Daily Archives: November 12, 2018

Ethiopia Arrests 63 Suspected of Rights Abuses, Corruption

Ethiopia has arrested 63 intelligence officials, military personnel and businesspeople on allegations of rights violations and corruption, the country’s attorney general announced Monday.

The sweeping high-profile arrests carried out in recent days are a result of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s order for a months-long investigation into misdoings under the previous government.

Attorney General BerhanuTsegaye told the media that some of those arrested are suspected of abuses of prisoners including “beatings, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution and even killings.”

Some of those arrested are accused of mismanaging a state-owned military corporation, the Metal and Engineering Corporation, that was looted in a multibillion dollar corruption scheme, he said.

Berhanu also said that Ethiopia’s former spy chief is suspected of involvement in an attempt to assassinate the new prime minster at a rally on June 23. While other officials implicated in the plot have fled the country, the former intelligence chief is now residing in northern Ethiopia and should turn himself in to authorities, he said.

YilikalGetnet, an opposition figure, told The Associated Press the public had demanded the arrests of the former officials.

“These have been issues that we in the opposition have long been calling for, too,” he said, adding that Ethiopia needs a truth and reconciliation process to investigate past misdoings. “The ruling party alone can’t bring justice for all these atrocities committed in the past.”

Under the previous government, Ethiopia, a close security ally of the West, used to be accused of rights violations by human rights activists. Since Abiy, 42, came to power in April his new government has released several thousand political prisoners, permitted exiled opposition groups to return home, dropped terror charges against prominent opposition politicians and permitted the media to operate more freely.

Despite the reforms, ethnic-based clashes are continuing in some parts of Ethiopia and pose the most serious threat to Abiy’s leadership of this East African nation of 100 million people.

Amnesty International welcomed the arrests.

“These arrests are an important first step toward ensuring full accountability for the abuses that have dogged the country for several decades,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s East Africa Director. “Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations, such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people including in secret facilities. We urge the government of Prime Minister Abiy to take further steps to ensure justice and accountability for all past human rights violations and abuses, while at the same time ensuring all the individuals arrested receive fair trials.”

Source: Voice of America

Ethiopia Arrests 63 Suspected of Rights Abuses, Corruption

Ethiopia has arrested 63 intelligence officials, military personnel and businesspeople on allegations of rights violations and corruption, the country’s attorney general announced Monday.

The sweeping high-profile arrests carried out in recent days are a result of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s order for a months-long investigation into misdoings under the previous government.

Attorney General BerhanuTsegaye told the media that some of those arrested are suspected of abuses of prisoners including “beatings, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution and even killings.”

Some of those arrested are accused of mismanaging a state-owned military corporation, the Metal and Engineering Corporation, that was looted in a multibillion dollar corruption scheme, he said.

Berhanu also said that Ethiopia’s former spy chief is suspected of involvement in an attempt to assassinate the new prime minster at a rally on June 23. While other officials implicated in the plot have fled the country, the former intelligence chief is now residing in northern Ethiopia and should turn himself in to authorities, he said.

YilikalGetnet, an opposition figure, told The Associated Press the public had demanded the arrests of the former officials.

“These have been issues that we in the opposition have long been calling for, too,” he said, adding that Ethiopia needs a truth and reconciliation process to investigate past misdoings. “The ruling party alone can’t bring justice for all these atrocities committed in the past.”

Under the previous government, Ethiopia, a close security ally of the West, used to be accused of rights violations by human rights activists. Since Abiy, 42, came to power in April his new government has released several thousand political prisoners, permitted exiled opposition groups to return home, dropped terror charges against prominent opposition politicians and permitted the media to operate more freely.

Despite the reforms, ethnic-based clashes are continuing in some parts of Ethiopia and pose the most serious threat to Abiy’s leadership of this East African nation of 100 million people.

Amnesty International welcomed the arrests.

“These arrests are an important first step toward ensuring full accountability for the abuses that have dogged the country for several decades,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s East Africa Director. “Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations, such as torture and the arbitrary detention of people including in secret facilities. We urge the government of Prime Minister Abiy to take further steps to ensure justice and accountability for all past human rights violations and abuses, while at the same time ensuring all the individuals arrested receive fair trials.”

Source: Voice of America

More Women in Poor Countries Use Contraception, Says Report

More women and girls in poor countries are using modern contraception, signifying progress in efforts to involve women in family planning, according to a report released Monday.

The number of women and girls using contraceptives in 69 of the world’s poorest countries surpassed 317 million in 2018, representing 46 million more users than in 2012, said the report by Family Planning 2020, a U.N.-backed global advocacy group working to promote rights-based family planning.

Access to modern contraception helped prevent over 119 million unintended pregnancies and averted 20 million unsafe abortions between July 2017 and July 2018, although populations continue to soar across Africa and other low-income countries, the report said.

“The best way to overcome this challenge of rapid population growth is by giving women and girls [the] opportunity to decide how many children they want to have,” Beth Schlachter, executive director of Family Planning 2020, told The Associated Press.

The mix of contraceptive methods has improved significantly in 20 of the surveyed countries, “meaning that more women are able to find the short-term, long-acting, emergency, or permanent method that suits their needs and preferences,” the report said.

But even as millions of poor women use contraceptives, millions more who want to delay or prevent pregnancy are still unable to access it, often due to lack of information, the report said, citing perceived health side-effects and social disapproval as deterrents.

Under Family Planning 2020, which grew out of a summit on family planning held in London in 2012, donors have pledged millions of dollars to bring contraception to 120 million more women and girls in developing countries by the year 2020.

Many of the 69 countries surveyed for the report are in sub-Saharan Africa, which is witnessing a population boom even as other parts of the world see dropping birth rates. Over half of the global population growth between now and 2050 will take place in Africa, according to U.N. figures.

According to the new report, contraceptive use is growing fastest in Africa, even though the region’s fertility rates remain high.

The most recent U.N. global population report estimates Africa’s fertility rate to be 5.1 births per woman.

Because the region’s growing population is not backed by substantial rises in family incomes and the development of public infrastructure, there are concerns that a population boom may deepen poverty levels for many Africans.

Over the years, family planning has often been difficult to sell in heavily paternalistic sub-Saharan Africa, with the matter becoming controversial as some African leaders challenge the view that a growing population is bad for the world’s poorest continent.

Ugandan President YoweriMuseveni insists Africa needs more people, and has lambasted what he calls “the shrill cries of NGOs about population control.”

In February, President John Magufuli of Tanzania encouraged polygamy, citing the 10 million more women than men in his country in advising men to marry “two or more wives” to reduce the number of single women.

Source: Voice of America

Zimbabwe Farmers Call for Help to Mitigate Drought Effects

Farmers in Zimbabwe are appealing for funds to irrigate their land, in hopes of fending off a possible drought predicted by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. FAO says droughts caused by the El Nino weather pattern are recurring more often and that might affect food security.

At Mugutu farm, about 40 kilometers north of Harare, a tractor tills land ahead of the rainy season, expected any time now.

But at another farm nearby, 59-year-old Tsitsi Marjorie Makaya is focused on raising her chickens.

We cannot do irrigation, we do not have the money to set up the irrigation system, the money to buy pipes, for electricity, we do not have the money. We only managed to drill a borehole and that is how we water our garden. We cannot put the whole plot under irrigation because we do not have all the necessary equipment, Makaya said.

When asked if she was aware of the predicted El Nino drought predicted, the former vegetable vendor said it was beyond people’s control.

“There is nothing we can do about it, all we say is the rain belongs to God. Sometimes they said there is not much rain and we end up having plenty of rain. Since we started living here in 2000, we have never had any problems with rain; all other areas might have challenges with rainfall, but never in this area, Makaya said.

But Patrick Kormawa head of FAO in southern Africa says depending on rain-fed agriculture on the continent is not a good idea anymore.

El Nino is here to stay. Any countries where agriculture relies on rainfall agriculture, we believe that member states should see how best they can invest in irrigation schemes. For example here in Zimbabwe, we have worked with the government to rehabilitate 34 irrigation schemes. This is showing tremendous improvement in the productivity of farmers, he said.

Kormawa said even smallholder irrigation schemes were improving food security and income in countries where agriculture is the backbone of the economy.

The FAO official said with irrigation plans the effects of droughts would be mitigated and food security ensured.

Source: Voice of America

Amnesty Int’l Strips Aung San SuuKyi of Honor OverRohingya Abuses

Leading international human rights group Amnesty International said Monday it is stripping Myanmar leader Aung San SuuKyi of its top honor over her failure to speak out or halt grave atrocities against her country’s Rohingya Muslim population.

As an Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience, our expectation was that you would continue to use your moral authority to speak out against injustice wherever you saw it, not least within Myanmar itself, Amnesty Secretary-General Kumi Naidoo wrote in a letter to Aung San SuuKyi on Sunday notifying her of the decision. We are profoundly dismayed that you no longer represent a symbol of hope, courage and the undying defense of human rights.”

From 1989 to 2010, Myanmar’s military-led government repeatedly confined Aung San SuuKyi to house arrest for her role as a political opposition leader and pro-democracy activist. During that time, Western governments and human rights groups, including Amnesty, continuously advocated for her release.

During her detention, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. In 2009, Amnesty gave her its highest honor, naming her an Ambassador of Conscience.

But since becoming the country’s de facto civilian leader in April 2016, Aung San SuuKyi and her administration have failed to condemn or try to stop atrocities perpetrated by the military against minority Rohingya residents in Rakhine State.

In August 2017, the military unleashed a scorched-earth campaign on Rohingya villages in response to attacks by Rohingya militants that killed a dozen police officers. More than 700,000 Rohingya fled the violence to neighboring Bangladesh, where survivors have given accounts of horrific massacres, rape, murder and villages burned to the ground. The U.N. has called the atrocities a textbook case of ethnic cleansing.

Throughout, Aung San SuuKyi has been internationally criticized for her silence. When she finally spoke out, she dismissed and downplayed the accusations and the military’s role.

As we have seen with her own civilian government, they have been creating hostility against the Rohingya, labeling them as terrorists, accusing them of burning their own houses and faking rape, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific Advocacy Manager Francisco Bencosme told VOA. The state media, the civilian government that she has direct authority [over], has been very much complicit in publishing inflammatory and dehumanizing articles against the Rohingya.

In his letter, Naidoo said the former human rights icon had not only abandoned the values she promoted for decades, but had chosen to overlook the brutal oppression and crimes against humanity committed by the military against the Rohingya and minorities in Kachin and northern Shan States.

Amnesty has also criticized Aung San SuuKyi’s administration for failing to repeal repressive laws, including some which were used to detain her and other pro-democracy advocates. Instead, she has actively defended the use of such laws, in particular the decision to prosecute and imprison two Reuters journalists for the work documenting a Myanmar military massacre.

Past winners of Amnesty’s Ambassador of Conscience award include South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, Pakistani education advocate MalalaYousafzai, and Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei.

Source: Voice of America