From Supreme Court to Council of Ministers

A note on my absence
I have not been blogging on my personal blog since last August but not without excuses. Over this period a lot have been happening- I have been searching for a new job, traveling a lot and looking a place to reside in Addis, hence I have averaged an article per month in all of the blogs I have been writing on frequently – a significant drop-off. But I will come stronger than before soon. For now I have decided to translate Temesegen’s note on the upcoming appeal trial of Eskinder Nega!

By Temesgen Desalegn

For Eskender Nega & others Wednesday March 22 2013 will supposedly be their last appointment to get the judgment for their appeal to the Supreme Court. Indictees on this lawsuit have appealed but their pleas have been pending for the last five months with the intent why? Follow these conversations …

One of the reasons which delayed the appeal process is the predicament the government faces regarding the journalist and political analyst Eskinder Nega. The reason is obvious Eskinder’s indictment is bogus. Actually it is not me (the writer) who claimed about the hollowness of Eskinder’s charges. The person who claimed it is – Ato Amare Amogne; the middle judge of the Supreme Court. Last month Ato Amare convened the prosecutors and spoke with them. Ato Amare said to the prosecutors “When you prosecute this man as a terrorist your proofs of the charges were only the articles he has written on various occasions, his interviews and his speech you claimed he made on a certain political party discussion forum. In any case you have never shown the calamity he brought otherwise it can be considered he has never brought any harm. Apparently this does not allow me to hand dawn a sentence on him. For this reason if you have any evidence which can confirm his transgression present it otherwise I will pronounce him acquittal when he appears before the court.”

As the prosecutors have never had any evidence they reflected their opinion in a very blind manner they said “Since the man is a terrorist decline his appeal and uphold the ruling of the High Court” But the judge kept on his ground and acted in response and he said “I will never function dishonestly and I have a clear conscious” I really cannot express what kind sacred power was hovering around this judge. This infuriate one of the prosecutors and he went on to say to the judge” You said you send Eskinder acquittal it is because you guys are from the same place –Gonder” But this even has driven the judge mad and made him react “I have been serving my country for my entire life not my locality; besides I never have nepotism.

Since this frenzied disagreement could not be handled in their level they took the matter to the Council of Ministers.

Demeke Mekonen; the Deputy Prime Minster was the chair of the meeting which was held in the Council of Ministers. Judge Amare was also attending the meeting.

Ato Demeke has requested the judge to give a brief explanation about the issue. The judge went on and gave a concise explanation about the charges and concluded as follows: “Since I could not find any proof which persuades me to sentence Eskinder as a terrorist I will pronounce him acquittal. But if you deny me not to exercise my duty I kindly tell you that I am not willing to preside on the day’s court hearing. And I hope you will understand my positions”. Afterward the ministers discussed and argued over the issue in detail and towards the end of the dialogue; Ato Demeke said: “I have the same opinion with Judge Amare; because of this man (Eskinder) we are under extreme international pressure so if we release him the profit is our own.” Another minster continued
“I agree in principle. But if we leave him free after we kept him for this long it might cost us a political defeat so let’s try to lessen the lengthy sentence and made him ask for a pardon” One more minister continued “I know Eskinder very well; he is a well-off person and he has an American residence permit I don’t think he will be willing to request for forgiveness given the fact that he knew all the consequences” Another minister went on with the following opinion “ In any case Meles knew Eskinder’s imprisonment would bring an international pressure but he did it for benefit of our party; so why do we succumb to an international pressure? Is it because Meles passed away? I strongly believe that Meles deemed this man as hazardous and threw him into gulag so let’s put up with this decision. Let him spend his entire life in the gulag”

The Council of Ministers could not reach a consensus on the matter. They wanted further explanation from the President of the Supreme Court Ato Tegene. They scheduled time for that and end their meeting. My endeavor to get further leaks about the latest development particularly after explanation from the President of the Supreme Court on the issue was not successful. I decided to write this because Eskinder’s next appointment for the hearing is fast approaching. So I presume one of the following would happen on Wednesday’s appeal trial of Eskinder

1.The Council of Ministers would be forced to exonerate Eskinder because of the international pressure
2.They may uphold the Sentence given by the High Court! They might be abided by the “vision” of Meles
3.They might trim down his lengthy prison sentences(18 years) and bargain with Eskinder to force him ask for pardon
4.Another last appointment will be given again if the judge –Ato Amare might not preside as he gave an ultimatum in their meeting

Finally I say our “leaders” are being trembling with fear because of the civil hero Eskinder Nega. This glaring reality is printed on their face. Mark my words Eskinder’s unjust incarceration will never stop by trembling you with fear! Victory for Ethiopians! Down with dictators!

An Initiative of Ethiopian Media Council: A Media Regulatory Body without the Existence of Media is a Joke

Last week “The Capital”, one of the three weekly English newspapers ran an article about “Members of Ethiopian Media decision to set up media council and enact code of conduct” where they describe the council as a self-regulatory body which set to examine complaints submitted to the media council by the public or any concerned individuals and encourages the conduct of professional journalism.

I would say this initiative is a laughable yet a superior cause! You might question why a superior cause is a ridiculous one. Here is why…

In a country where every private journalist and independent newspapers are shuttered by the government the idea of establishing media council and enacting code of conduct is pathetic, meaningless, sickening and denigrating. Looking the rough media landscape in which Ethiopian journalists are forced to operate it might help you understand my claims.

According to CPJ research Ethiopia is a country which has driven more journalists into exile over the past decade than any other nation in the world; harassment and constant threat of imprisonment being major reasons of journalists to flee. Besides Ethiopia is a country where mere news coverage of rebel and opposition groups is criminalized under controversial 2009 anti-terrorism law. State media and pro-government journalists are consistently accusing exiled journalists for having hidden political agenda and or sometimes pro-government journalists describe exiled journalists as terrorism supporters.

So I want to challenge the organizers of the initiative in public how can one establish a media council where seventy nine journalists exiled just in a decade 2001-11 and eleven journalists imprisoned on terrorism related charges? Depressingly despite the frozen Ethiopian media environment the government is still poignant for a stronger clampdown on private media. With authorities tormenting journalists and shuttering, Feteh, a pitiable weekly Amharic newspaper left right and centre, Ethiopian journalists now faced another loss of a democratic right, their right to freedom of speech and information. How can you institute an independent media council which is essential to journalistic alliance?

I would suggest you to cancel the complete idea of establishing a media council! It’s no more than a particularly self-righteous and hypocritical group which shouts to give the impression of “We are striving for a professional journalism even in a destitute situation” I see the purpose of the media council is to self –regulate to help keep at a distance government’s interference with the media content, ? Ooh, journalists even blogger are getting abused, they put up with the brunt of unconstitutional media laws:Help them fight to take back their basic human right before you start to regulate yourselves!

Exiled/Diasporic Media Regulatory Body A Possibility?

Ethiopian journalists who are exiled to America/Europe have taken the internet as an opportunity to set up an online media that not only serve as important sources of information for many ordinary Ethiopians and traditional journalists back home but that also reveal sensitive government information. It is the diaspora media that first broke the ongoing where is Prime Minster Meles Zenawi saga. This indicates the influence of the Ethiopian diasporic/exiled media on Ethiopian politics. What is missing, however, —is recognition the role which the Ethiopian diaspora media can play in showing how self-regulation of media protects the right of journalists to be independent, and to be judged for professional mistakes not by those in politics but by their colleagues. Consequently it is not uncommon these days to see people blame the Ethiopian diasporic media for their continuous shabby and low standards journalism: inaccurate, unfair and irresponsible reporting lack/ inadequate media code and code in respect of being unaligned to the internationally agreed press/media protocols and independent appeal mechanism, among others.

Hence I wonder if they consider grabbing hold the of idea of establishing a media council from pro-government group of people and take the initiative to get rid of the political riff-raff from media control and work with the sole purpose as an objective diaspora media monitoring body.

How and who to follow on the whereabouts of Meles Zenawi

Forty-one days passed since Prime Minster Meles Zenawi was seen on public. In the days after his last appearance on Ethiopian State Television ETV, social media particularly Facebook and Twitter was used to give sensitive information about Meles Zenawi’s health, the hospital where he is being treated, the kind and the cause of his ailment, his being deceased are among other emerging topics related to Meles Zenawi. Had twitter have a feature for trending-topics of East Africa, I am sure Meles Zenawi would have reached the level of trending-topic; despite his name high on twitter Ethiopians do not yet know where Meles Zenawi is, what happened to him whether he is dead or alive.

Yesterday many had hoped Bereket Simon, a government spokesman would give a hint about the whereabouts of the head of the government but he refused to give any details about Prime Minister Meles’ whereabouts or the cause his ailment. This definitely would set other speculations in motion as people already start to say if Prime Minster Meles Zenawi is in a good condition and recuperating bring him on television. So who shall we follow for trustworthiness on PM Meles Zenawi government media? Exile Media or Diaspora Media depending on the tag you wish to bestow or the social media?

A deliberately deprived Ethiopian local news media have generated cascade of news on the whereabouts of PM Meles Zenawi that are becoming increasingly tough to be trusted or not to be trusted depending on the news you lean to trust. Before the dust settles on the whereabouts of Meles Zenawi’s I find it enthusing to reflect on the wider significance of the where is Meles Zenawi saga because as the particles do come down to rest, they will surly cover up some real and possibly endemic problems of Ethiopia journalism. I have found no better summary of the present limbo than this Mesfen Negash’e tweet.

Mesfin listed all major media that are involved in major twists of Meles Zenawi saga and tweeted

The fate of Meles Zenawi carries a heavy price for [Ethiopian] media asserting his status, credibility on balance

Yet again who shall we trust then and how

Well let’s start with theoretical foundations for a trustworthiness system Scholar & practitioner Patrick has quoted from Panagiotis Metaxas & Eni Mustafaraj research document and wrote:

Our concept of trustworthiness comes from the epistemology of knowledge. When we believe that some piece of information is trustworthy (e.g., true, or mostly true), we do so for intrinsic and/or extrinsic reasons. Intrinsic reasons are those that we acknowledge because they agree with our own prior experience or belief. Extrinsic reasons are those that we accept because we trust the conveyor of the information. If we have limited information about the conveyor of information, we look for a combination of independent sources that may support the information we receive (e.g., we employ “triangulation” of the information paths). In the design of our system we aim to automatize as much as possible the process of determining the reasons that support the information we receive. We define as trustworthy, information that is deemed reliable enough (i.e., with some probability) to justify action by the receiver in the future. In other words, trustworthiness is observable through actions.

It looks the Prime Minister will not come and disprove all the speculations about his whereabouts and his wellbeing anytime soon. If trustworthiness cannot be observable through actions according to the above theory of Extrinsic reasons you can look for a combination of independent sources that may support the information you receive (e.g., you employ “triangulation” of the information paths). Hence in my opinion it is sensible to hunt for rumors on Twitter and Facebook but make sure to pay attention to the following list of social media pages and mainstream media outlets.

There is a general belief that “Truthiness” has some natural buoyancy on social media particularly on twitter truth “floats to the top” hence I will start with twitter pages:
Mohammed Ademo
Tamrat G. Giorgis
Abiye Teklemariam
Getachew T. Alemu
Elies Kifle
Bruh Yihunbelay
Tesfalem Waldyes
Daniel Berhane
SM 4 New Ethiopia
On Facebook pay attention to the posts of Jawar Mohammed

To have a perspective on the matter you must give a due attention for the following mainstream media

Ethiopian Television
Addis Fortune with particular spotlight on Fine Line
De Birahan
The Ethiopian Reporter
Global Voices

Finally use your head!

Unpacking the rumor dynamics about the whereabouts of Meles Zenawi

Prime Minster Meles Zenawi has always been a man of mysteries and at this time he kept being conspicuously a mystery for Ethiopians as he has not been seen in public since the last G20-Meeting. His disappearance has touched off a blaze of rumors on twitter and Facebook. Meanwhile Ethiopia’s pitiable media which is forced to operate under thorny anti-terrorism charges is filled with contradictory accounts, with some saying Meles Zenawi, is on the mend and will be back soon, while others say he lies in a hospital in somewhere in Europe. International media say they don’t know what to believe but already started to write his legacy and still others started to report concerns that Ethiopia and Horn could tumble down into chaos if the mystery of the whereabouts of Prime Minster Meles Zenawi is not solved soon. To understand the dynamics of flurry of rumors Ethiopians are experiencing, it is imperative to take on Ethiopia’s government dominated media and ruling party’s habit of media management and its internal components

Government Media

As it is true in many undemocratic systems, the most notable feature of Ethiopia‘s state media institutions is their relative lack of credibility compared to the informal institutions in this case is social media such as facebook and twitter. Neither news nor feature programs are generated or transmitted predominantly through the state’s formal media institutions particularly by the infamous Ethiopian State Television. The power of Ethiopia’s state media to quash rumors far less than it appears on its façade, and they are broadly obedient to the interests of the regime, particularly the executives. The recent presser did not help that much to clear confusion about the whereabouts of Prime Minster Meles Zenawi.


Internal palace-Arat-Killo – politics are the source of continual debate and rumor within Ethiopian digital public. Though these debates and rumors tend not to be based on verifiable evidence they are obviously are indications of rivalry. It has been extensively reported the Prime Minster Meles Zenawi’s ruling circle is intact and cohesive and operate within an extremely complex, and calculatedly opaque system but rivalry amongst themselves cannot be entirely ignored. For example during his high time Prime Minster Meles Zenawi allegedly prevented members of the TPLF elite specifically Arkeb Ekubay, from appearing in the public. The awash of rumors and claims which ranges from the death of the Prime Minster himself to Junedi Saddo’s involvement in a car accident might be a signal of internal power rivalries. With all news claims attributed insiders or trusted sources cannot be all wrong unless officials who are rumored to be involved in the matter come out and falsify rumors in undisputable fashion. But officials cannot do that since they are caught up in an ill-fated competition of bargaining for a better position. Therefore their likely alternative is to seep out entirely wrong or information with slight fact in it given that sharing information on public is dangerous. Obviously secrecy is an asset in the EPRDF system which Bereket Simon himself, Government Minster for Communication Affairs, admitted in a recent presser that secrecy is decade’s long organizational culture of the ruling party.

The Rise of Facebook and Twitter as Alternative Public Space

Facebook is the most widespread social networking media in Ethiopia but its level of influence as alternative citizen media at countrywide level is yet to grow at full swing and greatly depending on the regime’s response to its tiny influence to date. For the last three weeks however Facebook and Twitter broke sensitive health stories of Prime Mister Meles Zenawi that not only made it to the pages of a newspaper but that also caused federal government to react officially and ban one of the newspapers –Feteh- of last Friday’s edition.

The Influence of Ethiopian Diaspora

The Ethiopian Diasporas have more influence in Ethiopian political information than people living in Addis Ababa. Critics might have put blame on diaspora media as hostile and highly polarized entities but on the case of Prime Minster Meles Zenawi’s health the plethora of exilic online citizen journalists increasingly seem to be building their legitimacy on the strength of their capacity to undermine the trustworthiness of journalists in Ethiopia both government and independent journalists.

Whatever the outcome of these rumors, it is clear that the Ethiopia’s independent media optimism depends on the new media as struggle of the traditional media will continue far beyond Prime Minster Meles Zenawi and his regime. It seems Meles himself understand this fact and created a twitter account to engage with the digital community.

The following tweet analysis of Prime Minster Meles Zenawi is found with a written permission from twiplomacy an organization which analyze world leaders tweet culture.

His tweets have recently become more popular with each of his last four tweets being re-tweeted 10-16 times. However, the Prime Minster has only posted on Twitter a total of 56 times. There are many opinions of Zenawi’s leadership but nevertheless his tweets seem very personal and engaging. “I wanted to upload photos of this moments day but the twitter app on this iPhone is not letting me do it, maybe its the network” (later that day he managed to upload the photos). Meles Zenawi is highly conversational with 37% of his tweets being @replies and mentions other Twitter users in every single tweet. There was a spike in tweets around Ginbot Day on 28 May 2011. The Prime Minister frequently uses the hashtag #Ethiopia, however he only tweeted three times in 2012; the last post being a re-tweet of Bill Gates on 14 May 2012.

Tweet analytics (as of 1 July 2012)

Tweets: 56
Following: 7
Followers: 13,699
Joined Twitter: 04/30/2009
Language: English
Status: Active
Tweets/day: 0.05
% Retweets: 4%
Mentions/Tweet: 1.11
Replies/Tweet: 37%
% Tweets retweeted: 56%
Total of retweets: 95
Most mentioned
@MelesZenawi (10), @Natberh (7), @EPRDF (6), @oromosalafi (6), @tekeste (5).

First tweet

A Perspective on the New Ethiopian Telecom Bill

Well we Ethiopians have never had dragons in our mythology and folklore like Chinese but so far there has been attempt by Ethiopians to bring on dragons to our culture in the most nauseating manner – internet censorship. Comparatively internet has been the last remaining source of relatively free information for tech-savvy Ethiopians which are mainly concentrated in Addis Ababa in a massively controlled media landscape.

Ethiopian authorities have to endure a persistent censure from the international community for keeping an iron fist on local media. However as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi claimed at a recent World Economic Forum in Addis when the going gets tough the tough gets going and he consistently ensures that most media organizations are government mouthpieces , and he keeps critics off the airwaves either by jailing them or by coercing them into exile

Ethiopian authorities deny over and over again the accusations of implementing Chinese style internet censorships but recently there are signs that the government has reached the level that they could not even disagree with allegations. Recently a website of the ruling party EPRDF has reported that Ethiopian leaders attended a workshop with Chinese officials on June 2-3 to discuss China’s experience regarding mass media capacity building, mass media institution management and Internet management. This could be taken as a new trend and can be implied that government is reconsidering its denial policy. No need to show a bogus existence of freedom of expression in Ethiopia to foster a good relationship with western donor countries as Ethiopia has an alternative in China with similar if not identical media policy.

More to the point very recently Ethiopian parliament has passed a first legislation step in legalizing a new telecom fraud offense proclamation. I have given a brief analysis on this proclamation right away its announcement three weeks ago though the international media picked the story only recently. This proclamation provides broad and ambiguous definitions particularly for telecommunication services and equipment which might be used to include blogging and possessing social media pages such as facebook and twitter.

The draft Proclamation defines telecommunication services as anything designated as telecommunication service by Ministry of Information Technology (MIT) with the exception of broadcasting and intercom connections and listed more than ten services that are considered as telecom services. Furthermore the proclamation enlarges the definition of telecommunication equipment in considerable ways to include any apparatus intended to use for telecommunication services and it includes its accessory and software. While governments have a right to oversee internet communications within their borders by enacting laws such as this but it should not be at the expense of freedom of expression and international standard of freedom of information.

The overly broad definitions of telecommunication services and equipment have implications for other parts of the Proclamation. For instance in part two article 2 sub (2) of the proclamation, the bill provides whoever uses or holds any telecommunication equipment without obtaining prior permit from the Ministry (MIT) commits an offense and shall unless it entails a more severe penalty under any other law be punishable with rigorous imprisonment from 1 to 4 years and with 10,000 birr (US$ 600) to 40,000 Birr (US$2400) . Together with the broad and vague definition of telecommunication services and equipment, this provision alone can show the way for a wider range of allegations in which individuals seeking to express political dissent online could find themselves prosecuted for acts of telecom service fraud and imprisoned for 5 to 8 years

Overall the Ethiopian media situation is fairly dismal but the hilarious part is government of Ethiopia look forward to to move toward a more vibrant economy with such kind of media policy. I do not think they will realize their dreams of becoming a vibrant economy without opening critical lines of communication between the government, media, and citizens. Internet has grown to be way to achieve an accountable and transparent government free from corruption and tyranny.

በዚህ ሳምንት(ከ June 2-9) የኢትዮጵያ ብሎጎች ምን ጻፉ?

አንዳንድ ጋዜጠኞች “አማረ አረጋዊ አሁንም ከወያኔ ስርአት ጋር ይሰራል” ሲሉ ይፅፋሉ። ሌሎች ደግሞ፣ ‘በቂ ገንዘብና ጠንካራ መንፈስ ስላለው ተቋቁሞአቸው እንጂ፣ እንደማንኛውም የግል ጋዜጣ ተፅእኖ እየተደረገበት ነው። መንግስት ከሰጠው የመኖሪያ ኪራይ ቤት አስወጥተውታል። የግል ቤት ተከራይቶ እንዳይኖርም በተለያየ ዘዴ ያሳድዱታል። ከዚያም አልፈው የሚስቱ ወላጆች ላይ ጭምር ችግር ፈጥረውበታል’ ሲሉ በተለየ ያዩታል። በዚህም ተባለ በዚያ አማረ ዝምተኛ አይደለም። አከራካሪ እንደሆነ ቆጥሎአል። ይህ ብርቱ ጎኑ ነው። ይለናል ተስፋዬ ገ/አብ በቅዳሜ ማስታወሻ ብሎጉ:: ሙሉውን ጽሁፍ ይህችን ጠቅ በማድረግ ያንብቡት::

በፍቃዱ ዘ ሃይሉ ደግሞ በርካታ ጋዜጦች ታገዱ፣ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ታገደ፣ በመንግስት ያልተወደዱ ዘፈኖች በመንግስት ይዞታ ስር ባሉ ሬዲዮ ጣቢያዎች እንዳይተላለፉ ታገዱ፣ አንዳንድ መጽሃፍቶች ሜጋ መጽሃፍት ማከፋፈያ ውስጥ እንዳይገቡ ታገዱ፣ የተቃዋሚ ድረገጾችና ጦማሮች ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ እንዳይነበቡ ታገዱ፣ የጀርመንና የአሜሪካ ድምጽ ሬዲዮዎች ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ እንዳይሰሙ ታገዱ፣ …. ታገዱ፣ ታገዱ፡፡ ይላል ዘ ዲክታተርን ኢድና ሞል እንዳይታይ መታገዱን በማስመልከት የጻፍው ብሎግ::

ዞን ናይን የተሰኝ በአስር ጀማሪ ጦማሪያን የተጀመረ አዲስ ብሎግ በዚህ ሳምንት በርካታ ጽሁፎች አስነብቦናል:: ሁሉንም ጽሁፎች ወድጃቸዋለሁ መምርጥ ስላለብኝ ግን ሁለቱን ጀባ ልበል:: ዘላለም ማልኮም የሁለት ‘ሚኒስትሮች’ ወግ እና “የቃሊቲው መንግስት” እኔ እንዳነበብኩት በሚል ርእስ የጻፉትን:: በመጀመሪያ ከዘላለም ጽሁፍ አንድ አንቀጽ እንካችሁ:

የነTwtter ሚና ከፍተኛ እንደነበር የታየበት የአረቡ አለም ፀደይ (The Arab Spring) ፍሬ ካፈራና ሁሉም በየጓዳው መደንገጥ በያዘበት ሰሞን ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ ብቅ ብለው ጥቅም ላይ ስላልዋለው 3 ሚሊየን ሄክታር መሬታችን፣ ስለ ህዳሴው ግድብ ተስፋና መከራ፣ ስለ የተለያዩ እርዳታዎች፣ ስለውጭ ምንዛሬ እጥረት፣ የግንቦት 20 እንኳን አደረሳችሁ መልእክት ወዘተ tweet ያደርጉና ‘የሆሊውድ’ መንፈሳቸው እንደገና ሲቆሰቆስ፡
“I wanted to upload photos of this moments but the twitter app on this iphone is not letting me do it, maybe its [it’s] the network” እንዲሁም “here are some photos I promised…” ብለው ጥያቄ ያጭሩብናል፣ ይሄ ነገር እንዴት ነው? ያስብሉናል፡፡
– የApple ምርት የሆነውን iphone መጠቀማቸው ጠዋት ማታ ከሚከሱት ኒዮ ሊበራሊዝም አቀንቃኞች ጋር የጓዳ ግንኙነት አላቸው እንዴ? ሲያስብለን፣
– “…maybe its [It’s] the network” ሲሉ ደግሞ ‹‹ለካ ቴሌ ቤተሰቦቹንም አሰመርሯል እያልን ብለው ብለው “Ethio Telecom SUCKS” እንዳይሉ እንፈራለን፡፡››ሙሉውን ጽሁፍ ለማንበብ እዚህ ላይ ጠቅ ያድርጉ::

አቤል ደግሞ ሰሞኑን በጋዜጠኛ ሲሳይ አጌና የተጻፈውን መጻሀፍ እኔ እንዳነበብኩት በሚል ርእስ አስቃኝቶናል:: አንድ አንቀጽ እንካችሁ
የመጽሐፉ ይዘት መንግስት እሰረኞቹን መያዝ ከተጀመረበት ከጥቅምት 22 1998 ዓ.ም. ጀምሮ የመሰረተ ዐሳቡ ክቡድነት ያህል ለሀገሪቱ መጻዒ ጊዜ አንዳች ነገር ባላበረከተ ይቅርታ ከእስር እስከተፈቱበት ሐምሌ 13 1999 ዓ.ም. ድረስ ጥቃቅን ነገሮች ሳይቀር እየዘረዘረ ያስቃኘናል፡፡ጥቅምት 22 ከምሽቱ ሶስት ሰዓት አከባቢ ይጀምርና ራሱ በተባራሪ የሚያገኛቸውን መረጃዎች ሲጠቃቅስ ይቆይና በቁጥጥር ስር ሲውል ደግሞ ወደ ወህኒ ቤት ይዞን ወርዶ በትዝታዎቹ ተመስጦ ውስጥ ይከተናል፡፡ በተደደጋጋሚ በመታሰሩ፣ ብዙ ጊዜ ቃሉን ስለሰጠና በሌሎች ተጨማሪ ምክንያቶች በሸገር ያሉ ወህኒ ቤቶችን ከነመንገዶቻቸውን ፣ ከነመርማሪዎቻቸው እና ዘቦቻቸው ጥንቅቆ ያውቃቸዋል፡፡ከቃሊቲ በተጨማሪ እንደ ዓለም በቃኝ እና ማዕከላዊ ያሉ ዝነኛ እስር ቤቶችን በነዋሪነት ስለሚያውቃቸው እያንዳንዷን ኮሽታ በጥንቃቄ እንዲያስተውል ረድተውታል፡፡ስለወንጀል ምርመራ ቆይታው ካሰፈረውና ፈገግ ያሰኘኝን ተረክ ላቀብላችኹ፡፡ ሙሉውን ጽሁፍ ለማንበብ እዚህ ላይ ጠቅ ያድርጉ::

አቤ ቶኪቻው ኑ… ፌስ ቡክ ሰፈር እንሰባሰብ! ይላችኋል:: ለምን ብትሉ አንድ አንቀጽ እንካችሁ:

እውነቴን ነው የምልዎ እንደኔ ጨዋታ ወዳድ እና ወሬ ለምን ያምልጠኝ ያሉ ከሆኑ፤ ወይም በዘመናዊ አጠራር መረጃ ምግቤ ነው የሚሉ ከሆነ፤ ያለ ምንም ጥርጥር ፌስ ቡክን የመሰለ ምርጫ የለም። ጨዋታ ቢልዎትስ ጨዋታ ብቻ ነው እንዴ…!? መንፈሳዊ ቢሉ፣ አለማዊ ቢፈልጉ፣ ፖለቲካዊ ቢሻዎ… በያይነቱ ጨዋታ የት ነው የሚገኘው? ምንም ጥርጥር የለውም ፌስ ቡክ ላይ ነው። ከቤተ መንግስት ጀምሮ እስከ ቤተ ግለሰብ ድረስ ያለው ቡጨቃ ቀላል ነው እንዴ…? የምሬን ነው የተተነፈሰችዋ ሳትቀር አንዲትም ጨዋታ አታመልጥዎትም…!

ሙሉውን ጽሁፍ ለማንበብ እዚህ ላይ ጠቅ ያድርጉ::

ሰሞኑን የአውሮፓ ዋንጫ በመሆኑ በተጨማሪም መጨው የለንደን ኦሎምፒክ በመሆኑ የፍሰሀ ተገኘን ብሎግ መጎብኝት ግድ ይሎታል:: በተለይ ደግም በአዲስ አበባ ኤፍሞች አታካች ስፖርታዊ “ትንተናዎች” የሰለቹ ከሆኑ የፍሰሀ ብሎግ ሁነኛ አማራጭ ነው:: ፍስሀ በዚህ ሳምንት በርካታ ጽሁፎች አቅርቧል:: ከነዚህ ውስጥ ስለ ቀነኒሳ የጻፈው ስቦኛል:: አንድ አንቀጽ፦

ታላቁ የረጅም ርቀት ሯጭ ቀነኒሳ በቀለ ኖርዌ ኦስሎ ከተማ ውስጥ በተካሄደው የዳይመንድ ሊግ 5 ሺህ ሜትር የሩጫ ውድድር ርቀቱን 13፡00.54 ደቂቃ በሆነ ጊዜ በማጠናቀቅ አምስተኛ ደረጃን አግኝቶ ካጠናቀቀ በኋላ የመወያያ ርእስ የሆነው “ኢትዮጵያዊው ድንቅ አትሌት ይታወቅበት የነበረው አስደናቂ የአጨራረስ ብቃት የት ሄደ?” የሚለው ነበር።

ቀነኒሳ የምወደው አትሌት ስለሆነ ስለሱ የተጻፍን ጽሁፍ እዚህ ለብሎግ ለክለሳዬ አዋልኩት እንጂ ሁሉም ጽሁፎቹ አንጀት አርስ ናቸው:: ይህንን ጽሁፍ ጨምሮ ሁሉንም ጽሁች ለማንበብ እዚህ ላይ ጠቅ ያድርጉ::በነገራችን ላይ ከሚቀጠለው ሳምንት ጀምሮ የኢትዮጵያ ብሎጎች ክለሳ ወደ ዞን ናይን ይዞራል:: መልካም ንባብ

The New Ethiopian Telecom Service Infringements Law. Is it the most creative way of copying SOPA and PIPA?

The new Ethiopian Telecom Service Infringement Law was ratified last Thursday on May 24th 2012 .The new Telecom Law meant to impede internet telephony which is commonly referred as communications services —voice and fax infringements.

This post is to highlight problems which could be caused because of provisions in broader context. The popularity of computer-to-telephone call services is expanding in Addis Ababa and some regional cities and the legislators argue that this trend has threatened the profits of Ethio-Telecom the solitary service provider in the country. Furthermore it was reported that the trend of using internet telephony in the country has posed a threat to a national security. The legislators argued that the new law will help in fighting threats which would use internet telephony to disrupt national security. To impede the growing trend of using internet telephony the proclamation grants the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the right to license private companies those engaged in producing importing and distributing any sort of information communication technology apparatus which might include cell phones.

Thriving Ethiopian blogging and social media culture in danger?

Now let me draw attention to the problems concerning the proclamations’ anti-terrorism and defamatory laws related provisions. I strongly believe these problems would make the heart provisions of the proclamation. They will be equally as controversial as the anti-terrorism law which was passed in 2009.While the proclamation would be taken as one positive step in having at least directives to use internet in Ethiopia—targeting particular individuals’ internet activities which could include blogging and posts on social networking sites such as facebook and twitter, the proclamation would defiantly further burden the already injured freedom of expression beyond telecom service infringements.

As an affiliate of a thriving Ethiopian blogging culture, whose life is strongly linked up well with internet, I strongly go up against this law which receives a scant media attention. I find this law to have straight and extensive blow to threaten thriving facebook culture of the Ethiopian online populace. To illustrate how its impact here is an example: if one facebooker posted a status update on his page regarding his allegiance say for example peaceful Muslim protesters and his status update attracts a string of comments, this facebook user will be directly liable for disseminating offending information. These infringements risks up to 8 years imprisonment and heavy fines.

As Frank Nyakairu once highlighted on his blog- Is this a very fast and creative way of copying SOPA and PIPA proposed laws of United States?

Ethiopia free press situation on the spotlight

A recent G-8 meeting brought Ethiopia free press situation on the spotlight again. The meeting caused gatherings of free press campaigners who had much to say about the unfavorable media landscape of Ethiopia.

Just to run through the major ones CPJ urge President Obama to emphasize the importance of free press in ensuring food security during G-8 meeting, on Huffington Post Ben Rawlence, Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch casted an unflattering light on state of human rights in Ethiopia, Straight Talk Africa VOA – an international call-in talk show hosted by Shaka Ssali discussed sterner issues of Press Freedom in Africa by inviting Birtukan Midekssa, well known opposition politician who is currently a Fascell Democracy Fellow, Mohamed Keita,Advocacy Coordinator for Africa Program ,Committee to Protect Journalists, Karin Karlekar(PhD), Project Director of Freedom of the Press, Freedom House. Meanwhile on New York Times a blog post Eennd Muchler, prefers to be hopeful though the piece highlights on murkier sides of Ethiopian journalism.

The 2012 Freedom House press freedom indicator categorized Ethiopia as ‘Not Free’ zone and ranked it 176th out of 194 countries. This tied Ethiopia with the Gambia which left both at 43rd out of all African countries. The rankings are based on evaluation of the legal, political, and economic environments for media in each country with a scale representing 0 as “most free” to 100 as “least free. On the talk show Birtukan Midekssa reiterated that she was not surprised to see such terrible performance from Ethiopia. Furthermore she insisted that with such terrible track record of the past two decades for Ethiopia’s government it has no alternative but attempting to swing people’s attention to its economic development narratives, service delivery in Shaka Ssali’s terms.

Elsewhere it was reported that two members of the U.S. Congress, Mark Begich, an Alaska Democrat and Edward Royce a Republican have openly expressed their concern at Ethiopia’s persecution of members of free press which are widely considered as proponents of democracy, with both equally asserting the fact that press freedom will boost stability and security that enhance the democratization process contrary to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s claims that dismissed any direct relationship between economic growth and democracy at recent World Economic Forum (WEF) which took place in Addis Ababa from 9 to 11 May 2012.

In contrast, home based Ethiopia’s media outlets do reflect on the predicament of Ethiopia’s free press, but their focus was largely on a new directive that authorizes government printers to censor the content of newspapers and magazine that reject their publications.

“I am really surprised by the audacity of Berhanene Selam (Ethiopia’s main, state-owned printing company) to impose this kind of obligation in clear violation of abrogating the provision which is stated in the constitution. So the Ethiopian press is in a really grim situation created by the action from the printing house.” says Yakob Hailemariam (Ph.D.) in an interview with the English Version of The Reporter. On the Amharic version of the same newspaper “An Ethiopian free press faced with censorship” writes Daniel Bekalu. Amare Aregawi, General Manager of the private newspaper Reporter, argued that freedom of expression in Ethiopia is facing a more serious challenge than ever before during the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) that was marked on Thursday, May 3, at the newly built African Union Hall writes Capital a weekly English newspaper on its society section. While Addis Fortune in its typical fine line column choose to reveal US diplomats based in Addis Abeba were speeding up to include democratic deficits including space for dissent and the media as agenda for a discussion which was to be held during Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s G-8 Summit attendance. Sheger Café, a talk show hosted by Meaza Birru discussed the impact of these new directives in broader, context with Abdu Ali Jira. Abdu stressed these new directives a copy of which have been circulating online after CPJ put the copy online allows printers to terminate any printing contract if the publisher repeatedly submits content the printer considers legally questionable.

On social media arena Ethiopian netzines often post their reaction to the stories those show the state of Ethiopia’s press freedom through their Facebook updates and tweets and despite the restrictions and a wide-ranging fear of being persecuted words spread quickly in Ethiopian social media sphere. For instance a recent footage which shows an Ethiopian journalist speech interruptive objection targeted against Prime Minster Meles Zenawi at G8 Summit 2012 was shared extensively amongst netzines. Yet within hours of the news going up, most news sites, you tube channels and blogs those put out the video were blocked ; only Twitter, Facebook and few blogs contained information or footage of the journalist’s protest at the G8 Summit. Later local media and few news websites ran sanitized versions of the story and, all state owned media and one local FM Radio Station focused on the ‘praise’ and ‘accolades’ Prime Minster Meles Zenawi received from the participants of the summit rather than the hype swirling around the protest video footage.

Ethiopia English Blogs Roundup

For my Amharic blog roundup followers I promise it is coming up but for now I decided to do English blogs round up as Ethiopia has been on spotlight on various international media blogs. I just want to update my readers and urge you to share your opinion in the comment thread below, or add perceptive to these compilations by tweeting at @endalk2006

Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog wrote:

Years after debt campaigners succeeded in persuading the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and G8 to abolish debts worth billions of dollars owed by developing countries, figures show total external debts are once again on the increase

The blog further situate the account by highlighting Ethiopia’s debt

Ethiopia’s public sector debt is almost back at pre-MDRI levels, with China becoming Ethiopia’s third biggest lender (11% of new loans) behind the World Bank (34.3%) and IMF (11.5%), according to the AEO report.

On Huffington post it was reported that a £1bn programme of British aid for education in three east African countries has failed to teach basic reading, writing and maths skills to most of the children involved. Ethiopia being one of the recipients of British aid for education the account might be interesting for you and you can click here to read the full report.

Again on Huffington post Ben Rawlence, Senior Researcher, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch wrote a commentary titled “The Ethiopian Enigma”. He claims:

Ethiopia is a reliable partner on counter-terrorism and regional security and perceived to be an oasis of stability amid Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia. Ethiopia has held terrorism suspects from Somalia and Kenya for interrogation and hosts a U.S. drone base for operations in Somalia. Ethiopia intervened in Somalia in 2006 to oust the militant Union of Islamic Courts and deployed peacekeepers in the contested region of Abyei between Sudan and South Sudan.

On Guardian Land grabbers: Africa’s hidden revolution is one of the highly commented stories of the day so far. In a book review titled same as the title of the commentary Pearce, the author of the book wrote:

Gambella is the poorest province in one of the world’s poorest nations – a lowland appendix in the far south-west of Ethiopia. Geographically and ethnically, the hot, swampy province feels like part of the new neighbouring state of South Sudan, rather than the cool highlands of the rest of Ethiopia. Indeed, Gambella was effectively in Sudan when it was ruled by the British from Khartoum, until 1956. For the half-century since, the government in Addis Ababa has ruled here, but it has invested little and cared even less for its Nilotic tribal inhabitants, whose jet-black skin and tall, elegant physique mark them out from the highlanders. The livestock-herding Nuer, who frequently cross into South Sudan, and the Anuak, who are farmers and fishers, are peripheral to highland Ethiopia in every sense.

Tadias Magazine interviewed Francis Falceto and wrote a feature on How Ethiopian Music Went Global.

Will bring to you my Amharic blog roundup soon!

Ethiopia’s Free Press and Food Security. Comments and analysis from around the web

A current collection of comments and analysis on function of free press in securing food security in Ethiopia

The campaign for press freedom has reached a critical stage in recent weeks. In this context it may be worth collecting commentary from those participating in an effort to regain freedom of the press in Ethiopia – from analysts to reporters to readers. You can also share your opinion on my blog, or throw in a perceptive from elsewhere to this collection.

On top of the countless list free press champions CPJ comes first. Taking the 38th G8 Summit on which Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is expected to take part as an opportunity Joel Simon Executive Director of CPJ wrote a public letter to President Barack Obama.

President Obama has invited Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to attend the G8 Summit to have a discussion about food security on May 19 at Camp David. In the letter Joel Simon highlight the significance of free press in ensuring food security and urge President Obama to raise this issue as a topic of discussion during the summit. He wrote:

Mr. President, we are deeply concerned that Ethiopia’s ongoing repression of investigative journalism fuels tensions that threaten the country’s relative stability and risk unraveling the economic and social progress registered in recent years. Since 2011, under the guise of a counterterrorism sweep, the government of Ethiopia has brought terrorism and anti-state charges against 11 independent journalists, including blogger Eskinder Nega, who may face life in prison for his writing about the struggle for democracy. Such policies deter reporting on all sensitive topics, including food security

You can read the full letter by clicking here but for my readers in Ethiopia you must have a circumvention tool to read the letter on CPJ’s site as CPJ’s site blocked in Ethiopia.

Mohamed Keita/CPJ’s Africa Advocacy Coordinator wrote on Huffingtonpost

Timely and accurate information about conditions of drought and famine in Africa’s Sahel could save lives. But if the press is unable to report freely, how does a country build consensus on tackling national food security and ensure that official policies are the result of broad consultation with all segments of society? What happens when leaders of a nation respond to this caprice of nature by deliberately downplaying the extent of the crisis, limiting journalists’ access to sensitive areas, and censoring independent coverage of the problem, in the name of protecting the country’s image?

Alemayehu G. Mariam an activist based in US wrote an opinion piece which later translated and published on various sites. He stated:

On May 19, President Obama and the G8 leaders will have to face some tough questions: What is the moral hazard of endlessly supplying food relief to the Horn countries? Why should the world continue to help a country that leases millions of hectares of the most fertile land in the country and become the breadbasket for India and the Middle East while its people are starving? Why should the world provide food aid to a country when the ruling regime weaponizes the aid to decimate opposition, crush the democratic aspirations of the people and flagrantly violate human rights? Does aiding dictators who use food aid for political purposes end famine and food shortages in Africa?

Graham Peebles, Director of the Create Trust, wrote on Dissident Voice highlighting how Ethiopia muffles critical voices

Journalists must be free to speak out against the government, to criticize policies of persecution, to highlight the suffering of the people and to draw attention to the multiple human rights abuses taking place within Ethiopia.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault wrote on the Root

It is time for me to return to Ethiopia and try to see the prime minister, to plead yet again for the journalists’ freedom and for their right to free expression. And maybe, just maybe, in the interim, when Prime Minister Zenawi attends a G-8 Summit Food Security at Camp David on May 19, American officials can weigh in, too, on the importance not only of strategic partnerships but also of freedom of speech in a democracy.

African Confidential reported that thought Ethiopia is deemed as the fastest growing economy its approach towards independent voices in a contentious way. You can find a series of reports and netzines campaign on Global Voices.