Saturday, 21 February 2015

BBC - Ethiopia's imprisoned bloggers have not been forgotten

The Free Zone 9 Bloggers
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 #Free Zone9 Bloggers continues to be used in the country as the trials continue.
That'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 focused 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.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Zone9 Bloggers case, Presented to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Six Zone9bloggers collective members and three other independent journalists are in detention since last April 2014.  accusation of Ethiopian government which suspected them in working with human rights organizations was changed to terrorism after 23 days of interrogation. after three months on interrogation detention , all of them including one more blogger in absentia  were charged of terrorism at the end of July 2014.  the case is still on its Pre- trial stage which was more focused on the format and the substance of the charges.  with in  the last nine months they were taken to court nineteen times and their constitutionally given rights has been continuously violated since their arrest.
EHRP  and Freedom Now ( DC based Human Rights advocacy organization)  takes the case to the united nation working group on arbitrary detention. this petition against the Ethiopian Government was presented to the working group on January 26th , 2015.  the petition shows the rights violations they have faced during detention and legal analysis why their arrest was arbitrary.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Ethiopia: Trafficking Beyond Borders

December 30, 2014
by Lulama Moyo
Human trafficking is a huge issue that plagues Ethiopian communities. But trafficking beyond the country’s borders has added more complexity to this issue. Many women, men, and children from Ethiopia have been subjected to forced labor and exploitation of all kinds. They are taken from Ethiopia and are brought to countries mainly in the Middle East as well as countries like Egypt, Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen. Countries in the Middle East have have been found to have a large percent of Ethiopian females enslaved there. According the research thesis by Elias Ashene called, “Trafficking of Ethiopian Women and Girls to the Middle East”, there is early evidence of illegal movement of Ethiopian women. Ashene has found that that between 1996 and 1998 there were 2,247 legal immigrants from Ethiopia in Middle Eastern countries. But by 1999 there were 17,000 Ethiopians found in Lebanon alone and by 2003 there were 25,000. Ashene concludes that this large increase in numbers is due to illegal means. As human trafficking and modern slavery in Ethiopia grow in impact, so does the Ethiopian governments denial. According to an article in the Ethiopian Press Herald entitled, “Ethiopian Human Trafficking Victims Predicament”, the government would rather claim that all movement of Ethiopian people to the Middle East is voluntary even with the evidence that it isn’t.
The main reason Ethiopian women have been lured into domestic slave jobs
The main reason Ethiopian women have been lured into domestic slave jobs is by looking for better jobs under false pretenses. There is a frequent circuit of trafficking through the Ethio-Sudan border. Women are continually misled by promise of legitimate housekeeping jobs with wealth Sudanese businessmen. A woman who returned from being trafficked in Dubai revealed that she knew of women who were forced to work in Sudan after being told they were in transit to Bahrain (IOM, Endeshaw). The route that traffickers bring people from Ethiopia is through the Sinai Desert. Many of the trafficked women are taken to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. Narrative from an interviewed woman who barely escaped death from trafficking is quoted saying this about her experience:
“When I left my village, I was confident I would reach Khartoum safe and find a very good job…I was thinking just how hard I would work and help my poor parents who were in problem to cover their basic expenses. I was dreaming about the successful and joyful life I expected in my new country.”
“They said ‘take off your coloth!…I said ‘No – so they beat me up severely and forced me to have sex with them.”
“When he asked me: give me the money in your pocket? I said no…So he beat me on my face with iron pipe and dragged me away. I don’t know what then happened. When I opened my eyes I found myself in a hospital taking a medical treatment. And the doctor told me that I was even stapped with knife.”
- Workie Endalkachew narrating for Betre Yacob’s article, “A Shocking Tragedy Behind Human Trafficking in Ethiopia: One Woman’s Horrific Story”.
Workie’s words illustrate the gruesome reality that many trafficked people face. As I have found more information on cross-border human trafficking, I learn that migration plays a huge role. Besides people choosing to leave Ethiopia to seek better opportunities, many are forced to do this as refugees and forced migrants. As Ethiopians journey to different countries with the hopes of starting a new life they are taken for ransom and/or trafficked. An example of this is the migration of Ethiopian to Saudi Arabia via Yemen. Ethiopians are smuggled by small boats to Yemen where they believe they will continue their journey to Saudi Arabia. But as revealed in Human Trafficking of Ethiopians to Yemen, smugglers often turn on Ethiopian travelers and rob them of their money. If they don’t have money they are held for ransom. If their families are unable to pay the ransom they are taken to torture camps where they are beaten, raped, blinded, and often murdered. Because of the tremendously high corruption, lack of solid government, and large rate of gangs, trafficking is easily done in Yemen. Accounts from young girls that are featured in the YouTube clip reveal that Yemeni military are responsible for some of the trafficking that goes on. The military sold women to gangs, rapists, and torture camps, and sometimes raped women themselves.
The human trafficking of Ethiopians
The human trafficking of Ethiopians to different countries is a devastating realty. It adds a different dimension of how to understand trafficking in the country. Because people leave Ethiopia under so many different circumstances it’s hard to develop statistics and create data of the trafficking. Having found out that Ethiopia’s government has little to no policies about trafficking, I am frustrated. It’s vital that they acknowledge how much human trafficking, kidnapping, and slavery is ravaging their communities. If policies end up being created it will be important for the government to not one consider the issues that are going on in Ethiopia, but they will need to consider the cross-border trafficking. In this post I have uncovered what it means for Ethiopians to be trafficked in different countries. You will receive a more in-depth look at the experiences of children and women that are trafficked from my blog-mates.