Tadesse is a 28-year-old Ethiopian from the capital, Addis Ababa. Like thousands of others he took part in demonstrations over the last three years, and together with family members, refused to pledge support for the Ethiopian government. Such displays of political dissent led to him being repeatedly imprisoned, tortured and cruelly mistreated. Now safe in Europe, he is in physical pain and psychological anguish as a result of the barbaric way he was treated in prison.
Under relentless popular pressure the Ethiopian Prime-Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, has been forced to resign, other members of the government are expected to follow. In his resignation speech he acknowledged that, ”unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many,” Reuters reports. ‘Loss of lives’ of innocent Ethiopians at the hands of TPLF security personnel to be clear. “I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.”
Since November 2015 unprecedented protests have been taking place in Ethiopia: angry and frustrated at the widespread abuse of human rights and the centralization of power in the hands of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) tens of thousands have taken to the streets. The ruling party’s response to this democratic outpouring has been consistently violent; hundreds have been killed and beaten by security forces, tens of thousands arrested and imprisoned.
In an attempt to distract attention from unprecedented protests and widespread discontent, the Ethiopian Government has engineered a series of violent ethnic conflicts in the country. The regime blames regional parliaments and historic territorial grievances for the unrest, but Ethiopians at home and abroad lay the responsibility firmly at the door of the ruling party who, it’s claimed, are manipulating events.
Scan the mainstream media for news about Ethiopia and discover headline after headline describing the country’s economic successes: double-digit economic growth, foreign investment and aspirations to become a middle-income country by 2030. Ethiopia, we are told, is a functioning democracy, an African tiger economy and an important ally of Western governments.
Ethiopia is regularly cited as an African success story by donor nations; the economy is growing they cry, more children are attending school and health care is improving. Well GDP figures and millennium development statistics reveal only a tiny fraction of the corrupt and violent picture.
Hidden and isolated from the world the armed conflict raging in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia goes unnoticed. The killing and raping of innocent civilians at the hands of the military and their paramilitary partners in crime the Liyu police, the false arrests, torture and imprisonment remain largely hidden and unreported. The international media, human rights groups and most aid organisations (including the International Red Cross) have been banned from the region by the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) since 2007.
There is a new optimism across Africa that the future is bright for the continent’s development. And in this future China is playing a key role in bringing investment capital, infrastructure, technology and know-how. China is literally helping to build Africa’s future.
Mekonnen, a 19-year-old mechanical engineering undergraduate, from Ethiopia, was travelling back from the capital, Addis Ababa, to his hometown, Shire, in the northern region. “I’m very hopeful that Ethiopia and Africa generally are on the way to promising development,” says Mekonnen.
Ethiopian Migrants Victimised in Saudi Arabia
Racism and hate running through the streets
In the last 10 days persecution of Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia has escalated. Men and women are forced from their homes by mobs of civilians and dragged through the streets of Riyadh and Jeddah. Distressing videos of Ethiopian men being mercilessly beaten, kicked and punched have circulated the Internet and triggered worldwide protests by members of the Ethiopian diaspora as well as outraged civilians in Ethiopia. Women report being raped, many repeatedly, by vigilantes and Saudi police. Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), has received reports of fifty deaths and states that thousands living with or without visas have been detained awaiting repatriation. Imprisoned, many relay experiences of torture and violent beatings.
They speak of democracy, but act violently to suppress dissenting voices and control the people through the inculcation of fear: they ignore human rights and trample on the people, they are a tyrannical wolf in democratic sheep’s clothing, causing suffering and misery to thousands of people throughout Ethiopia. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government repeatedly scoffs at international law and consistently acts in violation of their own Federal constitution – a liberal document written by the regime to please and deceive their foreign supporters. Continue reading
In many parts of the world development has become an invisible cloak under which all manner of “state sponsored” atrocities and human rights violations are being committed. Married to growth, development has been (largely) reduced to economic advancement – meaning maximizing Gross National Product (GNP) figures month on month, year on year, and turning over glowing returns to the insatiable global monetary bodies – The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and – profit to private investors. No matter the human impact and environmental consequences.
To many people land is much more than a resource or corporate commodity to be bought developed and sold for a profit. Identity, cultural history and livelihood are all connected to ‘place’. The erosion of traditional values and morality (which include the observation of human rights and environmental responsibility) are some of the many negative effects of the global neo-liberal economic model, with its focus on short-term gain and material benefit. The commercialization of everything and everybody has become the destructive goal of multi-nationals, and their corporate governments manically driven by the desire for perpetual growth as the elixir to life’s problems.
Many people living outside Africa, most perhaps, have never heard of the Ogaden (or Somali) region of Ethiopia, they know nothing of the murders, rapes and destruction that the ethnic Somali’s allege are taking place there. We all have our problems and what can I do anyway, these governments are corrupt, we – meaning western governments shouldn’t be sending them money, especially now with all the public sector cuts taking place. So runs the uninformed, albeit understandable response.
Thousands march in the capital
The people of Ethiopia have been suppressed and controlled for generations. Under the current EPRDF government, freedom of expression has been curtailed and an atmosphere of fear and intimidation fostered. Peaceful assembly has not been allowed, contrary to the constitution, and all political dissent stamped on.
In 2005, after parliamentary elections that many, including the European observers, deemed to be unfair, students took to the streets in the capital Addis Ababa to demonstrate against what they saw as electoral fraud. Continue reading