Thursday, December 13

Bereket Simon on Somalia: "Our mission so far has been successful."

In a BBC interview aired today, Bereket Simon assured the world that the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia "so far has been successful".

When presented with shocking statistics (60% of residents of Mogadishu have fled the city, 80% of the country is now considered outside of government control) and official admissions to the contrary, the chief advisor to the Prime Minister remained adamant, insisting,
"The overall situation in Somalia is improving by the day".

Monday, December 10

Internet Censorship Increases

Over the past month, more than 50 Internet proxy servers have reportedly been blocked within the country. Several opposition websites, including Ethiomedia, are completely inaccessible.

Thursday, September 13

Addis Foreign Press Corps: My Observations

(Naturally, under this government, the good ones are expelled, leaving us with those who wouldn’t dare risk their lifestyle for something as petty as the truth. Still, I can’t help but expect something more…)

Strangely, we continue to witness the deterioration of the free press at the hands of the few correspondents in this country who remain truly free.

The official restrictions on national press have been well-documented by human rights watchdog organizations, but little has been written on the shameful contributions made by Ethiopia's foreign correspondents. I am continually amazed by what I have observed here among this small circle of journalists—at the perpetual politicization of the news, and appalling distortions of the truth so easily excused by self-interested editors and comfortable journalists.

To shed some light on the workings of the Addis foreign press corps:

To secure accreditation, certain leading wire correspondents are encouraged by their editors to assure the appropriate Ministers of their intentions to write exclusively “happy” stories, which portray the country in a “favourable light”. Despite the blatantly inappropriate nature of such negotiations, these correspondents have, nevertheless, proven willing to go to great lengths to uphold this ludicrous promise to the Ethiopian government (the current social and political climate notwithstanding)—scrambling to uncover the happy stories in a place where, for so many, true happiness is found only in precious fleeting moments, development in a land where economic growth is virtually stagnant, and isolated incidents of political leniency in one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

Consequently, in Ethiopia, stories are routinely ignored or intentionally killed by the international wire services, whose journalists are even, on occasion, encouraged by bureau chiefs to re-interpret, or “contextualize” the more inflammatory responses of government spokesman (with a suggestive, “surely that is not what he actually meant!”)!

Even more worrying, is that Ambassadors and State Department officials also influence which events ultimately make it to print, ordering correspondents into silence or spinning stories for diplomatic advantage (recent examples being the arrest of NY Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman in the Ogeden region, which was deliberately suppressed by Ambassador Yamamoto for nearly a week, before finally being reported by blogger Ethio-Zagol, and the premature leaking of the ongoing political negotiations between the government and political prisoners).

Perhaps I am merely naïve, but something seems intrinsically wrong when major news outlets are encouraging their journalists to perpetually wine and dine government officials on the company expense account, while strictly advising them to avoid socializing with known opposition members and supporters, whose activities are to be regarded as automatically subversive.

It is simply unfathomable to me that the few foreign correspondents granted permission to work at length within the country (all citizens of free and democratic societies, lest they forget) could somehow begin with a "necessary, temporary effort to placate a hostile government", and in only a few months time end up functioning as government stooges—consciously neglecting subjects certain to upset the ruling party, and reluctantly investigating instances of widespread government brutality only upon official approval, with state-sponsored escorts.

The most popular justification amongst African press circles is clearly the claim that their organization would otherwise be expelled from the country. But, it seems to me, that if their primary agenda is actually to deliver unbiased regional news to their readers, the expulsion of their organization for merely documenting events as they unfold, is also, in itself, a strikingly accurate indication of national conditions. Regardless--since when did tailoring the news to suit the temperament of a brutal dictator become an acceptable compromise?

Yet, this has become more than acceptable practice here in Addis; in fact, it has become routine. And, naturally, when other publications (such as the Economist, New York Times or the Washington Post) break a controversial story first, the local correspondents can usually be found grumbling over drinks at the Sheraton Office Bar, berating said papers’ “unethical” means of gathering information and the “dangerous” community of in-country fixers, stringers, freelancers and bloggers on which they rely.

Tuesday, September 11

Melkam Millenium

A friend pointed out this morning that this actually doesn't make much sense, as it literally means I am wishing someone 1 000 happy years... So, rather, that is what I wish for the country today.

Today I am celebrating all that I have found unexpectedly here--the warmth, the courage, the peace, the potential, the sacrifice...

Melkam Millenium.

Friday, August 17

Blood for Oil?

I wonder if the Government’s field trip to the Ogeden has anything to do with the sudden increased interest in the region by multi-national oil companies?

It seems the recent ONLF attack on the Chinese petroleum company and widespread reports of human rights abuses and war crimes committed by government forces in the region have served to pique foreign interest in regional oil exploration, with more than one large international company quietly negotiating the preliminary stages of such a project at present.

It is clear that the government is doing everything in their power to suppress and deny the truth, at great cost to the civilians there, but I wonder--do such multinationals stand to benefit more from reports by the likes of NY Times’ Jeffrey Gettlemen , or the carefully supervised output of BBC’s Elizabeth Blunt?

If a ‘stable local environment in which to conduct exploration operations’ is what they are seeking, does that mean they stand in silent (or even direct financial) support of the severe regional government brutality?

Friday, August 10

Media Field Trip to the Ogeden

Just heard that the government is organizing a trip for foreign correspondents to the Ogeden region. And thus begins their latest disinformation campaign...

I wonder who will have the courage to ask what happened to the men (since tortured and murdered by government forces) interviewed for the Times article?

(I also wonder if they will invite NY Times stringer Will Connors along? Oh wait! He was essentially EXPELLED last month for helping to expose the atrocities occuring there.
Only beneign journalists allowed, I suppose.

Thursday, August 9

Oppression: Here, There and Everywhere

I am extremely concerned about what is happening in the Ogeden region. Even from within the country, it is difficult to obtain concrete information, which generally means things are far worse than we know. However, it is clear the Ethiopian government is once again demonstrating their appalling preference for violence, destruction of property and aid restriction as a means of applying political pressure.

The truly terrifying thing is, while today the focus may be on the Ogeden, such reports could just as easily apply to most other regions in the country.

When I was last in Awasa, for example, I shown file after file of those in the SNNP region who had suffered similar human rights abuses over the past two years: murders (mostly students, shot in the head or from behind), horrific pictures of torture victims, houses and property ransacked, destroyed and burned, and a list of NGOs that had been shut down and their aid channels blocked, effectively causing a concentrated, federally-inflicted (and therefore unreported) famine.

Most of these victims brave enough to come forward and report these crimes to human rights organizations were unable to read or write, and confirmed their statements only with a thumbprint. Yet they are speaking out (at great personal risk) nonetheless. They are among millions of nameless victims who continue to suffer at the hands of the EPRDF regime, and are the ones to whom we must listen.

There are hundreds of thousands of us—both here and abroad—who are aware and claim to care about this all-encompassing oppression; and so, only a simple question remains:
What are we going to do about it?

(In my opinion, now is hardly the time for bitter party politics, and internal corruption and division; far too much is at stake. Instead, now is the time to focus on what unites us all—the desire to see a free and prosperous Ethiopia—and act immediately and accordingly.)

And so I ask again—What are we going to do about it?

Monday, August 6

Coming Soon

Hello. I am still around and will be back blogging again next week.

I agree with Ethio-Zagol--now is the time for genuine dialogue, for solutions and unity. I hope that this site can also be a forum for such discussion.

Friday, July 20


I never thought I'd say this, but what a wonderful time to be in Ethiopia!

The transformation in the spirit of the people over the past few days is incredible. Everyone is talking about their coming release and newpapers are printing their photos again (I wish I could scan and attach Tuesday's copy of "Abbi Weekly", featuring Dr. Berhanu flashing the double V sign and the faces of the other leaders on a background of the national colors but, of course, these sold out by noon in the city).

What a joy to overhear political discussions in the streets of Addis!

Wednesday, July 18

The Things They Can't Suppress...

Everyone in Addis is talking about yesterday's article in the Ethiopian Herald, in which a letter, admitting guilt for the post-election violence and supposedly signed by the prisoners, was printed. I was initially worried that people would believe these lies, but was instead pleasantly suprised. On the streets, and in taxis and cafes, people are emphatically denying that the leaders would ever admit to crimes not committed. It seems these latest attempts to defame the characters of those in prison has only served to boost public support and admiration. (opps!)

(Also: They may be able to silence us over here, but the international bloggers are busy. The Huffington Post, MyDD and Daily Kos have all posted a story by blogger Robert Naiman, encouraging people to take action here

Tuesday, July 17


Wow. It is not often that I am shocked by the workings of this government anymore, but today they have managed to do it again.

Today they have launched a massive disinformation campaign, with the intent of discrediting the prisoners before they are released. Bereket, ENA and the Ethiopian Herald have been suprisingly busy since yesterday's sentences were handed down; unfortunately for them, there are too many of us who know the truth and are determined to make it known...

Monday, July 16

Life In Prison

The courtroom was packed once again, and there seemed to be even more ferenji observers than usual. It seemed especially cruel to keep everyone in suspense for hours, considering the nature of the session, but wait we did--though the delay was not without its comic moments (when, for example, the phones of the plainclothes spies rang repeatedly, exposing them at once since the rest of us had to leave our phones, keys etc with the guards at the door!)

The prisoners were finally brought in after a 2.5 hour delay and the judges arrived a few minutes before noon; all defendants (and judges) were present. The judges concluded that ‘because most of the defendants are well educated and therefore able to identify the legal consequences of their actions, their sentence must reflect the severity of their decisions and actions’; however, as the defendants are charged with attempt to overthrow the Constitution (rather than completion of the act, which would permit the sentence of capital punishment) the 38 defendants (including those tried in absentia) were sentenced to life in prison.

Of the 9 who had chosen to defend, it was announced that their defense attorney 'had not proven relevant extenuating circumstances’: Berhanu Alemayou,Wedneh Jedi, Melaku Oncha and Mesfin Jabesa received 18 years imprisonment; Abiyot Wekjira ad Daniel Berihun received 15 years; Wenaksegad Zeleke was handed a 3 year sentence, and Dawit Fasil was sentenced to 1 year and six months. All defendants who received a lesser sentence were also denied the right to participate in politics for 5 years.

Both of the agencies charged were order to cease all operations—Serkalim Publishing Agency was ordered to pay a fine of ETB 120 000 and Sisaye Publishing, ETB 100 000.

Dr. Berhanu appeared particularly disgusted with the sentences and got up to leave the courtroom but, for the most part, the prisoners and family members seemed to be expecting nothing less and took the news accordingly. The prisoners left with their usual courage and deliberate cheer, exchanging grins and the “V” sign with friends and family members as they passed.

The road back from Kaliti to the city center was lined with more police than usual, and some were in full riot gear (masks and shields).

(Today’s session was nothing less than infuriating: To hear each Article of the Penal Code invoked as if it actually had meaning in this country, and to have to listen to the descriptions of post election violence as if the Independent Commission itself hadn’t ruled that government forces were responsible for the excessive force that lead to the deaths of 193 innocent civilians was too much… It makes one ill to witness such blatant manipulation of the truth and mockery of justice in a federal institution!

How long can this go on?!)

Saturday, July 14

Antethesis of Justice

Diplomatic Etiquette:

More than two weeks ago, human rights bill HR2003 was postponed for mark-up—--the result of dubious American attempts at negotiation with one of the world’s most brutal dictators. The US State Department has since further neutralized their language, and the press is treating the negotiations as nothing more than the claims of those in captivity (despite the fact that the initial leak to the Washington Post was reported to have come from US state officials). The momentum that was building over the past month seems to have come to a complete standstill; yet today, the prisoners remain in Kaliti, while the prosecution demands their execution.

Of course, there are rumors swirling—Meles is trying to preserve the ‘independence of the Court’ and the US is giving him the space to do so, provided the prisoners are released immediately following the sentencing. Fine; however, it is my opinion that, even if this is true, it does not excuse their shamefully submissive conduct in the meantime. Why the tiptoeing around? Since when has it become the responsibility of a free and democratic nation to cater to the sensibilities of such a wanton violator of human rights?

Regardless of what is being negotiated in private bewteen these two countries, I am appalled by the continued public observance of the diplomatic etiquette that enables oppressors to escape the consequences of their actions.

On Monday, we will enter the courtroom, clinging to the hope that the sentencing is all part of the larger geopolitical game. But Meles has proven on countless occasions that he can not be trusted, and any concessions made by him must be regarded accordingly. He has already failed to deliver on his promise of releasing the prisoners with the postponment of the bill—why then, will he not balk at these obligations once more after the sentence is handed down? It is obvious that he does not possess the integrity required to keep his word, and therefore should not be regarded by diplomats as a man of such principle.

Monday, July 9

“Good luck!” called my driver as I got out in front of the Federal High Court. We had never discussed politics previously, but today he asked who I support. When I replied, he broke into a grin. “Today is a big day,” he said. “Tell them, good luck. We are with them. ”

I got out into the pouring rain and made my way through the mud to where family members and journalists were already gathered. The entrance process took far longer than usual today, and the guards were deliberately more rough in their searches.

It was difficult to find a place to sit and by the time the session began there was not a single seat remaining.

The prisoners entered soon after, looking well, and assumed their usual poise of courage, strength and defiance. The prosecutors followed, and then the judges. (Mohammed was absent and it appeared, for a moment, like the usual delay tactics). It was annouced that the prosecutor would give his closing statement and that the nine who had chosen to defend would have the opportunity to present their defense in three days time (as they requested a copy of the closing prosecuting statement in order to respond).

The prosecutor began—citing the charges that remained and the penalties assigned to them according to the Criminal Code: the 2nd and 3rd charges, we were told, carry 15 years imprisonment and 10-15 years, respectively. The 5th charge carries between 5-25 years imprisonment or, depending on the severity of the crime, life imprisonment or capital punishment; the 1st charge is also punishable by the latter.

He demanded that because none of the defendants had shown any remorse for the ‘crimes’ committed in 2005 , all must receive the maximum sentence—death.

For some reason, just hearing those expected words spoken out loud came as a shock. There was complete silence in the courtroom, except for the wife of one of the prisoners, who let out a strained laugh (and was immediately thrown out of the courtroom). The prosecution concluded that the agencies charged should also receive the maximum penalty of a Birr 500 000 fine and full closure.

Then we all filed out back into the rain.

Monday, July 2


Meles is mobilizing the army "in case of an Eritrean invasion"--I hate to say it, but the propaganda around here sounds similar to the stuff that ushered us into the Somalian invasion. Yikes.

The next court session is still scheduled for a week from today.

There is also supposed to be another session three days later, in which the prosecuter will appeal the charges that were dropped.

Friday, June 29

Of Lies and Other Things...

Yesterday in Parliament the PM gave a pretty dry speech (apparently the objectives of this government are "peace, development, and good governance"--who knew!), addressing the 'very real threat' of an Eritrean invasion. Right.

Everyone expected him to discuss the negotiations (which explains why so many people were actually watching ETV at city cafes), which was finally kindly raised by an EPRDF official (nothing like damage control!) . Check the EZ post here.

It seems that Meles is now trying to pretend that the negotiations were the sole initiative of the Shemagles--a tradition that he tried to go along with, as any 'proper Ethiopian'would--but of course, he reminded us yesterday, no actual binding negotiations can take place (political or traditional) which would interfere with the Almighty Independence Of The Court. (Am I allowed to say bullshit on this thing?) Anyway, that's all it is, and I suppose we should have expected nothing more from him.

And there was more, as reported by AP: seems Meles is getting a little hostile with the international community, and now weilds the moral authority to condemn their appeals as both "shameful and wrong". According to the dillusional dictator,
"In Ethiopia there is nothing that can be resolved as a result of external pressure,"
. Hmmmm. HR2003 is set for mark-up a couple of days after the next scheduled court session. What a perfect time to demonstrate the magnanimity of the EPRDF, by sentencing them and then pardoning them "just in time". But no pressure, of course.

(Forgive the sarcastic tone of this post, I have long lost patience with the transparent antics of the government.)

Thursday, June 28


I still haven't been able to confirm whether Meles was in DC yesterday or not, though I have heard from numerous sources that Professor Ephrim is there.

Either way, the PM is still scheduled to appear here in Parliament later this morning. No one seems to know what the session will be about exactly--some here are speculating that it would be the perfect time to release the prisoners 'quietly' (as all the foreign correspondents will be inside without their mible phones), but this seems just another rumor.

(More later)

Wednesday, June 27

No Court Session

It is two hours before the court session was to begin. I just found out that the prisoners will not be appearing before the judges; instead, those who wished to defend are required to submit documents to the court's record office.
This is just my opinion, but things seem to be unravelling pretty fast for the EPRDF. First the finnd the prisoners guilty of charges so severe they carry a penalty of death, all the while continuing 'secret'political negotaitions. Despite the fact that the final agreement has already been reported by the international press, a court session was announced nonetheless to maintain semblance of an independent court. Suddenly, the night before they are to appear, the govnment decides to try their luck and blackmail the US State Department!! Fascinating!

Seems our dictator has become a bit dillusional and is losing sight of his rank in the global political heirarchy. Hopefully he is in for a rude awakening (I still have some faith in the United States--though they have agreed to postpone the bill for two weeks, Donald Payne has not taken kindly to these blatant bullying tactics.)
At least all of this chaos is finally revealing to the world what we knew all along: he is deceitful tyrant, willing to continually sacrifice his own people for personal gain.

Meles In DC ?

I just received word that Meles flew to DC yesterday to meet with State officials. This is definitely news to us here, as the prisoners were (unofficially) scheduled to appear in court today.

(I will do my best to confirm this and post more later)

Tuesday, June 26

HR2003 Postponed

I can't believe that they have decided to postpone bill HR 2003!

According to sources, as soon as the remaining prisoners signed the negotiation statement, mediator Professor Ephrimim immediately went to the US (I am told he will return next weekend), insisting that the bill be postponed in order to ensure the release of the prisoners.

This is truly amazing--Meles is holding his own people hostage while negotiating with the world's superpower. Even more remarkable--the US seems to be
actually negotiating with these tyrants (as if the prisoners themselves were American citizens)!

It makes no sense, and makes me wonder if the govn't had no intention of releasing the prisoners at all, intending to use the agreement as insurance in the face of future condemnation.

**I just received word that tommorrow's court session will be closed to the public and they will be meeting in chambers instead. Something very unsettling is going on here.
(I will post again when I get more information.)

Final Day in Court?

Everybody is confused over here as to whether the prisoners are, in fact, scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, and even more so in regards to what will be accomplished in this session.

By law, after handing down a verdict, the options of the court are limited:

1. Sentence: Due to the severity of the crimes with which they have been charged, the court must sentence them to death or life in prison.

2.Pardon : This seems highly unlikely, as a pardon is primarily reserved for individuals (in this case, there are 38 defendants, and the outcome of this trial may also serve as a precedent for other journalists, civil servants and human rights activists imprisoned throughout the country). A pardon would also negate the agreement reached through the recent negotiations, as a pardon does not erase charges from one’s record, thus restricting future civil, family and professional right.

3.Amnesty: According to the penal code, Amnesty “cancels both the indictment and the sentence and bars or discontinues any prosecution from the moment of its proglamation”. Further, “the conviction shall be presumed to be non-existent and the entry deleted from the police record of the offender”

There is speculation that the court will choose the latter, in an attempt to maintain appearances of an independent judicial system and, of course, to demonstrate the magnimity of government…which seems a little ridiculous considering the behind-the-scenes negotiations have already been internationally reported.

I guess we can only wait and see what unfolds. I will do my best to keep you updated.


Sunday, June 24

With No Room Left to Wiggle

It seems to me that Meles is in a bit of a bind. News of the negotiation agreement has already been widely publicized around the world (albeit with a sympathetic slant from the US State Department) and all eyes are on Ethiopia.

He managed to cancel a meeting with the Western ambassadors late last week after receiving word that they were planning to issue a strong collective statement condemning the verdict, but beyond that, I am not sure how much room he has left to wiggle…

This country is making the news.

Supporters around the world are staging demonstrations and lobbying their heads of state and members of Parliament incessantly. The frequently divided members of Kinijit International seem to be finally co-operating. Here, the ambassadors are ready, and even the foreign correspondents seem interested.
The rest of us are eagerly anticipating the day and hour of their release.

Should the Prime Minister decide to change his mind, the public backlash would be immense.

(And so we wait…)

Saturday, June 23


What a cause for celebration!

I am once again humbled by the incredible sacrifices these people have made for this country. We are all eagerly awaiting their release.

Thursday, June 14

In the Wake of the Verdict

I was wondering why there hasn’t yet been any visible reaction to the verdict here in Addis. Some say that the post-election momentum is gone and most have forgotten, but I know otherwise. I know that people still care, and will say so as often as they think it safe.

So why didn’t spontaneous protest erupt on Monday afternoon?

Well, the current crackdown is the 6th that has occurred over the past two years. Thousands have been imprisoned and countless tortured. Far more have died than have been reported, and in Ethiopia today, we are forced to learn from this. (I am ferenj, and I too stay inside more and talk less. ) I was reminded today that, including those taken during the initial crackdown, this means 1/10th of the city’s population has been imprisoned at some point during this period.

Immediately following the elections, there were dozens of papers to report the fraud, the injustice, the truth. Now such outlets are distant memories, and news obviously travels slower.

Before, one could feel an electric undercurrent of awareness here—even as recently as September, when the words of Dr. Berhanu gave the most faint-hearted among us courage—and it didn’t matter if there were no demonstrations; we knew who our real leaders were. There was still hope. We wanted peace.

Now, it seems people have reverted to a state of learned hopelessness, underscored by the increasing American support for this nation’s tyrannical ruler. What chance do we have as mere pawns in a far greater geopolitical scheme? How can we help ourselves if we cannot even gather for public discussion or peaceful demonstration?

I honestly don’t know. I do know that violence is NOT the answer (once embraced, it cannot be controlled, and we will all be at greater risk) but beyond that—I can’t see the way out from here.

(Not today, anyway…)

Tuesday, June 12

Crackdown Continues

The crackdown continues today in Addis with more arrests.

It seems a little early for the 'preemptive crackdown tactics'
used during the Christmas holidays--sentencing is almost a month
away, and (to my dismay) it seems there were no signs of protest
in the city today.

Monday, June 11

Guilty Verdict

Following a 2.5 hour delay and courtroom chaos, all defendants were found guilty as charged.Those who wished to defend were denied opportunity and charged along with the others.

Sentencing is to take place on July 2.

Tuesday, May 22

Viewing of Evidence Begins

On Saturday afternoon the political prisoners were not in good spirits. They still had not been given access to the transcripts and documents necessary for defense, or provided the opportunity to review the videotaped evidence as ordered by the court.

They have since been shown 2 of the videotapes, although there doesn't seem time enough to prepare for the upcoming court date.

Why the delay?

Monday, May 14

"Because I said so”: Ethiopia demands UN action against Eritrea

Hostages, terrorists, student protests…and then?
A resounding silence.

After last month’s dramatic exit, things seem eerily calm now. I had expected a flurry of press releases, public statements--even a possible escalation in protest action--but so far there has been only silence (the latter, I suspect, due largely to the armed federal forces now stationed indefinitely on campus).

The kidnappers were neatly proclaimed to be agents of the Eritrean government by the appropriate ministers, and the ONLF terrorists, we were told, were similarly aligned. The end. (This apparently should suffice, no further information or evidence required…..And certainly no mention made of the 100 Ethiopian soldiers that died unreported along with the 74 civilians that day, or the numerous ONLF members that have since been hunted down and killed by Ethiopian forces).

Though the lack of public accountability honestly comes as no surprise, I find it darkly amusing that the EPRDF also tried this same approach with the UN Security Council during Thursday’s Parliament session, demanding immediate action against the Eritrean government for these “recent terrorist acts in Ethiopia”.

Now, I understand all too well that Meles runs the show in this country and withholds, regulates and fabricates public information at will, but it is astounding to me that the EPRDF seems to actually expect actors on the world stage to play by their rules as well—and meekly accept the exaggerated charges intended to justify Meles’ latest craving for war. Amazing!

Tuesday, May 8

Saying Goodbye to Anthony Mitchell

The world has lost a talented and courageous journalist. Ethiopia has lost a friend.

My deepest condolences to his family. His personal integrity and dedication to
this region will not be forgotten.

Saturday, May 5

Plane Crash in Cameroon

AP correspondent and local hero Anthony Mitchell was believed to be on board the Kenya Airways jet that crashed in southern Cameroon early this morning. So far there is no word on survivors.

Our thoughts are with him and his family at this time. We are hoping for good news.

Wednesday, May 2

Trial Update: May 2, 2007

After a two hour delay in the sweltering courtroom (during which the defendants were thankfully allowed to mingle and converse), the judge announced the somewhat unexpectedly lenient rulings.

1. The defendants’ requests to obtain personal property seized by police was rejected.

2. The request for copies of the verdict (currently being transcribed), testimonies of all witnesses for the prosecution, and relevant audio/video evidence was granted. (The prosecution was ordered to prepare and provide the above within 5 days.)

The prison administration was ordered to set up the requisite facilities and show two cassettes per day to the defendants (which would be divided into groups for the viewing).

3. The defendants would be granted half a day to meet and discuss their defense, following the review of all cassettes/videos.

4. Daniel and Netsanet were given permission to access their personal computers and print the required documents under supervision.

It was then ordered that all other requests must be submitted through the office of the judge.

Court was adjourned until June 1, 2007

Ethiopia Tops CPJ’s Dishonor Roll

CPJ has issued a special report just in time for tomorrow’s celebrations. It comes as no surprise that Ethiopia tops the list of countries in which press freedom has most greatly deteriorated over the past year.

What does continue to surprise, however, is the government’s opinion that the credibility of such reports can be tarnished by a simple ‘official’ denial of evidence. I mean, certainly they must know that international press organizations are not subject to the same censorship pressures as our persecuted national reporters...

So, I wonder what brilliant rebuttal they will come up with in their press statement today? Will it be the same boring old report condemnation, or perhaps they will even find a way to hold Eritrea accountable for this one too…? Come on, boys—I think it’s time for a little more creativity, don’t you think? After all, they must be paying you for something…

(Oh, and for the record—I don’t take kindly to being silenced. My days of sporadic blogging have come to an end and I will be back in full force. Bring it on!)
Unless it is just a temporary glitch, it seems that the EPRDF has gone one step further in their attempts to silence all of us here. In response to the OpenNet report detailing their regular practice of blocking websites in this country, Zemedkun immediately denied the allegations in an official statement to the press.

If this isn’t unfathomable enough, it seems that the blogger homepage has now been blocked! This is a new low, in my experience here, and a major inconvenience.

I am generally under the impression that nothing can shock me here anymore, but Meles and co have managed to do it again. Their complete lack of accountability and transparency is nothing less than appalling!


Tomorrow is "World Press Freedom Day." How ironic.

Monday, April 30

Trial Update (April 30, 2007)

This morning MP defendant Bedru Adem presented 2 witnesses in his defense.

The defendants have not yet been permitteded to meet and discuss the possibility of presenting a collective defense, and so numerous independent requests were made regarding access to legal counsel, confiscated personal possessions and various documents presented by the prosecution.

Court is scheduled to resume on May 2 in the afternoon session.