn - 10th grade student
Sintayehu Workneh - 10th grade student

ቀይ ሽብር በጎንደር

በጎንደር ከተማ ልዪ ቦታዋ አየር ማረፊያ በመባል የሚታወቀው አካባቢ አራት ወጣት የሁለተኛ ደረጃ ተማሪወች ማለትም

ተማሪ በረከት ፋንታሁን የ11ኛ ክፍል ተማሪ
ተማሪ አበበ ወንድምአገኝ የ10ኛ ክፍል ተማሪ
ተማሪ ስንትየሁ ወርቅነህ የ10ኛ ክፍል ተማሪ
ተማሪ ዳዊት ተስፋየ የ8ኛ ክፍል ተማሪ
ሰኞ ጥር 29፣ 1998 ከምሽቱ 1 ሰዓት ላይ በአደባባይ ጭካኔ በተሞላበት በወያኔ በቀይ ሽብር መገደላቸውን ከሁለት ሳምንታት በፊት መዘገባችን ይታወሳል እናም የዛሬው መርሀ ግብራችን ያነጣጠረው በዚሁ በግፍ ከተረሸኑት ቤተሰቦችጋር ሰፊ ውይይት በማድረግ ነው

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Disturbing Picture - Youth Shot by Meles' Militia - March 1, 06

Meles' Fascist militai continues to kill and maim the brave Ethiopian young students who are keeping the Revolution of 2005/2006 alive. The protests continue as these students daily protest the murderous regime of this lunatic dictator from the Middle ages.

Meles Unveiled - Meles Declared Dictator 4th in a row

Meles Unveiled
By Tom Burgis
March 2, 2006


A smooth operator and consummate diplomat, he was hailed in the west as one of Africa's democratic messiahs. But as Ethiopia's prime minister scoops the fourth "bad democracy" award, Tom Burgis asks if Meles Zenawi was ever anything but an autocrat.

The ranks of cameras documenting the closing flesh-pressing of last month's progressive leaders' summit in Hammanskraal, South Africa, on 11-12 February captured a telling gap. Tony Blair, British premier and first among the current generation of cluster-bomb-toting "progressives", edged his chair away from that of Meles Zenawi, his Ethiopian counterpart and, until he started butchering protesters and dispatching dissidents to the clink, one of the crop of African leaders styled by the west as the blighted continent's messiahs. We cannot know whether, stranded by a defunct plane, Blair reached for the prime-ministerial Blackberry after the press conference and cast an irritated vote for his former commissioner for Africa. If he did, he was among the thousands who made Meles the runaway winner of our fourth Bad Democracy award.

Where did it all go wrong? Was not the urbane, literate Meles, Masters-educated freedom fighter turned pioneer of African democracy, a visionary in the mould of Mandela, the man who, shoulder to shoulder with his similarly enlightened colleagues in Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa and Nigeria, would finally deliver unto Africans the means to guide their own fate? One Human Rights Watch researcher recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia suspects that it may never really have been going right.

When Legesse Zenawi (also known as Legesse Gebru, Legesse Zenawi, Gebru Zenawi, Wedi Gebru, though he prefers "Meles") swept into Addis Ababa in 1991, Ethiopians weary of the savagery of the Mengistu dictatorship and seventeen years of internecine war glimpsed the light at the end of their blood-spattered, famished tunnel. Meles, at the head of a guerrilla coalition, set about recasting the country according to a model that analysts describe as "linguistic" or "ethnic feudalism". Power, the justification went, would devolve from the centralised cadres of Mengistu Haile Mariam's Derg to federal and local councils.

This is, of course, exactly what a great many countries are up to in one way or another. But Meles's system goes rather beyond allowing pompous entrepreneurs to co-opt themselves onto the boards of local bee-keeping associations. The structure of the kebele, sub-regional governments in rural townships, is a legacy of the Derg's Soviet-style system. In the Oromia province, the claws of control sink even deeper: groups of six or so households are formed into gotts, which report to the umbrella garee, which in turn feeds information back to the kebele. A splendid idea, we might say – real local representation, devolution, communities wresting power from the bureaucratic octopus. Alas, the octopus is not so easily dispossessed, and the structure is routinely used by Meles's lackeys in the countryside to monitor and suppress dissent, ossify patronage and milk farmers of their labour.

The Human Rights Watch researcher, who, understandably, wants to remain anonymous, said the team found Ethiopia governed through "patterns of repression".

"My feeling is that it's much worse even than what we reported. Access to food aid is politically restricted. The (governing) EPRDF has puppets in every area. One of our big concerns is that the World Bank, IMF and bilateral donors have suspended direct budget support but are channelling those funds instead to regional bodies, which are often even worse. The rural regional governments are the agents of daily control. It's obvious when people are being shot in the street (in Addis Ababa). But the donors have very little knowledge of what's happening in the rural areas."

If Meles's nationalistic posturing over the border dispute with Eritrea raised eyebrows in the diplomatic community into which he had ingratiated himself, it was the brazen thuggery that followed the May 2005 elections that left observers aghast. "In Ethiopia, everyone is scared – the people, the government", said the researcher. "The level of paranoia is astounding; the fear is tangible. And the election debacle has taken away the veil."

Those who know Ethiopia say Meles and his circle have been stung by that classic trait of despots: a blind faith in their own boundless popularity. A fortnight before the poll, it began to dawn on the government and the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) alike that the unthinkable might happen – the voters might defy the octopus and elect the ramshackle band of intellectuals and academics who had balked at Meles' tightening hold on power. One observer suggests that the opposition could have stapled a rosette to a penguin and it would have won. The realisation came too late for effective gerrymandering, and the elections were relatively fair.

All ten of Addis Ababa's seats fell to the CUD, as did scores in other major cities, though Meles clung to most of the rural vote. Then the backlash began. The government flatly ignored the result. At least eighty people were shot dead when troops quashed massive demonstrations. Human-rights groups now estimate that tens of thousands of political prisoners may be in custody, many condemned to the horrors of the Dedesa camp. 129 defendants – among them newly elected opposition politicians, journalists and charity workers – now face a ludicrous rap sheet that includes a charge of genocide and could conceivably face the death penalty. Their trial opened on 24 February.

One seasoned analyst suggests that what has been exposed in Ethiopia is the myth held by western governments, aid agencies and media of the "new breed" of African democrats. "Meles is simply an authoritarian. The idea of the 'new breed' is nonsense concocted by journalists and Addis Ababa's attaches. The west is naïve and has no interest in African politics."

With that realisation comes the unsettling reminder that democracy can be two things – a system by which to legitimise power, or a system by which power is legitimate. To the casual eye, the two may look similar, encompassing votes, speeches, newspapers and suchlike. It is only in crisis that the difference between programmes of genuine democratic reform and regimes run through pogroms, punch-ups and plutocracy dressed up as something that fits donors' good governance guidelines becomes apparent. Some say Meles's ransacking of his country's trembling infrastructure has set Ethiopian democracy back by over a decade.

And here, seamless as ever, we segue into the new crop of political ne'er-do-wells. If we are to settle for democracy, warts and all, we are bound to accept its victors, much in the same way that free speech is only free speech if people are allowed to say things we might find unpleasant. Thus it is that Israel's foreign minister (honoured as Bad Democracy's first female candidate) and the Danish imam who trotted off to stir slander and violence with a clutch of phoney cartoons make the list. Also in evidence is Barrick Gold, the Canadian gold giant whose megalomania has now extended to relocating glaciers, Nepal's barmy King Gyanendra, and his near neighbour, the prickly president of Kazakhstan. Joining them on the podium is Yoweri Museveni, another African leader who is proving once again that few things are cheaper than rhetoric.

Friday, February 24, 2006

New pictures from the last protest in mesqel square