Our Struggles.com

Change comes from struggle. We shows the struggle towards the violated rights and freedoms by others body. By Behailu M.

A prisoner of conscience’s call for sanctions against Ethiopia

To Ethiopia‘s archaic left, which dominates the ruling party, the new euphemism for the west is neoliberal. Compared to the jargon of bygones days – imperialists – when Lenin and Mao were still in vogue, neoliberal sounds decidedly wimpy. But this hardly matters to Ethiopia’s ruling party. What it seeks is a bogeyman to tamp down rising expectations for multiparty democracy.

To this end, plying nationalist sentiment is the easy option. And so, we get a tale of heroes and villains in which there is a defender of national ethos, honor and economic growth (inevitably, the ruling party), and a foreign horde bent on subversion, domination and economic exploitation (infallibly, the west: the neoliberals).

In this narrative, Ethiopia’s recent economic growth, amidst a global slump, is ascribed to the stability afforded by one-party rule, as in China – and not, as many experts are prone to point out, the generosity of donor countries. Hence the paradox of well-intentioned European money promoting Chinese interests in one of the more important economies in Africa.

Aggregate aid is to the Ethiopian economy what Obama’s fiscal stimulus was to the American economy: minus these injections, both economics would suffer catastrophically. The theatrical blustering of the Ethiopian government notwithstanding, donor countries have a make-or-break power over the Ethiopa’s prosperity.

Ethiopian women wait to cast their votes in May 2010. European election observers said that the election fell short of international standards. Photograph: Jerome Delay/AP
Ethiopian women wait to cast their votes in May 2010. European election observers said that the election fell short of international standards. Photograph: Jerome Delay/AP
And European aid has done wonderful things in Ethiopia. Despite the government’s ingratitude, we – the disenfranchised majority – are grateful and appreciative. We have improved access to schools, health facilities and roads because of donor benevolence. But an aid policy tied only to economic and social needs is only half complete; a comprehensive approach entails a linkage with politics.

Ideally, aid should have an impact on GDP growth. Ethiopia now ranks in the world’s top ten fastest-growing economies, the pride of Eurocrats. But aid should also increase trade between donor and recipient, as was the case with US aid to Europe under the Marshall Plan. By this measure, Europe has failed. Ethiopian trade with China has exploded, while stagnating or shrinking with Europe. Again, China wins without lifting a finger.

Aid should also strengthen democratic institutions. Here is where European donors’ policy falters dramatically. The unintended consequence of indifference to democratic accountability translates into the subsidy and reinforcement of tyranny. The time for reassessment has come.

After two decades of one-party rule, Ethiopia is visibly aching for change. Even the traditionally placid Sufi Muslim community is increasingly restless. There is clear danger of communal strife.

As a prisoner of conscience committed to peaceful transition to democracy, I urge Europe to apply economic sanctions against Ethiopia. What short-term pain may result will be compensated by long-term gain. A pledge to re-engage energetically with a democratic Ethiopia would act as a catalyst for reform.

Sanctions need to be targeted – and the continuity of basic humanitarian aid without precondition is a moral necessity. But the EU should also impose travel bans on Ethiopian officials implicated in human rightsviolations.

We live in an age of global expectations. Our hopes have converged in many ways, none more so than in our democratic aspirations. The moral imperative is for Europe to align with the reform movement in Ethiopia. It is time to stand up for democracy.

The Guardian

Source: http://www.oromiapress.com

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Swedish journalists tell of time in Ethiopia jail

Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye have been speaking to the BBC about their time in prison in Ethiopia.

They were recently freed after serving more than 400 days of an 11-year sentence.

The pair were found guilty of entering the country illegally and supporting a rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

Their lengthy jail terms put the treatment of journalists in Ethiopia under the international spotlight.

Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were captured along with ONLF rebels in June 2011.

They maintained that they were only doing their jobs, and human rights group Amnesty International said the journalists had been prosecuted for doing “legitimate work”.

But Ethiopian government spokesman Bereket Simon previously defended the decision to jail the pair, saying the journalists were caught “red handed” co-operating with “terrorist organisations”.

Former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi reportedly pardoned the journalists before his death in August, leading to their release.

‘Rats, fleas and sick people’

Johan Persson told the BBC World Service programme Newsday that conditions in the prison in which they were held were poor.

“It was 200% overcrowded. It was very hot. There was a lack of water. It was dusty. There were rats, fleas and many people were sick with HIV or tuberculosis,” he said.

But he said the conditions were not as significant as the other inmates: “What’s interesting is who they put in there: journalists and the political opposition.”

Although the pair admit that they entered Ethiopia illegally, they argue that their trial was unfair.

“The trial was a joke,” said Mr Persson. “Meles Zenawi was saying on national television, three or four weeks before the trial started, that we were guilty.”

Continue reading the main story

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As long as governments make laws to protect themselves against journalists, our job is to break those laws. I would do the same again today”

Johan Persson

They also believe the charge of moral support for terrorism, of which they were found guilty, has been misused against other journalists in Ethiopia.

“For the last few years Ethiopia has been using its anti-terror legislation to crack down on the media and to crack down on journalism,” Mr Schibbye told Newsday.

The freelance reporters had been in the Ogaden, an ethnic Somali region in eastern Ethiopia, for four days before they were arrested.

“The Ethiopian army spotted us. Then they followed in our footsteps for three to four days. Then they ambushed us.

“We were attacked by about 150 Ethiopian army soldiers who opened fire on us. We got hit quite quickly. I got hit in the shoulder and Johan got hit in the arm. Somebody shouted, ‘media, media, international press,’ and we were arrested,” said Martin Schibbye.

‘No regrets’

After their arrest they said they were ordered at gunpoint to take part in a film supposedly documenting their relationship with the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

“Two civilians, who we’d never seen before, were dressed up as rebels. The soldiers gave them guns and stood them in front of us, and they testified against us and said that we came with them from Somalia,” says Mr Schibbye.

The journalists allege that senior Ethiopian civilian officials were in charge of the filming.

“This was not being done by some crazy militia: the director was the vice president in the region, and in the evening the regional president called us and said, ‘We are not satisfied by your performances in the film,'” said Mr Schibbye. Eventually the film was used against them in court.

Ethiopia’s eastern Ogaden region has been the focus of an insurgency by local ethnic Somalis.

“We were walking through villages where there had been people living till recently, but now they had fled, forced out by the conflict. There was heavy fighting and that was one of the reasons why we were detected and followed and ambushed by the Ethiopian army,” Mr Persson said.

Despite spending more than a year in prison, they say they have no regrets their time in Ethiopia.

For Martin Schibbye, the work of foreign correspondent is one that requires taking risks and refusing to accept there are areas closed to journalists.

His colleague agrees: “As long as governments make laws to protect themselves against journalists, our job is to break those laws. I would do the same again today.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19960209

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This entry was posted on September 7, 2013 by in General Information, Home.
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