Monday, October 28, 2013

Somalia: UN Envoy Regrets Killing of a Journalist in Mogadishu

 UN Envoy Regrets Killing of a Journalist in Mogadishu: "The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has learnt with deep sorrow of the death of Mohamed Mohamud Tima'adde, a reporter with Universal TV, on the evening of 26 October.

Mohamed succumbed to injuries he sustained on 22 October, when he was ambushed and shot several times in Mogadishu's Wadajir district by unknown assailants who managed to escape.

He becomes the seventh journalist to be murdered in 2013; Somalia continues to be one of the most dangerous places to practice journalism in the world.

SRSG Kay noted that the media had a crucial role to play in fostering peace and stability in Somalia, and stressed the need to protect journalists and press freedom in the country.

"My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mohamed Mohamud Tima'adde, and to all media practitioners in Somalia," SRSG Kay said. "UNSOM continues to work with the Federal Government of Somalia to strengthen the security and justice sectors in order to ensure that the streets of Somalia are safer and violent criminals are brought to justice.""

'via Blog this'

Contested Abyei votes whether to join Sudan or South Sudan | GlobalPost

Residents of the flashpoint Abyei region claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan were voting on Monday in an unofficial referendum to decide which country they belong to, a move likely to inflame tensions in the war-ravaged region, officials said.
"The people are voting to choose to join South Sudan or to be part of Sudan," Rou Manyiel, chairman of the Abyei civil society organisation, told AFP.
Patrolled by some 4,000 Ethiopian-led UN peacekeepers, the area is home to the settled Ngok Dinka, closely connected to South Sudan, as well the semi-nomadic Arab Misseriya, who traditionally move back and forth from Sudan grazing their cattle.
Only the Ngok Dinka are voting in the referendum -- although organisers insist it is open to all -- and the Misseriya have already angrily said they will not recognise the results of any unilateral poll.
Abyei was meant to vote on whether to be part of Sudan or South Sudan in January 2011 -- the same day Juba voted overwhelmingly to split from the north -- as part of the 2005 peace deal which ended Sudan's civil war.
That referendum was repeatedly stalled, and Sudanese troops stormed the enclave in May 2011 forcing over 100,000 to flee southwards, leaving a year later after international pressure.
Ngok Dinka leaders last week said they would press ahead with their own vote.
However, the United Nations and AU have warned that any such unilateral move could inflame tensions in the oil-producing zone and risk destabilising the uneasy peace between the longtime foes.
"There are long queues of people, but things are peaceful and calm," Manyiel added, a senior Ngok Dinka community leader. "They began to vote on Sunday and they will finish voting on Tuesday, the third day."
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir met last week with his southern counterpart Salva Kiir amid pressure to settle Abyei's future -- one of the most important and sensitive issues left unresolved since Juba broke free two years ago -- but despite calling talks "fruitful" no breakthrough deal was made.
An AFP photographer in Abyei said long lines of residents were lining up to cast their vote, with ballot papers marked with two symbols to chose from: a pair of clasped hands symbolising a vote to be part of Sudan, and a single hand if people want to join South Sudan.
Abyei, once oil-rich but with production now tailing off, is a key area of emotional and symbolic significance for both the fledgling South and the rump state of Sudan.
On Sunday, the African Union accused the Sudan government of preventing an AU delegation from visiting Abyei, accusing Khartoum of blocking it "for contrived security reasons".
Last week Misseriya leader Mukhtar Babo Nimir told AFP his people had the option of also holding their own unilateral referendum if, as they have now done, the rival Ngok Dinka hold their own ballot.
Sudan and South Sudan clashed heavily last year along their un-demarcated border, after furious rows over oil.
International pressure eventually reined the two sides back in, with leaders signing a raft of deals, most of which however are yet to be implemented.
When South Sudan split away, it took with it oil fields accounting for 75 percent of the reserves -- with production totalling some 470,000 barrels per day -- that Sudan used to call its own.
Landlocked South Sudan complained that the north was demanding too much to use its pipelines and port facilities, and the shutdown cost both countries billions of dollars.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

An Open Letter to John Kerry: Tell Ethiopia to Release Eskinder Nega and Stop Imprisoning Bloggers | Electronic Frontier Foundation

"Individuals can be penalised, made to suffer (oh, how I miss my child) and even killed. But democracy is a destiny of humanity which can not be averted. It can be delayed but not defeated… I sleep in peace, even if only in the company of lice, behind bars."
      - a letter attributed to imprisoned blogger Eskinder Nega, serving 18 years for journalism in Ethiopia
September 4, 2013
Dear Secretary of State John Kerry,
This month marks the second anniversary of Eskinder Nega’s imprisonment.  When you visited Ethiopia in May, Eskinder Nega had already been imprisoned – and thus silenced - for over a year. It’s time for the United States to use its considerable influence to vigorously and directly advocate Nega’s freedom and, in the process, to promote free expression and independent journalism throughout Ethiopia.
Now is a crucial moment for the Secretary to speak out. Over the weekend, Ethiopian security forces in Addis Ababa brutally suppressed a demonstration calling for political reforms and the release of jailed journalists and dissidents.
Eskinder Nega is an internationally recognized Ethiopian reporter-turned-blogger.  His award-winning journalism on political issues in Ethiopia – and his refusal to stop publishing or flee the country - has made him the target of persecution by the Ethiopian government for many years. Nega was arrested in September 2011 and then convicted under a new, extremely broad anti-terrorism law in Ethiopia. Nega’s so-called crime was writing articles and speaking publicly on topics such as the Arab Spring and Ethiopia’s poor record on press freedom. For that, he was sentenced to 18 years in prison. 
In July, the New York Times published a letter from Eskinder Nega in prison, who explained that Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law "has been used as a pretext to detain journalists who criticize the government."  He elaborated on the actions that landed him in prison on charges of terrorism: 
I’ve never conspired to overthrow the government; all I did was report on the Arab Spring and suggest that something similar might happen in Ethiopia if the authoritarian regime didn’t reform. The state’s main evidence against me was a YouTube video of me, saying this at a public meeting. I also dared to question the government’s ludicrous claim that jailed journalists were terrorists.
As Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said, "The use of draconian laws and trumped-up charges to crack down on free speech and peaceful dissent makes a mockery of the rule of law."
EFF has joined other free speech advocates and human rights organizations around the world in calling for Nega’s release. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has joined the movement calling for Nega’s freedom. And Amnesty International has rightly declared Nega a prisoner of conscience and is petitioning for his release.  
Journalists and human rights organizations around the world have condemned Nega’s sentence and called for his release. It’s time for the United States, and especially the State Department, to do the same.
We’re writing today to urge you to use your relationship with Ethiopia to campaign for Eskinder Nega’s freedom and the freedom of all peaceful bloggers in Ethiopia. 
We appreciate the public statements that the State Department has made about Nega’s imprisonment, but that’s not enough. Nega has already spent two years in prison, and other bloggers in Ethiopia have also been silenced by similar unjust imprisonments. 
A free and independent media is vital to democracy and justice. We are calling on you to speak out on behalf of Eskinder Nega and raise his case with your contacts within the Ethiopian government. We urge you to more strongly tie American economic and political support for  Ethiopia to its  record on press freedom. The Ethiopian government should understand that the imprisonment of Eskinder Nega has real and continuing consequences to the health of its global diplomatic and financial relationships with its partners.
The United States has deep ties with Ethiopia. Please use this access and influence to champion the rights of free expression and press freedom that are guaranteed by the Ethiopian constitution and international law.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Silly season: Cruz jokes he’s from Ethiopia – CNN Political Ticker - Blogs

Silly season: Cruz jokes he's from Ethiopia
August 23rd, 2013
01:07 PM ET
20 hours ago

Silly season: Cruz jokes he's from Ethiopia

(CNN) – Sen. Ted Cruz cracked a joke about the recent stir over his place of birth on Thursday, just days after pledging to renounce his Canadian citizenship.
"I promise that while y'all are out I'll try not to give any like really juicy piece of crazy news," Cruz told reporters as they were exiting an event where he was about to speak in a private session, according to theHouston Chronicle. "I am secretly a citizen of Ethiopia."

He gave no indication of his fluency level in Amharic.
The Texas Republican, who was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father, released his birth certificate to The Dallas Morning News last week as questions began simmering over whether he would be eligible to run for president.
Legal experts weighed in, saying he would likely qualify as a "natural-born citizen" of the U.S.–a requirement for the White House job–but also pointed out he may still be a citizen from Canada.
Cruz vowed to renounce his Canadian citizenship, saying in an interview with CNN that as a U.S. senator "it's appropriate I be only an American." The newfound attention to his origins is merely evidence of the "silly season in politics," he told CNN's Candy Crowley.
President Barack Obama also used humor at times when addressing the so-called birther movement.
In October 2012, about a week before Election Day, Obama argued GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney raised fees on a number of items when he was governor of Massachusetts.
"He raised fees to get a birth certificate," Obama continued, "which would have been expensive for me."
For years, Obama faced critics who were convinced the president was not born in the United States and therefor ineligible for the White House. He put the rumors to rest in 2011 when he released his long-form birth certificate.
A month earlier at a Florida campaign stop, the president ran into a woman and her then-six-year-old son, who was born in Hawaii.
"You were born in Hawaii?" he asked the child, then pointed at him. "Do you have a birth certificate?"
At the 2011 White House dinner, he famously roasted birther-in-chief Donald Trump.
"Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald," he said. "And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like, 'Did we fake the moon landing?' 'What really happened on Roswell?' And "Where are Biggie and Tupac?"
The president also played his "birth video" for the audience, which turned out to be the opening scene from the "Lion King" when Simba is unveiled as the next king.
– CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Japanese- Ethiopian Eskesta Dancer and Amharic Speaker - YouTube

World Press Freedom Day 2013: 5 Countries With the Least Press Freedom

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World Press Freedom Day 2013 5 Countries With the Least Press Freedom
May 3 marked the twentieth anniversary of UNESCO's World Press Freedom Day. A day to celebrate press freedom around the world. Or the lack of it. Reporters Without Borders has released its annual report on world press freedom in 2013, which documents overall trends and has a region-by-region breakdown of key issues and developments. This yearalready, nineteen journalists have been killed and 174 imprisoned, and 9 netizens and citizen journalists have been killed and 162 imprisoned.
The Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders "reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations and netizens enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect and ensure respect for this freedom."
According to Reporters Without Borders, following the Arab uprisings and "other protest movements that prompted many rises and falls in last year’s index [the] ranking of most countries is no longer attributable to dramatic political developments. This year’s index is a better reflection of the attitudes and intentions of governments towards media freedom in the medium or long term."
Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, and Andorra are ranked as the countries that most respect media freedom, while Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria, and Somalia are the countries that least respect it.
1. Eritrea
According to Reporters Without Borders, with at "least 30 behind bars [Eritrea] is Africa’s biggest prison for journalists." Following a widespread government crackdown in 2001, there are no independent news outlets in Eritrea. Of the eleven journalists who were imprisoned in 2001, seven have already died in prison or killed themselves. The government, led by the Information Minister Ali Abdu, uses intimidation and imprisonment to maintain control information.
2. North Korea
The North Korean government exercises direct and total control over the media in the country, which is tasked with glorifying the state and its former leader Kim Il-sung. Although independent North Korean radio stations exist in South Korea, thousands "of North Koreans have been detained for listening to a foreign radio station, making phone calls abroad or publicly questioning the sole political party."
North Korea is also one of the hardest countries for foreign journalists to cover, with access and freedom of movement severely restricted.
3. Turkmenistan
Similar to North Korea, local media in Turkmenistan is "under total state control." According to Reporters Without Borders, journalists are required to "cover the president’s “achievements” and “good works,” radio and TV stations and newspapers are scolded when they fail to show enough fervour and deference towards him, and are subjected to arbitrary appointments and dismissals."
While the internet may offer some hope for change, access is severely restricted and "independent journalists have to operate clandestinely and risk arbitrary detention or even torture." Journalists Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev, both held on fabricated charges, were only released earlier this year after seven years in prison.
4. Syria
While privately-owned media outlets have emerged in Syria, the state "has always maintained a stranglehold on news content," through web censorship, harassment and abuse of journalists, media blackouts on dissent, and the arrest and expulsion of foreign reporters.
According to Reporters Without Borders, of all the countries on the list, Syria is the one which saw "most attacks on freedom of information." It went on to say that reporters are being "targeted by all the parties to the conflict – the regular army and the various opposition factions – who are waging an information war."
5. Somalia
Already this year four journalists have been killed in Somalia, adding to the eighteen killed last year. Journalists in the country operate under the constant threat of arbitrary arrest and detention, surviving, in the words of one Somali reporter, only by living in a "state of paranoia constantly assessing and reassessing your surroundings." Not only is the number of targeted assassinations is alarming, but some journalists have "ended up in jail even without publishing or airing a report."
As we reflect on the severe restrictions that journalists in the above countries face, we must also remain critical of the state of the media in countries that are so often held up as beacons of freedom. While obviously not on the same scale as what is happening in Eritrea or Somalia, things such as the hacking scandal in Britain and the arrest of journalists covering the Occupy movement in the U.S. should also give us pause for thought.
Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Museveni salutes Kenyans for 'rejecting ICC'

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni addresses the public during  inauguration of Uhuru Kenyatta as Kenya’s fourth President at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, on Tuesday.  [Photo: Govedi Asutsa/Standard]
By David Ohito
Kenya: Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni stirred fresh International Criminal Court debate during President Uhuru’s inauguration ceremony on Tuesday in Nairobi.
Museveni, who is also the the Comesa chairman, was among dignitaries attending the swearing in and handing over ceremony held at Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani.
“I want to salute the Kenyan voters on one issue – the rejection of the blackmail by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and those who seek to abuse this institution for their own agenda” Museveni said in statement.
Said Museveni; Furthermore, " I was one of those that supported the ICC because I abhor impunity. However, the usual opinionated and arrogant actors using their careless analysis have distorted the purpose of that institution. They are now using it to install leaders of their choice in Africa and eliminate the ones they do not like."
He added: "What happened here in 2007 was regrettable and must be condemned. A legalistic process, especially an external one, however, cannot address those events. Events of this nature first and most importantly, need an ideological solution by discerning why they happened. Why did inter community violence occur? Was it for genuine or false reasons? Even if you assume they were genuine reasons as a hypothetical argument,  why should villagers attack one another? Would the villagers have been responsible for whatever mistakes that would have occurred?"
Musveni who previously supported ICC and the arrest of Ugandan fugitive Joseph Kony said : "Instead of a thorough and thoughtful process, we have individuals engaged in legal gymnastics! In Uganda’s case, between 1966 and 1986, we lost about 800,000 persons killed by the leaders who were in charge of the country. How did we handle that sad history? Have you ever heard us asking ICC or the UN to come and help us deal with that sad chapter of our history?"
He argued: "We only referred Joseph Kony of LRA to ICC because he was operating outside Uganda. Otherwise, we would have handled him ourselves. Equally, Kenyan actors are the ones best qualified to sit and delve into their history in order to discover the ideological stimuli the Kenyan society needs.  I, therefore, use this opportunity to salute the Kenyan voters again, rejecting that blackmail and upholding the sovereignty of the Kenyan people. The people of Kenya extended hospitality to Ugandans when they had to run out of their country because of criminal rule in Uganda."
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto are facing crimes against humanity charges at the ICC following the disputed 2007/8 presidential election that left over a thousand dead.