Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ethiopia TV News in Amharic September 29, 2012 - YouTube

Ethiopia TV News in Amharic September 29, 2012 - YouTube: ""

'via Blog this'

Eritrea 2011 | Amnesty International USA-Annual Report


Head of state and government: Isaias Afewerki
Death penalty: abolitionist in practice
Population: 5.2 million
Life expectancy: 60.4 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 78/71 per 1,000 
Adult literacy: 65.3 per cent
Widespread human rights violations were routine. The government severely restricted freedom of expression and freedom of religion. No opposition parties, independent journalism or civil society organizations, or unregistered faith groups were allowed. The authorities used arbitrary arrests, detentions and torture to stifle opposition, holding thousands of political prisoners in dire conditions, many in secret detention. Military conscription was compulsory and deserters, draft evaders and their families were harassed, imprisoned and ill-treated. A "shoot to kill" policy against anyone attempting to flee across the border remained in place.


President Isaias Afewerki and the ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice, the only permitted political party, exerted complete control over the state without a hint of indefinitely delayed elections. There was no independent judiciary.
Eritrean society remained highly militarized. All adults faced compulsory national service which was frequently extended indefinitely.
The costs of mass military conscription contributed to a crippling of the national economy. Food shortages increased. The UN estimated that as many as two in every three Eritreans were malnourished, but the government restricted food aid and humanitarian access, apparently as a way of controlling and punishing the population, and limiting external influence.
Large numbers of mainly young Eritreans fled the country. The government continued to implement a "shoot to kill" policy for those caught trying to cross the border.
The UN Security Council continued to apply sanctions against Eritrea, including an arms embargo, on the grounds that it was supporting Somali armed groups and for failing to resolve a border dispute with Djibouti.
For the first half of the year Eritrea maintained a troop presence in the disputed Ras Doumeira area and Doumeira island of Djibouti, despite a Security Council resolution calling for Eritrean withdrawal. In June, Eritrea agreed to withdraw its troops and resolve the dispute with Djibouti through mediation by Qatar.
The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission decision of 2002 requiring Ethiopia's withdrawal from the border village of Badme was not enforced; and the damages set out by the 2009 Claims Commission to be paid by both sides were not paid. The government used the pretext of the border dispute, and possible threat of future conflict, as justification for the severe curtailment of civil and political rights.

Freedom of religion

Only members of permitted faiths - the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches, and Islam - were allowed to practise their religion. Members of banned minority faiths faced harassment, arrest, incommunicado detention and torture. Many were arrested while worshipping clandestinely in private homes or at weddings or funerals.
Up to 3,000 Christians from unregistered church groups were held in detention during the year, including 60 Jehovah's Witnesses who were known to be in detention in May. Among the 60 were Paulos Eyassu, Isaac Mogos and Negede Teklemariam, detained since 1994 without trial.
A clampdown on Evangelical Christians, in particular the Full Gospel Church, in the Southern Zone (province) was reported in October. Up to 40 men and women were arrested and detained incommunicado, reportedly on the orders of the governor of the Southern Zone.
  • Senait Oqbazgi Habta, a 28-year-old woman, reportedly died in April at the Sawa Military Training Centre. She had been detained for approximately two years for attending a Bible study group. She was detained in a shipping container and denied medication for malaria and anaemia.

Prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners

Large numbers of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience continued to be detained indefinitely without charge, trial or access to legal counsel. They included suspected critics of the government, political activists, journalists, religious practitioners, draft evaders, military deserters and failed asylum-seekers forcibly returned to Eritrea. Many were held in incommunicado detention for long periods, including political prisoners detained since a government clampdown in 2001. The whereabouts and health status of most remained unknown. Prisoners' families faced reprisals for inquiring about them.
  • The G-15 group, prisoners of conscience detained without charge or trial since 2001, continued to be held in secret detention. During 2010 the government again did not respond to allegations that nine of the G-15 had died in detention.
  • Prisoner of conscience Dawit Isaak, a journalist detained in the 2001 clampdown, remained in detention, allegedly in Eiraeiro Prison. He was reportedly in poor mental and physical health.

Freedom of expression - journalists

The government tightly controlled all media and reacted with hostility to any perceived criticism. All independent journalism has been effectively banned since 2001. Numerous journalists remained in incommunicado detention without charge or trial. In many cases the government refused to confirm their location or health status.
  • Yirgalem Fisseha Mebrahtu, a Radio Bana journalist arrested in February 2009 when the authorities closed the station, was reportedly placed in solitary confinement in Mai Swra Prison in May.
Eritrean journalists in the US-based diaspora community reported government surveillance and harassment by Eritrean-government supporters within the USA.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Many Eritreans fled the country. Families of refugees faced severe reprisals for the flight of their relatives, including fines and prison sentences.
The guidelines issued by UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, in 2009, recommending that states refrain from forcibly returning rejected Eritrean asylum-seekers to Eritrea, remained in force. As of January 2010, 223,562 Eritrean refugees and asylum-seekers were living abroad, according to official figures.
  • In June, Eritrean detainees at the Misratah detention centre in Libya were forced by officials to be photographed and to complete bio-data forms provided by the Eritrean embassy.
  • Yonas Mehari and Petros Mulugeta returned to Germany and were granted asylum in 2010. The two men were asylum-seekers forcibly deported by the German authorities to Eritrea in 2008. They were detained after their return, Yonas Mehari in an overcrowded underground cell and Petros Mulugeta in a shipping container. Both men recounted inhumane conditions, including disease, insanity and death among fellow detainees.

Military conscription

A significant proportion of the population was engaged in compulsory national service, which was mandatory for men and women over the age of 18. An initial period of 18 months' service includes six months' military service and 12 months' deployment in military or government service. This often involves forced labour in state projects. Conscripts perform construction labour on government projects such as road building, work in the civil service or work for companies owned and operated by the military or ruling party elites. Conscripts are paid minimal salaries that do not meet the basic needs of their families. National service can be extended indefinitely and is also followed by reserve duties.
Penalties for desertion and draft evasion were harsh, and included torture and detention without trial.

Torture and other ill-treatment

The use of torture in detention facilities was widespread. Detainees, including prisoners of conscience, were often tortured and ill-treated. The most frequent forms of torture reported were whippings, beatings and being tied with ropes in painful positions for prolonged periods.
Prison conditions were extremely harsh, with many prisoners held in overcrowded, unhygienic and damp conditions. Large numbers of detainees were held in underground cells and others were locked in metal shipping containers, many in desert locations creating extreme temperatures. Prisoners were given inadequate food and unclean drinking water. Almost no medical assistance was available. Various prisoners of conscience and political prisoners were reported to have died in detention, but most reports were not confirmed by the authorities.
  • Hana Hagos Asgedom, a Christian imprisoned for nearly four years for her religious beliefs, died in January. She was reportedly beaten with an iron rod for refusing the sexual advances of an officer at the Alla Military Camp and died from a heart attack soon after.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Jailed Ethiopia Christians deported from Saudi Arabia for praying | Vlad Tepes

Ethiopian Christians praying, but in Saudi they were jailed and deported.
CAIRO: At least 35 Christians from Ethiopia were deported by Saudi Arabia last week after having been detained for over 7 months for reportedly praying in the privacy of their own homes.
International Christian Concern (ICC) wrote in a statement published on their website that “Saudi Arabia deported the last of the 35 Ethiopian Christians who were detained for holding an all-night prayer vigil.
“Saudi security officials assaulted, harassed and pressured the Christians to convert to Islam during their incarceration,” it added.
“We have arrived home safe. We believe that we are released as the result of the pressure exerted by ICC and others,” one of the Ethiopians reportedly told the ICC.
In February, Ethiopians living in the United States, protested in front of the Saudi Embassy, demanding their rights be upheld and that they be granted full freedom of religion.
“We urge all those concerned in the Washington, D.C. area to participate in this protest. Saudi Arabian officials have refused to release the Christians despite quiet diplomatic pressure,” Jonathan Racho, Regional Manager for Africa at the ICC, an advocacy group and one of the protest’s organizers, said in a statement at the time.
“We must raise our voices and demand the Saudis release the prisoners who were imprisoned simply for praying together.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that 29 of those arrested are women and were subjected to “arbitrary body cavity searches” while in custody.
The Christians had gathered together to pray on December 15 at a private home of one of the Ethiopians, but police responded by raiding the house and arresting the group of Ethiopians, three of those jailed told HRW.
“While King Abdullah sets up an international interfaith dialogue center, his police are trampling on the rights of believers of others faiths,” said Christoph Wilcke, senior Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch. “The Saudi government needs to change its own intolerant ways before it can promote religious dialogue abroad.”
In October last year, Saudi Arabia, together with Austria and Spain, founded the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, located in Vienna, and funded by Saudi Arabia.
The Ethiopian men spent two days at al-Nuzha police station in Jeddah, after which the police transferred them to Buraiman prison. The women had already been transferred to Buraiman prison. Two of the women said that officials there forced the women to strip, and then an officer inserted her finger into each of the women’s genitals, under the pretext of searching for illegal substances hidden inside their bodies. She wore a plastic glove that she did not change, the women told the New York-based human rights organization.
Officers also kicked and beat the men in Buraiman prison, and insulted them as “unbelievers,” the jailed Ethiopian man said.
Both men and women complained of inadequate medical care and unsanitary conditions at Buraiman prison. There were too few toilets, they said. In the men’s wing, 6 of 12 toilets were reserved for Saudi inmates, while hundreds of foreign inmates were forced to share the remaining 6 toilets. One female detainee said she suffers from diabetes and was given an injection in the prison clinic that caused swelling, and has received no further medical attention.
According to the ICC, which said it has spoken directly with the prisoners, the Christian men and women corroborate the claims that they were violently arrested and currently experience attempts at conversion to Islam while in prison.
The prisoners reported earlier this year that a Muslim preacher was sent by officials to speak to them about converting to Islam, the ICC said, but this could not be independently verified by sources.
The preacher reportedly also “vilified Christianity and denigrated the Bible,” the ICC reported.
“These are law-abiding Ethiopian citizens. They were simply arrested for practicing their faith at a private home,” Kebadu Belachew, an Ethiopian-American human rights activist and one of the organizers of the rally, told ICC.

Man accused of torturing prisoners in Ethiopia pleads not guilty to immigration violations - The Washington Post

DENVER — An Ethiopian immigrant suspected of torturing political prisoners decades ago during the aftermath of a coup in his home country has pleaded not guilty to U.S. immigration charges.
The man authorities identified as former prison guard Kefelegn Alemu Worku (kah-FEH’-lun ah-LEE’-moo WER’-koo) entered his plea in federal court in Denver on Tuesday. A judge denied bail.

The man’s lawyer said his client denies the immigration charges and says he is not the former guard Worku.
The man is accused of using falsified documents to enter the U.S. Authorities also say he lived and worked in Denver under an assumed name.
Three former Ethiopian political prisoners identified the man as Worku in a photo lineup, saying he tortured inmates in the 1970s at a prison where detainees were regularly beaten and executed.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Striking South African Miners Charged with Murder After after shoot from back by Police Kill 34

Major challenge to ANC government after reports that many miners were shot in the back, and now murder charges against other miners, no police charged
Watch full multipart Mass Murder of Miners and Neo-Liberalism in South Africa



Vishwas Satgar has been a grass roots activist in South Africa for the past 28 years. He is currently engaged in supporting the Solidarity Economy Movement in township communities, supporting food sovereignty campaigning , climate jobs campaigning and defending popular democracy in South Africa. His academic interests include a focus on African political economy, Empire and Global crisis, Green Global political Economy and Transnational Alternatives. He is a Senior Lecturer at the Univesity of the Witwatersrand.


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.
On August 16 in South Africa, at the Lonmin mine in Marikana, police killed 34 miners who were on strike amongst hundreds in a confrontation with police. A postmortem exam, according to a local television station, revealed that most of the miners killed were shot in the back while they were fleeing police, not as they were, according to the police, about to surround and attack the police.
Now there have been charges laid for these murders. Two hundred and seventy miners were charged in the deaths, and no policemen.
Now joining us to help us make sense of all of this is Vishwas Satgar. He's a grassroots activist in South Africa for the past 28 years and he's a senior lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand. And he's recently helped form something called Solidarity with the Marikana Minors. Thanks for joining us.
JAY: So lead us through the basic story here first of all, just to kick it off. If I understand it correctly, miners were on strike for higher wages. There is a division within the unions. There's a newer, more militant union and an older, people would say, less militant union allied with the ANC government, and this confrontation develops. So give us the context of what happened, and then we'll get into how it is that the miners get charged and not the police.
SATGAR: Yeah. I mean, all these essential facts you point to are key, but we just need to take a step back to sort of August 9, when workers at this particular mine, particularly the rock drillers, came together to really think crucially about their work situation and then, of course, make a demand to the management. The management response to their immediate demand for higher wages was to suggest some kind of minimal back pay. In the minds of the workers this really meant that, you know, this mine was a cash cow and, you know, the management could respond in a more serious way to this substantive proposal.
This then snowballed since August 9, with the workers first marching to the National Union of Mineworkers office, which many of these workers were members of and probably still are. On their way to the offices of the National Union of Mineworkers, they were shot at, according to, and allegedly, by members of the National Union of Mineworkers. This led to the death of two workers.
Subsequently this just spirals. Two security guards are killed. Two policemen are killed. Another six workers are killed.
And then the infamous day of August 16, where the workers gather on a location, on a little mountain, what is called a koppie in South Africa, close or adjacent to the mine. The mine calls in a rival union to the National Union of Mineworkers called AMCU and basically tries to get AMCU to try and pull these workers off the koppie and get them back in to work. AMCU tries. They go and speak to the workers. And that is unsuccessful. The National Union of Mineworkers also around this time tries to speak to these workers.
And one of the issues, material facts here that rarely comes out in the sort of witness accounts and the narrative by the workers themselves is that they were addressed by the president of the National Union of Mineworkers while he was inside a police armored vehicle. And that really also irked them and angered them, and while in a context in which they were completely surrounded on this hilltop.
Subsequently, it would seem—and this is based on an academic reconstruction of what happened on August 16 done by a professor at the University of Johannesburg. He essentially went to the site and interviewed various workers and witnesses and put together the sequence of things. And what seems to emerge from this picture is that the police surrounded these workers, they put barbed wire fence, razor wire fence around the perimeter, they left a very narrow opening for these workers, and basically opened fire with tear gas and rubber bullets. The workers then ran for the one and only opening they could see in the barbed wire fence.
Now, a lot of media coverage shows this particular scene and it comes across as though the police are on the retreat and the workers are attacking offensively. But actually it's seen from—according to the professor at the University of Johannesburg, this was the only opening left for those workers. And at least about ten of them were gunned down at that entrance or that opening.
Now, there are other kind of bits of information coming together and are now beginning to come to light in the public arena. It would seem that most of the workers ran in the opposite direction while—from the top of the koppie or the mountain, and they were then gunned down systematically in cold blood in different locations. A journalist link to the Maverick Magazine today has basically carefully documented the various sites where these workers were killed and basically has put out the story that, you know, in the difficult rocky crevices and so on, this is where mineworkers were shot. At the same time, there are reports coming out increasingly from eyewitness accounts that many of these workers were also run over by police motorized or armored vehicles. So this is basically the kind of picture that's beginning to emerge around the facts and the details.
JAY: This seems systematic. It seems like the police were given—what's the word?—some direction on this. Or should I say, does it seem police [were] out of control? But it seems like there's more going on here than that.
SATGAR: Well, on August 17—and this, again, is according to newspaper accounts and some eyewitness accounts that the senior police commissioner of the area basically made a public statement that they were going to stop the strike. In addition, the National Union of Mineworkers made a public call on national radio and national news for the police to intervene and deal with the situation and the violence. So the kind of perception created is that this clearly was an orchestrated, a planned sort of attack by the police.
Also, just the precision around which they kind of surrounded the whole area, the way they kind of intervened, the kind of firepower—I mean, you know, there were helicopters, there were armored vehicles, I mean, just many, many police in the area. And apparently, according to even the head, the president of AMCU, who spoke at a public meeting, he was quite taken aback by the scale at which the police were handling this operation. Initially, after he made his appeal to the workers to come down and end the strike, they walked away from the situation and they passed what seemed like a very sophisticated sort of command center.
JAY: Okay. So I don't quite get this, what happened on Thursday, then. We have evidence that the postmortem examination of the bodies are that most of the miners that were killed were actually running away. You say there's evidence now from this professor that they were actually sort of kettled, in a way, with barbed wire and led towards the police. And then the miners get charged, 270 miners get charged with the deaths of the other miners. What's the logic there?
SATGAR: Well, actually, it's illogical, but it does point to a deepening crisis of our postapartheid democracy.
There are four elements to the state response post the Marikana massacre. The first response has been to continue a heavy police presence in and around the communities that make up the Marikana area. And that has also led to a lot of police harassment.
The second element of the response has been the state president of the country, Jacob Zuma, announcing a judicial commission of inquiry, headed up by three judges. He's defined the terms of reference, which is important, but also has certain limitations.
The third element has been [for] the state to call for a peace court process. Right now in the town of Rustenburg is an attempt by the minister of labor to sit down with the unions and hammer out some kind of peace agreement.
The fourth element in this whole equation has been the charging of the mine workers that are currently in police custody with the murder of their colleagues.
Now, this all really doesn't add up. Increasingly, it would seem that what's at heart of the state response is really an attempt to stop the kind of demands, the kind of worker militancy from spreading throughout the platinum belts right now. So there's a lot of doublespeak coming out of government. It doesn't add up, it doesn't make sense, and really the government is not contributing to a climate of trust. There is deep skepticism on the ground within the community about the intentions of the South African [crosstalk]
JAY: And what are these miners actually charged with?
SATGAR: Well, that's the thing. They're charged with the murder of their 34 colleagues.
JAY: But they use some law about—that because they were there in common purpose, they created the scene where the police shot—they're responsible. I mean, it's something along these lines?
SATGAR: Yeah. I mean, it's—I'm no lawyer, but, I mean, clearly they're trying to kind of construct a legal argument or a legal case, you know, trying to kind of, you know, pin it on them collectively. They had a common intention, a common purpose.
But, you know, again, this—the whole thing about the charging is embroiled in a larger kind of political battle. The workers themselves went to the police station, and this together with Julius Malema, the former Youth League president in South Africa, ANC Youth League president, and he, together with the workers, charged the police for murder. Now, it would seem that the state response is a counter to this, and it's really beginning to become a tit-for-tat issue, sadly, in this situation.
JAY: We're going to do a part two of this interview where we step back and look at the bigger picture, at the conflict amongst this new and more militant union challenging the older traditional union allied with the ANC, and then what this incident of the shooting of the miners has sparked in South Africa, which is a whole examination of the state of inequality and the state of ANC leadership. And the whole neoliberal policies of South Africa are now under a new kind of examination. So part two of our interview is going to take us there. So please join us for that on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ethiopian immigrant suspected of torturing political prisoners is arrested in Colorado - The Washington Post

DENVER — Federal agents arrested an Ethiopian immigrant suspected of torturing political prisoners decades ago in his home country, prosecutors said Friday.
Three former Ethiopian political prisoners identified the man as Kefelegn Alemu Worku (kah-FEH’-lun ah-LEE’-moo WER’-koo), saying he brutally mistreated them and others in the late 1970s, authorities said.

He is being held on immigration charges, and federal agents said they were investigating a report that he was involved in atrocities that occurred in Ethiopia following a military coup that plunged the nation into turmoil, marked by arrests, tortures and executions.
All three former prisoners, now U.S. citizens living in Denver, picked the suspect out of a photo lineup, the U.S. attorney’s office said. They told investigators that the man they identified as Worku was a guard at a prison in Ethiopia where they were held.
He was arrested Aug. 24. His attorney didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. The arrest was first reported by KUSA-TV.
The suspect has been charged with unlawfully procuring citizenship or naturalization and aggravated identity theft. If convicted of both charges, he faces up to 12 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
The Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C., said no one was available to comment.
Two of the former prisoners who identified the man as Worku said he beat them and subjected them to gruesome torture. The third said he witnessed the suspect abusing other prisoners. The men are identified only by initials in court documents.
Prosecutors said the suspect used several names. They say he entered the U.S. using a stolen identity and falsified paperwork and illegally achieved U.S. citizenship in 2010.
Officials won’t decide whether to attempt to deport the man until the immigration and identity theft charges are resolved, said Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney in Denver.
It wasn’t immediately clear how or when the man left Ethiopia. Another Ethiopian immigrant in Denver told investigators the suspect lived in Kenya for several years before entering the U.S.
The suspect is about 68 years old and has been living in a Denver apartment under the name of Habteab Berhe Temanu, prosecutors said. They declined to say how he had been supporting himself.
Dorschner said no picture of the suspect will be released because investigators may still ask others to identify him from a photo lineup.
A court hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday.
The man was a regular at the Cozy Cafe in Denver, which serves Ethiopian food, said Girma Baye, the restaurant manager.
Baye said he knew nothing of the accusations against the man and that the arrest came as a shock to him and others.
“If I knew anything about his past, he would not be long in the United States,” Baye said.
Baye described him as “a happy, social person” and a “nice guy.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.