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Two sons of opposition figure and activist arrested

May 18, 2013 1 comment

Ethiopian security forces arrested two sons of prominent opposition figure and internet activist Assegid Gebre Selassie in the northern town of Mekele, hauling them off to a remote location without showing a warrant, he told local magazine.
“My two sons are incarcerated at different prisons, one at illegal solitary confinement called 06, which is not even known by legal institutions,” Assegid said. He discovered the location days later, after contacting various responsible bodies, though his permission request to visit them was denied.
Ahferom Assegid and Yemane Assegid were probably detained on a charge of putting their father’s writings online, according to media report. No trial date had been set by late year.
According to the activist, “the security forces did not present an arrest warrant.” One of his sons who suffer from health problems was “not allowed to take his medication with him.”
A one-time TPLF apologist and leader, Assegid later became a firm opponent of the party and is now member of the opposition political party known as Arena Tigray for Democracy and sovereignty. He himself was imprisoned a number of times for his writings about human rights violations, sectarian discrimination, and repression of the political opposition.

Panel to honor Emperor Haile Selassie cancelled

May 16, 2013 4 comments

A panel discussion to explore Emperor Haile Selassie’s role and Ethiopia’s contribution to the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), a precursor to the AU, was abruptly cancelled. The panel, planned to quell a controversy over a lack of credit by the ruling party for the Emperor, was to have been held at Old Plenary Hall of the African Union here in Addis Ababa this weekend as part of the 50th anniversary of OAU. The organizer, Hailesellasie I Memorial Foundation, said scheduling conflicts of the panelists had caused the cancellation.
The program had been scheduled to be chaired by Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president and was to be attended by a distinguished list of panelists such as former president of the Addis Abeba University, professor Andreas Eshete, a lawyer and senior official during the Imperial era, Teshome G. Mariam, former mayor during the caretaker administration of Addis Abeba, Brehane Deressa, and former head of Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency, Selome Tadesse.
Many Ethiopians are voicing frustration over the disregard for Emperor Haile Selassie’s role and contribution during the OAU’s establishment as well as supporting the liberation struggles of many African countries.

Editor questioned over Meles’ widow

May 16, 2013 1 comment

Meles Zenawi, Azeb Mesfin

Ethiopian police in Addis Ababa questioned an editor for several hours yesterday in connection with a story published in October about the widow of the late Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi, according to news reports.
Officers in the Ethiopian Federal Police Crime Investigation Department interrogated Ferew Abebe, the former editor-in-chief of the private Amharic-language weekly Sendek, about his sources for the October 10, 2012, story that said Azeb Mesfin, Meles’ widow, had refused to leave the Ethiopian national palace nearly two months after the prime minister’s death, local journalists said. The story, which was widely covered in local and international press, cited government sources as saying that Meles’ successor, Hailemarian Desalegn, was unable to live in the palace.
Ferew refused to identify his sources and cited Ethiopian laws that guaranteed the rights of a journalist to keep sources confidential, local journalists said. According to the Ethiopian penal code, a court can compel journalists to reveal their sources if a crime has been committed against the constitutional order, national defense force, or security of the state, which constitutes clear and imminent danger. Read more…

Maaza Mengiste on Meles’s conflicted legacy

September 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Maaza Mengiste, the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, writes on Meles’ legacy. Writing for the prestigious literary journal Granta, the New York-based Ethiopian novelist lauds the late prime minister for spurring economic growth in the country but raises issues on the omnipresent leader’s record on human rights and freedom of speech. The author in this softly flowing article says Meles has both pushed Ethiopia forward and held her people down. Extracts.
Meles Zenawi is dead. After weeks of speculation, the body of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister has come home from a hospital to be buried in the country he led for nearly twenty years. I sit at my desk in New York City, trying to fathom what this means for the Ethiopian diaspora and for those still at home. As surely as I can go to Ethiopia and see the country’s stunning growth, I am aware of the rapidly shrinking freedoms for both foreign and national press in the country. Eight journalists, including Eskinder Nega, winner of the 2012 PEN Freedom to Write Award, still languish in prison. Meles is dead, I tell myself. I erase his name from the sentence, and imagine his grieving family. My sympathies go to them. But it is the name that adds weight and meaning; it is everything.
Meles Zenawi’s legacy is as complicated as the life he chose to live, under a name (Meles) that he took from a fallen comrade during his days as a guerrilla fighter. The fact is that under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia witnessed unprecedented growth and became one of the stabilizing forces in the Horn of Africa. He worked to eradicate poverty and for seven years, nearly sixty per cent of the country’s total expenditures went to sectors that could help alleviate the problem. He has both pushed Ethiopia forward and held her people down. I suspect I am not alone in teetering between these two sides. But I’m bothered by this vacillation, by the necessity of thinking that one right can negate another.
Click here to read the full article.

Serkalem wants her car back

September 23, 2011 2 comments

Serkalem with her son Nafkot/ From Facebook Profile

Jailed journalist and dissident internet activist Eskinder Nega’s wife, Serkalem Fasil is seeking the return of a car that her husband was driving at the time of his arrest. Serkalekm told Fitih, an Amharic weekly, that her car is unlawfully being held by the Federal Police. Eskinder was driving the car to pick up his child from school before he was stopped and placed under arrest.The car was impounded since, Serkalem told the paper. Read more…

Negasso on Meles

August 3, 2011 5 comments

Dandi, Negasso’s path is the result of collaboration between Dr. Negasso Gidada and journalist Daniel Tefera. Daniel coauthored the memoir based on a series of interviews he had conducted over a period of three months. He wrote down and arranged the material in the first person and Negasso edited and approved every chapter. Thus, though Daniel actually did the writing, it is reasonable to consider the work an autobiography.
The chapter on the relationship between Negasso and Meles makes a good reading, which is the focus of this post. It emerges that Negasso is a proud socialist in his politics, which is one of the reasons he favored TPLF, which grew out of the Marxist-oriented student movement against the Haile Selassie regime. Marist-Leninist explanation for the poverty of the mass of the population had validity for the TPLF at the start, which Negasso found appealing too. But to Negasso’s bewilderment, Meles started quietly dropping references to Marxism and pursued a political philosophy more acceptable to the West. This development left Negasso “deceived” and “angry,” a recurring state of mind in “Dandi.”
How well does Negasso channel his former comrade and current enemy? Read more…

Negasso’s personal revolution: from apologist to critic

July 23, 2011 13 comments

Negaso Addis Journal

On 22 August 1995, a mild-mannered soft-spoken man, Negasso Gidada- who represented the Oromos- became president of the newly-formed Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. His position was largely ceremonial as real power rested with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Yet the occasion was depicted as a watershed heralding a new chapter in the country’s history in general and the Oromo people in particular.
Before his appointment as president, Negasso, was minister of information, and was closely allied to the EPRDF against the armed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Earlier when he was in Germany, Negasso was president of the Oromo Students’ Association, an organization affiliated with the OLF. Eventually, he administered the OLF’s financial department before he parted his ways. Read more…

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