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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Francis Falceto & His 30-years Love-affair with Ethiopian Contemporary Music

(Photo: Courtesy of Buda Musique)
Francis Falceto is a French musicologist and music producer, specializing in world music especially of Ethiopian music and he has been working to put it on global music map since 1986. Falceto's love-affair with the Ethiopian music just happened by accident in April-May 1984 when one of his music enthusiast friends who had been to Ethiopia and brought an LP entitled Ere Mela Mela by Mahmoud Ahmed. He and a group of his friends were organizing non-profit concerts out of boredom in small sleepy Western France village called Poitier. They used to listen music from other African countries, but Ere Mela Mela was an absolute shock to their ears because of the uniqueness of Mahmoud's sound, the arrangement and the brass. He made some cassettes out of it and sent it to journalists and music reviewers; it was an absolute shock to them as well. The next day, they all called him back, saying, “Francis, what’s that?  Where did you get this from?  It’s great!”  So, he immediately understood that, if these people, who supposedly knowledgeable about music by profession, if they don’t know this music, it must be a place to dig, to try to find out if it’s an exception, or if it’s one among many.  
After having a few ''crush-course'' about Ethiopia, its culture, music and history by the owner of the only Ethiopian restaurant in Paris at that time. Falceto went naively to Ethiopia to ''bring'' Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatqe and other generations of the Swinging-Addis for a music tour in France. He admitted, he failed not once but three times to accomplish his mission due to

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Teshome Birhanu, an Ethiopian Migrant who puts Stockholm as a European Cultural Capital

With offices in Stockholm and Addis, and supported by several Swedish organizations as well as the Nordic Culture Fond, SELAM promotes festivals, concerts, tours, club nights and forums presenting global music in professional venues, such as the Stockholm Culture Festival. But, who is behind such big initiative which is bringing thousands of music fans together every summer in Stockholm not to mention other other cultural event?
Teshome, a musician from the start, trained in Russia, but born and raised in Ethiopia and came to Sweden in 1990. Seven years later, he founded SELAM, which is a cultural organization which deals with music, organizing festivals, concerts, club nights and tours throughout Sweden. SELAM focus mostly on music from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and invites international guests to Sweden and organizes events in places like Konsterthuset, Södra teatern, Nalen etc. It also works with international cultural exchanges between Sweden and Africa and supports the Ethiopian cultural work with the skills, contacts, organizing festivals and much more.
Teshome Wondimu started playing with different bands at various locations in the suburbs of Stockholm in the 1990s. But soon he realized why they [ musicians with foreing background] were not allowed to play

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Street-kid turnout Cultural Ambassador- an Ethiopian Success Story

Melaku, the Street-kid!

Born around 1980 in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, Melaku (which means the Angel in Amharic) Belay- the household name of Ethiopian traditional music group of our time, has never imagined he would be a cultural ambassador for a country which for some a synonym with famine. The road to his success was not rosy.
Before all this fame and stardom, before Melaku Belay has become the man he is today, he was indeed a a street-kid. During the political conflicts of the 70s and 80 Ethiopia, all of his family fled to the Sudan.
Melaku was alone: "Life was difficult. Imagine Sleeping on the street, going to school alone, living without family, without money, with nothing." But he underscores that he has never regretted having lived that life : It helped him to acquire the strength and willingness to work more to earn a life and become the person he wanted to be today. Melaku has a passion for dance since the age of 4 years. He started dancing at this age in ceremonies in Addis Ababa, as the feast of Timket (Epiphany). The dance, which began as a leisure, has turned into a professional career when an old woman, he considered as his mother, told him

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I'll Stop singing Romantic Songs: Legendary Ethiopian Singer Alemayehu Eshete

Image result for alemayehu esheteAlemayehu Eshete is one of the living legends of modern Ethiopian popular culture and one of the outstanding Ethiopian vocalists who emerged during the heyday of Ethiopian music in the turbulent 1960s. Alemayehu, known by many as the ''Ethiopian Elvis'' or "the James Brown of Addis", was a pioneer to modernize Ethiopian music by combining R&B, Ethiopian groove, soul, rock n' roll, and traditional Ethiopian music to create something truly unique. 
His parents wanted and dreamed their only child to be an engineer, a medical doctor or a lawyer and when they found out that Alemayehu was singing at the local night-clubs, their heart broken. Especially, Alemayehu's father, who did everything in his capacity to educate his son, took the news personally and wanted to shoot and kill Alemayehu. The aspiring artist wasn't in good terms with father for more many years. Understandably, singing had a very low status in Ethiopia during those days.   
Alemayehu who was determined to realize his dreams, has dared to adopt elements from rock-n-roll and American soul, including body movements, dance and hair styles, eventually coming to be known as  or "James Brown of Addis." Over the course of years Eshete released over 30 albums that became enormous hits in Ethiopia and led various orchestras, including the famous Police Orchestra and groups that he himself established.
Colonel Retta Demeqe was the one who recognized Alemayehu's talent and

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mahmoud Ahmed's Journey From Shoe-Shine boy to An International Superstar

In concert, his [Mahmoud's] enigmatic multi-octave voice seizes on a note, brief or sustained, and makes its pitch tremble as it its urgency could barely be containedThe New York Times

MAHMOUD Ahmed has a rich, deep voice that oozes liquid chocolate down a phone line crackling with static; what a pity I can't understand a word he is saying.Sydney morning herald

75 years ago a baby named Mahmoud Ahmed brought to this world by an Ethiopian working class parents at a place locally known as Mercato in the center of Addis Ababa. Neither his family nor himself had imagined that this little boy one-day would be an internationally acclaimed artist. Mahmoud coming from Ethiopia's well known entrepreneurial and hard-working Gurage ethnic group, his first profession like many of his fellow mates, was shining shoes on the streets of Addis. He tried a series of other menial jobs before he ended up as handy-man at the Arizona Club which was back then an after-work hangout place for Emperor Haile Selassie I's Imperial Body Guard Band. On a fateful night, one of the singers didn't show-up and Mahmoud

Monday, August 17, 2015

Veteran & Young Ethiopian Artists Rock Stockholm

Internationally acclaimed Ethiopian singers Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete as well as Ethiocolor, an Addis Ababa based folklore group, took the grand stage at Stockholm Culture Festival on August 13, in an evening curated by Selam — a cultural organization based in Sweden. 
Thousands of music fans from Ethiopia and other countries were first entertained by the eleven-strong Ethiocolor, which fuses music and dances using traditional instruments that are arranged in a modern touch. The musicians and dancers who comprise three different generations, are recognized for their vibrant live shows with rhythmic dances of various ethnic groups of Ethiopia.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#EthiopiansMessageToObama is storming the internet while the government and its supporters kept quiet

The idea of this hashtag was discussed as matter-of-factly by like-minded friends on Twitter, just a few days after the Ethiopian government suddenly 'freed' some members of Zone 9 bloggers and journalists at the beginning of July. One of them was suggesting to exploit this opportunity to urge President Obama to press its Ethiopian counterparts to release the prisoners of conscience and to respect the rule of law. The other suggested this seemingly harsh hashtag.

This same guy posted on twitter conversation in Amharic (Ethiopian official language) “The hustle is getting harder, I wonder when exactly this guy [President Obama] is coming.

On July 20th 2015, an Ethiopian Muslim activist Facebooker revealed the plan inviting Ethiopians at home and abroad to use #EthiopiansMessageToObama hashtag in the social media from July 21st – July 24th 2015 between 9-10 GMT Ethiopian local time. In this the fifth of its kind social-media campaign, thousands of tweets were flooded the internet from all corners of the world.
According to Vocactiv, an online media, twitter users leveraged President Obama's final appearance on Daily Show last Tuesday (July 21, 2015) to highlight the injustices. Hundreds of tweets were posted with a hashtag '#EthiopiansMessageToObama' before, during and after the broadcast to draw attention to Ethiopia’s crackdown on dissent.
But, who are these twittering people trending the hashtag #EthiopiansMessageToObama on the social media? Many of them are Ethiopians who accuse their government

As Wazema Radio turns one, its editor shares some thoughts

Argaw Ashine has served as a journalist for 18 years at different media organizations inside Ethiopia, including governmental, private and foreign media outlets. He was also in charge of various journalism unions in the country.
Ashine was one of the people whose names were listed in a Wikileaks report as a main source for the now defunct Addis-Neger Amharic newspaper. He left Ethiopia on September 2011 after the Ethiopian Federal Police gave him the ultimatum of either revealing his government sources or fleeing the country. He now resides in the U.S. and works as a researcher in media related issues. He also volunteers as the editor-in-chief for Wazema Radio – a dissident podcast he established together with other exiled Ethiopian journalists from Sweden and North America.
iREFUGEE talked to Ashine in an exclusive interview about his work at Wazema Radio — which marked its first anniversary this past June  — and also discussed the release of jailed Ethiopian writers and other matters related to the Ethiopian media.
How and by whom was Wazema Radio established?
ASHINE: Wazema Radio was launched in June 2014 by four exiled journalists, namely the trio of the

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Abrupt release of Ethiopian bloggers and journalists, an '#ObamaEffect'?

Photo by FissehaFantahun
On the same day (July 8, 2015), and just few hours before this unexpected action which stunned the defendants; their attorney and the whole world, a story was running about jailed journalists Edom Kassaye under the title "An Ethiopian Journalist Jailed for Her Integrity". And a rumor surfaced on the social media around 7 o'clock (Ethiopian local time)  in the evening about the release of Edom Kassaye, Mahlet Fantahun, Asmamaw Hailegiorgis and Tesfalem Woldyes. 

The mood was mixed among twitters: confusion, happiness, disbelief, suspicion just to mention but a few. Around 8 o'clock, the news was broken by wazema, an Ethiopian diaspora podcast in Sweden which is run by Mesfin Negash et. al. who was an ex managing editor of AddisNeger and convicted by Ethiopian government with terrorism charges.

However, there was no word from the government media until the next day. The government affiliated 'private' broadcaster Fana revealed that 'Five so-called bloggers in the Soliana Shimelis et-al case released in Ethiopia'.
Photo by FissehaFantahun
Some were jubilant while others were cautious and skeptics of Ethiopian government's abrupt move which happened after the court has finished hearing evidences and was due to deliver a guilty-not-guilty verdict the coming week. Some even considered it as an 'Obama effect' where Ethiopian officials are in a preemptive charm-offensive ahead of US President's official visit to the country. It is to be recalled that a few days before this sudden action of the Ethiopian government, thousands of expat Ethiopians in the US made a huge protest in front of White-House demanding Barack Obama not visit Ethiopia.

If one dissects these various approaches, it appears that there are two main camps: pro-government groups on one side and the rest on the other side;the former is defending/justifying the Ethiopian government's action while family members and friends of the released/jailed bloggers and journalists; international media outlets; net-citizens and international human-rights and freedom of expression watchdogs who demand the government to release all Ethiopian prisoners of conscience. Members of the net-citizens continue to include the hash-tag #FreeZone9Bloggers in their social media posts and recommended others to do the same until everybody is free.

As result, #FreeZone9Bloggers, continued to be trending and has become the second largest hash-tag mentioned on twitter, at least here in Sweden.
In an exclusive with VOA Amharic, the released bloggers and journalists as well as father/attorney of columnist Reeyot Alemu expressed their mixed and shocking feelings towards the abrupt government's action. Zelalem Kibret a.k.a Zola said he has this survivor's guilt for being released because his four colleagues who were accused with the same charges still remain behind bars. A pro-government Facebooker replied to him in a cruel manner. 

nobody is holding you back to go back [to the prison]. The food, the drinks and the rent are free. It's better for you there especially at this time when life is very expensive in the country.

Meanwhile aigaforum, an Ethiopian diaspora pro-government media in the US made a complaint against CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) for taking sides with the groups which it alleges are terrorists not journalists.
Well, others are urging Mr. Obama to visit Ethiopia as often as possible so that all Ethiopian prisoners of conscience could be released.

According CPJ's latest reports, Ethiopia ranks the second journalists' jailer in Africa after to Eritrea and is listed among the top ten censored countries in the world. 
Our message, nobody is free until everybody is free! Free Eskinder Nega, Woubshet Taye, Abel Wabela, Befqadu Hailu, Atenaf Berhane, Andualem Aragae, Zelalem Werqalemahu and thousands Ethiopian prisoners of conscience who are being incarcerated for exercising their constitutional and birth-rights.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

እውነቱ ይውጣ! (ፕ/ር መስፍን ወልደ ማርያም)

ለመሆኑ ሊቃነ ጳጳሳት፣ ጳጳሳት፣ መነኮሳት፣ ቀሳውስት — ሼሆች፣ ሽማግሌዎች በአገሩ የለንም?
መስፍን ወልደ ማርያም
Prof. Mesfin Woldemariamሴቶችን በወንዶች ፊት፣ ወንዶችን በሴቶች ፊት ልብስ እያስወለቁ የአካላቸውን ክፍሎች ሁሉ ለማየት የሚያስችል አንቅስቃሴ አንዲሠሩ ማስገደድ በሽተኞችን ያስደስታል፤ የምርመራ ዘዴ ግን አይደለም፤ ውርደት እንዲሰማቸው ከሆነ በወራዶች ሰዎች ፊት የምን መዋረድ አለ? ወራዶች እነሱ ደረጃ ላይ ከእነሱ ጋር ያስተካክላሉ አንጂ አያዋርዱም፤ በሌላ አነጋገር ወራዶች አያዋርዱም፤ ወራዶቹ ደንቆሮዎችም ሆነው ነው እንጂ ልብስ የሚያስወልቁ እነሱ ብቻ አይደሉም፤ ሀኪሞችም ልብስ አስወልቀው፣ አጋድመው በጣታቸውም ሆነ በመሣሪያ የፈለጉትን የአካል ክፍል አንደፈለጉ ያደርጉታል፤ ወራዶቹና ደንቆሮዎቹ ከሚያደርጉት የሀኪሞቹ የሚለየው ሀኪሞቹ ሰዎችን ለማዳን ሲሉ ነው፤ ወራዶቹና ደንቆሮዎቹ ግን የራሳቸውን ሱስ ለማርካት፣ የራሳቸውን ህመም ለማስታገስ ነው፤ ወራዶቹንና ደንቆሮዎቹን ከመለዮአቸው አራቁቻቸዋለሁ! ከነውር በቃላት ወደነውር በተግባር፣ ያውም በመሥሪያ ቤት! ዱሮ ዱሮ ከቀዳማዊ ኃይለ ሥላሴ ቲያትር ፊት ለፊት የአንድ ኢጣልያዊ ቡና ቤት ነበር፤ እዚያ ውጭ ተቀምጠን ቡና ስንጠጣ አንዲት ውብ ሴት ወደጸጉር መሥሪያው ቤት ስትመጣ የሁላችንም ዓይኖች እየዘለሉ እስዋ ላይ ዐረፉ፤ ከሦስታችን አንዱ ስለሴትዮዋ የወሲብ ችሎታ በዝርዝር መናገር ሲጀምር ሁለታችን ተያየንና አፈርን፤ ጨዋታው የጣመለት መስሎት ሲቀጥል የሕግ ባለሙያ የሆነ ጓደኛዬ አቋረጠውና ‹‹ስማ! ይህን ጊዜ እናትህ

Friday, April 24, 2015

Jailed #FreeZone9Bloggers demands John Kerry to Stop Supporting Ethiopia

Natnael Feleke has been imprisoned for a year without trial. In a letter smuggled out of jail, he asks the US secretary of state to stop supporting the regime
Dear John Kerry,
Zone 9I first came to know about you back in 2004, during the US presidential election, when you were running for office against George Bush. At just 17 years old I knew little about US politics – or politics in general – but I discussed the campaigns with my schoolmates.
A year later, the historic 2005 Ethiopian national election took place. This election differed from previous votes in that the lead up to it was mostly democratic. This left many Ethiopians hoping they would witness the first elected change of government in the country’s history. But it was not to be.
After the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front realised they couldn’t win the election without rigging the vote, the true face of the regime emerged.
After polling day, we saw civilian bloodshed, and the arrest of thousands – including journalists and opposition leaders.
I was only young then, but the election gave me my first

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

IS shows purported executions in Libya of Ethiopia Christians

Image grab taken on April 19, 2015 from a video reportedly released by the Islamic State group purportedly shows men described as Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya kneeling in front of masked militants before their beheading on a beach in LibyaThe Islamic State group on Sunday released a video purportedly showing the execution of some 30 Ethiopian Christians captured in Libya.
The 29-minute IS video purports to show militants holding two groups of captives, described in text captions as "followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church".
A masked fighter in black brandishing a pistol makes a statement threatening Christians if they do not convert to Islam.
The video then switches between footage of one group of about 12 men being beheaded by masked militants on a beach and another group of at least 16 being shot in the head in a desert area.
It was not immediately clear who the captives were or how many were killed.
Before the killings, the video shows purported footage of Christians in Syria, saying they had been given the choice of converting to Islam or paying a special tax, and had decided to pay.
The video bore the logo of the IS media arm and was similar to past footage released by the jihadists, including of 21 Coptic Christians beheaded on a Libyan beach in February.
Feeding on the political chaos and unrest that has wracked Libya since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi, several Libyan jihadist groups have pledged allegiance to IS.
Almost two-thirds of Ethiopians are Christians, mostly Orthodox Copts, who say they have been in the Horn of Africa nation since the first century AD.
There are also large numbers of protestants.
Ethiopia is Africa's second largest nation in terms of population, but large numbers of its more than 90 million people travel abroad to work in menial jobs so they can send money home.
Many go to Libya, using the North African nation as a stepping stone for the perilous crossing to Europe.

 Source: AFP

Friday, April 10, 2015

Evidence Against #FreeZone9Bloggers & Journalists Doesn’t Back Charges

By William Davison
(Bloomberg) -- Ethiopian prosecutors have failed to present evidence relating to charges that a group of bloggers and journalists support terrorism, a defense lawyer at the latest court hearing said.
Six members of the Zone 9 blogging group and three freelance journalists were charged in July at the Federal High Court in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, for working with banned organizations such as the U.S.-based Ginbot 7, which the Horn of Africa nation categorizes as a terrorist group. A witness on Wednesday testified that police last year collected a political manifesto from a Health Ministry office, where one of the defendants worked, lawyer Ameha Mekonnen said.
No witness is brought who has either direct or indirect knowledge of the material element of the charge,” Ameha said in an interview. “The witnesses are here to prove that there was no maltreatment or pressure when the search was conducted.”
The defendants are the latest government critics to be tried under Ethiopia’s 2009 anti-terrorism law, which the U.S. has said is being used to criminalize legitimate dissent.
Ethiopian officials reject the accusation.
The manifesto collected was for a “peaceful” political party led by the author Lencho Lata, a former head of the rebel Oromo Liberation Front, Ameha said. All of the other evidence filed to the court by prosecutors is of a similar public nature, he said. Prosecutors will get a final chance to present witnesses when the trial resumes on May 26, Ameha said.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Israel to deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to third countries

Authorities will give people 30 days to leave; those who refuse will face a hearing to determine their indefinite imprisonment. 
Israel will begin deporting asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan to unnamed third countries in Africa even if against their will, the immigration authority announced on Tuesday.
The assumption is that the third countries are Rwanda and Uganda, although Israel has not revealed details.
African asylum seekers gather around a fire during protests outside the Holot detention centre in the NegevAccording to the interior minister, Gilad Erdan, the move will “encourage infiltrators to leave the borders of the state of Israel in an honourable and safe way, and serve as an effective tool for fulfilling our obligations towards Israeli citizens and restoring the fabric of life to the residents of south Tel Aviv”.

Until now, the state exerted pressure and provided a one-off monetary incentive for asylum seekers to leave voluntarily, but only if they signed written consent. Now the state will give them 30 days

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ethiopian Gov't Intensifies Digital Attacks: Human-Rights Watch

(New York) – The Ethiopian government has renewed efforts to silence independent voices abroad by using apparent foreign spyware, Human Rights Watch said today. The Ethiopian authorities should immediately cease digital attacks on journalists, while foreign surveillance technology sellers should investigate alleged abuses linked to their products.
Independent researchers at the Toronto-based research center Citizen Lab on March 9, 2015, reported new attempts by Ethiopia to hack into computers and accounts of Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) employees based in the United States. The attacks bear similarities to earlier attempts to target Ethiopian journalists outside Ethiopia dating back to December 2013. ESAT is an independent, diaspora-run television and radio station.

“Ethiopia’s government has over the past year intensified its assault on media freedom by systematically trying to silence journalists,” said Cynthia Wong, senior Internet researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These digital attacks threaten journalists’ ability to protect the safety of their sources and to avoid retaliation.”

The government has repressed independent media in Ethiopia ahead of the general elections scheduled for May, Human Rights Watch said. Many privately owned print publications heavily self-censor coverage of politically sensitive issues or have shut down. In the last year, at least 22 journalists, bloggers, and publishers have been criminally charged, at least six publications have closed amid a campaign of harassment, and many journalists have fled the country.

Many Ethiopians turn to ESAT and other foreign stations to obtain news and analysis that is independent of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. However, intrusive surveillance of these news organizations undermines their ability to protect sources and further restricts the media environment ahead of the elections. Government authorities have repeatedly intimidated, harassed, and arbitrarily detained sources providing information to ESAT and other foreign stations.

Citizen Lab’s analysis suggests the attacks were carried out with spyware called Remote Control System (RCS) sold by the Italian firm Hacking Team, which sells surveillance and hacking technology. This spyware was allegedly used in previous attempts to infect computers of ESAT employees in December 2013. If successfully installed on a target’s computer, the spyware would allow a government controlling the software access to activity on a computer or phone, including email, files, passwords typed into the device, contact lists, and audio and video from the device’s microphone and camera.

Citizen Lab also found that the spyware used in the attacks against ESAT appeared to have been updated as recently as December 2014. On November 19, a security researcher, Claudio Guarnieri, along with several nongovernmental organizations, publicly released a tool called Detekt, which can be used to scan computers for Hacking Team RCS and other spyware. Citizen Lab’s testing determined that Detekt was able to successfully recognize the version of RCS used in a November attack, but not the version used in a December attack. Citizen Lab concluded that this may indicate that the software had been updated sometime between the two attempts.
These new findings, if accurate, raise serious concerns that Hacking Team has not addressed evidence of abuse of its product by the Ethiopian government and may be continuing to facilitate that abuse through updates or other support, Human Rights Watch said.

Hacking Team states that it sells exclusively to governments, particularly law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The firm told Human Rights Watch in 2014 that “we expect our clients to behave responsibly and within the law as it applies to them” and that the firm will suspend support for its technology if it believes the customer has used it “to facilitate gross human rights abuses” or “who refuse to agree to or comply with provisions in [the company’s] contracts that describe intended use of HT [Hacking Team] software.” Hacking Team has also stated that it has suspended support for their product in the past, in which case the “product soon becomes useless.”

Media reports and research by independent human rights organizations in the past year have documented serious human rights violations by the Ethiopian government that at times have been facilitated by misuse of surveillance powers. Although spyware companies market their products as “lawful intercept” solutions used to fight serious crime or counterterrorism, the Ethiopian government has abused its counterterrorism laws to prosecute bloggers and journalists who merely report on public affairs or politically sensitive issues. Ethiopian laws that authorize surveillance do not adequately protect the right to privacy, due process, and other basic rights, and are inconsistent with international human rights requirements.

Hacking Team previously told Human Rights Watch that “to maintain their confidentiality” the firm does not “confirm or deny the existence of any individual customer or their country location.” On February 25, 2015, Human Rights Watch wrote to the firm to ask whether it has investigated possible abuse of its products by the Ethiopian government to target independent media and hack into ESAT computers. In response, on March 6 a representative of the firm emailed Human Rights Watch that the company “take[s] precautions with every client to assure that they do not abuse our systems, and, we investigate when allegations of misuse arise” and that the firm is “attempting to understand the circumstances in this case.” The company also stated that “it can be quite difficult to get to actual facts particularly since we do not operate surveillance systems in the field for our clients.” Hacking Team raised unspecified questions about the evidence presented to identify the spyware used in these attacks.

Human Rights Watch also asked the company whether contractual provisions to which governmental customers agree address governments’ obligations under international human rights law to protect the right to privacy, freedom of expression, and other human rights. In a separate March 7 response from the firm’s representative, Hacking Team told Human Rights Watch that the use of its technology is “governed by the laws of the countries of our clients,” and sales of its technology are regulated by the Italian Economics Ministry under the Wassenaar Arrangement, a multilateral export controls regime for dual-use technologies. The company stated that it relies “on the International community to enforce its standards for human rights protection.”

The firm has not reported on what, if any, investigation was undertaken in response to the March 2014 Human Rights Watch report discussing how spyware that appeared to be Hacking Team’s RCS was used to target ESAT employees in 2013. In its March 7 response, the company told Human Rights Watch that it will “take appropriate action depending on what we can determine,” but they “do not report the results of our investigation to the press or other groups, because we consider this to be an internal business matter.”

Without more disclosure of how Hacking Team has addressed potential abuses linked to its business, the strength of its human rights policy will be in question, Human Rights Watch said. 

Sellers of surveillance systems have a responsibility to respect human rights, which includes preventing, mitigating, and addressing abuses linked to its business operations, regardless of whether government customers adequately protect rights.
“Hacking Team should publicly disclose what steps it has taken to avoid abuses of its product such as those alleged against the Ethiopian government,” Wong said. “The company protects the confidentiality of its customers, yet the Ethiopian government appears to use its spyware to compromise the privacy and security of journalists and their sources.” 

Source: Human Rights Watch

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ethiopia's imprisoned #FreeZone9bloggers have not been forgotten : BBC

In April 2014 BBC Trending covered the arrest of six bloggers and three journalists in Ethiopia. The bloggers are part of a group known as Zone 9, and are well known for campaigning around censorship and human rights issues in Ethiopia. Ten months on from their arrest, the hashtag #FreeZone9Bloggers continues to be used in the country as the trials continue.
The Free Zone 9 BloggersThat's not typical - campaigning hashtags often tail off over time. This one is being kept alive by activists both inside and out of Ethiopia who are challenging the government's decision. The total number of tweets is still only in the tens of thousands, but that is enough to be noticed on the global map (Twitter does not produce an official trending topics list for Ethiopia).
Why are they so focussed on social media? It certainly isn't the best way to reach the Ethiopian people: the internet is estimated to reach just over 1% of the population there. But it does allow them to network with the global blogging fraternity and the international media. Recently a blog began in support of the nine prisoners, and to report on the hearings. A campaign video has also been released in which complaints are raised over the conditions of Kalinto prison and Kality prison, where the bloggers are being held.
These complaints include torture, unlawful interrogation tactics and poor living conditions. The Ethiopian Embassy in London told BBC Trending that allegations of torture and unlawful interrogation tactics are unfounded, and that they have taken a series of measures "in collaboration with stakeholders, including civil society, to improve the conditions of prisons". They say the nine individuals are charged with "undermining the constitutional order, inciting violence and advocating the use of force to overthrow the legitimate government." They are also accused of working with an organisation proscribed by the Ethiopian Parliament as a terrorist organisation. However, activists in support of the group maintain that Zone 9's actions were constitutional.
Blog by India Rakusen
Source: BBC

የዛሬ የቂሊንጦ አጭር ቆይታ አብርሃን መጠየቅ ከጀርባ ሰው ያስከትላል (ከኤልያስ ገብሩ ጎዳና )

‹‹ዕድሜያችንን መቼ ሰራንበት፣ ልደት ማክበርም ያስፈራኛል፡፡
እንኳን ተወለድክ ላላችሁኝ በሙሉ ከልብ አመሰግናለሁ››
ጦማሪ እና ጋዜጠኛ በፍቃዱ ኃይሉ
ከዛሬ ከሰዓት በኋላ ከወዳጄ አቤል አለማየሁ ጋር ወደ ቂሊንጦ እስር ቤት አምርተን ነበር፡፡ አካሄዳችን በዞን ሁለት የሚገኙትን አብርሃ ደስታን፣ ጦማሪ እና ጋዜጠኛ በፍቃዱ ኃይሉንና ጦማሪ አጥናፍ ብርሃንን ለመጠየቅ ነው፡፡
የቃሊቲ እና የቂሊንጦ ጸሐይ ከረር ያለች ብትሆንም በቦታው ደርሰን ወደፖሊሶች ለምዝገባ ተጠጋን፡፡ ጠያቂና ተጠያቂ መዝጋቢ የሆነችው ሴት ፖሊስ ‹‹ማንን ነው የምትጠይቀው?›› ብላ አቤልን ጠየቀችው፡፡ በፍቃዱን እና አጥናፍን መሆንኑ ነገራት፡፡ መዘገበችውና ሂድ አለችው፡፡ ‹‹አንተስ ማንን ነው?›› ስትል ጠየቀችኝ፤ ‹‹አብርሃ ደስታን›› አልኳት፡፡ ቀና ብላ አየችኝና ‹‹ቆይ፣ ቁጭ በል›› የሚል መልስ መለሰች፡፡ ሌሎች ሰዎችን መመዝገቧን ቀጠለች፡፡ ‹‹ሰዓት እየሄደ ነው፣ ችግር አለ ወይ?›› አልኳት፡፡ ‹‹አይ ችግር የለም›› ካለች ከተወሰኑ ደቂቃዎች በኋላ ሌላ መዝገብ አምጥታ ፓስፖርቴን መዘገበችው፡፡ (መታወቂያዬ አልታደሰም) ከመዘገበች በኋላም ሌላ የፎርም መሙያ አውጥጣ በድጋሚ መዘገበች፡፡ ይሄንን ስትመዘግብ እኔ እንዳይባት ስላልፈለገች

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

More Than 200 Migrants Feared Dead After Boats Sink in Mediterranean

By VICE News
February 11, 2015 | 1:16 pm
More than 200 migrants are missing in the Mediterranean sea after the motorboats they were traveling in sank, the UN refugee agency says.
Nine people were saved after four days at sea, but a further 203 were "swallowed up," Carlotta Sami, the UNHCR spokeswoman in Italy, said on Twitter.
She called the incident a "horrible and enormous tragedy."
The two boats departed from the Libyan coast on Saturday, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Lauren Jolles, UNHCR officer for Southern Europe, criticised Operation Triton — Europe's Mediterranean border patrol — for lacking a "core mandate" of saving human lives.
"We are shocked by the news of the death of another 203 migrants and refugees," she said in a statement.
She added: "The Operation Triton does not have as its core mandate of saving human lives and therefore can not be the answer of which is urgently needed."
Triton was brought into replace Operation Mare Nostrum, the Italian government's program of maritime patrols, which ended last year to warnings from refugee experts that the death toll could soar. The EU operation, run by the bloc's border agency Frontex, covers a much reduced search area and is mandated with border surveillance rather than search and rescue.
Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner of the Council of Europe, also denounced Triton's inadequacy, saying the loss of life could have been avoided.
The news comes just days after 29 migrants died after their inflatable raft capsized near the Italian island of Lampedusa. 22 of those died from hypothermia after being picked up by a rescue vessel.
More than 165,000 undocumented migrants tried to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in the first nine months of 2014, accroding to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, compared with 60,000 for the whole of 2013. Almost half of the 2014 migrants were Syrians and Eritreans.
At least 3,000 died or went missing at sea in 2014, according to UNCHR estimates, compared to over 600 in 2013.
Main image: Migrants are picked up by an Italian navy patrol in December. Image via the Italian navy.

Monday, February 9, 2015

C'est ENCORE en Lampedusa! Plus de 20 migrants morts de froid.

Des gardes-côtes italiens ont retrouvé en mer Méditerranée plus de vingt migrants morts de froid, lors du sauvetage d'une embarcation sur laquelle se trouvaient plus d'une centaine de personnes.
Plus de vingt migrants sont morts de froid sur une embarcation qui a été secourue dans la nuit de dimanche à lundi par des gardes-côtes italiens, a annoncé, lundi 9 février, une source médicale à l'AFP. Selon les médias italiens, le total des morts pourrait atteindre 25 à 27 personnes.
"Il y a beaucoup de morts, certainement plus de vingt", a déclaré un médecin du centre des urgences de l'île italienne de Lampedusa, où ont été transférés lundi après-midi une centaine de survivants, dont certains hospitalisés pour hypothermie. "Nous avons dans le centre six jeunes souffrant d'une forte hypothermie et on tente d'organiser leur transport par hélicoptère" vers des hôpitaux mieux équipés, a ajouté le médecin.
L'alerte avait été donnée dimanche après-midi par les migrants à l'aide d'un téléphone satellitaire. Le centre opérationnel des gardes-côtes a dépêché sur place deux navires marchands qui se trouvaient dans la zone, ainsi que deux vedettes parties de Lampedusa, qui ont secouru les migrants dimanche vers 21 h GMT.

Source: France24 Avec AFP

Friday, January 16, 2015

Khaled Idris Bahray, The 20-year-old Eritrean Refugee, was allegedly killed by Racists in Germany

Killing of Eritrean refugee in Dresden exposes racial tensions in Germany

RIP, the late Khaled Idris Bahray 1995-2015
Anti-immigration sentiment highlighted after 25,000 rally in support of far-right Pegida movement on night of murder. t was 8pm on Monday when Khaled Idris Bahray told his seven flatmates he was popping out to buy some cigarettes from the Netto supermarket about 100 metres away from his flat in a prefab high-rise in the south of Dresden.
The 20-year-old Eritrean said he wouldn’t be long. But a few hours later he still hadn’t returned. “We assumed he’d gone to stay with some other friends nearby,” said his flatmate, Abdulrezak Suleman. “So we weren’t really worried.”
But around 7.40 the following morning, other residents in the six-storey building found his body slumped in the inner courtyard of the housing estate.
According to his flatmates, in reports that the police will not confirm, he was covered in blood, with at least one deep cut visible on his body. Rigor mortis had already set in. “He was lying on his back, and had blood coming out of his nose and mouth, with drops of blood leading towards the door as if he’d tried to get in, but not made it, and drops on the grass,” said Abdulatif, 23, a fellow Eritrean who lives nearby but had spent that night in Bahray’s flat.
Hmm not surprisingly, Police say No Foul Play!
The police had first said there seemed to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding the young Muslim’s death, saying in their initial statement that on first appearance “there are no indications of foul play”. But just hours later they confirmed the results of the postmortem showed that Bahray had been unlawfully killed in what appears to have been a vicious knife attack.
“We now have evidence to confirm that a stab from a knife was the cause of his injuries,” said Dieter Kroll, president of Dresden police. “We can exclude the possibility that this was an accident. It is murder.”
Dresden police have launched a murder investigation in the east German city that has been making headlines recently for its anti-immigrant rallies, which, on the night of Bahray’s death, attracted a record number of 25,000 supporters. Tensions in the city have been high in the 12 weeks since the rallies began, with a reported increase in racist attacks.
I want to earn some money and send to Mom, Bahray