Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

Ethiopia Needs to Take a Leap to the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Monday, April 1st, 2019

Ethiopia has an extremely long and extensive recorded history going back some thousands of years, however, economically remains one of the poorest. What is disturbing is even in 2018, there are millions of Ethiopians suffering from famine.

Ethiopia in its current form has existed since 1991 when Meles Zenawi through his TPLF (Tigrean Peoples Liberation Front) guerrillas overran the country and ruled until his death in 2012. He is most remembered for facilitating the separation of Eritrea, the introduction of toxic ethnic-based federalism that gave an advantage to his own tribe, and blocking access to the Internet.

On April 2nd, 2018 Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali became prime minister, after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn. His election is widely seen as positive and an opportunity to unite Ethiopia and address the wrongs of the past and improve the economic conditions for the extremely poor population of about 100 million.

The election of Abiy Ahmed may have saved Ethiopia from further bloodshed and disintegration; however, his chance of transforming the economic backwardness of Ethiopia, a legacy of poor governance from yesteryears, remains immensely difficult.

In 1996, in memory of the late Congressman Mikey Leland, who died on a hunger mission in Ethiopia, the U.S. Congress allocated $12 million dollars to put a broadband Internet in all universities and high schools in Ethiopia in order jump start Ethiopia’s famine-stricken society to a technology-driven economy. In the dawn of the Internet in the 1990’s, Ethiopia had the chance to leapfrog many nations and become a leading technology juggernaut in the likes of S. Korea, China, Singapore, and others.

However, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi blocked the grant because it stipulated open access and competitive bidding for the installation of the network. He was primarily afraid of social media to mobilize the masses against his authoritarian rule. This shortsighted greed resulted in the loss of the possibility of incredible advancement and incalculable damage was done to the economy. Because of TPLF’s restrictive and monopolistic policy, Ethiopia has one of the lowest Internet penetration in the world even less than the failed state of Somalia.

In Ethiopia, many children are stunted physically and intellectually because of malnutrition. While TPLF was able to improve infrastructure, its toxic ethnic policy restricted the free flow of trade and exacerbated the economic divide and created mass misery.

To grow the economy, the current government is promoting manufacturing by inviting companies from China, Turkey, India, and others by enticing them with low wages and tax breaks. Dr. Abiy should prioritize direct foreign investment in high technology transfer jobs rather than low-wage manufacturing to provide a platform for a sustainable economic development.

The normal trajectory of moving from agriculture to manufacturing is no more an option for Ethiopia. Because of TPLF’s fear of social media and denial of access to technology, Ethiopia failed to enjoy the full benefit of the digital revolution. Given this failure, Ethiopia has no time to go through these stages and catch up with the rest of the world technologically and economically. Jumping to the Fourth Industrial Revolution will accelerate its economic and technological development, save it from future famine, ecological damage emanating from manufacturing, and massive economic disruption that arises in the phase-out of manufacturing.

Manufacturing undertaken by Chinese and other companies will not save Ethiopia from its permanent third-rated status or fill empty stomachs. Huajian is one of the most celebrated Chinese Company with over 5000 employees. According to AP “Amazing China” (May 2, 2018), Ebissa Gari, a 22-year-old employee of Huajian, earns 966 Birr ($35) a month. The average worker at Huajian factory earns $50 a month despite the fact that according to Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, a basic living wage is about 3000 Birr or ($109) a month in Ethiopia. On the other hand, Artificial Intelligence (AI) specialists with little or no industry experience can make between $300,000 and $500,000 a year in salary and stock. “Top names can receive compensation packages that extend into the millions” according to NYT (April 19, 2018).

In order to catch up with the rest of the world, Ethiopia needs to take a leap to the fourth Industrial Revolution that focuses on robotics, AI, nanotechnology, the blockchain, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, and 3D-printing, while not totally discounting manufacturing. The government should prioritize the introduction of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by opening up Internet access, broadband, and Research and Development in these areas.

The increased productivity, efficiency, lower operating costs and high wages are a product of access to technology. The Heritage Foundation, recently reported that economic growth had not been enjoyed evenly by all Ethiopians and it argued that more economic freedom is needed to grow the economy and to reduce civil strife.

Ethiopia is a very poor country by any standard and sits at the bottom of the ladder in all barometers. Many articles have been written with glowing statistics about Ethiopia’s fast-growing economy around 10%. In 1994, Ethiopia’s GDP was only $6.93 Billion; however, as of 2015, Ethiopia GDP stood at $72.4 Billion, a ten-fold increase according to TPLF data. This means GDP should have doubled every two years in the last two decades, which is unprecedented and improbable. Still, GDP of $72.4 Billion for a country of 100 million is not very impressive compared to Apple Inc.’s $72.6 billion income earned before taxes in 2015.

Given the state of the economy and technology, Ethiopia is at the pre-industrial stage where Britain was in the 1840’s. Unless Ethiopia skips some steps, it will need hundreds (100) of years to catch up. Of course, this assumes the rest of the world will stand still and wait for Ethiopia. For example, at a reasonable growth rate of 5%, Ethiopia will need 177 years to catch up with the U.S. growing at an average of 2.5% holding everything constant. At a 10% rate, it will take 60.5 years. The calculation is derived using a per capita of $50,000 for the U.S and $700 for Ethiopia.

Technology has the potential to be a tremendous tool in advancing the well-being of mankind, by improving quality of life and lifting standard of living. Access to technology allows us to work from anywhere and improves productivity. The progress of industrial revolution from the steam engine, electric power, and digital and information technology is the foundation for the fourth industrial revolution.

Artificial intelligence will be pervasive based on autonomous products from cars to robots. In the next two decades over 80% of the jobs will be AI and IT driven. AI will increasingly take over mundane tasks to the most sophisticated including fabrication, surgery and ground and space warfare.

According to Global Information Technology 2016, Ethiopia is 120th out of 139 countries in the Network Readiness Index (NRI) which measures access to latest technologies to individuals, businesses, and government, ease of starting a business, the efficiency of the legal system, infrastructure, capacity for innovation and more. Ethiopia’s ranking could have been much better had it not been for TPLF’s fear of technology and lack of interest in advancing Ethiopia’s technological and digital capability.

Sophia the robot and Dr. Abiy’s meetup is a promising sign. Dr. Abiy’s willingness to visit Sophia is an indication of his appreciation of the importance of technology, especially AI that encompasses autonomous or self-driving cars, nanotechnology, digital fabrication, the blockchain, biotechnology and more. In addition, IT will become more accessible to a larger part of the population and cheaper like the rest of the world if Dr. Abiy’s privatization plan proceeds with speed. Sophie visiting Addis:

The technology revolution is taking place at a breakneck speed lead by Artificial intelligence, Internet of things, the cloud, and 3D-printing. Ethiopians need to demand unfettered access to technology and the Internet as a right for their survival and to avoid future famines.

Dr. Abiy needs to leapfrog Ethiopia to the fourth Industrial Revolution, stop Internet censorship, and unleash innovation to create a better future for Ethiopia. If he does not leverage the technology revolution, grow the economy with open competition, transparency, with respect to property rights, unfettered access to technology and the Internet, he will leave Ethiopia with a distressed economy and with more hungry and angry people.

Leveraging technology underpinning the Fourth Industrial Revolution will create a strong and sustainable economic foundation. The people who generate the wealth (the next Apple, Google, etc.), the carpenters, the risk takers and inventors should be marveled and appreciated much more than others. After all, it will be the efforts of all hard working and creative Ethiopians with a strong work ethics that will propel Ethiopia to be an economic and technological juggernaut.

Ethiopia is Key to Democracy in S. Sudan & Africa!

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Ethiopia besides being the seat of the African union, cradle of mankind, carries great historical symbol for  people of African origin. Ethiopia earned this position as one of the longest independent nations, and for repulsing Western colonial occupation. Despite this legacy, Ethiopians have never enjoyed rule of law or fair and free election.

Representative of warring factions from South Sudan are in Ethiopia to hammer out their differences and to form democratic union where all different groups can live in peace. Unfortunately, Ethiopia is not a place to teach such lessons. The Ethiopian regime pretended for long for things that it is not in order to earn respect and foreign aid.

In Ethiopia the government perfected the Machiavellian system where ethnic groups are pitted one against another, embraced the bantustanization of Ethiopia, resources are controlled like in North Korea and Cuba by the state, where the state owns land, access to Internet, telecommunication, banking and  all other vital means of production causing many Ethiopian to live a precarious often miserable economic and political existence. Freedom of the press, free assembly, civil societies, and political parties are barley existent or survive at the whims of the regime.

In 2005, the late Meles Zenawi allowed unfettered debate among candidates believing that he was assured of victory, but when the polls started coming, he realized that he was losing in all major cities and in most of the country side except in Tigre, Silte, Hadre regions, so he stopped the countdown and declared victory. When protest erupted  he used deadly force killing over 190 peaceful protesters and arrested hundreds of thousands. The U.S. government and African leaders looked the other way because the sway Ethiopia holds in Africa.  After  Meles emerged unscathed except condemnation by a few representatives in Europe and the U.S.,  leaders in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan realized that if  Meles can get  away by stealing an election, they can do it too. The Kenyan attempt was bloody, others were less bloody, but the pattern for dynasties or one party apparatus were set in motion. Now some elections in Africa are ceremonial because the winner is predetermined.

Ethiopia holds the key to democracy in Africa. So in order to restore democracy in Africa, Ethiopia as the seat of the OAU has to uphold the rule of law,  respect free and fair election, then the rest of Africa will follow suit. Ethiopia plays a significant leadership role and that role has to include in promoting democracy in the continent. African leaders come to Ethiopia in a regular basis at least once a year and see  Ethiopia’s oppressive system year after year surviving and the West giving a blind eye. So  goes the rest of Africa.

Ethiopia will hold its true place in history not as the physical capital of Africa, or as the cradle of man kind, only when it upholds the rule of law and becomes  a pride for the rest of the oppressed African masses, as it did during pre-colonial Africa. The Obama administration has tremendous power on Ethiopia, a country landlocked and far dependent on aid ill can afford to alienate the West.

All Africans from  Eritrea, Ethiopia and others are yearning for democracy and for American leadership. Unfortunately, leadership has been reactionary only willing to put out fires instead of building a roadmap for democracy for the continent.

Some countries like Ethiopia are exempt from respecting the rule of law despite their repeated defiance. Many African leaders are aspiring to anoint themselves and their children for life whether it is good for the country or whether the people support it or not. The West especially Washington is eager to acquiesce in the name of stability, which in this case is a mirage, because there is no stability without respect for rule of law.

Billions of souls from Third World nations are potential terrorists, unless we end their extreme poverty, oppression and suffering. For Africa, the first place to start is Ethiopia.

Unless other African countries including Ethiopia pledge to hold free and fair election, respect the rule of law and respect the rights of their citizens regardless of their tribe or religion, the leaders of South Sudan may not want to be an exception to the norm. In the long run, for Africa to enjoy peace, stability and economic growth, ethnic and/or one party dictatorship has to be forbidden.  The writer can be reached at

Humiliation and suffering in Saudi Concentration Camp

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Ethiopian workers beaten, robbed in Saudi Arabia – BDlive Tue, 19 Nov 2013 05:10:42 GMT

Addis Abeba: When Abdallah Awele moved to Saudi Arabia from Ethiopia last year, he thought he would land a good job and earn enough money to send home to his family. But instead, M …

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Does President Obama care for Africa?

Thursday, June 27th, 2013


In June 2009, I wrote an article complaining that President Obama is ignoring Africa. It appears that he will go down with no legacy unlike George Bush with campaign to fight Aids, or Kennedy with the launch of the Peace Corps, that many Ethiopians benefited from. Besides establishing drone bases and dropping a few bombs in Somalia, Obama has nothing to show so far.

What is bedeviling Africa is poor leadership and dictators? President George Bush gave more lip service or spoke than Obama in promoting democracy in Africa.  Africa has all the resources to be a politically stable and economically viable continent if it were not for the prevalence of corruption and dictators from Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea,

His primary focus has been in the Middle East and Afghanistan. He appears genuinely interested in disentangling the deeply rooted political problems of the Middle East and improving Muslim and Arab relations with America; however, can all this be at the expense of Africa?

The gross human rights violation in Africa pale to that of the Middle East and the plight of 800 million African masses remains totally in the back burner. President Obama has seen many of the leaders of the Middle East and has denounced the leaders of Iran, North Korea, and more but he has yet to fire any warning shot to the dictators of Africa.

President Obama is perceived as a transformation figure in Africa, as well as in the rest of the world. It will be a historical disaster if he does not take bold steps to transform Africa; most of all help it get rid of its worst enemy, the unaccountable, unelected and murderous dictators and vigorously promote the establishment of democratic foundation.

The old paradigm in the United States is that Africa is hopeless as it struggles with a massive epidemics, famine and ethnic conflicts often fanned by its own leaders, as in the case of Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Congo and others. To totally ignore the continent would imperil hundreds thousands of U.S. jobs, approximately 20 percent of Africa’s oil supply and an emerging market of close to a billion consumers.

Unfortunately, failure by the Bush administration to vigorously promote democracy promoted a number of dictators to emerge especially in East Africa with potential economic and political disaster for the region and the world. President Bush was more motivated in fighting terrorism than promoting democracy in the region.  However, dictatorship is the seed for terrorism, but most western leaders ignore it at their own peril.

Total ambivalence under President Bush and winning and dinning of Africa’s dictators by President Clinton has progressively made the plight of African people worse. The death, destruction, the suffering and the gross human rights violations arising from conflicts in Darfur, Somalia, Congo,  Gambela, Chad and other places far exceed the level of suffering experienced in the Middle East or Asia minor.

Raging ethnic tension primarily instigated by the divide and conquer policy of ruling oligarchy, combined with corruption and misapplication of resources are slowly killing the economy and the political viability of the continent. The biblical suffering in many countries, primarily manmade disasters have gotten so bad, a Marshall Plan is necessary to save Africa from political and economic collapse.

Currently, besides the political oppression, and ethnic tensions, some regimes have strangled the people and the economy through government ownership of land, Internet, telephone, and other vital industries leading to massive unemployment.

Some of the culprits in this case, the dictators, only thrive and survive with U.S. largesse. For example, the regimes in Ethiopia will go by the wayside without massive U.S. aid. This gives the U.S. tremendous advantage to force democratic and economic changes in the continent.

Human rights records in many African countries are abysmal and are well documented by Amnesty International, the U.S. Congress, Human rights Watch, and independent media. Last year, some of the African dictators such as the one in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Eritrea appeared along with North Korean dictator in the Dictators of the Month Magazine. Unfortunately, in Washington leaders like the late Ethiopian dictator, Meles Zenawi were wined and dined, as they disguise their “vicious dictatorship” by ingratiating themselves with the U.S. State Department and by hiring high power lobbyist using the money collected from the impoverished people of Africa. According to Ken Silverstein of Harper Magazine, Ethiopia spends $50,000 a month to make sure Washington does not notice the cruel and evil system and to portray the regime incorrectly anti-terrorist and democratic.

President Obama has also to avoid past pitfalls. In his book Out of America: a Black Man Confronts Africa, journalist Keith Richburg rebukes some African-Americans for being too cozy with African dictators who bring untold misery to their own people.

In the Sudan, the U.S. should push vigorously for the genocide and war crime prosecution of Dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir and ratification of 1998 Rome treaty, which established the International Criminal Court . The successful prosecution of Milosevic and Charles Taylor demonstrated that nobody even a head of state is not above the law.

To his credit, George Bush stemmed the tide of AIDs in Africa; Bill Clinton pretended to be the first Black President, despite his failure to stop the Rwandan Genocide. On the other hand, there is nothing to brag about Obama as far as his contribution to the welfare or the transformation of blacks in America or in Africa.

It might be that his hands are tied, but not for lack of empathy. Either way, there will be no legacy for Obama to brag about, except that he is the only mixed or black president, which is historic on its own.

I am sure President Obama can rise to the challenge if he dared too. Pushing democratic values and correct economic development strategies are critical to save the continent. With an investment of $13.3 billion under the Marshall Plan from 1948 to 1952, President Truman provided a lifeline to a devastated Europe and created strong ally for the U.S. At the end of the Marshall Plan in 1952, Europe recorded the fastest economic growth in history.

President Obama has the option to embark on a bold political and economic agenda by vigorously promoting democracy, and economic agenda, while opening a huge market three times that of Europe for American businesses.

Dula Abdu, originally from Africa, is a U.S-based writer on foreign policy (note article was adopted from 2009 article from a similar topic).


Victory is at our Finger tips

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Victory is at our finger tips. The question is who is going to drive it? All the stars are aligned to free Ethiopia and we should not let this pass us by without taking advantage of it.

In one of my articles entitled “Dictators are like Giant Elephants with a feet of clay”, I reiterated the belief that dictators despite appearing impregnable lack a foundation and justification for their existence, thus they collapse easily with a little push.

The primary objective now has to be to generate that push by coordinating the forces in the Diaspora and at home.  During a brief personal visit to Houston, Aba Biya Aba Jobir, told me in August, 1991 that the Woyanes will be gone in six months. That was almost 20 years ago. Thus I will not discount in the ability of Meles to finesse a strategy to stay another 20 years unless we unite and outsmart him this time.

In order to dismantle the Meles regime we need to connect with the Ethiopian people at home. Despite recent setbacks, the Ethiopian people are known for their bravery and for preserving their freedom and independence for thousands of years from the Europeans, Turks, Arabs and others. Repelling the Italians in 1896, driving them out in 1941, repelling the Ottoman, Arabs and other invaders is a testimony to the bravery and tenacity of the Ethiopian people. This has earned the Ethiopian people a place in history among Africans and many others.

Meles knowing that has devised a scheme to divide and conquer them. He was able to pick on Oromos, Amharas, Gurages, Somalis and other one at time and silence them. Now, all alienated groups, Somalis, Oromos, and the Southern people have realized that division served Meles well rather than anybody.
It has become clear to many that a democratic Ethiopia has a room for every Ethiopian regardless of tribe, religion or where they come from. So the Ethiopian spirit of unity and fighting the common enemy is back and the time for the Woyane is over.

To dismantle the Woyanes, we need to connect with students, labor unions, businesses, and others in Ethiopia to make the revolution a united force like the one in Egypt to shatter the Woyane design of divide and conquer. The idea of breaking up Ethiopia by tribe as concocted by TPLF and EPLF was plan to control and to subjugate all Ethiopians into a second class status. Simply, such idea only serves enemies of the Ethiopian people. In the past, the Woyanes were able to pick on one group at a time, but this time we are united and nobody can defeat a united Ethiopia, as witnessed by past enemies of Ethiopia. Woyanes picked on labor unions, Taxi drivers, bankers, Gurages, Amharas, Oromos one by one to silence and to put them out of actions. Think the possibility of all Ethiopians coming out in mass or refusing to obey Woyanes like the Egyptians did. If the Ethiopian people can generate a unity like the Egyptians and the people of Tunisia, no one in the world let alone Woyanes can defeat the Ethiopian people.

Given this recognition, all Ethiopians from Gambella to Ogaden should be united. Once united, nobody can defeat them and victory is at their finger tips. Mubarak in the past used to kill hundreds of the Muslim brothers and used to get away with such murders, like Meles got away in 2005. But when the Egyptians united regardless of their religion, race and ideology, they became unstoppable for Mubarak and for the army. In Ethiopia, the majority of the military people are coming to the recognition that they are not willing to kill to preserve a regime hated by the majority of the people. The majority of the foot soldiers hail from the rest of Ethiopia, except the top leaders. Fortunately, according to the recent database, now we know where the top brasses live, work and all their tentacles and if they were to massacre our people, there are forces to wipe them out as well. So it is unlikely, that they will engage in a massacre.

After Meles, there is a need to establish a reconciliation and truth committee like the one in South Africa, to forgive and forget for the sake of ending the saga of retribution that Meles started. A transitional government representing all sectors of the Ethiopian people need to be constructed immediately to lead to a free and fair election and to lay a democratic foundation for Ethiopia. However, we need to put the Horse before the cart. First, let us work on igniting the revolution while iron is hot for liberation. Meles is scared, but he is capable of creating another means to abort this revolution using his proxies in the West or at home. A call by the U.S. Embassy to bring the opposition and the Woyanes together is another plot to abort the revolution and to protect U.S. interest. Strategies to sustain the revolution: Revolutionary forces in the Diaspora and in Ethiopia need to coordinate a time table to oust Meles before the worldwide revolution for democratic change cool off.

The major tasks and scenarios should be clearly worked out. The Woyanes are merciless and shrewd and they might have already put a plan of action in place how to thwart everything. This time, Ethiopians cannot think conventional, meaning they have to outsmart the Meles and his agazie army until victory.
In order to avoid the abortion of the movement, all the participants especially in Ethiopia need to have a concept of “shared awareness” like a military outfit, that allows each participant to know what the immediate situation is as well as know his/her responsibilities during the course of the struggle and until final victory with all the back up plans in place.

In Ethiopia, we will not have the luxury of the social media to stay connected, to respond to the unexpected. An authoritarian government like Meles fears technology instead of taking it as a blessing and will do everything in its power to cut all sorts of communication from Internet, cell phone, and land lines too, while relying on its military mobile unit for its communication. So the movement has to be disciplined, coordinated, as well as creative to overcome this irrational regime.

Other scenarios include for example how to bring parties in Ethiopia or in the Diaspora together?
How to create the infrastructure to keep the revolution alive. How do we get the media, especially the International media to become an integral part of the revolution and a witness to report it and to put a restraint on Woyanes from using excessive force to kill the movement. Simply, we need to have a time table, as well as a plan of actions in taking into account all the scenarios and to start the revolution.

The revolution has to be nationwide. Gojam, the Southern people, Gonder, Wollega, Harar, Addis Abeba, students and labor unions have to revolt to overwhelm the Woyanes. If not, they may kill and leave another mayhem like they did in the past. So the coordination at home and abroad is important. The day of awakening or the day of revolution has to be announced to all concerned and fear has to be conquered, Woyane has to be defeated and Ethiopia has to be free. A new generation has to lead Ethiopia, because the old establishment has failed miserably.

The young people in Egypt and Tunisia brainstormed on the use of technology, how to evade surveillance, to organize barricades, how to handle rubber bullets, overcome gases, wear masks and other tactics in order to drive their revolution. They handled everything as a military outfit and they believed in their god given right to be free from unjustified and unwarranted oppression for the rest of their lives. The Muslim brothers, the Coptic Christians, doctors, the nerds, the soccer players, professors, lawyers and all of them combined their energy and operated like a brain surgeon using the nonviolent resistance. Of course, they were willing to die, but they knew that with such meticulous plan, organization and discipline it was just a matter of time for the people to be victorious against Mubarak, the military or any of Mubarak’s thugs. The Ethiopian people need to break from the past, which was designed to divide them and to control them.

Breaking free from past artificial divisions created by the ruler of Ethiopia is critical. The people of Ethiopia need to unite to stop the bleeding, the suffering and the backwardness that was bestowed on them by past ruler and oppressors. The Ethiopian people never took things into their own hands, consequently they continued to suffer. Division has served past rulers well because they were able to shape Ethiopia to fit their interest not the interest of the Ethiopian people. This division often manufactured by the ruling cliques shaped our mind set and kept Ethiopia divided and impoverished forever.

Freedom for Ethiopia is at our finger tips, so let us unite and drive the revolution to victory without fear and restore Ethiopia’s coveted status as a free and proud country.

A must Watch From Egypt

Friday, February 11th, 2011

The article and the video show what went underground to make the Egyptian revolution. As Newton’s First Law states that an object will remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force. Also any change in motion can cause accelertion.

In Ethiopia we have to end this interia of Woyane rule for the last 20 years. Woyane has divided the country, destroying its economy, its identity and overall welfare.

The Egyptian revolution did not happen by accident. It was those who sought the need and sat down and put a plan together. Simply, it was not spontaneous. It took months to carefully plan and put into operation. Sothe video and the text provide valuable lessons.

CAIRO — The Egyptian opposition’s takeover of the area around the parliament this week began with a trick.
First, they called for a march on the state television building a few blocks north of their encampment in Tahrir Square. Then, while the army deployed to that sensitive communications hub, they moved into the lightly defended area around the parliament to the south.

The feint gave a taste of how a dozen young activists managed to outwit Egypt’s feared security forces to launch a historic uprising now in its 17th day—and hint at how the organizers hope to keep pressure on a regime that has dug in its heels.

On Jan. 25, the first day of protests, the organizers had a trick up their sleeves in the impoverished slum of Bulaq al-Dakrour, on Cairo’s western edge.

There amid the maze of muddy, narrow alleyways, a seemingly spontaneous protest caught security forces on their heels and swelled in size before those forces could react to crush it.

That protest was anything but spontaneous. How the organizers pulled it off, when so many past efforts had failed, has had people scratching their heads ever since.

After his release from detention on Sunday, Google Inc. executive Wael Ghonim recounted his meeting with Egyptian’s newly appointed interior minister. “No one understood how you did it,” Mr. Ghonim said the minister told him. He said his interrogators concluded there had to have been outside forces involved.

The plotters, who now form the leadership core of the Revolutionary Youth Movement, which has stepped to the fore as representatives of protestors in Tahrir Square, have shared their secret in recent days for the first time.

Their accounts reveal a core of savvy plotters who have managed to stay a step ahead of the security forces with decoy marches and smart politicking that has sustained popular support for their protests.

In early January, when they decided they would try to replicate the accomplishments of the protesters in Tunisia who ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, their immediate concern was how to outfox the Ministry of Interior, whose legions of riot police had managed to contain and quash protests for years. The police were expert at preventing demonstrations from growing or moving through the streets, and at keeping ordinary Egyptians away.

“We had to find a way to prevent security from making their cordon and stopping us,” said Basem Kamel, a 41-year-old architect who is a member of Mohamed ElBaradei’s youth wing and was one of the dozen or so plotters.

They met daily for two weeks in the cramped living room of the mother of Ziad al-Alimi, a leading organizer for the opposition group formed by Mr. ElBaradei and one of the chief plotters.

Mr. Alimi’s mother, a former activist herself who served six months in prison for her role leading protests during the bread riots in 1977, lives in the middle-class neighborhood of Agouza on the west bank of the Nile.

The group of plotters included representatives from six youth movements connected to opposition political parties, groups advocating labor rights and the Muslim Brotherhood.

They chose 20 protest sites, usually connected to mosques, in densely populated working-class neighborhoods around Cairo, hoping that a large number of scattered protests would strain security forces, draw larger numbers, and increase the likelihood that some would be able to break out and link up in the city’s central Tahrir Square.

The group publicly called for protests at those sites for Jan. 25, a national holiday celebrating the country’s widely reviled police force. They announced the sites of the demonstrations on the Internet and called for protests to begin at each one after prayers at about 2 p.m. But that wasn’t all.

“The twenty-first site, no one knew about,” Mr. Kamel said.

To be sure, they weren’t the only ones calling for protests that day. Other influential activist groups rallied their resources to the cause. The Facebook page for Khaled Said, the young man beaten to death for no apparent reason by police in Alexandria, had emerged months earlier as an online gathering place for activists in Egypt.

There was an Arabic page and an English page, and each had its own administrators. Mr. Ghonim, the Google executive, has now been identified as one of the administrators, but the pages’ other administrators remain anonymous.

An administrator for the English language page, known only by his online moniker El-Shaheed, or The Martyr, recounted the administrators’ role in the protests in an interview with The Wall Street Journal via Gmail Chat.

El-Shaheed said he was chatting online with the site’s Arabic-language administrator on Jan. 14, just as news broke of Tunisian President Ben Ali’s flight from the country. Mr. Kamel and his cohorts, who had already begun plotting their protest, now had another powerful recruiting force.

“I was talking with Arabic admin and we were watching Tunisia and the moment we heard Ben Ali ran away, he said, we have to do something,” said El-Shaheed.

The Arabic administrator posted on the Arabic page an open question to readers: “What do you think we should give as a gift to the brutal Egyptian police on their day?”

“The answer came from everyone: Tunisia Tunisia :),” wrote El-Shaheed.

For the final three days before the protest, Mr. Kamel and his fellow plotters slept away from home, fearing police would come to arrest them in the middle of the night and disrupt their plan. They stopped using their own cell phones and in favor of those owned by family members or friends that were less likely to be monitored.

They sent small teams to do reconnaissance on the secret 21st site in Bulaq al-Dakrour. That site was the Hayiss Sweet Shop, whose storefront and tiled sidewalk plaza meant to accommodate outdoor tables in warmer months would make an easy-to-find rallying point in an otherwise tangled neighborhood no different from countless others around the city.

The plotters knew that the demonstrations’ success would depend on the participation of ordinary Egyptians in working-class districts such as Bulaq al-Dakrour, where the Internet and Facebook aren’t as widely used. They distributed flyers around the city in the days leading up to the demonstration, concentrating efforts on Bulaq al-Dakrour.

“It gave people the idea that a revolution would start on January 25,” Mr. Kamel said.

The organizers sent small teams of plotters to walk the protest route repeatedly in the days leading up to the protest, at a slow pace and at a fast pace, to get their timing down for sychronizing when the separate protests would link up.

On Jan. 25, security forces predictably deployed by the thousands at the sites of each announced demonstration. Meanwhile, four field commanders chosen from the organizers’ committee began ordering their men to the secret gathering point at the sweet shop.

The organizers divided themselves into cells of 10—with only one person per cell aware of the secret destination.

In these small groups, the protesters advanced toward the Hayiss Sweet Shop, massing into a crowd of 300 demonstrators free from police control. The lack of security prompted neighborhood residents to stream by the hundreds out of the neighborhood’s cramped alleyways, swelling the crowd into the thousands, according to employees at the Hayiss Sweet Shop who watched the scene unfold.

At 1:15 p.m., they began marching toward downtown Cairo. By the time police realized what was under way and redeployed a small contingent to block their path, the protesters’ numbers had grown so quickly that they easily overpowered the police.

The other marches organized at mosques around the city failed to reach Tahrir Square, their efforts foiled by riot-police cordons. The Bulaq al-Dakrour marchers, the only group to reach their objective, occupied Tahrir Square for several hours until after midnight, when police attacked demonstrators with tear gas and rubber bullets.

It was the first time Egyptians had seen such a demonstration in their streets, and it provided an explosive tipping point credited with emboldening tens of thousands of people to come out to protest the following Friday.

That day, they seized Tahrir Square again, and they haven’t given it up since.


More info at :

Lessons learned from Egypt

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Lessons learned from Egypt is that people have power. Dictator Mubarak is about to bow down to the will of the people. If so, can the Egyptian style resistance movement work in Ethiopia. Of course, we have by in large an army primarily repesenting and serving an ethnic group and an ethnic dictator. A dictator is a dictator, so they have no standing if the people organize and rise to the challenge. People have fought decades to liberate themselfes from oppression. In Egypt if all the people participate and keep the momentum, as it appears it will, dictator Mubarak has to go or will be forced by the will of the people dragged or kicking like other dictators.

Like the Egyptians are a trailblazer for the Arab world, Ethiopians can be a trail blazer for the sub-Sahara Africa. What would it take to get there. I will put a proposal together to spark a revolution in Ethiopia and to keep it going. Here is another Egyptian resistent video that is should be a great inspiration for all of us.

Egypt Versus Ethiopia

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

By Metha Obang,

Ethiopians: Let us Prepare Ourselves Before the Peoples’ Revolution to Oust an Ethiopian Dictator Reaches Ethiopia (Part I)
February 5, 2011. For thousands of years, life in Egypt has been greatly sustained and nurtured by the Nile waters coming from the rivers of Ethiopia and beyond; flowing through the beautiful land we all share. The Nile is like the blood of our shared humanity that passes through the veins of every human being; preserving life through generations past, present and future.

Yet, over the last days and weeks, the ingredients for renewed life are coming from Egypt to Ethiopia; as if the great river has reversed its flow and is going upstream to nurture a land where hopes of a better future had dried up. As it flows, the winds are also blowing seeds of change to and fro in the world; some of these seeds will find life in the fertile soils of discontent.

The inspiring message that comes from seeing masses of people stand up with courage and in solidarity as they demand freedom and justice after years of repression will find some of that fertile soil, ready for planting, in Ethiopia; tilled to perfection by the strongman himself—Meles Zenawi—who rightfully fears that Ethiopia will be next.

Like Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, when cornered, Meles—like any other typical dictator—will likely use the “same-old” tactics (see below) both he and others have used before, but to a more intense degree now; especially division, all of which should be publically exposed, especially to the western donors, and immediately countered. We anticipate he will:

1) strengthen his power-base in Ethiopia through “strongman techniques”—bribes, threats, intimidation—harshly clamping down further on democratic and civil rights
2) close down communication lines further; particularly the Internet, social media and outside sources of radio and TV broadcasts like the VOA, Deutshe Welle or ESAT
3) lobby himself and his regime in the international community by falsely claiming they are the only ones capable of maintaining stability and fighting terrorism; particularly should new threats emerge from these uprisings in Egypt, Yemen and beyond, despite many gifted, capable and moderate Ethiopians from diverse groups who are committed to stability and security in the country
4) loot Ethiopian assets and resources (particularly land and mineral rights) at an accelerated pace, while he can still do it; stashing investments and profits in foreign banks and companies
5) Play the ethnic card through new campaigns of propaganda and government sponsored ethnic attacks and/or events meant to:
a. create fear among Tigrayans like he did in 2005; claiming that allegiance to him is their only option for security
b. spread propaganda to Oromos and minority groups that the Amhara are coming to dominate
c. incite conflict or government-sponsored violence; including where there is peaceful protest, in order to justify draconian counter measures against the people

The irony is that if Meles takes such steps to prevent an uprising of the people, he may find he is simply better preparing the soil for a broad-based, massive peoples’ movement. His actions may all backfire, making the people more determined than ever to resist.
What Meles does not understand is that Ethiopians want a NEW ETHIOPIA that has room for all its beautiful and diverse people; not the Ethiopia of Menelik, Haile Selassie, Mengistu or his own ethnic-based apartheid government of the TPLF, which has not only ruled with an iron hand, but has poisoned Ethiopian society by promoting ethnic-based hatred, division and alienation among the people. This has included an attempt to isolate his own ethnic group from the mainstream through favoritism, isolation, scare tactics and repressive measures against dissenters in an attempt to maintain their support; however, much of this support is superficial and will disappear once the people rise up and demand the end of any ethnic-based governments. Only then will Ethiopians live in greater peace for “no one will be free until all are free.”
With this in mind, and as we receive reports of great discontent in Ethiopia, we believe it is only a matter of time before there is a peoples’ movement in the country that rises up to demand freedom, justice, equality and respect for human and civil rights. The SMNE is not in a position to make that call—for it will come organically from within Ethiopia—but instead, the SMNE seeks to give guidance, a manual to all Ethiopians as a whole, for how to help such actions produce a better Ethiopia rather than costly efforts that end up being hijacked, sabotaged or worse yet; become another force of destruction to Ethiopians. Ethiopians have had enough misery, suffering and pain. Periods of change can be for good or for bad; regardless of what we have had before. Honoring God and principles that value all human life should be primary. Greed and thirst for power have no place.
In Part II, we will more directly address seven different groups; giving more specific recommendations for how different sectors of our society might contribute to the overall success of a movement for freedom once the people of Ethiopia rise up.
The following are some suggestions for how we might counter some of Meles’ efforts to block the people. Please do what you can and come up with your own ideas. Here are some:
• Expose Meles; letting others know that Meles is one of the worst dictators in the world—get this information broadcast through the media, social networks, Alejazeera, BBC, CNN, Fox NEWs, bloggers, Tweeters, public radio, faith organizations, human rights organizations and any others who are interested in democratic movements.
• Support others who are also standing up for their universal human and civil rights; letting them know that the people of Ethiopia stand in solidarity with them.
• Ethiopians who are skilled in IT, this is your movement and your time! You are needed. Call us!
• Join one of the active and well-known tweeters to inform them about the brutal dictatorial regime in Ethiopia
• Others.

Please do not hesitate to e-mail your comments to Mr. Obang Metho, Executive Director of the SMNE, at: . You can click at the following link and filling out the required fields to be adds on our mailing lists or to subscribe or to suggest material for inclusion. For a full archive and other resources, see You can also join us on the Face book page.

Meles will fall like any dictator with the right push

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Ethiopians can learn from the Egyptian and Tunisian experiences. The foundation for change in Ethiopia is unambigiously present, if the Ethiopian people
can overcome fear. The Ethiopian people have nothing to fear, but fear itself. I recently wrote a piece about dictators. The title was “Dictators are like giant elephants with a feet of clay. Simply, if push them at the right time, they will collapse. Meles will not engage in massacring the people of Ethiopia at this age and time while the world is looking. Consequently, if the Ethiopian people get their courage that they had shown with past common enemies like the Italians and others, their victory against their current oppressor is inevitable. Please enjoy the following video.

Ethiopia: USA and Vatican accuse the Ethiopian government of unequal power sharing

zenawi_violator.jpgBy Ethioguardian

The United States of America today accused the Ethiopian government of favoring one ethnicity in appointing government positions. Mr. Douglas M. Griffiths, USA representative in the United Nations Human Rights Council, stated that: “Independent observers have noted…that most senior government positions are overwhelmingly represented by one ethnicity”, and recommended Ethiopia to examine and adjust the ethnic balance in government positions as the Ethiopian governments policy of Ethnic Federalism promotes. The Vatican also emphasized on the importance of a more equitable power sharing. Watch The Video (Use RealPlayer)

USA Mr. Douglas M. Griffiths English
Holy See (The Vatican) Mr. Hubertus Matheus Van Megen

Over 50 countries forwarded questions and recommendations to the government of Ethiopia in the Universal Periodic Review, the human rights exam of the United Nations, held in Geneva today.

In response to the American criticism the Head of the Ethiopian delegation, H.E. Mr. Fisseha Yimer, Special Adviser to the Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, classified the accusation as “speculation”, “off the mark” and “wrong”. He promised the countries interested in this issue to come up with proof of the opposite.

Many participants asked questions about the infamous Charities and Societies Proclamation, The Mass Media Law and Anti terrorism Law, restrictive legislations, which are widely condemned by donors and international human rights groups.
In his introductory statement Mr. Yimer indicated that the Ethiopian population misunderstands international human rights norms, which makes it difficult for the government to implement international human rights standards in the Ethiopian society. This shows how the Ethiopian regime underestimates its own people. Knowing the amount of political prisoners, media repression and reports of violations of human rights at the moment, the Ethiopian delegation tried to cover up the dictatorial nature of the regime.

Answering questions from France on the 2005 election and its bloody aftermath, Mr. Yimer said that it was a past issue and that the outcome of the national inquiry was satisfactory. Many members of the opposition fled the country in 2005, including some members of the inquiry commission, after being harassed by Ethiopian government forces. Harassment on opposition and media freedom, raised by Australia, made Mr. Yimer laugh out loud and say: “There is no harassment!”.

Questions about the case of Birtukan Mideksa, the imprisoned leader of Ethiopia’s main opposition party, were completely ignored by the Ethiopian delegation.

Most of the countries asked access to detention centers and visits of special rapporteurs, individuals working on behalf of the United Nations who bear a specific mandate from the UN Human Rights Council, to investigate issues on arbitrary detention, extrajudicial executions, torture etcetera. In the past years, the Ethiopian government was requested to grant access to these special rapporteurs, requests which have not been granted so far. Mr.Yimer, the head of the delegation, answered saying this was not possible due to the limited capacity of the country.

The grave human rights violations committed by Ethiopian government military forces in the Somali region (Ogaden), described by Human Right Watch as genocide, were also raised by, mainly Western, countries. Mr.Yimer ignored answering these questions.
Unsurprisingly, countries benefiting from Ethiopia’s recourses, such as India and China, and most African countries, were mostly praising the Ethiopian regime for their achievements on the Millennium Development Goals and Social, Economic and Cultural Rights.

Guerilla Economics _ Hard to Understand

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Guerilla Economics  – Hard to Understand

Dictator Meles and former Marxist guerilla leader may be providing western media including Bloomberg with bogus economic data. Recently, Bloomberg compared Ethiopia with the BRIC nations(Brazil, Russia, India and China) as possessing one of the fastest growing economies.  Given the current institutional constraints, such as  government control of the major means of production,  including housing stocks, all land, Internet etc. , it will be highly improbable if not impossible for the Ethiopian economy to enjoy the same growth like the BRIC nations. Unlike China or India, direct investment in Ethiopia is limited by the Ethiopian Diaspora or foreigners because of the high risk the country poses due to the lack of rule of law, which is manifested in the need sometimes to pay protection money to government agents and  often to members of Meles tribe.

Claims that the Ethiopian economy will grow  10-14.5% per annum in the next five years , much higher than the achievement of the BRIC nations  is highly improbable  for a country like Ethiopia. There are many reasons why the Ethiopian economy cannot enjoy similar or faster growth than the BRICs, because the current regime denies Ethiopians access to technology, voluntarily made Ethiopia land locked,  and provides no property rights or rule of law to protect  investors.  These factors discourage Ethiopia from achieving rapid economic growth. Of course, the injunction of ethnocentrism also causes the misallocation of resources and inhibits the free flow  of capital to its efficient destination with in Ethiopia.

BRIC nations can brag for growing their economies  with demonstrable benefits to their citizens such as job growth and  capital formation,  instead of imposing  price control and throwing business owners to jail as is the case in Ethiopia.  This is what some call truly dictatorial economics, where the ruler controls everything; land, Internet, cell phone, etc. , but assigns blame when the economy starts to stumble.

Dictator Meles claims that the Ethiopian economy will double in 5 years, that would require the economy to grow at or above 14.5% a year with zero inflation or if one were to include the current inflation level, the economy has to grow by 29% per annum, an economic feat never achieved before.   

For the last 20 years  Meles promised  free and fair election to appease international donors and to bring hope to the suffering people of Ethiopia, but when people voted to oust him in past elections, he used bullets to silence them.  So his economic projection of doubling the economy in the next five years may be another way  to prolong his rule with a false promise.  For the last 20 years, the Ethiopian economy grew on average  3.6%, significantly lower than other developing countries.

 Currently, Ethiopians are going through a severe economic situation, as in the past,  Meles is blaming the business community instead of his own wrongheaded policy, this includes the balkanization of Ethiopia,  lack of property rights, lack of access to technology, lack of transparency, and rule by an ethnic minority that also raises the risk premium against any investment in Ethiopia.

Meles’ attempt to control inflation using price control misses the point. The price control strategy as witnessed in the U.S. in the 70’s under president Nixon does not work.  Now the regime is engaged in the blame game with its faltering economy. The government is lashing out on defenseless businesses by taking their property and throwing them in to the dungeon. Hardly a solution to a seriously flawed economic policy pursued for the last 20 years  with state control of the vital organs of the economy and printing money, which is the primary cause of inflation in the absence of real economic growth and productivity.

Retired opposition leader and former World Bank director, Bulcha Demeksa described recent government price control measures as “classical dictatorial” response to a failed economic policy.

Meles has refused to do the obvious despite the advise of the international community and sometimes of his own advisors, free the economy from the shackles of state control and establish  property rights and the rule of law.

In many economies, the government sector is one of the smallest and the least contributor to economic growth. The Marxist regime believes otherwise.

The Ethiopian people should stop buying  government  propaganda such as blaming businesses instead of the economic policy  promoted by Meles, which is driving prices and misallocating resources.

Ethiopian businesses and consumers need to rally against the farce and dictatorial economy of Meles and his ploy to  blame others instead of his failed and flawed economic policy to avoid unnecessary bloodshed and conflicts among Ethiopians.  It is also well known that  Ethiopians continue to suffer  drowning in the Indian Ocean or getting killed in refugee camps fleeing this draconian dictatorship.

 The current regime, besides denying the Ethiopian people their basic human rights, may also denying them the opportunity to create a viable economic system for current and  future generations to come.  What is going on in Ethiopia under the current dictatorship some argue being equivalent to undeclared war on liberty and the very survival of the Ethiopian people and the Ethiopian nation.

Dula Abdu, a real estate and investment consultant and a former banker, and adjunct professor of economics.  He can be reached at or