State of emergency declared in Ethiopia after a year old anti-government protest

 

protest2

Ethiopia declared a state of emergency over the weekend after anti-government protests flared following the death of dozens of protesters at a religious festival in Bishoftu city located in Oromia region. The protest initially started in November 2015 against government’s master plan to integrate the capital city Addis Ababa with neighbouring villages of the Oromia region. Farmers and Oromo activists often complain about poor compensation of displaced farmers and complained that the master plan was set to displace a number of Oromo farmers from their land. Peaceful protests turned violent after government’s heavy handed response and finally forced the government to give into the protesters’ demand and cancel the master plan.

Another round of protests started in Amhara region following identity questions of people in Wolqayt area bordering Amhara and Tigray regions. Similar to the previous incident, the government’s plan to arrest the representatives of the protesters and charge them with terrorism sparked a protest which engulfed the whole Amhara region.

The government finally admitted that the root cause of the protests is its inability to provide good governance and job opportunities. The government and the ruling party promised to conduct a wide-range reform to address the grievances of the public and tried to have discussions with different sectors of the society. But public discontent with the government was widely expressed on social media platforms which led to government blocking social media and internet access to the people. The protest gained international audience when marathon runner Lelisa Feyisa finished second at the Rio Olympics and showed protest symbol of crossing hands over the head.

The state of emergency followed after string of attacks on factories, lodges, government offices and vehicles that followed the deadly incident at Bishoftu. The national parliament is expected to approve the declaration in its session tomorrow since there is no opposition member in the 547 seat parliament.

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All social media and messaging platforms blocked in Ethiopia

instant-messaging-apps

Popular social media platforms such as facebook and twitter are blocked throughout Ethiopia since yesterday morning. Also included in this information blackout are messaging applications like whatsup, viber and imo. No official statement was given by the government but it is believed that the service disruption is related to the national university entrance exam that will be held throughout the country starting from tomorrow.

The exam was originally scheduled for May 30, 2016 but unauthorised copies were leaked by dissidents and distributed on social media forcing the government to cancel the exam. Earlier this week, reports circulating on social media indicated that unauthorised copies of tomorrow’s exam were leaked once again. The ministry of education has stated that additional effort was spent to maintain secrecy of the exam and conformed there were no leaks of the repeat exam that will begin tomorrow as scheduled.

 

African Union set to announce new African Passport at its summit in Kigali, Rwanda

African Union

African Union

Kigali, the capital city of the Eastern African nation Rwanda, will host the 27th African Union Summit, scheduled between July 10 -18, 2016. The theme of this year’s gathering is “2016: African Year of Human Rights, with particular focus on the Rights of Women.” In addition to the special focus women right, another big issue top of the agenda will be the free movement of people across the continent.

There will be a ceremony of handing the first passports to the leaders of the nations in the summit thereby declaring its official launch. Under its vision 2063 plan for a unified continent, the passport is part of a project aimed at facilitating seamless movement of people, goods and services throughout the continent. So far, Mauritius, Seychelles, Rwanda and Ghana have officially approved new regulations that will allow citizens of African Union member states to enter their country with visa-on-arrival privilege.

Ethiopian outrage against murders in South Africa and Libya

Even before the news of Xenophobic killings in South Africa against immigrants were heard, Ethiopians were showing concerns about fellow countrymen immigrants in Yemen. As the immigrants return from Yemen was happening slowly, South African black residents started attacking African immigrants blaming them as a cause for lack of opportunities for the local habitants. The barbaric attack by fellow African brothers showed the complete lack of awareness of the South African black population regarding the sacrifices of other African countries for their freedom. It seems 20 years was not enough for South Africa to fully understand their freedom and appreciate the unwavering contribution of the whole continent for it to be a reality. In a recent xenophibic attack against African immigrants more than half a dozen people including some Ethiopians were reportedly killed. Ethiopians in all corners of the globe expressed their disappointment in South Africa, often reminding the personal training given in Ethiopia for the freedom fighter turned first democratic black president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. Different anti-xenophobia marches were held in different parts of the continent including Nigeria, Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique.

Then came the announcement from a group that 30 Ethiopians were killed for refusing to denounce their religion in the costal areas of Libya. The group rose to prominence after the distraction of Libya by a controversial civil war which was influenced by foreign interventions. The 30 Ethiopian Christians were killed for their religion by a barbaric group which lacks any form of logic, humanity and compassion. Ethiopia is known for the peaceful co-existence of different religious groups and is the first host country that protected followers of the Prophet Mohammed. Ethiopians of all religion were united in expressing their outrage in this inhumane killing and the nation has ordered a 3 day official mourning period.

AradaOnline also sends condolences to the family of the victims.

Actor and Humanitarian Karlheinz Böhm Passed Away

Karlheinz Böhm - founder of Menschen für Menschen

Karlheinz Böhm – founder of Menschen für Menschen

The Austrian actor turned humanitarian died yesterday at the age of 86 in his home in Grödig, near Salzburg late Thursday according to a spokesperson of his aid organisation. Bohn was known particularly known for his role as Emperor Franz Joseph in the much loved “Sissi” films. Böhm was born on March 16, 1928 in Darmstadt, Germany and grew up in Hamburg and Dresden. He originally wanted to be a pianist, but later decided to take acting lessons in Vienna.

Bohn founded an aid organisation Menschen für Menschen (“Humans for Humans”) in 1981 and started an active engagement in helping the less fortunate through out Ethiopia. Karlheinz appeared on a TV show and had a bet that 1 in 3 viewers will contribute 1 German mark, 1 Austrian schilling or 1 Swiss franc for starving people in the African Sahel. He won the bet and was able to collect enough amount of money to make his maiden trip to Ethiopia the same year to start his charitable work. Ever since then his organisation has tremendously grown to devise project that help millions in the areas of technical education, woman empowerment, health, infrastructure,  and agriculture. In 1991 he married Ethiopian Almaz Böhm who took over the management of the charity for the past few years before quitting the position to take care of him after he fell ill. In the spring of 2013 it was announced that Böhm was suffering from Alzheimer’s. He has two kids aged 24 and 21 from his marriage with Almaz and five kids from an earlier marriage.

Karlheinz is well admired in Ethiopia for his charity work and has a square named after him in the capital city Addis Ababa in addition to the honorary citizenship he received in 2003. [DW]

 

Ethiopian Airlines first officer arrested after hijacking a flight

Hailemedhin Aberra

Hailemedhin Aberra

An Ethiopian Airlines first officer identified as Hailemedhin Aberra was arrested on Monday (Feb 17) morning at the Geneva international airport after hijacking a flight that was heading to Rome from the airline hub in Addis Ababa.  The hijacking started when the co-pilot took control of flight by locking himself in the cockpit after the captain left for a restroom break. Hailemedhin then directed the plane to Switzerland flanked by fighter jets from the Italian and French air force and safely landed in Geneva international airport after circling around until he was granted permission to land. All the 193 passengers and 9 crew members on board the Ethiopian flight ET702 were safe after the incident. People on board the flight reported that the officer warned people to sit down and use an already deployed oxygen mask. The plane went through turbulent movements probably to discourage the rest of the crew from trying to open the cockpit door which is designed to be impenetrable especially after the September 11 attack on the US. Passengers were not aware of the hijacking and associated the turbulence with technical problems on the flight. Once the plane stabilised and landed in Geneve most passengers thought they arrived in Rome before they were informed about the incident and that police will search the plane.

Hailemedhin was in contact with air traffic controllers  and send stress signals notifying them of the hijack. The officer also forwarded his asylum request while on the air and demanded assurances that he will not be transferred to the Ethiopian government. In a bizarre end  to the incident, after the plane landed, Hailemedhin exited the plane via the cockpit window using a rope and turned himself to the Swiss police by identifying himself as the hijacker. He disclosed the motive for his actions were fear of prosecution in Ethiopia.

People on social media platforms of Twitter and facebook shared lots of trending information about the incident while the airline declined to give updates on the incident with a brief press release stating that the plane was forced to proceed to Geneva. A woman identifying herself as sister of the first officer stated on facebook that her brother was worried that people are watching and spying on him. She stressed her brother is good-hearted and suggested that a mental disorder that resulted him to be isolated from family and friends might be the reason for his actions. [Image: facebook]

Aspiring Singer Mikaya Behailu Passed Away

Mikaya Behailu

Mikaya Behailu

Mikaya Behailu came to prominence in the music world with her first album titled “shemametew” which was well received by the fans. Making romance and love the center of her album, Mikaya’s sensational singing ability radiates the emotional content of her music. Her wide vocal range made some Ethiopian fans label her the next Aster Aweke, the unofficial Queen of Ethiopian pop music. Mikaya took her talent to the Kora African Music award in 2010 where she made it into the semi final stage for the best singer competition.

Mikaya suffered recent health complications and passed away yesterday at the age of 37. Mikaya, born and raised in Addis Ababa, completed her undergraduate studies at the Addis Ababa University and was on her way to complete a graduate study as well.

AradaOnline like to express our condolences for the loss of Mikaya.

One of her famous songs – Sebeb

Abuse of Ethiopians continued in Saudi Arabia

saudi

After a deadline set by the Saudi Arabian government for illegal immigrants demanding they either fix their residence permit issues or voluntarily leave the country  expired, Ethiopians are facing a continued attack from various groups in the country. Thousands of Ethiopians started facing rough treatment by the Saudi security forces that killed one Ethiopian for an alleged escape attempt during a raid in one neighborhood. The authoritarian Saudi regime pushed with the wide-spread detention and abuse of immigrants as it is well-known to turn a blind eye on inhumane handling of foreign laborers common in the country. Then followed reports of vigilant attacks by Saudi citizens after the Ethiopians started protesting the inhumane condition of the arrested people and harassment of those even with legal status. There were two more Ethiopian deaths reported during confrontations with the local residents before the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned the attacks. Saudi media also reported clashes between the Ethiopian and Chadian immigrants in the country which resulted in damage of property as well as injury. Ethiopians from all over the world used the hash-tag #SomeonetellSaudiArabia on social media to protest the continued abuse of their fellow citizens and demanded protection for the immigrants.

AradaOnline wishes to express our condolences for those who lost their life in this ordeal.