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  • ‘Ethiopia believes its ties with EU should be based on mutual interest, equality’

    Ethiopia believes its ties with the European Union ought to be based on the principles of mutual interest and equality, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has said.

    Ethiopia and EU have already jointly embarked working on the "strategic engagement" signed on July last year aimed at transforming the longstanding relations to a much comprehensive, reinforced and structured tie, MoFA recalled in press release Thursday.

    However, EU's resolution on Ethiopia Thursday, which called for the immediate release on bail and dropping of all charges against Dr. Merera Gudina, was not fair and appropriate, MoFA said. The press release wouldn't do more than undermining the constitutional system of the country, it added.

    According to MoFA, the release of the resolution at this crucial time when the Government of Ethiopia iwas aggressively working to fill the already identified gaps between the public and government institutions wouldn't do-good to the mounting spirit of cooperation between Ethiopia and EU.

    Such remarks made on suspects who are in jail and whose cases are being taken care by the law of the land lack an obvious understanding of the judicial system and procedure of the country, the statement said.

    Ethiopia will continue to do its level best towards ensuring an upward spiral and mutually beneficial relationship with the European Union built on the principles of equality and measured remarks based on realities on the ground, it said.

     

     

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  • European Parliament Demands Investigation Into Ethiopia Killings

    The European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a United Nations-led independent investigation into the killing of protesters in Ethiopia.

    Between November 2015 and October 2016, Ethiopian security forces killed hundreds of protesters, and detained tens of thousands. An overly restrictive state of emergency has been in place for the past seven months, and tens of thousands more people have been detained under it. On

    Thursday, May 18 resolution echoes a previous European Union parliamentary resolution, resolutions by other countries, and last month’s request by the UN’s top human rights chief for access to investigate the abuses.

    Ethiopia’s government has always rejected outside scrutiny of its horrific rights record, insisting that it can investigate itself. Yet it has conspicuously failed to do so. Past investigations by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have not met basic standards of impartiality, including its June 2016 report into abuses during the protests’ first six months.

    In April 2017, the EHRC acknowledged that 669 people were killed in an oral report to parliament, but found that security forces had used excessive force in just a few situations. This stands in stark contrast to what Human Rights Watch and other organizations have found, drawing on evidence that includes a wealth of video and photographic material. The EHRC hasn’t publicly released a version of their findings, so it’s impossible to assess their methodology or learn how they reached their conclusions.

    International experts having access to areas where protests occurred and to people still in detention are important first steps towards meaningful investigations. But there are other obstacles too, like victims and witnesses being too afraid to speak out about government abuses. Thousands of Ethiopians have fled the country since the protests, seeking asylum in bordering countries. They too should be part of investigations into what happened, from locations where they may be more free to speak without fear.

    Today’s resolution specifically calls on Federica Mogherini, the EU’s top diplomat, to “mobilise EU Member States” to urgently pursue the setting up of the UN-led international inquiry, and they can take the first step towards this at the upcoming Human Rights Council session next month in Geneva.

    It’s hoped that implementing today’s timely resolution can help address the pervasive culture of impunity in Ethiopia. The resolution also reiterates the EU’s recognition of the importance of justice to ensure Ethiopia’s long-term stability. To the many victims of Ethiopia’s brutality, a UN-led inquiry could at least begin to answer pleas for justice that too often have gone unheard.

     

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  • EBC, Al Jazeera agree to work together

    The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) and Al Jazeera Media Network have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) enabling them to collaborate on capacity building.

    Representing their respective institutions, Chief Executive Officer of EBC, Seyoum Mekonnen and Director of Al Jazeera Media Institute, Mounir Daymi signed the MoU on Monday, at Al Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar.

    On the Ethiopian side, Minister of Government Communication Affairs Office Dr. Negeri Lencho, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to Qatar, Misganu Arga witnessed the MoU signing event.

    The capacity building agreement signed between the two media institutions is believed to help the Ethiopian side benefit from Al Jazeera's rich experience in the field of journalism.

    On the occasion, the Ethiopian delegation visited the various sections of the Al Ja zeera Media Network.

    Al Jazeera, also known as Jazeera Satellite Channel (JSC), emerged to become a vibrant and globally influential media network in a relatively very short span of life, it was noted.

    Hence, it was favored by the Ethiopian side for experience sharing on contemporary practice of journalism in terms of both human resource development and technological transfer.

    "The visit would help EBC draw valuable lessons to enrich the process of institutional transformation and rebranding it has been undergoing lately," Dr. Negeri said.

    An Al Jazeera crew will be visiting EBC shortly to conduct a needs assessment and identify areas that call for their support, it was indicated.

    Discussions were also held between the two sides on ways of putting the MoU into action.

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  • Ethiopia's star singer Teddy Afro makes plea for openness

    Teddy Afro, Ethiopia's superstar singer, is topping the Billboard world albums chart with "Ethiopia," which less than two weeks after its release has sold nearly 600,000 copies, a feat no other artist here has achieved.

    Known for the political statements he makes in his music, an infectious mix of reggae and Ethiopian pop, the 40-year-old Tewodros Kassahun told The Associated Press that raising political issues should not be a sin.

    Open debate "should be encouraged," he said. "No one can be outside the influence of politics and political decisions."

    Ethiopia is an unlikely place for an outspoken singer to thrive. The government is accused of being heavy-handed on opposing voices.

    During a visit this month, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein expressed concern about the state of emergency imposed in October after months of deadly anti-government protests demanding wider freedoms. Opposition and human rights groups blame security forces for hundreds of deaths, but the government says they largely used "proportionate" measures.

    The human rights chief also criticized Ethiopia's anti-terrorism laws, saying an "excessively broad" definition of terrorism may be misused against journalists and opposition members.

    In "Ethiopia," the songs highlight the diversity of the country's 100 million people while encouraging national unity. Pointing to Ethiopia's formative role in launching the African Union continental body in 1963, Teddy said his country should find more cohesiveness at home.

    "A country that tried to bring Africans together is now unable to have a unified force and voice," he said. "The tendency nowadays here in Ethiopia is to mobilize in ethnic lines, not ideas."

    In his new album, Teddy sings mainly in Amharic but incorporates other local languages, which has been well-received by Ethiopians as a call for national unity.

    At the same time, some of his songs have been interpreted as carrying political messages against Ethiopia's ruling elites, leading some fans to say his outspokenness has made him a target.

    In 2008, the singer was sentenced to two years in prison for a hit-and-run manslaughter but was released after 18 months in jail. He said he was never inside the car, and his fans suggested it was a politically motivated harassment by the ruling party. Hundreds of Ethiopians protested outside the court during his trial in the capital, Addis Ababa.

    Authorities also have frequently cancelled his concerts without explanation. "We have sustained a lot of damages. This is not right," he said.

    Asked if he has any political ambitions, the singer said: "Let me continue doing what I'm doing now and we will see what the future holds for other things."

     

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  • Chinese University Honored PM Hailemariam

    The University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), one of China’s prestigious universities in Beijing, bestowed upon Prime Minister Hailemariam an honorary professorship for his extraordinary leadership.

    The University, which was founded in 1951, is one of the top universities in the fields of economics and business. 

    The University considered the economic growth the country has been registered, efforts to elevate poverty and realizing global goals set to reduce poverty and improve access to basic services such as MDGs to bestowed the honor upon the Premier.

    The University has recognized the fast and successive economic growth, in which the country has been witnessing for the past decade and more.

    It also appreciated Ethiopia for the efforts it exerted to meet Millennium Development Goals. The East African country has realized most of the MDGs that expired in 2015.

    Ethiopia is also working to realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that succeeded the MDGs by aligning the goals with the second five-year Growth and Transformation Plan.

    The country’s contribution to the peace and stability of the region as well as the continent is also recognized by the University.  

    In his key note speech he delivered to students and staff of the University, the Premier briefed about Ethiopia’s historical voyage towards peace and development. 

    Hailemariam briefed the gathering about the efforts of the government towards building conducive atmosphere and unleashing all the potentials of the country for the development.   

    He said that his government has been “fundamentally transforming” the political economy of the country from one of pervasive rent-seeking to that is conducive to value creation along the path of the developmental state by summing up the experience of China and other Asian tigers.

    Knowing that copying models has no significance, the Ethiopian government has adopted the models into the country’s political and social situation, which led Ethiopia towards development.

     

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  • Ethiopia Court Found Former Senior Opposition Figure Yonatan Tesfaye Guilty of Terrorism Charges

    The Federal High court fourth criminal bench has today passed a guilty verdict against Yonatan Tesfaye, former opposition Blue Party public relations head.

    Yonatan was first arrested in December 2015, barely a month after the first wave of a year-long #Oromoprotests erupted.  He was held incommunicado during the pre-trial weeks and was subsequently charged in May 2016 under Ethiopia’s infamous anti-terrorism proclamation (ATP).

    Yonatan has been defending the charges against him since then. The charges of ‘encouragement of terrorism’, stipulated under article six of the ATP, were largely drawn from his Facebook activism during the protests. According to article six of the ATP, “Whosoever publishes or causes the publication of a statement that is likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom it is published as a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducements to them to the commission or preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism…” is subject to terrorism charges.

    He had presented several defense witnesses, including prominent opposition party leaders from the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Bekele Gerba and Dr. Merera Gudina, who are in jail at the time of their testimony fighting charges of terrorism and multiple criminal charges respectively, and journalist Eskendir Nega, who is serving 18 years in prison for terrorism-related charges.

    In addition, Yonatan’s close friend Ephrem Tayachew, his father Tesfaye Regassa, and his sister Gedamnesh Tesfaye as well as academicians from the Addis Abeba University (AAU), including the outspoken philosopher Dr. Dagnachew Assefa and Dr. Yaqob Hailemariam have all appeared in court to testify in defense of Yonatan’s innocence.

    However, this morning the court in its verdict overruled all defense testimonials by upholding prosecutors’ accusations. Yonatan’s sentencing is adjourned to May 25.

    Yonatan could face from ten to 20 years rigorous prison term in a federal prison; however, the court ruled that he can appeal for a minimum sentence.

     

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  • Ethiopia’s star singer Teddy Afro makes plea for openness

    Teddy Afro, Ethiopia’s superstar singer, is topping the Billboard world albums chart with “Ethiopia,” which less than two weeks after its release has sold nearly 600,000 copies, a feat no other artist here has achieved.

    Known for the political statements he makes in his music, an infectious mix of reggae and Ethiopian pop, the 40-year-old Tewodros Kassahun told The Associated Press that raising political issues should not be a sin.

    Open debate “should be encouraged,” he said. “No one can be outside the influence of politics and political decisions.”

    Ethiopia is an unlikely place for an outspoken singer to thrive. The government is accused of being heavy-handed on opposing voices.

    During a visit this month, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein expressed concern about the state of emergency imposed in October after months of deadly anti-government protests demanding wider freedoms. Opposition and human rights groups blame security forces for hundreds of deaths, but the government says they largely used “proportionate” measures.

    The human rights chief also criticized Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism laws, saying an “excessively broad” definition of terrorism may be misused against journalists and opposition members.

     

    In “Ethiopia,” the songs highlight the diversity of the country’s 100 million people while encouraging national unity. Pointing to Ethiopia’s formative role in launching the African Union continental body in 1963, Teddy said his country should find more cohesiveness at home.

    “A country that tried to bring Africans together is now unable to have a unified force and voice,” he said. “The tendency nowadays here in Ethiopia is to mobilize in ethnic lines, not ideas.”

    In his new album, Teddy sings mainly in Amharic but incorporates other local languages, which has been well-received by Ethiopians as a call for national unity.

    At the same time, some of his songs have been interpreted as carrying political messages against Ethiopia’s ruling elites, leading some fans to say his outspokenness has made him a target.

    In 2008, the singer was sentenced to two years in prison for a hit-and-run manslaughter but was released after 18 months in jail. He said he was never inside the car, and his fans suggested it was a politically motivated harassment by the ruling party. Hundreds of Ethiopians protested outside the court during his trial in the capital, Addis Ababa.

    Authorities also have frequently cancelled his concerts without explanation. “We have sustained a lot of damages. This is not right,” he said.

    Asked if he has any political ambitions, the singer said: “Let me continue doing what I’m doing now and we will see what the future holds for other things.”

     

     

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