GENEVA / ADDIS ABABA (9 December 2019) – In a sharp break from a quarter century of repression, Ethiopia has embarked on a reform process that is both encouraging and fragile, and deserves international support, a UN human rights expert has found after visiting the country.
“Less than two years ago, Ethiopia’s human rights record was atrocious, repressing civil society, crushing independent media, and jailing journalists and activists,” said David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, in a preliminary statement at the end of his week-long mission. Kaye was the first mandate holder of the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures system to visit Ethiopia since 2006.
Only 18 months ago Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – who will receive the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December – initiated change by ending the state of emergency, freeing journalists and human rights defenders, opening up civil society and launching a reform process, Kaye said.
“Ethiopia has made remarkable progress towards freedom of expression,” said the expert. “However, this is only the start of a process that will take years of legal and policy commitment, and persistent dedication to public participation and human rights oversight.”
Kaye noted widespread concern that hate speech, in the broadcast, print and social media, posed a threat to the stability of the reform process. In October, 86 people were reportedly killed in unrest that many attribute, in part, to an environment of hate speech and disinformation, including on social media.
“Into this mix of reform and unrest the Government has introduced an ill-advised draft law on hate speech and disinformation that could well undermine the long-term reform process,” said the Special Rapporteur. “I am concerned that the draft ‘Hate Speech and Disinformation Proclamation’, if adopted as constructed, would threaten freedom of expression in the country and reinforce rather than ease ethnic and political tensions.”
The Special Rapporteur welcomed efforts to counter hate speech and address disinformation, and provided the Government with suggestions for how to approach the topics in a manner consistent with human rights law.
Kaye also expressed concern about the Government’s continuing use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which he urged the Government to repeal as swiftly as possible. He also condemned the fact that the Government, without clear authority, had shut down the internet at least eight times this year.
In May 2020, Ethiopia will conduct a major national election. “In sight of the coming election, I urge the Government to renew its efforts to promote and protect freedom of expression, take strong measures to combat any forms of harassment, attacks or violence against journalists, protesters and anyone exercising her right to expression, and strengthen a national dialogue and tolerance across the country,” Kaye concluded.
Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
This is just me thinking freely, not having the answers as an outsider looking in. It is not like I understand all the players nor the objectives behind the merger. But too me, this seems like a step in a ONE-Party state direction. The idea might to have a party, which isn’t directly bound by region/ethnicity, like all the parties of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) was.
That with the party of Amhara, the party of Oromo, the party of the Southern Ethiopia, and the party for the Tigray. This being the ADP, ODP, TPLF and SEPDM. All of them merged into the Ethiopian Prosperity Party (EPP) seems like a trick to get one unit and centralize power. That is what looks to me. Instead of having other outfits and parties with their own constitution and their policies for their regions. This is to have one party and one organization instead of several.
I have a feeling there will be deflections, as someone will not follow this model and this vision. Everyone will not follow the line. There will be renegades at the Council of Ministers and within the Parliament. Who feel overshadowed and feel left behind. They will feel tricked and exposed for their lack of progressive thinking. Even if this opens up doors, which the EPP doesn’t seem to think off.
The EPP might be a good idea, but the structure, the ability to guide and lead within this paradigm shift. Will cost. The Prime Minister and his closest associates will be tested. Because, they still have to find a solution where all the old parties are embedded in the new big-party. Where they are not a coalition, but one party. They got to give way and give positions to everyone. Therefore, this will not be an easy trade.
Lastly, there are other parties in Ethiopia. There are a 57 opposition parties, but its not like the EPRDF nor the EPP have listen to them. Not like the Parliament is without other parties, but they are dominated by the ruling parties, which it has been for so long. There are the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, also the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces. So, its not like there is other parties in the Parliament, but they got no say. Just like the new election laws whose in favour of the old coalition and the new party.
That’s why my mind goes to the idea of the EPP is in a way of launching a one-party state. Nothing else. I might be wrong, but the other parties doesn’t have the state machinery behind them nor the other helpful ways of appointing people into the judiciary and the electoral body. That’s why I am thinking this is another way of having what I worry about.
I hope I am dead wrong, but to initially make the coalition into a party is a first step. Especially since it has the parliamentary majority and with anticipation that it will have that after the election in 2020. To think otherwise is naive and the plans for that is in the making. Peace.
This week, Ethiopians were subjected to barbaric killings, destruction of property, burning of religious institutions, chaos in their cities and neighborhoods, and absence of political and security leadership leading to mayhem and turmoil in many parts of the country. When a large region of Ethiopia was in a crisis, the institutions responsible for safeguarding the citizens were absent and silent.
Amhara Association of America and Amhara Professionals Union strongly condemn the death of innocent Ethiopians (more than 67 confirmed thus far) in Oromia Region and grieve with the families and community during this solemn moment.
On Tuesday, October 22nd in a speech addressed to parliament, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed warned that measures will be taken against media owners with foreign passports who foment ethnic conflict in the country. Jawar Mohammed felt Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s statement was directed at him and felt slighted by the comment. The same day, Jawar Mohammed, a U.S. Citizen, an ultra-Oromo extremist, and Executive Director of Oromia Media Network (OMN) criticized and attacked Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on his social media platform and in an interview with a major Ethiopian media outlet. On October 23rd, Jawar Mohammed posted on his social media platform, the security detail provided to him by the Ethiopian Government was being removed- an allegation the federal police commissioner denied. In an interview, Jawar stated the removal of the security detail was to “instigate a mob attack” against him.
Jawar Mohammed, self-proclaimed leader of young Oromo extremist hooligans, requested for response action from his followers to the alleged removal of his security detail. What followed was several days of horror for Ethiopians in Oromia Region; innocent Ethiopians were brutally killed using machetes, rocks, and sticks; homes, business, and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches were burnt; and roads across the region were closed. While this horror was occurring unabated, Ethiopian security forces were incapable of halting the terror. Sadly, images and videos of this tragedy were readily posted on the internet.
We are deeply disappointed by the failure of the Oromia Regional State and the Federal Government of Ethiopia to contain the unrest and put a stop to targeted killings of Oromos who support Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, non-Oromos, and Orthodox Christians in Oromia Region. When similar unrest previously occurred in other parts of Ethiopia such as Sidama and Somali Regions, the Ethiopian Government and respective regional governments immediately declared a State of Emergency and deployed the Federal Army to halt the violence, arrested individuals who had committed crimes, and brought normalcy.
Sadly, Ethiopians have been repeated victims of Jawar’s modus operandi of using OMN and social media to fuel ethnic and religious conflict and mobilizing his extremist followers as demonstrated by the terror witnessed in Legetafo and Burayo.
Regrettably, instead of taking action against Jawar and his radical Oromo extremist supporters, Prime Minster Abiy has continued to spend Ethiopian tax dollars to provide security details to Jawar Mohammed. As a result, Jawar and his radical Oromo extremist supporters’ actions has led to a new normal in Oromia where hooligans kill and embezzle properties of non-Oromos with impunity. On the other hand, the absurdity of the government’s action of keeping peaceful journalists and leaders of National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) in prison is creating a distrust for the justice system and leadership.
As such, Amhara Association of America and Amhara Professionals Union demand:
1. The Ethiopian Federal Government declare a State of Emergency in Oromia Region and mobilize security
forces to protect life and property.
2. The National Defense Force, Federal Police, and Oromia Regional Police stop enabling genocidal actions thorough their active or tacit support to hooligans that are terrorizing, killing, and embezzling properties of non-Oromos in Addis Ababa, Oromia Region, and nearby cities such as Dire Dawa and Harar.
3. The Ethiopian Federal Government should ensure citizens have access to federal services by opening satellite offices in regions adjacent to Oromia Region to reduce risks of traveling thorough Oromia to Addis Ababa for access to federal services.
4. The Ethiopian Federal Government delicense Oromia Media Network in Ethiopia until it stops broadcasting content intended to incite ethnic and religious conflict.
5. The Ethiopian Federal Government hold Jawar Mohammed, OMN, and complicit government officials accountable for the loss of life and property.
6. The United States Government hold accountable Jawar Mohammed and OMN, a U.S. citizen and U.S. based media respectively for the loss of life and property in Ethiopia and fueling ethnic conflict.
7. The Ethiopian Federal Government and Oromia Regional Government compensate all victims and business for loss of life and property.
8. The Federal government immediately start negotiations to revise the constitution that was imposed on Ethiopians dividing Ethiopia based on arbitrary ethnic boundaries thereby exposing them to identity-based attacks such as the latest ones in Oromia Region including Legetafo, Burayo & displacement of nearly 800,000 Gedeos from Oromia Region.
9. The release of all political prisoners and journalists including members of the National Movement of Amhara (NaMA).
Amhara Association of America and Amhara Professionals Union call on the international community to take note of the tragedy unfolding in Ethiopia and pressure the Ethiopian government to hold criminally liable Jawar Mohammed, OMN, complicit government officials, and individuals who committed heinous crimes.
Amhara Association of America and Amhara Professionals Union call on all Ethiopians who want a peaceful, democratic, and sovereign Ethiopia and aspire for real citizenship rights to come together and safeguard our country and request Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed take action against Jawar Mohammed and OMN.
We cannot get the full extent of what is happening. But the small smoke signals sent through the grapevine is saying a little of what is happening there. The Oromia region went into a full a blaze this week, when the authorities took away the security detail for Mohammed Jawar of OMN. So, there been speculation of a stand-off between him and Prime Minister Abiy Ali Ahmed.
Now its reported that has been confirmed died since this started this week. Dozens of businesses, houses and cars have been destroyed or burned by protesters. Also, there is reports of direct attacks on the Amhara people in the region. That their businesses and such is attacked. That the Liyu Police is involved, in some towns even the mayor and police is looking at the killings and vandalizing occurring.
Like in Bale Robe, there was 11 people buried and having funerals for today, while there are reports of another 25 people more dead too. There are several of businesses, 16 hotels burned over the last 48 hours there.
More on the actions done today: There are attacks by the mob at this moment in West Arisi Zone specifically in Dodola, Kofele, Gedeb Asasa and Nensebo. So many woman and children are inside a church for a fourth day in a row and said no military is in sight to save them.
What we do see, is the authorities and the state not acting towards the querro and the supporters of Jawar. While Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is said to be participating in the actions too. This is all measured against the ones of other ethnic groups that the Oromo in Oromia.
While the Prime Minister Abiy isn’t saying or doing anything. Who knows out of fear of losing the support in Oromia or that he want to have good favours with the ones doing the violence. Because, the Liyu Police is also supposed to be involved. Therefore, there are no one friendly faces and all is a spiral of violence hitting the region.
This isn’t peace, but a bloodshed. Done the one watch of the PM. The EPRDF and all their allies letting this one happen. Because, of one reaction to Jawar, but not to that alone. As they could do what they can to prevent all this blood and violence hitting the streets. Instead, they are letting this one go and its been going on for days. Journalists are blocked from reporting, road-blocks are put up and there are little information coming out.
We only know that violence in Oromia is occurring. There are both mob-justice, misuse of power and also negligence from the state. All mixed up in a pot and with inaction too. Where the only one hurt is the innocent, whose targeted by the various fractions involved.
Like in Sebeta town, it is reported today that 5000 Gamo people are residing at the train-station awaiting to leave town. As their homes are robbed and destroyed by the mobs. This is clear targeting of “outsiders” and other ethnic groups in the region. Which is worrying already, as Amhara people have been reported killed earlier in the week. Therefore, the whole scenario is devastating.
All the lives are destroyed and taken because of politicking. At this very moment allegations goes both ways, but all of this is happening because big-men fights and want to use empty rhetoric. This here is not building a nation, but destroying it, one life at the time. Peace.
Yesterday, there was report of ten protesters killed by the authorities in Oromia region and in Addis Ababa. There was also one fallen police officer as well. All because the authorities decided to challenge Mohammed Jawar and plan to arrest him. Whatever they tried to do, it has only created a bloodshed and shown the popularity of Jawar too. But the price of it is not worth it.
If the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali and his people thinks what is happening now is wise. Because, the state and the authorities has made road-blocks and other activities to close it off. Send the military and police to silence the activists. This all for the battle of two people and their reign.
The FCO Travel Advice: “Since 23 October, protests have taken place in a number of towns across Oromia, in Harar and Dire Dawa. Roads are closed in many places and transport disrupted. A number of main roads in and out of Addis Ababa are closed. If you are in an area of disruption, you should follow the instructions of local authorities and avoid road travel until the situation has calmed” (UK Foreign Travel Advice – Ethiopia, 24.10.2019).
There are indications that this is skirmishes between Mohammed Jawar’s ‘Querro’, which is his group of activists, who has followed him in exile in the Oromia region. They have been known before to demonstrate against the state violence and oppression. His also the man behind the Oromia Media Network (OMN). They are clearly targeting him, but that is not shocking, as he plans to stand as a candidate in the upcoming election in 2020.
Who today came with this statement: “After midnight, there was an attempt by authorities to remove security personnel assigned to Jawar for his safety without Jawar’s knowledge. After a long standoff between Jawar’s security guards and the security personnel trying to dislodge the former through a gravely suspicious procedure, Jawar gave a briefing of the sequence of events in the morning of October 23, 2019, and later that day to various media. There is credible evidence, including a recorded conversation between Jawar’s security guards and their commander, suggesting serious procedural flaws and criminal intents. For now, this situation is partially diffused because the security assigned to Jawar refused to leave their post until their replacements arrived. Shortly after the incident, we have witnessed a widely shared public outrage and protest in various cities and towns. The short press conference given by the Federal Police Commissioner is dishonest and inconsistent with the available evidence. The press release of the President of Oromia Regional State is yet to be confirmed through concrete actions. The implications of such an attack are far beyond Jawar as an individual and OMN as an organization, potentially jeopardizing the anticipated transition to inclusive and participatory democracy. It is highly likely to ignite a constellation of damaging events that are difficult to control” (Oromia Media Network – ‘Statement of the Board of Trustees of the Oromia Media Network (OMN) on the reckless action seriously endangering the life and safety of OMN’s Executive Director Jawar Mohammed’ 24.10.2019).
There are reports of one factory and 23 businesses destroyed in Adama alone. These demonstrations are because the authorities and the Prime Minister is going after Jawar. The man who can mobilize a giant group of people on social media and through his channel OMN.
Now, Prime Minister Abiy Ali Ahmed of the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defence Force (EPRDF) should consider their methods in handling dissidents and activism like Jawar. The PM should find other avenues, especially considering his support in Oromia. Because, Jawar got the region into flames, by just twisting the words and doing it now. That should be a warning sign for the PM. He should be able to sit-down with him to and talk. Like he has done with so many others. But then, Jawar isn’t part of the EPRDF or the appointed leadership, which he hails from.
The government are killing now civilians, as well as the civilians are doing it too. There are reports of other ethnic groups targeted by the Querro. I cannot verify that now, but that wouldn’t be shocking either.
Gadaa Times reports: “Demonstration is continue across the country to opposing Abih Ahimad military junta West and Southern part of Oromia. West and South Oromia were above one year under illegal command post because it was not declared by parliament. It was declared by only Abiy Ahimad” (Gadaa Times, 24.10.2019).
Now, there been 2 days of demonstrations and the EPRDF and Abiy better consider their way. Also, to investigate this and do it properly. Oromia deserves answers to why this happen and the violence, the answer to the destroyed businesses, but the most important. To answer for the all the lives taken over this stand-off. Innocent lives was taken because a battle between Abiy and Jawar. Oromia deserves better. Ethiopia deserve better. Peace.
Even as the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday for his action and his part in the peace agreement with Eritrea. It is still not insignificantly what is erupting in Ethiopia. As his coalition of parties in the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defence Force (EPRDF) is working ahead of the election of 2020. While the ethnic federalism is showing signs of trouble ahead.
If we will get a look into the actions of reform, how it challenges certain parts of the EPRDF, and especially the TPLF. As the challenges ahead of the up-coming election. Will show if there will be more internal squabbling or not. We can also see the rising levels of the Internal displaced people and last the need of reforms of the security organizations in the Republic.
Weakend the state:
“Abiy’s reforms were expected to address Ethiopia’s vulnerabilities, speeding up democratisation and economic growth. Yet they weakened the state even further. With the TPLF losing its grip on power and being replaced by Oromo leadership, centrifugal forces, claims of self-determination and aspirations of other ethnic groups increased, leading to clashes”(Giovanni Faleg – ‘Resetting Ethiopia: Will the state heal?’2019).
“About 2.9 million new displacements associated with conflict were recorded in 2018, the highest figure recorded worldwide. Despite many important and positive political changes that took place in the country in 2018, old conflicts became more entrenched and new conflicts escalated along various state borders. Disasters also triggered 296,000 new displacements, most of them associated with flooding and drought in the Somali region. In the first half of 2019, about 755,000 new displacements were recorded, 522,000 associated with conflict and 233,000 associated with disasters” (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre – Ethiopia).
Reforming Security Sector:
“Reforms in the security sector, including the judiciary, the police, as well as the civil service are essential –and should be conducted at the federal, regional, zone, woreda, and kebele levels. The intention of Dr.Abiy to “restructure the security forces” and“dissolve the Liyu police” of the Somali region may be a step in the right direction. These reforms may be considered in other regions as well. However, deeper reform in the security sector may be needed to ensure that the complex configuration of security forces –military, federal police, regional police, regional special police, and militia –will effectively cooperate in addressing ethnic violence, rather than fanning its flames. The creation of a whole-of-government strategy for preventing and countering violent extremism would offer an important contribution to this. It would bring together the relevant government ministries and institutions, and outline clear responsibilities and priorities to address the issue of ethnic extremism” (Dr. Yonas Adaye Adeto – ‘Preventing violent extremism in the Horn: The case of ethnic extremism in Ethiopia’ July 2019).
So, the Nobel Laureate has now a lot of work ahead. There is worrying signs, which is old problems entangled in the reactions to the acts done by this Prime Minister. PM Abiy never had it easy, his acts has shown good signs, but still heavy slopes to cross before his come to terms with everything.
This is a balancing act, which very few would succeed. There are plenty of traps, possible short-falls and lack of results. However, the PM did well with the peace agreement made with Eritrea. Even if his not alone doing, as it was prepared by the previous leadership and also in accordance with the Eritrean counterparts. What will also be interesting, if this man who works for peace will able to configure the trouble ahead of the up-coming election.
Because, the ethnic violence, the government sanctioned one and the in-action, which has made certain damning results. The amount of displaced people, the rising conflicts between ethnic groups on their borders of their regions. Combined with lack of support and ensure that this doesn’t happen. The PM could have done more with this, as he could follow advice on reforming certain part of security organizations. This shouldn’t be hidden, as the share amount of people whose hurt by these actions should worry the EPRDF and the PM.
All of these acts is not a sign of strength, but of a weakened state. Unless, the PM addresses this and looks into it. Unless, he is earning political capital from certain parties while making them fighting each other. But that should be a gamble, nobody wanting to play. Especially, someone who wants to look as a man for peace and not a person who is possibly triggering groups against each other. Peace.
This is a change of guards. Some says its just the name, as the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) consists of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Amhara Democratic Party (ADP), Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM). Which has all various roles with the government, ministries and so-on.
The rumour of a single party made out of the coalition came earlier this year, in about April 2019. As the TPLF came out with a statement in April questioning the whole idea. That was surely showing signs of disaffection to the idea itself. When the party who has controlled the coalition certainly didn’t like to be muffled with.
Now the Addis Maleda had the scoop that the EPRDF was planning to become a one-party renamed Ethiopian Prosperity Party (EPP). This means the former parties will be dissolved and become one united force, not just an coalition of parties representing the various ethnic groups and regions of the Republic.
The central leaders, the Council of Ministers, together with the main bodies of governing should vote this through. They should also let all the parties itself, as they let them change names in the recent past. Also get to vote and put together a new party constitution and guidelines they all are agreeing upon. Unless, this is a top-down approach, where the current leadership are planing to take total control and not let any interference come from each party. As this is seen as blessing for the Republic, that the coalition becomes officially one.
The EPP will continue the path of Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali. Where he consolidate power, structures things the way he see fit and uses the systems bound around him. Just like he could appoint and get the people around him. That he wanted in Amhara region, as the state had an “coup”, which was brutally shut-down and now his gotten all of his men in position.
If an EPP gets into existence, the one-party might look the same, but the functions made swiftly change. The power-dynamics of the previous parties are all gone and sort-of-sharing between the regions are dwindling even more. This could cause more tension, in a nation where there are already to many internally displaced people, where there insurgency and extra-judicial killings. Surely, the Ethiopian politics could be a break for that, instead of being the catalyst.
What we have to hope, is that the EPP is a build-up to a real election and the opening of the previous sanctioned groups from diaspora. Can show that the regional parties and rebels has a place in the new elections. Not just the friends of the government in the EPRDF.
If not, than the EPP is a ONE-PARTY state and a sign of open oppression. Where the state has only one head, one party and only one set of governance. Where the people are supposed to follow and listen to the central state, but not question it. This is not reforming, but consolidating power.
Your blind or not seeing it. Not that the EPRDF is a democratic institution or total open transparent body, but it at least has some promise for all the regions and its citizens. While one-party could easily transform to another monster, where the winner takes it all and the rest has to suffer.
That while a man with swagger and promise, shed his opportunity only to regain more power himself. This is the worst-case scenario, I hope I am wrong, but this is just my thinking. Peace.