Tuesday, November 15, 2016

3 lions save Ethiopian girl from kidnappers - Gist - Pulse

A lions yawns at Nairobi's National Park March 11, 20133 lions save Ethiopian girl from kidnappers
The kidnappers of the 12-year-old girl ran off and left her in the savannah when they spotted three lions.
Published: 13.11.2016 Ayodele JohnsonPrinteMail
A lions yawns at Nairobi's National Park March 11, 2013play
A lions yawns at Nairobi's National Park March 11, 2013 (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)
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In what can be considered as a mystery, three lions reportedly saved a 12-year-old Ethiopian girl from the hands of kidnappers.
According to reports, the girl whose name was not revealed, was taken by her abductors to the Savannah where she was abused.
Fortunately, three lions appeared which made the kidnappers run off leaving her at the mercy of the beasts.
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Instead of treating her as a meal, the lions instead stayed with her until a search party found her and took her away.
The strange occurrence was a mystery to the inhabitants of the area who are used to frequent attacks by the big cats.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Australia: Protests Prompt Ethiopia Reprisals | Human Rights Watch

(Sydney) – The Ethiopian government has arrested and detained dozens of relatives of Ethiopians who participated in a Melbourne protest in June, 2016, and is still holding many of them four months later, Human Rights Watch said today.
Ethiopian Australians protest against an Ethiopian government delegation visiting Melbourne, Australia, June 2016.
Ethiopian Australians protest against an Ethiopian government delegation visiting Melbourne, Australia, June 2016.

On June 12, members of Australia’s Ethiopian community who are from Somali Regional State protested the visit to Australia of an Ethiopian regional government delegation that included Abdi Mohamoud Omar, known as Abdi Iley, the president of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State. They were also protesting Australia’s support for the Ethiopian government. The Ethiopian delegation did not appear, and after several hours the event was cancelled. The protesters later learned that several dozen of their relatives in Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State had been arrested and detained due to their involvement in the Melbourne protest.

“Abdi Mohamoud Omar and his colleagues have added collective punishment to their long list of abuses against the people of Somali Regional State,” said Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Australian government should raise their concerns with their Ethiopian counterparts at the highest levels.”
Relatives of Australia’s Ethiopian community, who protested against the visit of an Ethiopian regional government delegation to Australia, were arrested due to their involvement in the protest. 
Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 members of the Ethiopian Somali community in Australia between July and September 2016.They told Human Rights Watch that at least 32 family members had been arrested in Ethiopia. Some have since been released but most were still in detention, the relatives said. The Ethiopian government should immediately release the relatives of the Melbourne protesters, whose detention amounts to unlawful collective punishment of family members, Human Rights Watch said.

Ethiopian Somali protesters in Melboune expressed particular concern over Abdi Mohamoud Omar’s visit. The Liyu police, a paramilitary unit that reports directly to Abdi Mohamoud Omar, has been responsible for numerous serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial executions and torture. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told Human Rights Watch that Abdi Mohamoud Omar’s visa application did not raise any serious concerns. The Australian government should ensure that foreign officials implicated in serious human rights abuses do not receive visas, Human Rights Watch said.
Numerous Ethiopian Somali Australians said that pro-government supporters living in Australia regularly harass community members perceived as government opponents. Several protesters said that these supporters called or personally confronted them in the days following the arrests and pressed them to make a video pledging support for Abdi Mohamoud Omar in order to secure the release of their relatives. At least three members of Australia’s Ethiopian Somali community have done this.
One man described pleas from his family members: “If you do not record something, they will kill us.”
Threatening demands for video apologies have been a regular tactic of the Somali Regional State government, Human Rights Watch said. People from Somali Regional State who live in the United States, Canada, and northern Europe have described similar networks and tactics by pro-government supporters there. These videos are often posted to the state-run broadcaster, ESTV, and to various pro-government websites.
Shukri, a Somali-Ethiopian Australian, who protested against the visit of Ethiopia’s President of the Somali Regional State, Abdi Mohamoud Omar, to Melbourne, Australia, in June 2016. In retaliation, Ethiopian paramilitary police rounded up members of Shu
Shukri, a Somali-Ethiopian Australian, who protested against the visit of Ethiopia’s President of the Somali Regional State, Abdi Mohamoud Omar, to Melbourne, Australia, in June 2016. In retaliation, Ethiopian paramilitary police rounded up members of Shukri’s family in Ethiopia.

“I don’t feel safe here,” one Australian said. “I thought I was safe. When I came, [I thought] now I will be in a free country. To be in Australia and be scared all the time, it doesn’t go together.”

One of the recently released detainees told his relative in Australia that security personnel hit him every night. His interrogators told him: “If you want to be released, you have to talk to [your relative] about support[ing] the government. You have to talk to people and then those people will take it to the embassy.” Arbitrary detention is commonplace in Somali Regional State, and detainees describe frequent torture and other ill-treatment in the region’s many detention sites.
Australia has a strong and growing economic relationship with Ethiopia, and Australian companies are exploring opportunities in Ethiopia in mining, energy, and agriculture. In July, an Australia trade delegation from the state of Victoria visited Ethiopia.
Granting a visa to Abdi Mohamoud Omar, who previously visited Australia in 2012, raises concerns about the Australian government’s vetting process of people implicated in serious rights abuses. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is responsible for assessing visa applications and can refuse visas to people suspected of involvement in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Given the significant evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Ethiopian forces in the country in 2007-2008 while Abdi Mohamoud Omar was the Somali Regional State head of security, his visa application should have raised serious questions, Human Rights Watch said. However, Australian government officials told Human Rights Watch that Abdi Mohamoud Omar’s visa raised no red flags.
In response to a letter from Human Rights Watch, the Australian government wrote that “all non-citizens wishing to enter Australia are assessed against relevant public interest criteria, including foreign policy interest, national security and character requirements in accordance with relevant legislation. This includes foreign officials with potential character concerns or subject to allegations of human rights abuses.”
A Somali-Ethiopian Australian who protested against the visit of Ethiopia’s President of the Somali Regional State, Abdi Mohamoud Omar, to Melbourne, Australia, in June 2016. “My mother, brother, and sister were all arrested back home. It makes me sad. I
A Somali-Ethiopian Australian who protested against the visit of Ethiopia’s President of the Somali Regional State, Abdi Mohamoud Omar, to Melbourne, Australia, in June 2016. “My mother, brother, and sister were all arrested back home. It makes me sad. I was driving a taxi, but I cannot work now. I can’t answer the phone. I cannot sleep. All my family. It’s because of me.”

“Ethiopia has severely cracked down down on protests at home, but has gone a cruel step further by trying to silence Ethiopians protesting abroad by punishing their family members,” Horne said. “These relatives are being wrongfully held and should immediately be released.”

For additional information, please see below.
The Melbourne Protest
The generally peaceful protest on June 12 was marred by several scuffles, in which one man was injured, and the filming of protesters by government supporters. Several protesters said that a United States citizen connected to the Ethiopian ruling party, who was traveling with Abdi Mohamoud Omar, threatened protesters, saying “You will see what will happen to your relatives.” Another protester said that pro-government Ethiopian Australians threatened him at the event, saying, “You will see what happens.”
Several witnesses said that Ethiopian government supporters filmed them using smartphones, which would facilitate identifying their relatives in Somali Regional State. Within hours, protesters started receiving calls from family members in Ethiopia saying that relatives – some as old as 85 – had been arrested because of the Melbourne protest.
One protester said he later heard from his family: “When they [Liyu police] arrested my brothers, they told them, ‘Your brother is protesting and that’s why we are arresting you.’”
Another protester said, “Around 8 p.m. I got a phone call from my uncle back home. He said, ‘Two of your uncles were taken by the security and we don’t know where they went. … [I]t’s about you as they said your nephew did this or that to President Abdi Iley [Abdi Mohamoud Omar], that’s why.’ They took them away to jail.”
The 70-year-old mother of a protester was among those arrested. Before taking her to a military camp, the Liyu police asked her: “Are you the mother of [name withheld]? Your son created trouble for the [regional] president.” She was held for almost a month. She told her son that uniformed captors had beaten her in custody.
Ethiopian government delegation, led by Abdi Mohamoud Omar (center), meets with Australian government officials in Canberra, June 2016
Ethiopian government delegation, led by Abdi Mohamoud Omar (center), meets with Australian government officials in Canberra, June 2016

Some other relatives of protesters, particularly the sick and the elderly, have also been released, but on the condition that their Australian relatives make a video apologizing to Abdi Mohamoud Omar for their “anti-government” behavior. Other relatives arrested following the protest remain in detention in various locations in Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State.

Conflict, Abuses in Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State
Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State, consisting largely of ethnic Somalis, has been the site of a low-level insurgency by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) for more than 15 years. The ethnic Somali armed movement, largely supported by members of the Ogaden clan, has sought greater political autonomy for the region. Following the insurgent group’s April 2007 attack on an oil installation in Obole, which resulted in the deaths of 70 civilians and the capture of several Chinese oil workers, the Ethiopian government carried out a major counterinsurgency campaign incurring serious human rights abuses.
In 2008, Human Rights Watch found that security forces were involved in extrajudicial executions, torture, rape, and forced displacement of civilians. Human Rights Watch believes the Ethiopian National Defense Force and the insurgent group both committed war crimes between mid-2007 and early 2008, and that the military could be responsible for crimes against humanity. Abdi Mohamoud Omar was the head of security of Somali Regional State during this period.
Since 2008, the paramilitary Liyu police, who report directly to Abdi Mohamoud Omar, have frequently been accused of extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and violence against civilians accused of supporting or being sympathetic to the ONLF, including in 2012 when the Liyu police summarily executed 10 civilans. Abdi Mohamoud Omar has been the president of Somali Regional State since 2010. Since 2008, a number of victims of government abuses have told Human Rights Watch that Abdi Mohamoud Omar was present during interrogations, ordering – and in some cases directly involved in – their torture and that he was present during executions of civilians.
One man detained in 2006 in a military camp told Human Rights Watch in July 2016:
When Abdi Iley [Abdi Mohamoud Omar] got frustrated that they [soldiers] did not do what he wanted then he did it himself. He would tell them to hit harder or take matters into his own hands. Abdi Iley [Abdi Mohamoud Omar] would say “You must confess.”
I was tortured. … We were handcuffed with our arms over our legs, with the legs pulled up. They would put a rod under our legs and hang us up so our head falls back and we hang upside down. I would be hung upside down for periods of 15 minutes and they would hit my buttocks and feet. It was very painful. They would keep us like this for 15 or 20 minutes.
Abdi Iley [Abdi Mohamoud Omar] was present for some of these interrogations when we were hanging upside down. The stick was like a rubber hose with an iron bar inside. Once, Abdi Iley[Abdi Mohamoud Omar] thought the officer was not hitting hard enough [so] he took an iron bar himself.
A number of people have also alleged that Abdi Mohamoud Omar threatened them on social media. Limitations on access to Ethiopia in general, and Somali Regional State specifically, have not made it possible to corroborate these claims.
The Ethiopian government has never meaningfully investigated abuses by the military or Liyu police in the Somali region. International human rights groups are not permitted access to to the area.
The government has used various tactics to silence the diaspora. Human Rights Watch has documented numerous examples in which family members of Ethiopians who have been vocal abroad were targeted for arrest or harassment. They have also been targeted for surveillance using European-made malware. Diaspora-based websites are often blocked inside Ethiopia, and the government regularly jams diaspora television and radio stations.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Egyptian President denies supporting opposition in Ethiopia

Egyptian President denies supporting opposition in Ethiopia | 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Reuters -Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi denied on Thursday Ethiopian accusations that his country was supporting the opposition after a wave of violent protests that left hundreds dead.

Ethiopia accused “elements” in Eritrea, Egypt and elsewhere on Monday of being behind protests over land grabs and human rights that prompted the government to declare a state of emergency.

The unrest has cast a shadow over Ethiopia, where a state-led industrial drive has created one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, but whose government also faces criticism at home and abroad over its authoritarian approach.

Ethiopia’s government spokesman said Egypt, which is embroiled in a row with Addis Ababa over sharing Nile waters, was a source of backing for armed gangs though that backing may not come from state actors.

Sisi denied those accusations.

“Egypt does not conspire against anyone,” he said in a speech to the military.


The construction of Ethiopia’s 6,000-megawatt Grand Renaissance Dam has become a bone of contention between Ethiopia and Egypt, which lies downstream and relies on the Nile River for agricultural, industrial and domestic water use.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelatti, Writing Lin Noueihed; Editing by Hugh Lawson)"

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Under the Radar: Foreign investors under attack in Ethiopia | Global Risk Insights

Under the Radar: Foreign investors under attack in Ethiopia
Mounting violence in Ethiopia has seen over 500 killed, as protests against the government’s economic and human rights policies continues. The tensions at the heart of the crisis are systemic ones, yet what makes the violence particularly worrisome is that foreign investors have become prominent targets. Foreign businesses are being systematically attacked in protest of the government’s development-centric approach, with protesters citing land grabs and unfair competition as key issues.

Foreign investors under attack

20161015_mam001Government estimates claim that around 40,000 workers at foreign companies have been affected by the disruptions; as cement, textile, flower, and agribusiness firms have been attacked. Popular sentiments that the benefits of growth are not being felt by all, combined with worries about foreign goods undercutting local producers has made Ethiopia a verydangerous investment locale.
In recent weeks, eleven factories have been burned, and 90% of flower farms between Ziwag and Hawassa, in Oromia have been attacked. This has already led to one American flower firm pulling out of the country. Similarly, the Dutch owned, 2,000 worker, fruit farm of Africa Juice BV was set alight in September, with other Dutch and Israeli firms also attacked.
Moreover, Angela Merkel is in Ethiopia to discuss issues of trade and migration, and has expressed concerns about German interests in the country, as Germany constitutes one Ethiopia largest export destinations. Specifically, Germany consumes 30% of Ethiopia coffee production – a major cash crop and source of foreign currency. These exports could be threatened as unrest in agricultural areas continues, and protesting farmers continue to hinder the movement of goods to the capital.
Add to this attacks on Turkish textile factories in Sebeta and on holiday lodges at Lake Langano, and Ethiopia’s plight becomes even direr.
Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute sums up the state of affairs in Ethiopia:
“If I am a foreign investor, I look for opportunities. I understand that there are risks but in the face of this growing unrest where foreign companies have been targets, given all that has happened in terms of displacement of people and their lands given away to foreign investors, it would be astute to not go into a country like that.”

Ethiopia’s uneven response hurts investor confidence

Alongside the unrest, the government’s response has only further unsettled foreign investors, as a whole week of silence followed the October 2nd uptick in violence, with the government only belatedly issuing a state of emergency. This occurred after the country’s state-run internet service was shut off for two days in August to disrupt protests. This move only further damaged investor confidence, and mainly hurt businesses, not protesters. In a country where a third of the population lives on less than $1.90 per day, most protesters do not have internet access, as support for the movement is largely located in rural areas. Shutting off the internet only further compromised the position of foreign companies in Ethiopia.
Despite the delay, communications minister Getachew Reda highlighted the impact on business as part of the reason for the government’s October 9th state of emergency declaration. “The kinds of threats we are facing, the kind of attacks that are now targeting civilians, targeting civilian infrastructure, targeting investment cannot be handled through ordinary law enforcement procedures” noted Reda. This echoes statements by PM Hailemariam Desalegn, who has also warned of the danger to the country’s infrastructure projects, projects such as the newly unveiled $3.4 billion, Chinese backed, railway from Addis Ababa to Djibouti.
These projects, alongside foreign businesses are prime targets as protesters are angered about the focus given to development over human rights, and the favouritism shown to the capital, whose growth is leaving the rest of the, largely agrarian, country behind. The protests began in November 2015, in response to plans to expand the capital, plans which were later abandoned, yet which hit a nerve among a population angered about land grabs and inequality.
Likely inspired by the success of the Chinese Communist Party, Ethiopia has sought to strongly push development, in the hope that growth will distract from the country’s human rights abuses. Unfortunately for the government, Ethiopia does not have Beijing’s clout or hard power, and faces are far more divided and diverse country.
Unsurprisingly, the government has sought to blame foreign influences on the the unrest, seeking to claim the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) is behind what is clearly a grassroots movement. To this end Ethiopia haspicked a fight with Egypt – claiming that Cairo is aiding the OLF – something which Egypt denies. The two countries are already at odds over Ethiopia’s plans to construct the 6,000 MW New Renaissance Dam on the Nile, which would severely impact downstream water resources in the Sudans and Egypt.
Throw in the obligatory accusation to Eritrea as well and this sloppy reaction is par for the course for the Ethiopian government.
This ham-fisted and belated response from the government only further undermines Ethiopia’s image in investment circles. This is especially unfortunate given that Ethiopia had, until recently, been a regional darling, citing double-digit growth and earning the moniker of ‘Africa’s Lion’. These days are gone as Ethiopia’s growth prospects have seen a significant drop, as domestic unrest grows, commodity prices have sunk, and regional growth slows.

This problem is here to stay

The problem for investors going forward is that the current unrest is based on longstanding, systemic problems at the heart of the Ethiopian state. While last week saw the imposition of Ethiopia’s first state of emergency in 25 years, this state of affairs has direct links to the last state of emergency a quarter of a century ago. In 1991, the historically dominant Amhara ethnic group was ousted from power by the Tigrayans, a group that comprises only six percent of the population. In the last 25 years, the Tigrayans have solidified their hold on the government, resulting in a state of affairs in which the Oromo and Amhara – sixty percent of Ethiopia’s nearly 100 million people – are underrepresented and marginalized.
Consequently, the economic focus on the capital and its pet development projects is seen as further favouritism towards the ruling Tigrayan governing elite who comprise the main governing party – Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – which focuses on urban centres, and neglects the countryside.
This explains why the protests are centered in Oromia, yet it also warns of further escalation. Oromia produces much of Ethiopia’s food, and any disruption there could have serious impacts on national food security. Up to 18 million Ethiopians rely on food handouts, and unrest in Oromia threatens not only domestic food production, but attacks on foreign agribusiness also deprive the government of the foreign reserves needed to purchase additional food.
To make matters worse, Ethiopia has suffered from severe El-Nino related drought since September 2015. The timing of the drought and the first protests in November is likely no mere coincidence. While so far the government has been able to respond to the drought, unrest in Oromia could be the tipping point that disrupts national food distribution. If events do take a turn for the worse, Ethiopia is likely to find little foreign assistance, as donor fatigue has only increased in recent years. The international community is already distracted by Syria and other humanitarian issues, and Ethiopia’s drought has largely gone unnoticed.
The EPRDF was created out of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which took control in 1991 from the Derg regime. The Derg used famine as a weapon against the TPLF and other restive elements, leading to the infamous 1983-1985 famine. This famine in turn undermined the Derg regime and led to its downfall. The current regime is well aware of the risks of famine, which will likely result in a heavy-handed response to quell unrest and prevent wider instability. The problem is that this could easily back-fire as economic issues reignite lingering ethnic tensions, plunging Ethiopia into greater civil unrest.
Under the Radar uncovers political risk events around the world overlooked by mainstream media. By detecting hidden risks, we keep you ahead of the pack and ready for new opportunities.
Under the Radar is written by Jeremy Luedi.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Brussels Times - EU calls for an inclusive dialogue in Ethiopia after state of emergency was announced

Thursday, 13 October 2016 11:43
The government of Ethiopia has announced a state of emergency for a period of six months, starting from 8 October. In a carefully worded statement (on 10 October), a spokesperson for EU’s Foreign Service seemed to accept the emergency provided “that fundamental rights are respected at all times”.

According to the Ethiopian government the state of emergency is intended to “to reverse the danger posed by destabilizing forces undermining the safety of the people and security and stability of the country”. The decree on the emergency had been submitted to the Ethiopian Parliament according to the country’s constitution.

 “The state of emergency is essential to restore peace and stability over a short period of time,” said the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. He continued:  “The state of emergency will not breach basic human rights enshrined under the Ethiopian constitution and won’t also affect diplomatic rights listed under the Vienna Convention”.

Ethiopia has over the past decade witnessed a double digit economic growth, huge infrastructure development, accumulation of wealth and growing FDI inflow because peace and stability prevailed in the country. The Prime Minister said that these infrastructures are being destroyed by anti-peace elements within a short period of time.

According to the government, orchestrated violent activities carried out in various parts of the country have led to the loss of lives and enormous damage on properties in the last weeks. Schools, health institutions, administrative institutions are also being attacked.

The violence in some parts even goes beyond damaging properties, the Prime Minister said, adding that “The forces are trying to trigger conflict among different ethnic groups and followers of different religions. If not properly addressed within a short period, the situation could undermine the national integrity of the country.”

The European External Action Service states that a way for an inclusive dialogue in response to the grievances of the population should be opened and lead to a comprehensive reform package.

“Violence, whichever side it comes from, has no place in this endeavor,” concludes the statement. “Now it is time for all forces, inside and outside Ethiopia, to restore calm and join in ensuring that Ethiopia can pursue the path of democracy and development.”

The Brussels Times

Saturday, October 8, 2016

United Nations News Centre - UN rights office calls for independent inquiry following numerous deaths at an Ethiopian festival

UN rights office calls for independent inquiry following numerous deaths at an Ethiopian festival

Women fill their containers at a water collection point in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Photo: OCHA Ethiopia/Zelalem Letyibelu
7 October 2016 – Expressing concern at increasing unrest in several Ethiopian towns following deaths of a number of people in unclear circumstances in the country’s Bishoftu town, the United Nations human rights arm has called on protesters to exercise restraint and on security forces to conduct themselves in line with international human rights laws and standards.
“The protests have apparently been fuelled in part by a lack of trust in the authorities’ account of events, as well as wildly differing information about the death toll and the conduct of security forces,” Rupert Colville, a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told journalists at a regular press briefing at the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG).
“There is clearly a need for an independent investigation into what exactly transpired last Sunday and to ensure accountability for this and several other incidents since last November involving protests that have ended violently,” he added.
According to OHCHR, last Sunday, a number of people died after “falling in ditches or into the Arsede lake” while ostensibly fleeing security forces following a protest at the Irrecha religious festival in Bishoftu, located in the Oromia region, about 50 kilometres south-east of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. These incidents have caused increased unrest in several other towns in the region.
Furthermore, drawing attention to the cutting off access to mobile data services in parts of the country, including in Addis Ababa, the OHCHR spokesperson urged the Government to address the increasing tensions, including “by allowing independent observers to access the Oromia and Amhara regions to speak to all sides and assess the facts.”
He recalled that in August this year, High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein had requested access to the regions to enable OHCHR to provide assistance in line with the African nation’s human rights obligations. “We again appeal to the Government to grant us access,” Mr. Colville underscored.
Also at the briefing, the OHCHR spokesperson expressed concern at reports of mass arrests in the Oromia and Amhara regions.
He further noted that two bloggers – Seyoum Teshoume and Natnael Feleke – the latter from the blogging collective Zone 9, were arrested this week, for reportedly “loudly discussing” the responsibility of the Government for the deaths at last Sunday’s festival in Oromia.
“We urge the Government to release those detained for exercising their rights to free expression and opinion,” said Mr. Colville, adding, “Silencing criticism will only deepen tensions.”

News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Soap actor Znah-Bzu Tsegaye flees Ethiopia - BBC News


Znah-Bzu Tsegaye in Sew Le SewImage copyrightSEW LE SEW
Image captionThe actor is the latest high-profile Ethiopian to flee the country

Prominent Ethiopian actor Znah-Bzu Tsegaye has sought asylum in the US after leaving the country about two months ago, he told Voice of America.
The actor was in a weekly soap opera Sew Le Sew on state television.
He left because of "repeated harassment and for being Amhara" reports the opposition Zehabesha website.
Human Rights Watch says security forces killed at least 100 people at protests in the Amhara region in August but the government denies this.
In an interview with Voice of America's Amharic service, the actor said the Ethiopian security forces had carried out "atrocious actions" and he had decided not to return home until the "regime is changed".
"It is sad to respond with bullets to people's demand for their rights," he added.
At the root of the recent demonstrations in Amhara is a request by representatives from the Welkait Amhara Identity Committee that their land, which is currently administered by the Tigray regional state, be moved into the neighbouring Amhara region.
The Oromo people in Ethiopia have also been protesting against the government, saying they have been excluded politically and economically.
During the Rio Olympics, marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa crossed the line in second place with his arms above his head in solidarity with Oromo activists.
He said he wanted to seek asylum after the high-profile anti-government protest, and he is now in the US.