President Obama is not new to oppression. He started his political life as a community worker. As a grassroots organizer, he helped the disadvantaged stand up for their Constitutional Rights so they could enjoy life and liberty as free citizens. His constituents elected him three times to the Illinois Senate, and once to the US Senate, and finally to the Presidency.
His election in 2008 is considered a historical moment in the Republic’s history. His campaign to win the nomination, and his tussle with Senator Clinton was bare fisted, and his demolition of Senator McCain was viewed as just phenomenal.
He has done a lot of good to help the disadvantaged in the USA. His signature health care bill (Obama Care) is a great achievement by any standards. He has filled many judicial seats with progressives and minorities; the dividends will ripple for generations to come.
Mr. Obama has been said to have evolved on a variety of issues. It could be seen as going with the flow and accepting the inevitable or seen as rethinking one’s core values and beliefs to come to a new and different conclusion. History will judge if the President was acting as a consummate politician and blowing with the wind or if he is genuine in his belief in change.
The war in Syria and the group referred to as ISIS is a good example of Mr. Obama’s evolution. He did not think much of President Assad and thought less of the opposition. In an interview with the NY Times he said, ‘This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”
That was August of 2014. Senators Mc Cain, Rubio, Cruz were screaming for war and and ISIS took center stage and in September of 2014 Mr. Obama evolved. He authorized airstrikes in Syria and pledged to train and equip the opposition to Assad.
In a 1996 campaign questionnaire when he ran for Illinois State Senate, Mr. Obama supported same sex marriage. In 2008 when he ran for the Presidency, Mr. Obama declared ‘I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,’ he continued, ‘Now, for me as a Christian—for me—for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.’
By October of 2012, Mr. Obama evolved on the same sex marriage issue by saying, ‘Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all 50 states.’ His opponent Governor Romney, who used to boast of his ‘better than Kennedy’ stand on matter of gay rights devolved into a staunch conservative while Mr. Obama saw the writing on the wall and moved further to the left.
How do we see Mr. Obama’s current love affair with dictators and Human Rights abusers in Africa? Did he evolve or devolve is the questions Africans are asking. Mr. Obama in 2008 came with the message of ‘Hope’ and the whole world was electrified with his victory. Africans were particularly elated by the news. One of our own has become boss of the whole planet.
The young President rode the wave like the professional he is. His speech in Cairo was watched by all third world people that look to the US to take the lead in matters of Global Peace and Prosperity. He did everything to make us believe good days were ahead. The following four excerpts are taken from his speech in June of 2009 in Cairo, and the one on July of 2009 in Accra, Ghana.
But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere. Cairo speech June 4th 2009
No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy. Cairo speech June 4th 2009
In the 21st century, capable, reliable and transparent institutions are the key to success - strong parliaments and honest police forces; independent judges and journalists; a vibrant private sector and civil society. Those are the things that give life to democracy, because that is what matters in peoples' lives. Accra, Ghana speech July 11, 2009
As we provide this support, I have directed my Administration to give greater attention to corruption in our Human Rights report. People everywhere should have the right to start a business or get an education without paying a bribe. We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don't, and that is exactly what America will do. Accra Ghana Accra, Ghana speech July 11, 2009
President Obama was back in Africa just last week. He visited Kenya, the home of his father and made a stop in Ethiopia to speak at the Headquarters of the African Union in Addis Abeba. I am afraid the old and tired Obama has devolved on us. That youthful exuberance is replaced by cynicism and indifference. He came to lecture Africans. He wanted us to march on his parade. It was all about him. He reversed that famous Kennedy quote right side down. He asked African leaders, ‘What can you do for me not what can I do for your people?’
Africans expected that their powerful, rich son coming home with his own private plane and escorted by Fighter jets, helicopters and drones would level the playing field so we all can play and compete to win. That is what Roosevelt did for Europe after the devastating war. He loaned them money, he made sure that Democracy and Human Rights were respected and he laid the foundation for what Europe is today. We expected the same treatment for our abused continent.
I am afraid that Mr. Obama was a disappointment to his East African cousins. He referred to the Ethiopian fascist regime as a democratically elected equal. That is not fair to the many Ethiopians who were killed by the Government goons in every part of the country, who were jailed for speaking out, who have lost their job and family belongings because they dared to stand up and challenge the TPLF regime currently masquerading as EPDRF. It is not that Mr. Obama is not aware that the TPLF regime sabotaged and banned Andenet, manufactured chaos inside AEUP, deleted Semayawi Party candidates and used its monopoly of the media to scorn and demean the opposition.
President Obama is aware of all that and more. He is just like his predecessors that used to change regimes in Latin America on a whim. The President is flirting with today’s dictators that have learnt the lesson of appearing Democratic and acting like a thug. Latin America today is growing out of the pains inflicted by the CIA and is wary of its giant neighbor to the north. The policy of propping Generals and dictators did not bring peace or prosperity. It only resulted in mistrust. It would take a while to start a new era of equal relationship.
Susan Rice Obama’s National Security Advisor could not hide her feelings about TPLF winning 100% election joke the regime played on Ethiopians. I am sure she told Mr. Obama. His Department of State yearly report on Ethiopia reads like a horror story and that is the sanitized version. The real story the Embassy reports through secure channels that was released by Wiki leaks is testimony to man’s inhumanity to man. Just because the fascist regime is willing to send its soldiers to further a proven not to succeed policy President Obama turned his face around and pretended not to see. On behalf of all those that were murdered by TPLF, on behalf of thousands in prison such as Eskinder, Andualem, Temesgen, Wubshet, Andargachew, Bekele, Abubeker and others we peace loving Ethiopians with our friends all over the world are not happy with your policy of appeasing dictators. In your own words ‘you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig’
The bottom line is that no one knows our condition better than ourselves. Right now it is fair to say that most Ethiopians have concluded that there is something majorly wrong in our country when all the power is concentrated in one little clique. The Ethiopian people are attempting in many ways to regain their authority over their country. There are many ways to fight injustice. Mr. Obama’s America was founded by the colony’s refusing to acknowledge the sovereignty of the British Monarch on the land they had built by their own blood and toil. They went to war to protect their right to ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ That is what the Ethiopian people are compelled to do. It is natural and no amount of force would stop man’s quest to be free.
Professor Cornel West in one of his interviews referred to Mr. Obama the ‘Black face of the American Empire.’ The current visit to Africa seems to have confirmed his thesis. Anyone that goes to Africa and raises Gay Right issues as Mr. Obama did during his press conference with the Kenyan PM makes you wonder about the kind of data he gets from his expert and impartial Advisors. I was forced to think was he playing to the US audience or did he really think that most Africans have evolved with him on this issue and go to bed hungry thinking about same sex marriage. I do not mean to belittle the Human Right aspect of the question but in today’s Africa finding food and shelter ranks very high.
Mr. Obama has another year and half to go. Anything is possible, and the chances of further evolvement and show of empathy for those under dictatorship is always possible. We won’t hold our collective breath for such eventuality because we have decided to do the job ourselves. When Mr. Obama understands our predicament we are certain he would do what our freedom fighters are doing currently in Northern Ethiopia and soon to spread all over Ethiopia.
Bogota, Colombia (IAAF) — The women’s race, Sunday, July 26, 2015, at Bogota Half Marathon, anIAAF Gold Label Road Race, proved a much more cagey affair, with no one willing to put the pace from the start.
Four athletes initially ran together at the front – Ethiopians Birhane Dibaba, Shure Demise, and Amane Gobena, along with Kenya’s Sharon Cherop – as they passed 10km in a relatively pedestrian 37:11.
With the other three content to run in her slipstream, it was Demise who took on most of the pacing duties, but her efforts were never enough to shake the presence of the trio behind.
Several times, Demise motioned to the others to come through and take the pace, but there were few takers on that particular invitation.
By 15km, the leading group had been reduced to three as Dibaba began to drop off the back of the pack and it was then that Gobena made her move to the front, running alongside Demise.
Demise soon re-established command of the race and continued to push the pace but try as she might, she just couldn’t shake Gobena, or indeed Cherop.
In the final kilometre, Gobena again made a move to the front and this time it proved decisive; she quickly opened a 10-metre lead on Demise, which she held all the way to the finish, coming home in 1:13:44.
“I’m very happy to get the win,” said Gobena after the close contest. “I found it very difficult. The wind was quite strong.”
Demise finished a close second in 1:13:47, with Cherop third in 1:13:55.
Biwott wins Men’s Half Marathon race
Kenya’s Stanley Biwott dominated a quality field with an imperious solo performance to win the Bogota Half Marathon, in 1:03:15 on Sunday (26).
Biwott had entered the race as the overwhelming favourite for one of South America’s only two IAAF top status road races after having run the fastest half marathon in the world this year with his 59:20 performance in The Hague.
From the start, he shot to the front and quickly established his superiority.
With the Colombian capital sitting at an altitude of around 2600 metres, this race was never going to be about fast times for Biwott – who finished fourth in the London Marathon earlier this year – but he gave a good impression in the opening kilometres that he was targeting Geoffrey Mutai’s course record of 1:02:20.
However, soon the kilometres splits started to get slower.
By the time he passed 10km in 31:00, he had built a lead of 41 seconds over his closest pursuer,Ethiopia’s Tadesse Tola, but with his pace now lagging well behind that of the course record, it soon became clear Biwott would just have to settle for the victory.
Midway through the race, the sun also began to break through the clouds and Biwott admitted afterwards that the rising temperatures and lack of competition may have cost him a faster time on the day but nonetheless, his performance was one of utter supremacy.
In a bid to create a race within a race, the elite women were set off seven minutes before the men, which was supposed to result in a convergence of genders near the finish, but by the time Biwott passed 11km, he had already flown past the leading women and had nothing but open road in front of him.
He reached the finish in Simon Bolivar Park and punched the air in delight, his winning time of 1:03:15 giving him a yawning 92 seconds to spare over Tola, who came home in 1:04:47. Kenya’s Kimutai Kiplimo finished third in 1:05:14.
“It was not easy,” reflected Biwott. “It was humid and windy sometimes, and the course was tough. I was expecting to run 62 but I was running all alone so that makes the time a little bit slow. If there was competition, I think I would have run 61.”
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF
Men 1. Stanley Biwott (KEN) 1:03:15 2. Tadesse Tola (ETH) 1:04:47 3. Kimutai Kiplimo (KEN) 1:05:14 4. Tsegaye Mekonnen (ETH) 1:05:58 5. Javier Guarin (COL) 1:06:08
Torture and abuse in notorious prison cell in Ethiopian government forces
(Washington Post) — In “ Obama’s Ethiopia stop irks human rights leaders ” [news, July 23], Girma Birru, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United States, claimed that journalists imprisoned under the country’s notorious “anti-terrorism law ” support groups that “instigate violence.” He did not say that any activist who refuses to join the ruling party can be jailed and tortured.
One of us, Merga Nebiyu Gelgelo, was a biomedical engineering student who founded an organization to support economic development in Ethiopia’s Oromia region. Though he did not belong to a political party, he was detained under the anti-terrorism law and brutally tortured. Prison guards tied him to a cross, lit a fire under the cross and slid his body close to the fire. Mr. Gelgelo thought he would burn to death.
Ethiopia can work with the United States to combat terrorism in East Africa without torturing Mr. Gelgelo and hundreds more like him just because they do not support the dictatorship.
Andrea Barron and Merga Nebiyu Gelgelo, Washington
The writers are, respectively, advocacy consultant and member of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition.
Human rights advocates are not simple idealists who think human rights concerns trump economic and security interests in a zero-sum game. But juxtaposing human rights advocates with “experts” who think the administration “must weigh human rights against other important factors” creates an impression that activists “view foreign policy through the single lens of human rights.”
Instead, they largely agree with Samuel Berger, national security adviser under President Clinton, who said it was a mistake to “think of human rights and security as an either-or proposition.” Indeed, I doubt that any of the former government officials quoted in the article would argue that lasting security can be achieved in Ethiopia, Kenya or any other country without enduring respect for human rights.
The real question isn’t whether or not to engage with these countries; it’s whether the U.S. government will use its considerable leverage, including state visits, to press for progress on the prerequisite for security and prosperity: human rights
President Obama Ethiopia Speech President Obama Delivers Remarks at the African Union President Obama Ethiopia Speech President Obama Delivers Remarks at the African Union President Obama Ethiopia Speech President Obama Delivers .
Obama State of the Union 2015 Address: The president laid out a vision for his last two years inoffice, outlining areas of possible consensus with Republicans .
President Barack Obama calls for Africa to end the cancer of corruption in his African Union speech from Ethiopia Tags: Highlights of Barack Obama’s African .
President Obama is criticized for saying Ethiopian government is ‘democratically elected’
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopian opposition figures have criticized a remark by President Barack Obama that their country, whose ruling party won every seat in parliament in May elections, has a “democratically elected” government.
Yonathan Tesfaye, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s opposition Blue party, said Tuesday that Obama behaved like a “tricky and mischievous politician” when he made the comment a day earlier during a news conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Obama departed Ethiopia on Tuesday to end a two-nation African trip that included a stop in Kenya.
Human rights groups have criticized Obama for visiting Ethiopia, saying his trip lends legitimacy to an oppressive government. Hailemariam has defended Ethiopia’s commitment to democracy.
Ethiopia is the world’s second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
(Freedom House) — As President Obama prepares to visit Ethiopia next week, Freedom House has prepared policy recommendations for the White House, highlighting Ethiopia’s undermining of civil society, independent media, and the political opposition:
“The political environment during parliamentary elections held in May included arrest, harassment and intimidation of opposition members and supporters,” the letter says. “Apart from seriously eroding citizens’ faith in any prospect of an inclusive political framework, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front’s entrenched control over all levers of political power sends a strong signal that all avenues of legitimate dissent are closed, fomenting resentment that could lead to violent extremism.”
“Freedom House recommends that President Obama urge the Government of Ethiopia to undertake a comprehensive review of the country’s civil society and anti-terrorism laws and to release imprisoned journalists and peaceful political activists.”
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.
Ethiopia: Policy Recommendations, July 2015
In 2009, the Ethiopian Parliament passed the Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSP), tightly restricting Ethiopian civil society organizations (CSOs). This includes limiting the amount of foreignfunding that organizations are allowed to receive to 10 percent. Legislation passed in 2009, the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP) has been extensively used to silence critical voices including independent journalists and members of opposition political parties. These laws coupled with other government policies seriously limit the ability for independent voices to be heard.
Political Space and Inclusive Political Process
In May, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) conducted another tightly controlled national election and won all seats in both federal and regional legislatures. The political environment included the widespread arrest, harassment and intimidation of opposition members and supporters. Apart from seriously eroding citizens’ faith in any prospect of an inclusive political framework, EPRDF’s control of all levers of political power sends a strong signal that all avenues of legitimate dissent are closed, fomenting resentment that could lead to violent extremism. The rise in politically motivated killings of opposition activists after announcement of the election results in May and June (seven reported cases) shows that local officials believe that a total win for EPRDF means no space for opposition. Freedom House therefore recommends that during his visit, President Obama:
Urge the Ethiopian government to release members and supporters of opposition political parties imprisoned as a result of their peaceful political activities.
Encourage the Ethiopian government to undertake a thorough review of electoral laws and institutions to allow for a meaningful engagement of civil society in voters’ education and election observation activities.
Call on the Ethiopian authorities to take measures to address the concerns being raised by the country’s Muslim population. A positive first step in this direction could be releasing representatives of the Muslim community that have been in prison since 2012 being tried under the ATP.
Civil Society and Media
The CSP has effectively decimated human rights groups in Ethiopia. While the stated purpose of the CSP is ‘to aid and facilitate the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the development of the country,’ it has actually forced at least 10 prominent human rights and democracy promotion organizations to abandon their mandates in order to continue receiving foreign funding while others were forced to scale back their operations significantly. As a direct result of the CSP, Ethiopia’s leading human rights NGO, Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO, now HRCO), had to close 9 of its 12 regional offices and cut 85 percent of its staff. The Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA), another prominent group, cut nearly 70 percent of its staff. Authorities also froze the bankaccounts of these groups. In addition to the severe restrictions the CSP imposes on funding and human rights work, the dysfunctional legal framework it put in place is actively undermining the role of civil society in development. A 2014 performance audit conducted by the Federal Auditor Generalfound that more than 85 percent of NGOs were not able to comply with one or more of the expenditure and reporting requirements. The Director of the Charities and Societies Agency, the government agency in charge of regulating NGOs, told parliament that if his agency were to enforce the CSP as written, all NGOs would have closed. During President Obama’s visit to Ethiopia, Freedom House recommends that he:
Urge the government of Ethiopia to undertake a comprehensive review of the CSP and the eight implementation guidelines (directives) that limit access to international funding for human rights organizations and their abilities to form networks and consortia.
In the short term, seek ways of making U.S. government funding accessible to Ethiopian human rights groups by setting up a special ‘human rights and civil society’ fund that is not subject to the 10 percent foreign funding cap. The European Union successfully negotiated such an arrangement with the Ethiopian government.
Welcome the recent release of five journalists and bloggers and call for the release of the remaining 11 journalists and bloggers as well as scores of peaceful opposition activists who are currently in prison.
Meet with human rights defenders, civil society activists and recently released journalists and bloggers as a demonstration of U.S government support and solidarity to their cause.
Human Rights and National Security
After Ethiopia’s most competitive elections in 2005 concluded with violence and the detention of hundreds of opposition members and civil society leaders, EPRDF moved to systematize the tools of political control through a series of restrictive legislation backed by intense crackdown on media and civil society intended to silence perceived opponents and critics. As a result, the operational space for legitimate opposition, independent media and human rights activists has been seriously constrained. The ATP is being used to pursue vigorous prosecution of opposition party members and journalists.
The excesses of Ethiopia’s counter-terrorism operations that include arbitrary arrests, widespread practice of torture, alarming trends of disregard to due process rights of detainees and excessive pre-trial detention have stifled legitimate dissent and created a profound climate of fear. Lack of accountability of security forces is exacerbated by a judiciary that is largely subservient to the executive and lacks institutional autonomy to exercise effective oversight and enforcement of constitutionally guaranteed human rights protections. Freedom House therefore recommends that President Obama:
Urge the Ethiopian government to review the provisions of the ATP that lay out an overbroad definition of legitimate activities of journalists and political activists as acts of terror.
Call on Ethiopian authorities to adhere to national and international standards of due process and fair trial in their treatment of detainees under the ATP; and establish an effective mechanism of accountability for law enforcement officials who commit human rights violations.
Offer US technical assistance in reviewing the ATP to bring it up to international standards, and train law enforcement and judicial personnel in international human rights principles and prudent counter-terrorism techniques.
Reiterate the need for civil society to be considered a partner rather than an obstacle in counter-terrorism efforts and stress the role civil society can play in addressing the underlying challenges and gaps that drive extremism.
Support for Human Rights and Democracy Promotion
Given the highly repressive political environment in Ethiopia, it is admittedly difficult to support those who risk their lives to promote democracy and human rights. But it is not impossible, and if such groups are to survive in Ethiopia, they need outside support. Even a small increase in democracy and human rights assistance can have an enormous impact in ensuring that local civil society is able defend the fundamental rights of all Ethiopians. Freedom House recommends that the Obama Administration:
Increase USAID’s democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG) budget for Ethiopia to support programs that aim to strengthen independent media and investigative journalism in an effort to stem growing trends of official corruption and other human rights abuses. The current obligated amount of $350,000 for DRG represents only 1.68 percent of the Agency’s obligated total funding for Ethiopia. Expand USAID programming to cover much needed capacity building support in digital security and human rights monitoring to civil society and digital activists.