Why Wikipedia’s appeal for money would be ridiculous in Ethiopia

Jimmy Wales-appeal
Jimmy Wales-appeal

I hope you’ll have observed Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder and Sue Gardner Wikimedia Executive Director looking awesomely good at the top of every Wikipedia page with a plea. I do not know about Diasporas but have Ethiopians here in Addis Ababa or some other big towns clicked it I bet you have not. Here is way…

Among the first reasons I think online economics will top the list. In Ethiopia Commercial activities such as banking and credit card usage is uncommon, although the online booking of airlines and hotels by some people in Addis appeared to be on the rise. Beside this Ethiopian web users are as not as goal-driven as they are suppose to be and you only have to observe your own online behavior to understand exactly what I mean

Let’s say somebody wants to surf on the web just to spend time or to search for a scholarship program. The moment he goes online he opens up a web browser and immediately get a friendship requests when he sees facebook page or sports web page like goal.com (these are most people’s home page by the way).There might be a new video of a an Ethiopian singer, he has to watch it at least 3 times, subscribe to the user’s channel, and email it to his friends. As he has been doing these the time has elapsed and he remembers to Google about a film called the social network because he heard people talking about this movie and wants to update himself .Now, at this point, do you think this guy can be tempted to click some other links? Perhaps no because he has spent much time than he expected on the web and will pay for that as most Ethiopian use internet in cyber cafes. The service is expensive. The majority of web activity is like this. The web surfing in Ethiopia is at its infant stage and characterized by aimlessness. If web surfer aim was to find out why everyone is suddenly talking a film called The Social Network .This is of course relevant to Wikipedia. If his search for ‘The Social Network’ has led him to Wikipedia, he might vaguely register t Jimmy Wales or Sue Gardner at the top of the page, but only for a fraction of a second before he start reading the stuff that he really wants for.

In case he has read their plea, he would be faced with a dilemma- should I donate to Wikipedia and went home on foot and probably should wait until my next salary even to check my mail to fulfill the biblical adage which says “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” or I should I kept on to survive ? What do you think ?

Water Rich, Water Poor?

In the past weeks, Arba Minch Water Technology Institute, by its former name now Arba Minch University has been hit by an acute water shortage. The problem has compelled many residents of the main campus of university to carry along buckets, gallons, poly-tanks among other water storage facilities in search of this basic necessity

One of the teachers in the university said that usually some sort of fight breaks out amongst maids of the university teachers when they jostle with dozens of women, university teachers and children to fill buckets from tap that brings water twice and sometimes once a day to the Arba Minch University main campus, on the outskirts of a small thriving town of Arba Minch.

Five hundred kilometers away South of Addis Ababa, Tessema Hailu, a teacher in the water technology institute should stand on a queue for twenty minutes on the average to take a shower before he goes to teach a course in water supply for engineering students. While he teaches he always remembers the irony: The reputed water technology institute, which had once an abundance of water, becomes a commonplace for bitter disputes for the smallest bucket of water and a shower queue caused by water shortages.

The circumstances of maids and the university teacher show the daily struggle with tainted or inadequate water in the country’s most reputed water technology institute a growing shortage that most of the university instructors say it will illustrate how water is so a scarce resource even in the most elite water technology institute .It also is pitting the expansion of higher education institutes in the country as the shortage of the water is against growing student population intake that relies heavily on the availability of water.

Ethiopia specifically Arba Minch has significantly abundant fresh water resources available, including more than  40 natural springs which the town itself is named after and two lakes and one of which is rift valley’s ’s largest fresh water lake; Lake Abaya, and Lake Chamo .

Yet despite this, Arba Minch University has a chronic water shortage due to a severe water supply problems and many teachers are suffering from various physical and physiological ailments attributed to acute shortage of water in the campus.

The university and stakeholders responsible for the provision of water have attributed the problem to fault which developed in their control panel. The water problem was so serious that officials of the university came out to announce that they will need the assistance of expertise and the problem will be fixed soon.

Against this background, the university has crossed its fingers waiting for the engineers who are playing their trade outside the university. What it means that the engineers, who do not belong to the water engineering institute are the only people who can help us out of the current problem.

That in our estimation is most unfortunate! Are we trying to assert that we do not have the technical-know how to fix the problem, having been in charge of water related technologies for so many years?

 

Undoubtedly, the adage that ‘water is life’ cannot be overemphasized since water is needed for domestic and industrial use. Whenever there is shortage of basic necessities of this nature people out of frustrations begin to castigate the administration for being incompetent. I believe the administration of the university should do something. What do you think? Your thoughts please?

 

Google Zeitgeist 2010: Facebook Was More Important Than the Ethiopian Election of 2010 for Ethiopians

Facebook login is the the fastest rising search topics on Google’s Ethiopia site in 2010

Google’s annual “zeitgeist”, which analyses the firm’s search trends in each country, revealed that  Facebook is the site that dominated Google Ethiopia’s site  Facebook is closely followed by yahoo.

The Google Zeitgeist, an annual collection of queries, was released this week, showing that many terms and topics that Web users mainly in Addis Ababa explored during the past year, from “facebook login” to ““youtube music”. The report does not offer similar data for other major cities of Ethiopia.

According to Google the Zeitgeist means “the spirit of the times,” and Google tells this spirit through the aggregation of millions of search queries that Google receives every day. Google has several tools that give insight into global, regional, past and present search trends. These tools are available for all users to explore and learn from. These are easy and free to use for everything from complex research to very simple answers.

Therefore which search inquiries had the strongest presence in 2010 in Ethiopia? I will try to give my own observation on this year’s Google Zeitgeist:

What did not astonish me: When it comes to search terms trending on Google,Facebook is becoming life style amongst Ethiopian youth therefore,  I do not have any doubt  that many of  Addis Ababa young people  are searching facebook on Google. It’s no surprise that the Addis Ababa’s teen sensation led the category for Web Search Interest: facebook

What made me lose some faith in Ethiopian Politics: I cannot think of  better  and easy way to put this, so let’ me be tactful : “Arsenal” placed in top twenty rankings higher than any of big political figures or Ethiopian Election  for uncategorized searches of Google Ethiopia. In other words, people in Addis Ababa are more interested in for a certain European Football Club than the largest political event in Ethiopia which was Ethiopian Election 2010 0r a big political figure like Bertukuan Mideksa or Berhanu Nega.`

What made me disillusioned on the fame of big figures of Ethiopia: Where are Tesfaye Gebreab and his new book Yedersiw Mastawesha? Where is Haile Gerima or Haile G/Selassie. Ethiopians did not search about this big name figures. The lists are based on a scientific aggregation of search entries so if you didn’t make it, it’s hard to cry for bias or internet literacy of the users as users are mainly from Addis Ababa and they are claimed to be good facebook users. I am confused that how the likes of Haile G/Selassie that has dominated the news this summer for his decision to hung on his athletics boots wouldn’t manage to at least crack the search list.

What made me strengthen my thoughts on silent revolution:
It has been a while since many Ethiopians try to get pornographic contents online and its meteoric rise, sexing is a term better known for its indecent contents on the web. sexing is ranked  amongst  top ten  on the “Fastest Rising” search list.

As a bonus, here is the link to see the Ethiopia’s top searches in 2010  http://www.google.com/insights/search/#q=%2C&geo=ET&date=1%2F2010%2012m&cmpt=q

Ethiopia’s reaction left out! Read the world’s reaction after12 days of WikiLeaks cable as revised by the Guardian

South America

Brazil

President Lula says he is to register his protest at Assange’s arrest on his blog. “This chap was only publishing something he read,” he said. “And if he read it, it is because somebody wrote it. The guilty one is not the publisher, it is the person who wrote [these things]. Blame the person who wrote this nonsense because there would be no scandal if they hadn’t.” Many leaks relate to the security situation in Rio de Janeiro. A 2009 cable warned that pre-Olympic attempts to expel drug traffickers from some of the city’s most violent favelas could resemble “the battles in Fallujah more than a conventional urban police operation”.

Argentina

In Argentina the Wikileaks revelations have focused on apparent US concern about a new invasion of the Falklands islands and over president Cristina Kirchner mental health. In one cable Hillary Clintonmused over whether the current occupant of the Casa Rosada was “taking any medications.”

“How do Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner‘s emotions affect her decision-making and how does she calm down when distressed?” one cable asked diplomats in the Argentine capital.

The English-language Buenos Aires Herald, however, pointed out that “the snickering about the President’s mental health comes at a time [when] she is perceived by much of the public, including those who oppose her, as having shown tremendous strength immediately after her husband’s death.”

Venezuela

Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, has called on Hillary Clinton to resign in the wake of “all of this spying and delinquency in the State Department”.

“Look at how they treat the leaders of powerful countries,” Chavez told state TV channel Telesur, describing the cables as proof of the “dirty war of Yankee embassies in the whole world”.

“Look how they are mistreating this great friend of ours, Vladimir Putin. What a lack of respect!”

Ecuador and Bolivia

The Ecuadorian government has been Wikileaks’ most vocal supporter in the region, offering the under-fire Julian Assange residency “without any conditions”. Bolivia has also expressed its irritation at its portrayal in the US diplomatic cables. The country’s vice-president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, this week posted Bolivia-focused Wikileaks cables, in full, on his official website in response to what he called “insults” and “third rate espionage”.

US authorities have been lampooned by much of the Bolivian press.

Juan José Toro Montoya, a columnist for the Cochabamba newspaper Los Tiempos newspaper described the accusations against Wikileaks’ founder as “laughable”.

“Julian Assange may be under arrest but he has been transformed into a hero and will go down in history as being the first human being to massively reveal the dirty-tricks of government,” he wrote yesterday.

Middle East

Iran

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed the Wikileaks revelations as “psychological warfare.” Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman thundered: “The enemies of the Islamic world are pursuing a project of Iranophobia and disunity. This project only protects the interests of the Zionist regime and its supporters.” Still, the documents will reinforce the regime’s world view by underlining the huge effort being made by the US to contain Iran by applying pressure for UN sanctions over its nuclear programme or stopping arms deliveries to groups like Hamas and Hizbullah. It will be harder to maintain the pretence of good relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states because of exposure of their fear of Tehran. Iran remains defiant and is not as isolated as Washington would like. It is influential in Iraq and has good relations with Turkey. It is clear that Barack Obama’s efforts to reach out to it have failed, with some arguing he was never serious about engagement. The status quo looks volatile and threatening.

Israel

Israel has been largely untroubled by because US views on key Middle Eastern issues especially on Iran, Syria and Lebanon, are so close to its own. “Israel is not the centre of international attention,” said Binyamin Netanyahu. “Normally, there’s a gap between what is said publicly and what is said privately, but in this case, the gap is not large.” The most significant revelation was that Israel believes that beyond a certain point attacking Iran would cause too much “collateral damage.”Israel can be seen maintaining discreet contact with Gulf states and have an intriguing intelligence link to Saudi Arabia. It suits Israel that the Palestinian issue and Jewish settlements in the occupied territories do not feature prominently. The Palestinian Authority denied suggestions it acquiesced in Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s only public comment on the revelations was to say “they do not concern us” despite the sensational exposure of comments made by King Abdullah about attacking Iran “to cut off the head of the snake.” It will be unhappy about US complaints that it remains a source of funding for the Taliban and other extremists. It may be pleased its counter-terrorist efforts against al-Qaida, at home and in neighbouring Yemen, have been given positive exposure. There is little evidence of US pressure over human rights and democracy.

Lebanon

Ever volatile Lebanon has been shaken by documents showing close links between the pro-western government and the US. The most damaging revelation described its defence minister offering advice on how Israel could defeat Hezbollah if a new war erupted. But Elias Murr complained that the cables were “inaccurate” and taken out of context. Tensions are already high because of expectations Hizbullah members will be indicted for the 2005 murder of Rafiq al-Hariri. Al-Akhbar, a leftist and pro-Hizbullah paper that has published leaks of the leaks about the Arab world, has come under cyber attack.

Syria

Syria has not responded officially to disclosures that it is the subject of intense US efforts to stop deliveries of weapons to Hezbollah. Syrians say they are struck by the absence of embarrassing information about Israel. Sami Moubayed, an influential commentator, wrote: “Perhaps WikiLeaks will one day tell us, for example, what the Israelis are hiding about the pre-Bush era.” Damascus insists it only supports resistance to Israel and blames it for ramping up regional tensions. Ample evidence of American strategy to weaken the alliance between Damascus and Tehran, but there is no sign that it has worked.

Yemen

Yemen’s government has faced embarrassing questions in parliament about evidence ministers lied about US air strikes against al-Qaida targets. Cables revealed President Ali Abdullah Saleh is worried about being painted as an American pawn and restricts counter-terrorist cooperation even as Washington presses for more determined action. Opposition MP Mansur al Zindani complained of a “powerful blow to parliament and the public.” There are fears the revelations could help al-Qaida win new recruits in the Arab world’s poorest country.

Libya

Muammar Gaddafi praised WikiLeaks for exposing US “hypocrisy.” The whistleblowing website has “proved America is not what it has led allies and friends to believe it to be.” There was no comment on threats against Britain if the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel-Basset al-Megrahi, died in prison in Scotland.

Egypt

Revelations about Egypt – some leaked to the independent newspaper al-Masry al-Youm — have been dismissed by Cairo as containing “nothing new.” But they include evidence of its fears about Sudan breaking up, President Mubarak’s profound hostility to Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, and bleak US assessments of future prospects for democracy, including the prediction that Mubarak, now 82, will stand for yet another term next year. The recent parliamentary elections, widely dismissed as a charade, tend to confirm US views.

Tunisia

President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali will be furious at cables describing high-level corruption, a sclerotic regime, and deep hatred of his wife and her family. Deeply unflattering reports from the US ambassador in Tunis make no bones about the state of the small Maghreb country, widely considered one of the most repressive in North Africa. No surprise that Tunisia blocked the website of Beirut’s al-Akhbar, which published some of the documents.

Turkey

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted furiously to US diplomatic cables that suggested he was a corrupt closet Islamist. As Turkey heads for elections next year, secular Republican opponents may try to exploit his evident discomfort.

The cables highlighted three principal issues. Erdogan’s personal probity – he was reported to have eight secret Swiss bank accounts; the supposed Islamist agenda of the ruling AKP party; and Turkey’s perceived drift away from the western alliance and closer embrace of countries such as Syria and Iran.

Erdogan’s response was both to dismiss the cables as tittle-tattle, and to conjure conspiracy theories.”The un-serious cables of American diplomats, formed from gossip, magazines, allegations and slander are spreading worldwide via the internet,” Erdogan said. “Are there disclosures of state secrets, or is there another aim?” he askedd. “… Is it carrying out a veiled, dark propaganda? Are there efforts to affect, manipulate relations between certain countries?”

Europe

Russia

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave the sharpest response to the WikiLeaks cables in which he was protrayed as Batman to Dmitry Medvedev’s Robin. “Slander”, he called it. The embassy cables portray Russia as a corrupt kleptocracy where politicians and criminals were inextricably linked. Medvedev has said that the cables “show a full measure of cynicism” in US foreign policy making. But he suggested the leaks would not damage relations between Moscow and WashingtonSergei Lavrov, the foreign minister, claimed to be surprised that “some petty thieves running around the Internet” are causing such a sensation. In reality, the cables have caused lasting damage in Russia, playing to the deep mistrust of US intentions that imbues Kremlin policy making.

Poland

The cables revealed a battle of wits and mutual dissembling between Warsaw and Washington over US military aid to Poland, missile defence, and attitudes towards Russia. While the Poles welcomed secret Nato plans for the defence of the three Baltic states, they worried the new plan would dilute Nato security guarantees for Poland.

The disclosures appear to be sparking a sober re-assessment in Warsaw of the closeness of the relationship with Washington.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk sounded bitter and disenchanted on Tuesday after the Guardian published material on Poland.

“We have a really serious problem,” he said. “Not with image, as some countries do, and not reputation, like the US does. It’s a problem of being stripped of illusions about the nature of relations between countries, including such close allies as Poland and the US.”

Italy

La Repubblica, one of Italy’s best-selling dailies, on Wednesday carried the first in a series of articles examining the relationship between Silvio Berlusconi and Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir Putin, in the light of claims reported by the US state department cables that the Italian leader was profiting from gas deals between their two countries.

Newspapers and other media have given extensive coverage to the WikiLeaks disclosures. Berlusconi, who has denied any financial interest in Italy’s energy dealings, was also embarrassed by a cable that quoted him as referring to Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev as an “apprentice”. He insisted he never said it.

But in a country where the prime minister cannot be forced to answer to parliament and where attention is now focussed mainly on two parliamentary censure motions that could topple the Berlusconi administration next week, the political fall-out has been limited. Pierluigi Bersani, the leader of Italy’s biggest opposition group, the Democratic party, said the cables showed that “the prime minister, with his behaviour and political decisions, harms the reputation of Italy in the world.”

But, for the most part, opposition politicians have heeded a warning from Berlusconi’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, not to exploit the cables for political purposes.

Austria

The cables show a rather withering US contempt for Austria and its leading politicians, with US diplomats complaining that Washington has little leverage in Vienna because the government there is barely interested in developing relations with the US. The social democratic chancellor, Werner Faymann, is described as a leader with scant interest in foreign affairs. The foreign minister, Michael Spindelegger, is preoccupied with promoting Austrian business. And Austria, constitutionally neutral and not in Nato, is criticised for resisting US pressure to send forces to Afghanistan.

Norbert Darabos, the defence minister, described the US criticism as “inexplicable”, and said Austria would not increase its contribution to Afghanistan beyond the five policemen it has sent.

A leading Austrian Greens MP, Peter Pilz, proposed that the country should grant Julian Assange political asylum.

Kazakhstan

US cables described the peccadilloes of the Kazakh elite, including the 40-horse stable of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president, a private Elton John concert for a top politician and an extraordinary midnight dance by the prime minister at a nightclub called Chocolat. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, was at pains to privately apologise to several world leaders who were pilloried in the disclosures.

Turkmenistan

In perhaps the baldest character assassination of any world leader in the WikiLeaks cables, a US diplomat reported to Washington that president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan is seen as “vain, fastidious, vindictive, a micro-manager,” a “practised liar” and “not a very bright guy”. In keeping with the country’s insular regime, the charge provoked little reaction.

Georgia

Disclosures about the Caucasus state were a mixed bag. As the New York Times noted, they showed US diplomats’ catastrophic failure to recognise that Mikhail Saakashvili, the president, was planning to attack the breakaway enclave of South Ossetia in 2008. But they also concluded that before the conflict Russia had been “aggressively playing a high-stakes covert game” in an attempt to provoke Georgia into retaliation. Giga Bokeria, secretary of Georgia’s national security council, toed Washington’s line in his assessment of the WikiLeaks releases. “It is very cynical when one, under the guise of a martyr, fights against the greatest democracy [the US] using such prohibited methods,” he said of Julian Assange, in televised comments.

Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital, was the setting for Prince Andrew’s infamous rant about geographically-challenged Americans and snooping “(expletive) journalists, especially from the National Guardian.” At a meeting with the prince, Tatiana Gfoeller, the US ambassador to Bishkek, decided he was a victim of “neuralgic patriotism” whose behaviour “verged on the rude”. Kyrgyzstan’s leadership has been silent on that sharp assessment, while local media have been more interested in claims that China offered the country a $3bn (£1.9bn) aid package if it would close the Manas airbase, which the US uses to supply its troops in Afghanistan.

Moldova

According to the WikiLeaks documents, Moldova’s then president, Vladimir Voronin, offered a $10m (£6.4m) bribe to a rival in 2009 in a desperate attempt to keep his communist government in power. A leading member of Voronin’s party, Mark Tkachuk, told reporters the claims were “fairy tales” and “low-life gossip”.

Africa

Kenya

It took just a few leaked words to create an outcry from the Kenyan government. In a teaser of what the cables from Nairobi would reveal, Der Spiegel said last week that US officials believed the country was a “swamp of corruption” — hardly a heretic view on the streets of Nairobi. Government spokesman Alfred Mutua immediately called a news conference to say the government was “surprised and shocked”.

“If what is reported is true, it is totally malicious, and a total misrepresentation of our country and our leaders,” he said.

He went on to say that foreign countries funding youth empowerment schemes in Kenya – a barely veiled reference to the US — were in fact trying to overthrow the government. The US ambassador to Nairobi, Michael Ranneberger, described Mutua’s claims as “utterly ridiculous”. The prime minister told parliament he welcomed the Wikileaks revelations.

‘We now know what some of our friends think about us … it is helpful.”

After the revelations on Thursday that the US ambassador believed rampant corruption could lead in renewed violence in the country, Kibaki’s office released a statement defending his record.

“We wish to state that President Kibaki’s record on reforms through out his career speaks for itself. ,” it said.

Uganda

The authorities in Uganda were also riled. In response to claims that President Yoweri Museveni feared his plane being shot down on the orders of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa issued a statement yesterday (Thursday).

“While it is true that we hold discussions with the US government on regional and internationals issues, the contents of the alleged cables are grossly inaccurate and illogical. For example, if the Ugandan president perceived the threat to fly the international airspace, the solution would be for him to stay at home. Other leaders in the world have done so in the past.”

But Museveni’s spokesman Tamale Mirundi confirmed that other leaked cables referring to the president’s concern about Sudan supporting the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels a few years ago, and Eritrea being a regional threat, were in fact accurate.

Eritrea

Despite its president being described by US officials as an “unhinged dictator”, there was no reaction from Eritrea to the leaked cables. There is also no free press in Eritrea.

Nigeria

Royal Dutch Shell said it was “absolutely untrue” that it had infiltrated every Nigerian ministry affecting its operations there. The company offered no further comment.

Zimbabwe

In an opinion piece in the state-run Herald newspaper, Reason Wafawarova focused on how the cables showed that Mugabe had defied US expectations of his demise from power. He also delighted in description of opposition leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as a “flawed figure”.

South Asia

Pakistan

The rich store of WikiLeaks revelations about Pakistan have monopolized headlines and the political agenda for over ten days. But some stories are considered too hot to touch. While cables exposing the foibles of Pakistan’s civilian leaders triggered a media feeding frenzy, the press largely ignored revelations that cast the powerful military in a bad light, including its alleged support for Islamist extremist groups such as the Taliban. That left politicians struggling to bat off embarrassing allegations, such as the bearded religious firebrand seen cosying up to the American ambassador, President Asif Zardari’s obsession with his death, or prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s secret support for CIA drone strikes.

“Don’t trust WikiLeaks,” Gilani told reporters in Kabul at the weekend, attempting to brush off the revelations as “the observations of junior diplomats”. Beside him President Hamid Karzai, also tarred in the dispatches, nodded solemnly. Rarely have the sparring neighbours agreed so easily. Coverage of army chief General Ashfaq Kayani focused on revelations that he threatened to oust Zardari last year but held back because he “distrusted” opposition contender Nawaz Sharif. The army issued a statement that Kayani “holds all political leaders in esteem”. But most reporters shied away from US intelligence assessments that the army under Kayani continues to support the Taliban and Mumbai attackers Lashkar-e-Taiba. “ISI extols the virtues of some Taliban elements” read one small headline that provided no other details; otherwise loquacious television anchors were largely silent on the matter. One exception was the new Express Tribune paper. “It has always been an open secret that the military acts as puppet master,” said an editorial “Only now do we have confirmation of just how tenuous the hold of democracy in the country really is.”

Pakistani conspiracy theorists insisted the cables had been deliberately leaked as part of a Washington plot to discredit the Muslim world; the Saudi ambassador described them as “a rapist’s propaganda”.

But for most Pakistanis, the cables simply confirmed how much influence the US wields over their military and civilian leaders. Several headlines referred to the “WikiLeaks shame”; former diplomat Asif Ezdi said they proved Pakistan had become “the world’s biggest banana republic”.

The judiciary, meanwhile, liked the cables. Dismissing an attempt to block their publication, High Court judge Sheikh Azmat Saeed, said that WikiLeaks “may cause trouble for some personalities” but would be “good for the progress of the nation in the long run.”

Afghanistan

In Afghanistan the Wikileaks disclosure have been a source of endless fascination for the general public, with the country’s journalists devoting hours of airtime to pouring over the cables. Among pundits debate has raged about the meaning of the revelations, and even whether they can be believed with some incredulous commentators refusing to accept that the world’s most powerful country could ever lose so much confidential information. Some have even suggested it was a put up job by the Americans themselves.

But so far there have been no major political casualties, despite the deeply critical remarks of Hamid Karzai made by his own senior ministers and the US ambassador.

The Afghan president has publicly thrown his support behind Omar Zakhiwal, his finance minister who was quoted in cables describing his boss as “extremely weak man”. But a cabinet reshuffle is expected after the new parliament is inaugurated.

Also thought to be vulnerable is Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador who wrote at times despairing notes back to Washington about Karzai.

The Afghan and US governments have insisted their relationship remains strong but former US ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has publicly said Eikenberry’s position is untenable.

Many believe there is now no chance that he will extend his soon to expire two year term, if he wanted to.

India

In India the reaction to WikiLeaks was initially muted or positive, though the revelations were covered by all sectors of the press, including the local language media. “The first lot of WikiLeaks documents paints a flattering picture of India as a reliable, trusted and respected power in a world that worries itself sick about neighbouring Pakistan,” the Times of India newspaper said. Coverage focused on revelations from Pakistan and particularly about Islamabad’s security services’ relationship with local Islamic extremists. India’s external affairs ministry refused to comment on the leak other than to stress its continuing “candid” dialogue with the United States. As the week has passed criticism, both of Western countries and of the leak, has built up, particularly as police in the UK moved to arrest the Wikileaks founder. “The way these governments have been going after Assange and his group raises the question whether what is commonly called the free world is really free,” said the Mumbai-based newspaper Daily News Analysis. Others attacked those behind the leak. “There is a strong feeling that the sense of responsibility lacks,” union law minister Veerappa Moily told The Guardian yesterday (Wednesday). “This just creates mutual misunderstanding. The trust is endangered by such leaks and that is a very unhealthy trend.” Shashi Tharoor, former minister of state for external affairs, called the leaks “unethical and wrong”.

“The confidentiality of government communications is the lifeblood of diplomatic comfort,” Tharoor told a local reporter. “You do not effectively run a government if your own diplomats cannot report to their own capitals in utter candour.” Other commentators however called for an Indian version of the leak, arguing that the Indian bureaucracy was one of the most opaque in the world and could only benefit from public scrutiny. ends

Bangladesh

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have been on the front page of most newspapers in Bangladesh over the last week. The story has been of particular interest to the country’s many students who thronged street tea stalls in Dhaka, the capital, to discuss “how WikiLeaks has shaken the US administration by revealing its confidential cables”, according to one local journalist. Anis Pervez, an associate professor at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, said he had discussed the leaks in his classroom lecture on media ethics. “Every state has sovereignty and sometimes some information can create tension. Then again, there is a dilemma over how much information one should reveal to the public just because he or she has it,” he said. One particularly cable alleging that the Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Toiba had established sleeper cells in Bangladesh hit headlines. “The information divulged on the WikiLeaks is creating an odd situation for many countries. We have not yet checked the documents found regarding Bangladesh,” said Yafeash Osman, state minister for science and technology, said.

Nepal

In Nepal there has therefore been some disappointment that most of the 2,600 documents that were sent from the US Embassy in Kathmandu have not yet to be released. The leaks sparked frantic efforts by Nepali politicians as well as journalists to find out what revelations about the Himalayan nation could be expected with journalists offices in Kathmandu bombarded by calls from politicians and leaderships seeking tips on what might be coming. As elsewhere released cables have been scoured for elements of local interest. Documents suggesting that Maoist rebels had received Indian funding provoked an inevitably strongly worded reaction from Nepal’s Maoist party. Other cables touching on the relations between regional giants China and India have also been minutely scrutinised.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, the leaks provoked a political and media storm as many focused on the island nation’s controversial and bloody recent history. While one effectively accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa of being complicit in war crimes – a charge he denies – another described a diplomatic campaign by British former foreign secretary David Miliband to champion aid and human rights during the Sri Lankan humanitarian crisis last year as largely driven by domestic political calculations. Media reactions have varied. Newspapers loyal to the government have covered the various allegations made in the cables but have particularly focused on material that is embarrassing to the US or the UK The campaigning Sunday Leader however published a call to journalistic arms: “As media acquired books, the powerful enacted bans. As media developed newspapers, the powerful found ways to seal them in courts or seduce them with access and wealth. Through all this one force, however, is constant. You can’t keep a good story down. You can’t stop the thirst for justice, you can only mask it for a while. This is a lesson that WikiLeaks is teaching the world, and we hope that it will reach Sri Lankan ears.”

Asia Pacific

China

China has been tight-lipped. It has also been increasingly keen to stop others from having their say, deleting articles and discussions about the cables. It called the contents of the diplomatic memos “absurd” but has otherwise refused to comment on the information they contain, such as reports of official frustration with North Korea and a source’s claim that a senior official was behind the attack on Google.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said yesterday that Beijing hoped the emergence of the cables would not affect relations with Washington.

Censorship has not stopped some people from reading about the cables on overseas websites.

“Reading [about] China and Google, I want to say: WikiLeaks rocks!” one wrote on a microblog service of the popular portal Sina earlier this week.

Another argued: “What Wikileaks says about China must be a slander from the US. What do you think? The US government hates Wikileaks too? It must be a conspiracy.”

China Digital Times, which monitors censorship, believes the Central Propaganda Bureau issued an order telling websites not to issue further reports on the cables, although some have reported on Julian Assange’s arrest.

Australia

The role of Assange, the country’s prodigal son, has generated the most coverage and debate. Referring to him as the ‘Ned Kelly of the digital age’, Bryce Lowry said: “Assange is a cyber bushranger: a renegade taunter of authority and inspiration to many who marvel at his daring to challenge the status quo.” Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the publication of the cables is illegal, and Assange’s actions are “grossly irresponsible”. She has made it clear the Australian government will offer him no support although the Australian consulate in the UK has offered him access to their services.

The cables themselves reveal an unflattering view of former prime minister – now foreign minister – Kevin Rudd. He was an abrasive, impulsive ”control freak” who presided over a series of foreign policy blunders. Another cable referenced how Rudd angered the US by detailing a private conversation he had with Bush which included the moment he was “stunned to hear Bush say, ‘What’s the G20?'”

Rudd retaliated this week. “Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network. “The Americans are responsible for that,” he said.

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/10/wikileaks-reaction-world-reaction

Are Ethiopians Ready For Digital Freedom of Opinion?

Opinion always involves emotions, furious or ecstatic .They are all emotions. Now, in this digital age, the opinions which are given by different government officials and politicians can be collected in one enormous database. And once collected in digital form, it becomes very easy for them to be shared.I think that is why Siprnet database – from which the US embassy cables are taken – is become a talk the whole world these days. As the cables revealed some of the opinions of US-embassy officials on Ethiopian government officials, I have observed that some Ethiopians are posting very furious opinions on why American hold such low attitude on Ethiopia and Ethiopia’s officials. But digital data has a tendency of widening. Once it slips past any security and it can also leak from WikiLeaks, which is how I came to obtain the data about this staff- We will crush them with our full force,”  &  “they will vegetate like Birtukan (Midekssa) in jail forever. It even slips past the filters of our telecom corporate here in Ethiopia. Some Ethiopians in abroad can access it and attach it by multiple emails for fellow Ethiopians. It seems digital data respects no authority, be it the American government, Ethiopian officials, Wiki Leaks or a newspaper editor.

 

It has been a little while since; we have all already experienced the massive changes resulting from digitization. Charlie Brooker Guardian columnist has once written:” Events or information that we once considered ephemeral and private are now aggregated, permanent, and public. If these cables seem large, think about the 500 million users of Facebook or the millions of records kept by Google. Governments hold our personal data in huge databases. It used to cost money to disclose and distribute information. In the digital age it costs money not to.” As this is becoming a daily reality if we Ethiopian do not bring about a change in respecting each other our insult is and crude opinions will be accumulated permanently on the web.

But when freedom of opinion breaches happen to the public, politicians don’t care much. Our right to hold any opinion is expendable. Now we can be a witness that this is changing. The dynamic of power is being changed in a revolutionary way. We have seen how Julian Assange is becoming powerful and touching everybody’s life.  Other individuals like Assanage can upload a copy and present every kind of information to the world. To some this marks a crisis, to others an opportunity. In Charlie’s words technology is breaking down traditional social barriers of status, class, power, wealth and geography – replacing them with an ethos of collaboration and transparency. Leaked information I think is not the problem and they are not the cause for some outrageous comments. Much of the outrage about the leaked information is not the content but from the boldness of breaching previously unreachable strongholds of political officials.

It used to be that in Ethiopia leaders heavely control citizens by controlling information. Now it’s harder than ever for the powerful to control what people read, see and hear. Technology gives people the ability to band together and challenge authority. But are we really ready as Ethiopia to respect peoples opinion and oppose their opinion in a civilized manner?