FRANKFURT, GERMANY – The newly reorganized Ethiopian People Patriotic Front’s (EPPF) International Committee has officially launched its campaign to organize Ethiopians in the Diaspora by holding its first council meeting Saturday, Nov. 14.
At the opening of the meeting, the Committee’s head of public relations and former chairman, Ato Zewdalem Kebede, welcomed the members and introduced the new chairman Ato Leul Qeskis and the other officials.
The 20-member council’s first meeting focused on discussing its mission and objectives. The members, who came from several cities in Europe and North America, also introduced each other and shared their ideas on how to rally Ethiopians in the Diaspora around the organization and mobilize humanitarian support to the families of EPPF fighters, according to the Committee’s Head of the Press Office Ato Demis Belete.
Ato Leul Qeskis, on his part, briefed the members about EPPF’s latest activities in the field, including recent military actions against the Woyanne junta in Ethiopia.
The chairman, Ato Leul, and Ato Assefa Haile, head of political affairs, had spent over three months in the field with the EPPF fighters before the leadership sent them to Europe recently to reorganize and lead the International Committee.
Both Ato Leul and Ato Assefa are elected members of parliament from Gondar and Wollo regions of northern Ethiopia. They joined EPPF after witnessing the barbaric killing of unarmed civilians and mass detention of pro-democracy protesters by the Meles regime following the May 2005 elections. Before being elected to the parliament, Ato Leul had served as head of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (Kinijit) in Gondar. Ato Assefa was a Kinijit organizer in Wollo.
Ethiopian Review will interview Ato Leul on Sunday, Nov. 16, about EPPF’s current activities and future plans, particularly its effort to organize Ethiopians in the Diaspora.
There Is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Africa’s Children Author: Melissa Fay Greene Edition: 1 Format: Bargain Price Manufacturer: Bloomsbury USA Number Of Items: 1 Number Of Pages: 472
There Is No Me Without You is the story of Haregewoin Tefarra, a middle-aged Ethiopian woman of modest means whose home has become a refuge for hundreds of children orphaned by AIDS. It is a story as much about the power of the bond between children and parents as about the epidemic that every year leaves millions of children, mostly healthy themselves, without family.
Originally a middle-class woman with a happy family life, Haregewoin fell into a deep depression after the death of her recently married daughter. But then a priest brought her two children, AIDS orphans, with nowhere to go. Unexpectedly, the children thrived, and Haregewoin found herself drawn back into daily life. As word got out, an endless stream of children began to arrive at her door, delivered by dying parents and other relatives who begged for her help, and, pushing against the limits of her home and bank account, she took more and more in.
Today, Haregewoin runs a school, a daycare system, and a shelter for sick mothers. Without medication for her charges some HIV-positive, some uninfected, and some infants trying to fight off the virus, but almost all of whom come to her terrified and malnourished forges on, caring for as many as she can handle.
Increasingly, she also places them for adoption with families like that of journalist Melissa Fay Greene, who has two children adopted from Ethiopia.
In Haregewoin Tefarra’s story, Greene gives us an astonishing portrait of a woman fighting a continent-wide epidemic.
LONDON UK – The chairperson of Unity for Democracy and Justice, Wzt. Birtukan Mideksa, and executive committee member Ato Akilu Girgire, held a public meeting in London on Sunday, Nov. 9. In a dramatic shift from a similar meeting last year, a small number of Ethiopians attended the meeting. (Only 60 people showed up, versus last’s years 450.) The few who attended the meeting had grilled Wzt. Birtukan and Ato Akilu on a number of issues, including why UDJ allows itself to be used by the Woyanne tribal junta that is rejected by the people of Ethiopia.
The meeting in London on Sunday was a fiasco for UDJ. It exposed not only the party’s lack of sound strategy on how to operate as an opposition party, it also exposed it’s chairperson’s shallow knowledge about politics and world affairs. At one point, Wzt. Birtukan compared Ethiopia with Pakistan and said that the Pakistani government under Pervez Musharaf used to do the same thing that Meles Zenawi is doing now. Of course there is no comparison between Musharaf and Meles. Musharaf had never unleashed his special forces on unarmed civilians to gun down women and children. Musharaf did not round up over 100,000 young people and detain them in disease-infested concentration camps. Musharaf did not carry out genocide against his people. After a brief, relatively peaceful uprising by lawyers and others following the dismissal of the supreme court justice, Musharaf allowed a free and fair election. He then resigned as demanded by the parties who won the election. How could a leader of an opposition party compares that to the extremely brutal fascism that is terrorizing the people of Ethiopia? Even Sarah Palin is not that uninformed.
Wzt. Birtukan went on to preach about the virtues of peaceful struggle. But the fact on the ground in Ethiopia is that there is no such thing as peaceful struggle. UDJ leaders cannot move an inch without the will of Woyanne thugs. Where there is complete lawlessness on the part of the government, people have the right to defend themselves. The likes of Wzt. Birtukan, who run to American embassy for cover when ever Woyannes harass them, have no moral authority to tell the people of Ethiopia how to defend themselves.
While preaching about peaceful struggle, UDJ is too scared to even speak out against Woyanne’s scorched earth policy against the people of Ogaden where troops burn entire villages, commit summary executions, gang rape women and block food distribution. If UDJ cannot talk about such issues, it cannot be seen as a genuine opposition party.
During the London meeting Sunday, Wzt. Birtukan conducted herself with servile deference toward the Meles regime by calling it “our government” and other similar terms that accord legitimacy to the ruling junta. This is the same regime that had gunned down in cold blood several teenagers who had tried to prevent Meles Zenawi’s death squads from arresting her during the post-2005 elections unrest. How betrayed the parents of those young Ethiopians may be feeling now when she calls the fascist regime “our government.” Woyanne is not our government. It is the enemy of the people of Ethiopia.
UDJ is not a useless organization like Beyene Petos’ UEDF or Lidetu Ayalew’s UEDP. Those discredited groups are of no consequence. Far from being useless, UDJ provides valuable service to the Woyanne regime. When the UDJ leader calls the regime that was rejected by the people of Ethiopia “our government,” it is indeed a valuable service provided to Meles & Company. The cost is to those of us who had helped Wzt. Birtukan become a popular politician. She is allowing herself to be used against the cause of freedom that we stand for and labor day and night to achive. More importantly, she is being used against the people of Ethiopia by Woyanne to make it look good in the international scene.
The damage that is being inflicted on the opposition camp by UDJ is far reaching. It is more than reviving Woyanne’s image. Because of UDJ, it is becoming difficult to convince the U.S. and European governments to impose sanctions against Woyanne. In many European countries these days it is becoming difficult for those Ethiopians who escape persecution to be granted political asylum. These governments give UDJ as a primary example of how political dissent is allowed in Ethiopia.
UDJ is not getting away with this. Ethiopians are angry, and they are showing their disappointment by boycotting UDJ public meetings and fund raising events. Because of the growing opposition, UDJ was forced to bypass its own support committees in Germany and Switzerland and ask unknown individuals to organize meetings. In Holland, fearing no body would show up, the organizers have abandoned the plan to organize a meeting. In Frankfurt, where most Ethiopians in Germany live, there will be no meeting. Instead, a meeting is organized by unknown individuals in a small town called Nürnberg. In Switzerland, a public meeting is being organized by an individual who is known to have close links with Woyanne. The legally established Kinijit support committee in Switzerland is being bypassed for raising concerns about UDJ’s position.
That is what those who betray public trust deserve. Rejection.
UDJ is not without supporters in the diaspora. It is able to rally a few lumpens (mostly in Internet Paltalk) who don’t know, or are too dumb to understand, what they are supporting. That is why they lash out against ER and others who criticize UDJ. Join the discussion on this topic. Click here to comment.
YORK, PENNYSLVANIA – The 32nd annual White Rose 5-Mile Run went off without a hitch, and longtime race director Clay Shaw, who has been in charge of the last 29 races, announced that this was his final year at the helm.
The event drew a field of 212 runners. This year’s race featured a new course and a new base of operations at Sovereign Bank Stadium. The race covered much of the previous course’s terrain, but in reverse order.
The field had an international flavor as Ethiopian, Kenyan and Moroccan runners joined the field. As expected, they also dominated.
The men’s race was won by Worku Beyi of Ethiopia, who sprinted around the new course in a record time of 23 minutes, 26 seconds. Beyi got off to a fast start and cruised to the victory, easily outdistancing fellow Ethiopian Tesfaye Girma (23:47).
“I was leading all the way … and never looked back,” said Beyi. “I run for myself, so I never look back. If someone’s coming, well …”
And he shrugged.
As for Girma, he is used to racing against his countryman — and finishing behind him.
When asked if he thought he could catch Beyi after his fast start, Girma said, “no chance,” through his interpreter.
Abraham Ngetich of Kenya (23:55), Abiyot Abebe (23:57) and Elijah Kitur (24:00) rounded out the top five.
The women’s race was incredibly close. The first four runners, all Ethiopians, were separated by just four seconds.
Meskerem Legesse outkicked Buzunesh Deba and Muluye Gurma as the runners sprinted to the finish line at the Brooks Robinson statue in front of the stadium. Legesse clocked a 27:16, and her two pursuers finished one second behind.
“Sometimes we race together, and I usually beat (Deba),” said Legesse with a laugh.
Deba, who is married to men’s winner Beyi, smiled at her friend.
“She’s very fast, and my legs are tired, so that’s not good,” said Deba.
The top American runner was Michael McKeeman of Ardmore, who placed ninth overall in 25:35. Justin Krebs of York was the top local finisher, placing 13th in 26:28.
On the women’s side, Christine Ramsey of Baltimore was the top American, placing sixth overall in 30:24. Melody Parshall of Dover was the top local finisher, coming in eighth in 34:24.
Dianna Golden of York, 55, placed ninth in 34:35, shattering the age-group record by five minutes.
Jeff Miller of Lewistown was the male Masters (over age 40) winner in 26:24, and Dee Miller of Lancaster claimed that honor for the women in 34:08.
For full race results, see Page 5D.
As for the future of the race, Shaw said it is “likely” that the race will continue. He will no longer be the race director, but he will continue to bring in the elite athletes.
This race was also the final race in the York Hospital Running Series. Visit www.YHRunningSeries.com for final results.
From the campaign trail: Washington, DC – ELECTION day broke chilly and grey across the DC area (only transplants call it Washington). Late-morning drizzles turned into the sort of steady, cold, drifting rain that defies jackets and umbrellas to seep into bones. Still, record numbers of voters stood patiently in line. In Virginia, this was expected: it was a battleground state; Barack Obama made dozens of visits; voters clearly felt they could make a difference. And they did: thanks to strong turnout, especially in the state’s liberal north, Mr Obama won Virginia—the first Democrat to do so since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
DC, by contrast, has the three most reliably Democratic electoral votes in the country; they have never gone to a Republican candidate. Its citizens pay federal taxes but have only a non-voting representative in Congress. There wasn’t even a mayoral race to add spice; the down-ballot races were for city council, board of education and the baffling “Advisory Neighborhood Committee”. Still, voters waited. In the end a jaw-dropping 93% of them voted for Mr Obama.
For candidates seeking national political office, this city is the end of the rainbow. They spend their lives working to come here, then spend their time in office disparaging it. Natives don’t mind, though: they’re not really talking about our city. The Washington of grey buildings, grey suits and grey men; of politics and power; of thinktanks and influence and backroom dealings is something entirely separate and removed from the city of DC. The two cities rub up against each other here and there—at Eastern Market, on the Metro, in the beer line at Wizards games (not in the stands, though: the Verizon Centre, where the Wizards play, has a huge and rigorously protected section of corporate luxury boxes)—but for the most part each is content to ignore the other.
When pundits talk about how an incoming administration is going to “change the city”, residents laugh: it might change Washington, but DC will remain the same tree-lined, pleasant, rather sleepy southern town. We didn’t suddenly start wearing cowboy boots in 2000. We didn’t sit around kitchen tables discussing policy into the wee hours in the 1990s. The 1980s may have been morning in Reagan’s America, but crack was eating DC alive: residents grew so weary of being mocked for living in the world’s murder capital that a local band released a song called “DC Don’t Stand for Dodge City.”
These days the crime rate has fallen. The city is noticeably richer, though income inequality remains stark: in 2003 the two largest septiles of household income distribution were over $100,000 (20%) and under $15,000 (19.1%). Still, I moved back here last year—after a 15-year absence during which I lived in five cities in three countries—and the city feels noticeably different than it did when I left: sleeker, more sophisticated, more confident. It won’t do to grouse about progress, prosperity and safety, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the DC of my youth just a little—the rough secret, the dirty gem.
The stretch of Massachusetts Avenue between Thomas Circle and Union Station used to be sketchy and dotted with vacant buildings; now it’s upscale condos all the way. When I was growing up, I would not have walked alone in the inner-city neighbourhood where I live; now it’s strollers and minivans as far as the eye can see. The old rowhouses of Shaw have been rehabbed, and the neighbourhood is vibrant once again.
U Street, once called the “Black Broadway”, was, like so much of the city, destroyed in the riots that followed Martin Luther King junior’s assassination, then left to rot by an indifferent federal government and incompetent local administration. Now it thrums at night with young revelers of all races; it is the heart not just of DC’s nightlife, but also of its Ethiopian community—the world’s largest outside Ethiopia.
On November 4th that stretch of U was packed with people celebrating Mr Obama’s triumph. The revelry was sustained, sincere, jubilant and loud. Mr Obama’s earliest and most fervent supporters—“eggheads and African-Americans”, as one Clinton hack notoriously sneered during the primary election—comprise a greater proportion of this city than any other, and they were not going to be denied their joy. On November 5th, Washington anxiously wondered what changes its new leader would bring—“Is there anyone in Washington who really knows [the Obamas]?”, fretted one society hostess—but DC went back to work.
KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN – Guest lecturer Zion Uness will discuss “The Journey of Ethiopian Jewry” in a free, public lecture at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, in Room 210 of the Bernhard Center at Western Michigan University.
Uness was born in 1977 in Ethiopia and immigrated to Israel at age 7. He served in the infantry of the Israeli Defense Forces and subsequently received a degree in occupational therapy from the University of Haifa. Since that time he has worked to improve Ethiopian-Israeli education and community life, and has spoken widely at Jewish community centers, film festivals, and universities about Ethiopian Jewry.
WMU Hillel, the Jewish student organization, is sponsoring the program. For more information, visit wmuhillel.com or contact Jay Pliskow, president of WMU Hillel, at [email protected].