August 11, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – An international press freedom group said the way Ethiopian authorities are handling to an ongoing dispute with the country’s Muslim movement will not ease the two-year-long tensions between the government and the Islamic community.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Ethiopian authorities had reacted to recent demonstrations by arresting protesters, community leaders, and independent reporters, and shutting down news outlets.
“Trying to silence independent views and accounts of this national issue will not solve the ongoing dispute and instead will further the sense that the government has something to hide”, said CPJ East Africa consultant Tom Rhodes.
Ethiopian Muslims have intensified demonstrations at different mosques in protest at what they allege is government interference in their religious affairs.
The Ethiopian government denies the allegations and associates the Muslim protests with extremism.
Muslim activists told Sudan Tribune that hundreds of Muslims have been held in detention for weeks without charge for “holding peaceful demonstrations”.
In its latest statement, CPJ further expressed concerns over two Muslim journalists arrested recently after protests in the capital, Addis Ababa.
The New York-based group said Ethiopian security officials had arrested Darsema Sori and Khalid Mohammed, who both work for Radio Bilal, an online radio station which had been giving wider coverage to the Muslim protests.
CPJ alleged that the two journalists remain in detention without charge since they were arrested on 2 August.
“The arrests of Darsema Sori and Khalid Mohammed appear to follow a pattern of Ethiopian authorities cracking down on independent journalists and news outlets involved in disseminating news about the Muslim protests taking place in the country”, said Rhodes.
The latest arrests follow the imprisonment of two journalists from the now-defunct Ye Muslimach Guday (Muslim Affairs) magazine.
Editor-in-chief Yusuf Getachew has been in detention since July 2012, while managing editor Solomon Kebede has also been held in detention since January.
CPJ said the journalists’ detention appeared to be in retaliation for the publication of articles critical of the government’s policy on religious affairs.
According to their colleagues, Getachew and Kebede have been charged under the country’s controversial anti-terrorism law, which has been criticised by human right groups as being vague and broadly defined.
Ye Muslimach Guday has not been published since July 2012 after police raided the Addis Ababa offices of the private Horizon printing press and ordered the publisher to stop printing the magazine.
Many right groups condemn the law, which was introduced in 2009, as a tool designed to punish dissidents and journalists critical of the government.
The Muslim protests which originated in Addis Ababa have now spread to regional cities, with a recent clash in Oromya region’s Kofele district turning violent, leaving at least three policemen dead and injuring seven others.
The Muslim movement is also gaining support from Ethiopian opposition groups and some local armed groups.
There are fears that the ongoing protests could capture the attention of foreign extremists who could then enter the predominantly Christian nation to join the Islamic movement.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47622
August 11, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Egyptian ambassador to Ethiopia Mohamed Idris has denied media statements attributed to him saying that water ministers of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt have agreed to hold a meeting in Addis Ababa within the coming few days.
An Egyptian farmer holds a handful of soil to show the dryness of the land due to drought in a farm formerly irrigated by the river Nile, in Al-Dakahlya, about 120 km (75 miles) from Cairo June 4, 2013. ( REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
He stressed in statements to the Egyptian state-owned Al-Ahram daily newspaper that contacts and consultations are still underway to convene the meeting and pointed that no agreement has been reached on its schedule or location but said that it is likely to be hold late this month in any of the three capitals.
Idris further said that this meeting comes in accordance with the agreement reached during the visit of Egypt’s former foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, to Addis Ababa, adding that the agreement called for adopting two tracks to address all water issues including Ethiopia’s Renaissance dam.
According to the accord, water ministers will be responsible for the technical aspects while foreign ministers will take on the political side.
The envoy pointed that Egypt’s current foreign minister Nabeel Fahmy, and his Ethiopian counterpart have agreed in a telephone conversation a few weeks ago to expedite the process of holding these meetings.
Tensions between Egypt and Ethiopia heightened this year after Cairo threatened Addis Ababa in connection with its first dam project along the Blue Nile.
The controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), formerly known as the Millennium Dam is being constructed on the Blue Nile 40km from the Sudanese border.
Egypt argues that the construction of the dam would negatively affect their water shares and insisted the project should be scrapped, calling on international donors against funding it.
However Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir announced his support to the scheme saying his government understands the mutual benefits the project could offer Ethiopia and Sudan.
Khartoum’s stance has aggravated Egypt with many political figures blasting Sudan’s “treachery”.
Egypt believes its “historic rights” to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile’s flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.
But a new deal was signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allowing them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.
The first phase of construction of the $4.2 billion dam is expected to be complete in three years, with a capacity of 700 megawatts.
Once complete, the dam will have a capacity of 6,000 megawatts
Experts estimate that Egypt could lose up to 27% of its share of the Nile’s water when Ethiopia fills the GERD, which, when complete will be the Africa’s biggest reservoir with a capacity of 63 billion cubic meters.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47624
By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
August 5, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – Hundreds of Muslim protesters during the weekend clashed with police in Ethiopia’s Oromya region ahead of the upcoming holiday of the end of Ramadan, or Eid al-Fitr.
The incident occurred in West Arusi Zone after regional police arrived at the scene to intervene the situation.
Regional Police on Monday told Sudan Tribune that the violence led to death and injuries following fire exchange with what it alleged were some armed protesters.
“Three were killed and seven policeman sustained injures after armed protesters open fire on security forces”, police said in an email exchange.
It added the situation is now under control and those responsible for the violence are taken to custody without elaborating on the number of arrested protesters.
Ethiopian Muslims in many parts of the country have been demonstrating at mosques to protest alleged government interference in religious affairs, an accusation the government denies.
Police however said the latest incident rather has a political agenda.
“These were armed group who clearly had hidden political agendas under the pretext of religion” it said, adding that the protester “have caused damage to government and public property”.
The government has also been accusing protesters as extremists inspired by foreign factors with a goal to turn the dominantly Christian nation into an Islamic state.
It is to be recalled that four people were killed and ten policemen were injured in clashes with security forces on April 27 in Arusi zone.
CALLS FOR ACTION
Following the incident, a Muslim committee on Sunday called upon the Ethiopian government to take actions against the groups who it said are creating havoc and disturbances during the one month-long Ramadan fasting.
Office of the Addis Ababa Interfaith Forum said the protesters don’t represent Ethiopian Muslims and their acts are contrary to teachings of Islam.
“We call on the Ethiopian government to take necessary legal measures against the extremists to ensure the safety of peaceful citizens” it said in a statement to the State run Ethiopia Radio and Television Agency (ERTA).
After thousands of Ethiopian Muslims on July 26 staged protest rallies in Addis Ababa’s two mosques and clashed with Federal police, the Ethiopian government issued warning to take action against “extremists”.
REPORTS OF DEADLY VIOLENCE
Mean while police has dismissed reports claiming that Ethiopian government forces have killed 25 protesters and injured dozens in demonstrations across the country.
Also, citing Ethiopian activists, CNN reported the arrest of over 1,500 protesters on Friday.
The police however downplayed the report as “unfounded”.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47552