Arkebe Equbay, a one-time rising star of the Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front and former mayor of Addis Ababa, has fled to the United States seeking asylum, according to reliable sources. Also defecting is Getachew Equbay, Arkebe’s brother and former executive of Mesfin Engineering. The brothers are said to have escaped along with their families.
According to Wikileaks, in 2008, the majority of TPLF leadership had voted for Arkebe to lead the politburo. Arkebe is said to have wisely chosen not to antagonize Meles. Arkebe was nevertheless unceremoniously purged from the politburo by the vindictive former prime minister two years later.
Just last year, Arkebe was thought to be the heir apparent to the throne following the demise of former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Unconfirmed reports are also circulating about the defection of many frightened TPLF biggies who refused to return home after traveling to the US.
We in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) are deeply disturbed by illegal and violent actions by the TPLF/EPRDF that prevented the Semayawi Party from carrying out its peaceful rally on Sunday, September 1. Despite receiving the go ahead from authorities to stage this lawful rally nearly two months ago, with no warning, federal police stormed and ransacked Semayawi [also known as the Blue Party] headquarters on Saturday, August 31, 2013.
After first cutting off all electricity to their office, the TPLF/EPRDF police officers forcibly took over the office of the Semayawi Party. Leaders and volunteers working on final preparations for the next day’s rally were beaten and kicked by authorities before being detained for a number of hours. After further harassment, interrogation and intimidation in detention, they were released, but the federal police maintained control of Semayawi headquarters until the next morning.
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An Open Letter to John Kerry: Tell Ethiopia to Release Eskinder Nega and Stop Imprisoning Bloggers
September 4, 2013
“Individuals can be penalised, made to suffer (oh, how I miss my child) and even killed. But democracy is a destiny of humanity which can not be averted. It can be delayed but not defeated… I sleep in peace, even if only in the company of lice, behind bars.” – a letter attributed to imprisoned blogger Eskinder Nega, serving 18 years for journalism in Ethiopia
Dear Secretary of State John Kerry,
This month marks the second anniversary of Eskinder Nega’s imprisonment. When you visited Ethiopia in May, Eskinder Nega had already been imprisoned – and thus silenced – for over a year. It’s time for the United States to use its considerable influence to vigorously and directly advocate Nega’s freedom and, in the process, to promote free expression and independent journalism throughout Ethiopia.
Now is a crucial moment for the Secretary to speak out. Over the weekend, Ethiopian security forces in Addis Ababa brutally suppressed a demonstration calling for political reforms and the release of jailed journalists and dissidents.
Eskinder Nega is an internationally recognized Ethiopian reporter-turned-blogger. His award-winning journalism on political issues in Ethiopia – and his refusal to stop publishing or flee the country – has made him the target of persecution by the Ethiopian government for many years. Nega was arrested in September 2011 and then convicted under a new, extremely broad anti-terrorism law in Ethiopia. Nega’s so-called crime was writing articles and speaking publicly on topics such as the Arab Spring and Ethiopia’s poor record on press freedom. For that, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
In July, the New York Times published a letter from Eskinder Nega in prison, who explained that Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law “has been used as a pretext to detain journalists who criticize the government.” He elaborated on the actions that landed him in prison on charges of terrorism:
I’ve never conspired to overthrow the government; all I did was report on the Arab Spring and suggest that something similar might happen in Ethiopia if the authoritarian regime didn’t reform. The state’s main evidence against me was a YouTube video of me, saying this at a public meeting. I also dared to question the government’s ludicrous claim that jailed journalists were terrorists.
As Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said, “The use of draconian laws and trumped-up charges to crack down on free speech and peaceful dissent makes a mockery of the rule of law.”
EFF has joined other free speech advocates and human rights organizations around the world in calling for Nega’s release. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has joined the movement calling for Nega’s freedom. And Amnesty International has rightly declared Nega a prisoner of conscience and is petitioning for his release.
Journalists and human rights organizations around the world have condemned Nega’s sentence and called for his release. It’s time for the United States, and especially the State Department, to do the same.
We’re writing today to urge you to use your relationship with Ethiopia to campaign for Eskinder Nega’s freedom and the freedom of all peaceful bloggers in Ethiopia.
We appreciate the public statements that the State Department has made about Nega’s imprisonment, but that’s not enough. Nega has already spent two years in prison, and other bloggers in Ethiopia have also been silenced by similar unjust imprisonments.
A free and independent media is vital to democracy and justice. We are calling on you to speak out on behalf of Eskinder Nega and raise his case with your contacts within the Ethiopian government. We urge you to more strongly tie American economic and political support for Ethiopia to its record on press freedom. The Ethiopian government should understand that the imprisonment of Eskinder Nega has real and continuing consequences to the health of its global diplomatic and financial relationships with its partners.
The United States has deep ties with Ethiopia. Please use this access and influence to champion the rights of free expression and press freedom that are guaranteed by the Ethiopian constitution and international law.
“Wolahi, Wolahi…” swears 85 year old Totolamo village barley farmer and cattle herder Hajji Abdinur Shifa when a reporter asked him if he know any terrorist hiding in his village. His face looks like a paint of sorrow and grief. His wife affectionately called by the villagers, Adiyo, was too fragile to talk about the August 3 2013 blood bath that turned their agriculture and livestock rich village into an inferno.
“My son took three bullets and died a day later at Sashemene general hospital. The body that was weakening by fasting could not respond well to treatment and he succumbed to his wounds without saying goodbye. His killers (federal police commandos) did not allow us entry to the hospital. My son Abdulkarim is dead but he will live in my heart until I join him in paradise…,” the respected elder said wiping his tears with a piece of garment.
On that fateful day, 3 August 2013, Abdulkarim Abdinur Shifa, 39, was at Erob Gebeya mosque loading onto his van sacks of barley, corn, and potato donated by farmers to be distributed among the needy in the city of Sashemene for Eid celebration.
When he was about to leave, bullets started raining down and the scream of women and children filled the salubrious air of Totolamo. Tigre people Liberation Front gunmen in police uniform massacred eleven people including an elderly imam and an infant.
The tragedy touched every household from Totolamo to Kofele in southwest oromyya.
In the land famed for its sylvan beauty, despite the aroma of ripe corn, the stench of death still hangs in the air. The approach of the delightful month of September did not lift the gloom of the August blood bath. According to our sources from Sashemene general hospital, currently the death toll stands at sixteen- all Muslims and close relatives.
The Horn Times manage to obtain the names of 14 victims of the August 3 slaughter…
1. Adam Jamal
2. Lenco Jilcha
3. Habib Wabe
4. Gachano Tuse
5. Muhammad Debel Ouse
6. Jamal Arsho Arsi
7. Muhammad Eidao
8. Amman Buli
9. Muhamud Hassan
10. Rashid Burka
11. Abush Ebrahim
12. Mamush Ebrahim
13. Tuke Besso
14. Abdulkarim Abdinur Shifa
Furthermore, two hundred young men arrested on 3 August 2013 are still languishing in Kofele town police prison without any charges.
Ethiopia: Police “Discover” Bombs at Busy Market Place
By Getahun Bekle | tesfanews.net
August 24, 2013
According to eye witnesses whom the Horn Times spoke to, this pictured police officer first picked the two harmless bombs but a colleague shouted at him to place them back under an Isuzu van reg. number, code 3-73189.
And there began the live show of shame after ETV cameras and TPLF journalists rushed to the scene along with anti-terror squad members and federal police bomb disposal unit members.
Amid laughter and mockery by hundreds of onlookers at one of Addis Ababa’s busiest terminals known as American Gibi, near Ras Seyoum hotel, on Wednesday morning 22 August 2013, two police bomb disposal unit members crawled to the “dangerous explosives” and removed them while a camera man film their every move from very close range. However, the drama did not end there.
As the ETV camera zoomed, four police officers dragged a well-dressed and bearded young man who looks like a traditional Ethiopian Muslim from a nearby grain store and pulled out two detonators out of his hip pocket before horridly driving off the way they came. It was mission accomplished-planting evidence to persecute the innocent; in this case the Ethiopian Muslims.
Some already labeled the drama a strategic deception by the ruling minority junta to secure conviction by planting evidence that will lead to wrongful incarceration, torture, or even extrajudicial execution.
“It is ridiculous. How could police remove bombs with hundreds of people standing less than two meters away and ETV cinematographers filming the whole episode from less than a meter away? In addition, what kind of stupid terrorist is placing hand grenades without detonators under a car only to be caught with them moments later? I think everything is stage managed.” A shop owner who watched the whole drama from his balcony told the Horn Times reporters.
A well-known legal expert who chooses to remain anonymous said planting evidence has become part of the junta’s plan to stifle the opposition after the 2005 mass uprising against the minority rule.
“Police and intelligence officers who are employed by the Tigre People Liberation Front/TPLF cannot comply with the requirements of oaths and perform their jobs in an honorable and honest manner due to their ties to the regime.
“Under pressure from their superiors; officers plant evidence instead of gathering and analyzing evidence. Since they are hired to serve the ruling party, they think every opposition politician deserves to be incarcerated whether or not the suspects committed the particular crime in question.
“In my more than fifteen years of practice, I have seen dozens of wrongful convictions of respected opposition figures and journalists due to police planted evidence. Few days ago the Ethiopian government seized bombs at the airport and today another two bombs tomorrow a weapons cache…all these will be used in the ongoing propaganda war against Ethiopian Muslims.”
He explained warning that opposition politicians, journalists, and religious leaders will never get fair trial in a police state like Ethiopia.