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Examining Ethiopia: Bahir Dar, Defections, and Indonesia


Ethiopian security forces killed at least five protesters and injured dozens more during the Bahir Dar demonstrations



Fikrejesus Amahazion
Examining Ethiopia: Bahir Dar, Defections, and Indonesia.



As 2014 draws to a close, the recent defection of several high-level Ethiopian military personnel,1and the Ethiopian government’s bloody crackdown on protests in Bahir Dar2 highlight serious questions about Ethiopia’s tense internal socio-political situation and the West’s ongoing support for Ethiopia’s repressive government.

Late last week, in Bahir Dar, several people were killed and many others wounded after police abruptly opened fire on protesters defending a sacred site against government-sponsored demolition.3 On the heels of the crackdown, several military pilots and a technician absconded with MI-35 helicopters; notably, the defections are only the latest in a series of similar such high-profile desertions.

Although Ethiopia has witnessed several years of respectable economic growth, last week’s developments reflect “the politics of fear” that pervades Ethiopia’s socio-political landscape, and emphasize the country’s significant “challenges concerning human rights, political competition, good governance, and corruption.” 4 Earlier this year, Ethiopian authorities arrested nine journalists and bloggers, subsequently denying them access to lawyers, family, and colleagues. They have been held on allegations they work for foreign human rights groups or used social media to incite violence.5 Such allegations have become common-place, as Ethiopia’s highly-controversial anti-terrorism laws allow the government to hand down long sentences to anyone who “writes, edits, prints, publishes, publicizes, [or] disseminates” statements the government considers terrorism.6 The arrests of the bloggers coincided with mass non-violent protests led by students in the central Oromia region,7 ultimately seeing numerous protestors killed, wounded, and arrested.8,9

Furthermore, the Ethiopian army has systematically engaged in executions, rape, torture, arbitrary arrests, and various other abuses in its ongoing brutal counter-insurgency against the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).10 Ethnic groups residing within and around the region have endured arbitrary detentions, torture, and mistreatment in detention, as well as severe restrictions on movement and commercial trade, and minimal access to independent relief assistance. Effectively, such abuses constitute direct threats to their survival.11

As well, weeks ago, TV4 reported that H&M, the popular Swedish clothing company, has purchased cotton from regions in Ethiopia where land-grabbing and forced displacement have occurred.12 Problematically, a central component of Ethiopia’s developmental and agricultural strategy involves “villagization,” a program entailing the relocation of millions of people from locations reserved for industrial plantations.13 Villagization has long been condemned by international organizations,14 since it leads to greater food insecurity, a destruction of livelihoods, and the loss of cultural heritage of ethnic groups. Ethiopia’s program, which utilizes forced evictions, has been plagued by a plethora of human rights violations, with a variety of human rights groups documenting beatings, killings, rapes, imprisonment, intimidation, and political coercion by the government and authorities.15

With national elections on the horizon (scheduled for May 2015), the potential for further instability, discord, and popular revolt loom large, especially considering past precedent. In 2005, following national elections widely believed to have been rigged, the Ethiopian government, under the late, authoritarian leader Meles Zenawi, “massacred” hundreds of protestors, many of them teenagers.16 Moreover, in recent years, massive protests by the Blue Party opposition group and Muslim groups, have ended in deaths, repression, and state violence.17 Finally, in November, a 166-page report on the plight of the Oromo people in Ethiopia was released.18 Concluding that the Oromo people have suffered “sweeping” repression in Ethiopia, the report detailed that between 2011 and 2014, more than 5000 Oromos have been arrested based on their opposition to the government, with the majority of those arrested being peaceful protestors or members of opposition parties.19 Looking towards the 2015 elections, Berhanu Nega, Professor of Economics at Bucknell University and former leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy in Ethiopia, asserts that the Ethiopian government can “never have free and fair elections.” Specifically, according to Nega,

“[t]he reason why there’s so much repression, the reason why there’s so much muzzling of the press, the reason why the Ethiopian government is arresting opposition figures inside the country is precisely because they know that this is a despised government. It cannot last a day in an environment of freedom. This is a government that will lose catastrophically if there were [a] free and fair election.”20

Last, it is noteworthy that Ethiopia’s various internal challenges are compounded by its transgressions which extend beyond its borders. Specifically, Ethiopia has continued to occupy sovereign territory of its northern neighbor, Eritrea, in direct violation of international law, and in blatant contravention of the rulings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission.21 The 12-year-long military occupation has frozen any possibility of developmental cooperation or economic partnership between the two countries, and the military occupation is seen as an influential factor to much of the instability within the Horn of Africa region.

In seeking to address Ethiopia’s flagrant dismissal of international norms and laws, a variety of measures could plausibly be undertaken (e.g. sanctions). However, the first, and possibly most far-reaching and effective response by the international community should be to withdraw its unwavering support for the repressive Ethiopian government. George Galloway, respected British politician, broadcaster, and writer, has often voiced concern of how the West’s (led by the US and UK) support for dictatorial, tyrannical regimes results in harming the populations of those countries. Regarding Ethiopia, Galloway has decried how the UK and US policy of encouraging, arming, training, financing, and facilitating the Ethiopian government’s “reign of terror” is “morally vacuous.”22 Similarly, renowned international economist, William Easterly, has recommended that the international community “stop financing tyranny and repression” in Ethiopia.23

An indication of the possible far-reaching effects of removing external support for a harsh, brutal regime can be seen in the example of Indonesia. Professor Noam Chomsky (MIT) has written and spoken extensively on how US and western support for the despotic regime in Indonesia played an indirect, yet extremely harmful role in the carnage and deaths of hundreds of thousands in East Timor.24 However, in 1999, after much pressure, the US finally “pulled the plug” on its support for the Suharto regime, quickly leading to the cessation of Indonesia’s brutal campaign. Specifically,

“[f]or 25 years, the United States strongly supported the vicious Indonesian invasion and massacre, a virtual genocide. It was happening right through 1999, as the Indonesian atrocities increased and escalated, after Dili the capital city was practically evacuated. After Indonesian attacks, the US was still supporting it. Finally, in mid-September 1999, under considerable international and also domestic pressure, Clinton quietly told the Indonesian generals “It’s finished.” And they had said they’d never leave, they said “this is our territory.” They pulled out within days, and allowed a UN peacekeeping force to enter without Indonesian military resistance. Well, you know, that’s a dramatic indication of what can be done.”

While the socio-political dynamics and historical contexts of Indonesia and Ethiopia are quite different, the comparison presents several clear similarities. Both regimes received decades-worth of external economic, military, and political support (particularly from the US). Additionally, both regimes systematically and persistently violated human rights, transgressed various international laws – such as through military occupation, and engaged in large-scale campaigns characterized as “genocidal.” Consequently, with Ethiopia continuing to overlook basic international norms, standards, and laws, the international community must end its complicity in and (in)direct support for Ethiopia’s various transgressions. As Clinton relayed to Indonesia’s leadership, the international community must tell Ethiopia, “It’s finished.”



REFERENCES
_______________________________________

1 http://www.tesfanews.net/two-ethiopian-pilots-abscond-with-two-mi-35-attack-helicopters/
2 http://ethiopia-chat.com/esat-breaking-news-19-december-2014-huge-protest-in-bahir-dar-ethiopia/
3 http://www.tesfanews.net/ethiopia-3-killed-scores-wounded-in-bahir-dar-protest/#gyAzuOrAISVspgYi.99
http://allafrica.com/stories/201412200102.htmlutm_source=December+22+2014+EN&utm_campaign=12%2F22%2F2014&utm_medium=email
5 http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2014/apr/30/press-freedom-ethiopia?CMP=twt_gu
6 http://www.newsweek.com/ethiopias-war-homosexuals-224457
7 http://thinkafricapress.com/ethiopia/addis-ababa-sleeping-beauty-no-longer-student-protests-police-response-oromo
8 https://twitter.com/BBCAfrica/status/461849684974505984
9   1) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27251331
     2) http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1126651
10 http://www.hrw.org/node/74305
11 http://www.hrw.org/features/ogaden-war-crimes-ethiopia-0
12 https://fiqre4eri.wordpress.com/
13 http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/development-aid-ethiopia  
14 http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/ethiopia0112webwcover_0.pdf
15 http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/development-aid-ethiopia
16 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6064638.stm
17 1) http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/ethiopian-repression-muslim-protests-must-stop-2013-08-08
     2) http://www.irinnews.org/report/96787/
     3) http://www.voanews.com/content/new-ethiopian-blue-party-tries-again-to-demonstrate/1741733.html
18 http://oromopress.blogspot.ca/
19 http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR25/006/2014/en
20 http://www.voanews.com/content/former-us-diplomat-calls-for-free-fair-elections-in ethiopia/2568689.html
21 http://www.pca-cpa.org/showpage.asp?pag_id=1150
22 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcxfrnRkwDQ
23 http://www.tesfanews.net/stop-financing-tyranny-like-in-ethiopia-william-easterly/
24 http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199910--.htm


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Examining Ethiopia: Bahir Dar, Defections, and Indonesia Reviewed by Admin on 10:45 AM Rating: 5

13 comments:

  1. The helicopter pilots that has defected to Eritrea, may have been ordered to shoot at the protesters in Bahredar.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a good list of Weyane's immense intransigence and crimes but far from being compared to the Indonesian-East Timor issues and circumstances that allowed president Cliton to just utter: "It's finished!" and the problem got solved.
    Barrak Hussain Obama can't do that, neither would any other US President, simply because Weyane's Ethiopia is their creation, a loyal tame proxy for their short/long term hegemonic aspirations in this part of the world.
    The US can't afford to abandon the Weyane for mere humanitarian reasons or out of piety but the Ethiopians can do what the Egyptians did to ouster Mobarek who was considered the best US ally in the Middle East.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Its good to see woyane playing with fire. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. NO WE ARE OK WITH WOYANE,THANKS!!!!WORRY ABOUT YOUR ERITREA WE WILL HANDLE OUR ETHIOPIA.

    ReplyDelete
  5. We Eritreans are well-mannered people so we never protest or complain against whatsoever actions of our virtuous government. We are very special people that realized that when our government torment us it is for our own good. The ill mannered Ethiopians protest against their government (Weyane) for just confiscating a piece of sacred land.

    ReplyDelete
  6. jart,yes you can handle it I,e can massacre millions, you blood sucker woyane. You are here again michuchilay

    ReplyDelete
  7. Mr. michuchilay , ganen woyane, the Ethiopians have the right to protect their heritage, property, historical, religious sites. It is their identity. WHY IS WOYANE OBSSESSED WITH DESTROYING sacred places. The Eritrean government protects anything that belong to The people. In Eritrea, no land grab FOR SALE TO FOREIGNERS, no discretion of holy religious, historical places. No evicting people from their ancestral lands. No, not even a single action that makes people identity, heritage has been targeted by the government. So there is no need for Demonstration against government.

    ReplyDelete
  8. YES MAMA AYDA,I AM THERE.I READ UR OCCASSIONAL LIES,AND UR UNCONTROLLED CURSES.WE HAVE AN ETHIOPIAN GOVERNMENT,NOT A WOYANE GOVERNMENT IN ETHIOPIA.LIKE I SAID I WOULD ADVICE YOU TO CONCENTRTE ON UR ERITRA,ETHIOPIANS WILL TAKE CARE OF THEIR ETHIOPIA.OK OLD LADY.BY THE WAY SOMEONE REMMEMBERED U WHEN U WERE IN 4 AND 6 KILO CAMPUS AT THE SAME TIME IN HSIU. HOW COME SOMEONE UR AGE LIE.

    ReplyDelete
  9. If you don't agree that our people are well mannered it is your own business. We Eritreans for example, didn't protested when our Government killed several of the disabled in maihabar.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Someone occupying a piece of your land and then tells U to mind ur business must be a delusional idiot.

    ReplyDelete
  11. YES,DELUSIONAL IDIOT LIKE JOHN.


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    ReplyDelete
  12. Correction- Not Eritrea, with ur Ethiopian people...like i said, Its good to see woyane playing with fire. :)
    And did u say, FYI THERE IS NO WOYANE ,IT NO MORE IS WOYANE... wow keep telling ur self that. u must be wedi tgray. HAILEMARIAM is just a cover an image that woyane-tgray used to cover their ethnocentrism. NO MORE IS WOYANE..IT IS THE GOVERNMENT OF FDRE..ALL NATIONALITIES PARTICIPATING..u say. Well, let me define that for u....EPRDF (Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front - is the new name adopted by the TPLF (Tigray Peoples Liberation Front) to camouflage it’s narrow ethnic base and rule
    Ethiopia. any OROMO...CAN SEE THAT. U CANT CUZ UR TGRAY. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. NO I AM NOT!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete

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