Tuesday, May 23, 2017

State involvement in Ethiopian killings probed | CAJ News Africa

Estimates say that over 400 Oromo protesters were killed in November 2015, and thousands others arrested by Ethiopian security forces during the protests.

Estimates say that over 400 Oromo protesters were killed in November 2015, and thousands others arrested by Ethiopian security forces during the protests.
From ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – RIGHTS groups are confident justice will prevail after the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a United Nations-led independent investigation into the killing of hundreds of protesters in Ethiopia.

A parliamentary committee reported more than 600 people were killed between November 2015 and October 2016 as security forces responded brutally to anti-government protests. . Independent groups report as many as 800 have been killed.

Last Friday, a European Parliament resolution called on Federica Mogherini, the continent’s top diplomat, to mobilise European states to urgently pursue the setting up of the UN-led international inquiry head of the Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Switzerland next month.

It is hoped that implementing the resolution could help address the pervasive culture of impunity in Ethiopia.

Felix Horne, Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher for the Horn of Africa, said the resolution reiterated the European Union’s recognition of the importance of justice to ensure Ethiopia’s long-term stability.

“To the many victims of Ethiopia’s brutality, a UN-led inquiry could at least begin to answer pleas for justice that too often have gone unheard.”

Apart from reported deaths of protesters in the East African country, an overly restrictive state of emergency has been in place for the past seven months, and tens of thousands people been detained under it.

Thousands of Ethiopians have fled since the protests and sought asylum in neighbouring countries.
 CAJ News

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ethiopian politician Yonatan Tesfaye guilty of terror charge - BBC News


  • 16 May 2017
  •  
  • From the sectionAfrica


Yonatan TesfayeImage copyrightYONATAN TESFAYE
Image captionYonatan Tesfaye now faces a sentence of up to 20 years


Ethiopian opposition politician Yonatan Tesfaye has been found guilty of encouraging terrorism for comments he made on Facebook.
He was arrested in December 2015 as a wave of anti-government protests in the Oromia region was gathering momentum.
The authorities objected to several posts including one in which he said the government used "force against the people instead of peaceful discussion".
Ethiopia has been criticised for using anti-terror laws to silence dissent.
Amnesty International described the charges as "trumped up", when they were confirmed in May 2016.
A section of Ethiopia's anti-terror law says that anyone who makes a statement that could be seen as encouraging people to commit an act of terror can be prosecuted.
In a translation of the charge sheet by the Ethiopian Human Rights Project that details the Facebook comments, Mr Yonatan allegedly said: "I am telling you to destroy [the ruling party's] oppressive materials... Now is the time to make our killers lame."
Mr Yonatan, who was a spokesperson for the opposition Blue Party, is due to be sentenced later this month and faces up to 20 years' imprisonment.


Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionProtesters from Oromia and Amhara have been complaining about political and economic marginalisation


The government faced unprecedented protests from November 2015 as people in the Oromia region complained of political and economic marginalisation.
The protests also spread to other parts of the country.
More than 600 people died in clashes between security forces and the demonstrators as the authorities tried to deal with the unrest, according to the state-affiliated Human Rights Commission.
The government introduced a state of emergency last October to bring the situation under control.
Opposition leader Merera Gudina was arrested last December for criticising the state of emergency and he is still being held.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Ethiopia activist guilty of terrorism for Facebook posts | Daily Mail Online



A judge in Ethiopia's capital on Tuesday found a former opposition spokesman guilty of encouraging terrorism with a series of anti-government Facebook posts

A judge in Ethiopia's capital on Tuesday found a former opposition spokesman guilty of encouraging terrorism with a series of anti-government Facebook posts
A judge in Ethiopia's capital on Tuesday found a former opposition spokesman guilty of encouraging terrorism with a series of anti-government Facebook posts.
Yonatan Tesfaye was arrested in December 2015 after writing on the social media platform that the government had used "force against the people instead of using peaceful discussion with the public."
While Yonatan's lawyer and defence witnesses argued the former spokesman of the opposition Blue Party was exercising his right to free speech, judge Belayhun Awol ruled the comments "exceeded freedom of expression" and amounted to encouraging terrorism.
"I think the government's intent and what it seeks is this: to restrict others from speaking freely," Yonatan's lawyer Shebru Belete Birru told AFP after the verdict.
The guilty verdict for "encouragement of terrorism" means Yonatan faces a possible sentence of between 10 and 20 years under the country's anti-terrorism laws, which have been criticised by rights groups and Ethiopia's allies, such as the United States, for being used to stifle dissent.
Yonatan's comments came shortly after protesters belonging to the country's largest ethnic group, the Oromos, took to the streets in towns outside the capital Addis Ababa, claiming a plan to expand the city's boundaries into their region amounted to a land-grab.
The protests led Ethiopia's government to declare a state of emergency last October, which was extended for another four months in March.
Yonatan was originally charged with being a member of the banned separatist Oromo Liberation Front, but prosecutors changed the charges against him last year.
Shebru said he plans to appeal the verdict.

Teddy Afro - interview with EthioFlash and Associated Press reporter Elias

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ethiopia Supreme Court says two Zone 9 bloggers should face incitement charges - Committee to Protect Journalists

Members of the Zone 9 blogging group. (Endalkachew H/Michael)Ethiopia Supreme Court says two Zone 9 bloggers should face incitement charges - Committee to Protect Journalists: "Ethiopia Supreme Court says two Zone 9 bloggers should face incitement charges Text Size Print Share Members of the Zone 9 blogging group. (Endalkachew H/Michael) New York, April 6, 2017--Ethiopia's Supreme Court today ruled that two bloggers from the Zone 9 collective, previously acquitted of terrorism charges, should be tried instead on charges of inciting violence through their writing. If convicted of the charge, Atnaf Berhane and Natnail Feleke would face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, according to the Addis Standard newspaper. The court upheld the lower court's acquittal of two other Zone 9 bloggers, Soleyana S Gebremichael and Abel Wabella. Today's actions by the Supreme Court were a response to prosecutors' appeal of the October 2015 acquittal of all four. "We urge Ethiopian authorities to do the right thing and drop any further prosecution of Atnaf Behane and Natnail Feleke on charges relating to their work," said Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. "Today's acquittal of two Zone 9 bloggers is a positive step, but there can be no celebration until this exhibition of legal harassment ends once and for all." Ethiopia ranked fourth on CPJ's 2015 list of the 10 Most Censored Countries and is the fifth worst jailer of journalists worldwide, according to CPJ's 2016 prison census. CPJ awarded Zone 9 an International Press Freedom Award in 2015. For more data and analysis on Ethiopia, visit CPJ's Ethiopia page."



'via Blog this'

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ethiopian journalist's wife urges UK and US to call for his release | World news | The Guardian



Bezawit Hailegiorgis, wife of the detained blogger and journalist Anania Sorri.

Bezawit Hailegiorgis, wife of the detained blogger and journalist Anania Sorri. Photograph: Jason Burke for the Guardian"Bezawit Hailegiorgis says western powers could help free Anania Sorri, one of tens of thousands held in Ethiopia since last year Bezawit Hailegiorgis, wife of the detained blogger and journalist Anania Sorri. Photograph: Jason Burke for the Guardian View more sharing options Shares 1,188 Jason Burke in Addis Ababa Monday 27 February 2017 06.00 GMT The wife of a blogger and journalist detained in Ethiopia has called on the international community to pressure local authorities to release her husband, who is among tens of thousands held since a state of emergency was declared in the emerging east African power last year. Anania Sorri, a 34-year-old writer and intellectual, was arrested in November on his way to a meeting at the US embassy in Addis Ababa. He is being held in a high security prison in the Ethiopian capital and has not yet been formally charged with any offence. Bezawit Hailegiorgis, 29, his wife, said his sole crime had been “to express his thoughts honestly”. “His crime is his determination to speak out. He is a brilliant political journalist. He was critical but always constructive … but being imprisoned is part of the job description of being a journalist here. It’s a zero-sum game, where someone has to lose, and at the moment they are not losing,” she told the Guardian."



Human rights groups have criticised the failure of western powers to condemn Ethiopia’s recent crackdown, which followed a new wave of protests against the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.
The US and UK see Ethiopia as a key stabilising actor in east Africa and rarely criticise authorities there. Addis Ababa has long been viewed by both as an important partner in the fight against Islamic militancy in the volatile region. The EU increasingly sees Ethiopia as an important part of the European effort to reduce the flow of migrants from east Africa.
Hailegiorgis said international pressure on the government would prove effective in her husband’s case. “I love my country … and I do understand that this is a sovereign country, but we all live in one system and the UK, the US and others do have leverage. Of course pressure would work,” she said.
Hundreds of people are thought to have been killed and tens of thousands detained in Ethiopia over the last year, though exact figures are unavailable. Opposition groups, mostly based abroad, say the figure is much higher. The government recently said it had released 11,000 detainees.
Scores of senior opposition politicians have been arrested and jailed, as well as bloggers and commentators such as Sorri.
The unrest has been most intense in areas dominated by the Oromo ethnic group, which comprises around 40% of the population. There have also been demonstrations and clashes in parts of Ethiopia dominated by the Amhara ethnicity, which analysts say indicate a deep-rooted discontent with decades of rule by the EPRDF.
The overall situation appears to have calmed since an upsurge in protest and associated violence in November, though some areas remain tense.
Ethiopia ranks 142nd out of 180 countries for press freedom, according to the Reporters Without Borders campaign group.
Diplomats in Addis Ababa described a “gulf between the outside perception of Ethiopia and what is happening inside the country”, branding the repressive atmosphere a “climate of fear”.
Although restrictions on the internet and social media have been eased, there has been little significant let up in the repressive security measures.
Hailegiorgis said she recognised she was taking a risk by talking to international media, as others have been detained for doing so.
She said her husband had been arrested without warning under special powers introduced with a state of emergency in October and was unsure of exactly what offence he was suspected of committing. He has not been allowed legal representation, has been denied books or newspapers, and is being held in a cell with around 40 others. Hailegiorgis is allowed to visit him when she wants, with their three-year-old daughter, and to provide her husband with food and medication.
“Anywhere else he would win prizes and acclaim. He was not a criminal, not involved in politics, and not violent. Here, he goes to jail,” Hailegorgis said.
The EPRDF, which has been in power for 25 years, has been praised for bringing millions of Ethiopians out of poverty and ensuring growth rates that have averaged around 10% for more than a decade.
However, corruption and unequal distribution of the new wealth, coupled with a young and increasingly educated population, have meant growing discontent.
The unrest has been described by some analysts as “a political crisis” for a state that has increasingly followed an “authoritarian Chinese-style development model”. Ethiopia has built commercial and other ties with Beijing in recent years.
The prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, who took over following the death of the veteran leader Meles Zenawi in 2012, has promised political reforms and reshuffled his cabinet in November in an apparent effort to be more inclusive. He has also launched a huge programme of spending aimed at improving the lot of young people. The median age in Ethiopia is 18 and a vast expansion of further education has led to enormous demand for graduate jobs, which the country is struggling to meet.
Many among the Oromo minority frame social and economic problems in ethnic terms. They say the government is dominated by Tigrayans, who comprise only 6% of Ethiopia’s 100 million inhabitants.
“The unrest and protests are rooted in decades of marginalisation and exploitation … if there is no democratic way of protesting, then there will be violence. That is inevitable,” said a 42-year-old Oromo activist in Addis Ababa who did not want to be named.
In an interview with the Guardian, Negeri Lencho, the communications minister, said journalists who had been jailed had either not “respected the ethics of the profession” or were not actually journalists at all.
“Ethiopia is facing challenges – political, economic, social – and journalists should understand the problems we face today and should provide the right sort of information our people need,” Lencho said.
“All members of the cabinet and the prime minister … all want to see a vibrant media … but a journalist has a purpose, if he is a real journalist, to reach out with the right information, not just his own opinion, be it hate or love.”
Hailegiorgis said pressure from the west could help obtain freedom for her husband.
“The international community is not doing anything at all. It’s a bizarre thing. It’s just lip service, just words. They say they are ‘highly concerned’ or ‘concerned’ but then … nothing,” said Hailegiorgis.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ethiopia accused of jailing journalists Committee to Protect Journalists



ALERTS   |   ETHIOPIA

Two Radio Bilal journalists sentenced in Ethiopia on terror charges

New York, January 4, 2017--The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the prison sentences handed down to two journalists from the Ethiopian faith-based station Radio Bilal. Khalid Mohamed and Darsema Sori were sentenced yesterday to prison terms of five years and six months and four years and five months respectively, the independent news website Addis Standard reported.


Two Ethiopian radio journalists convicted on terror charges

Darsema Sori, left, and Khalid Mohammed are convicted on terror charges in relation to their coverage of protests. (Bilal Communication)

Darsema Sori, left, and Khalid Mohammed are convicted on terror charges in relation to their coverage of protests. (Bilal Communication)
Nairobi, December 21, 2016--Ethiopian radio journalists Khalid Mohammed and Darsema Sori, who have been imprisoned since February 2015, were today convicted on terrorism charges by the High Court's 19th Criminal Bench, according to the independent Addis Standard newspaper.