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Humanity before Ethnicity

SMNE Articles and Opinions - 2012

Mr. Obang Metho is the primary author of these articles, but many are also written with the collaboration of other members of the SMNE team.

December 21, 2012
SMNE Message for Christmas: Ethiopia can be transformed but the change we seek should start from within our own souls and hearts

Dear Colleagues and Friends;
As many of our fellow Ethiopians of Christian faith gather with family and friends over the next days to celebrate one of the most important of Christian holidays, we in the SMNE (the Board Members, Task Force Leaders, Volunteers and Interns) want to extend our warmest greetings. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish or of another belief, this can be a time to reflect on how we might bring good will, encouragement and help to others we know or meet as well as to those—some of whom are loved ones—who are struggling back home in Ethiopia or in another foreign country throughout the world where they may have sought refuge. The real stories of these people tell us of the great effort it takes to just survive. All of the problems we Ethiopians are facing within the country or outside of it are because we lack freedom, justice, security and prosperity in our homeland.     read...

October 22, 2012
Open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel ministry of the interior Eli Yishai
... I am writing you regarding our serious concerns involving the status, detentions and living conditions of the 2,500 to 3,000 Ethiopian refugees now living in Israel. 

As you know, both the government of Israel and the African refugee living within Israel have reached a complicated and difficult impasse with no simple solutions to a growing refugee problem; yet, we believe that Israel’s newly instituted solution to cope with these refugees is not only short-sighted and harsh, but also ethically and morally wrong. Instead, we hold that a more humane policy could be found to address the very real challenges of both refugees who are genuinely seeking a temporary safe haven and the state of Israel which is not ready to meet the real needs of so many persons.     read... (pdf)

September 26, 2012
Open Letter to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn
Meaningful Reforms, Reconciliation and the Restoration of Justice

You are now the leader of Ethiopia; meaning you are the leader not only of the EPRDF or the TPLF or the leader of those who agree with you, but you are also the leader of all Ethiopians, including those who disagree with your party and have been labeled by them as enemies or extremists. Based on the presumption that you will assume your position of responsibility to all the people of Ethiopia—something which hopefully will be proven through concrete action within a very short period of time—we are writing to you, as the new head of the country, to urge you to boldly implement meaningful change from the status quo—moving Ethiopia from a deeply entrenched system that excludes the majority of Ethiopians to one that will free all within our society to realize their God-given gifts.    read... (pdf)

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September 20, 2012
Land, Water and Resource-Grabbing and Its Impact on Food Security in Africa
Obang Metho speaks at the 1st Africa Congress on Effective Cooperation for a Green Africa in Bremerhaven, Germany

Obang Metho

One of the greatest threats Africa has ever faced is the impact from this new phenomenon of land-grabbing. In many places, these land grabs are going on without any input from stakeholders and without any compensation for lost lands, homes, crops and livelihoods. Small farmers are ill-prepared for the sudden dispossession of their land and with it, the means to their livelihood. Lacking education or training for other jobs, some have become a source of cheap labor as they are left without alternative means for survival. These foreign investors, countries and regime cronies are often making secretive leasing agreements with authoritarian regimes that give them millions of hectares of land for next to nothing for periods of time as long as 99 years in some cases.   read...

September 11, 2012
Safeguarding the Vision to Our Future
Our Hope for Ethiopia in the New Year Should Be No Less than a Fully Transformed Society

Dear Ethiopians,
We, the leaders, members and friends of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), want to wish all of our beloved Ethiopian people throughout the world, a wonderful and blessed Ethiopian New Year. This year we have much to think about as we enter a post-Meles era. A year ago, who would have thought such a change would be upon us. We now have a multitude of choices before us.  read...

September 5, 2012
Mr. Obang Metho encourages Ethiopians to not be discouraged by the fictionalized legacy of Meles
Our difficult journey together with Meles at the helm is over. The official TPLF-controlled mourning for him has ended. Many of you may be worried about the unknown direction of our country following Meles’ death, the infighting among the TPLF insiders for power and the absence of a strong alternative on the ground. There is an answer and it involves you at the grassroots.  read...

August 19, 2012
Mr. Obang Metho Calls for Calm, Caution and Dialogue
Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia—the darling of the West, but a ruthless strongman to his own people—has passed away. After two months of rumors and speculation about his death or incapacitation, the government of Ethiopia finally announced his death. No one expected, even two months ago, that Meles’ 21-year long, iron-fisted control over the one-party government of the Tigrayan Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF)—which controlled the coalition government of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)—would come to such an abrupt end. Meles’ absence will challenge the entire system and we must be ready, but patient.  read...

Meles Zenawi dead at 57

Aljazeera Reporter from South Africa comments on the death of PM Meles Zenawi - August 21, 2012

[Breaking News] Bereket Simon talks to Aljazeera about passing of PM Meles Zenawi - August 21, 2012

[CNN Breaking News] - Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi has died - August 21, 2012

 One of the best analysis  of the Meles regime by  Martin Plaut of BBC.

Click below for BBC report: 

August 19, 2012

Challenging Ethnicity as a Free Ride to the Top

The sudden death of Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Abune Paulos, following the disappearance of Prime Minister Meles, and now the rumored illness of General Samora Younis, leaves three unexpected vacuums in the top leadership of Ethiopia.Who will replace them—a tribe or the most qualified leaders?   read...

August 2, 2012

An Open Letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Regarding the possible death or serious incapacitation of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who has been the darling of the west as well as the strongman behind the machinations of the TPLF/EPRDF.

Ethiopia is of strategic geo-political importance both globally and within Africa. If Ethiopia breaks into turmoil, it could be devastating beyond its borders. We do not expect the U.S. or any other nation to free Ethiopia. No other country frees another; that is the responsibility of Ethiopians who must free themselves. Neither do we expect the U.S. or other nations to operate outside of their own national interests as Ethiopians also seek to operate according to their national interests. However, we do ask free nations to not become a roadblock to the freedom and genuine democratic change sought after by Ethiopians.   read...

July 18, 2012
SMNE Calls TPLF/EPRDF to Halt Plans for Massive Arrests and Crackdown on Muslim Leaders Following AU Meeting
Religious leaders, political leaders, international donors, the African Union and others, including the Ethiopian public—whether Muslim or not—should condemn the recent TPLF/EPRDF attack on Muslims, who have been peacefully rallying for freedom from government interference in their internal religious affairs for over eight months. Now, word has leaked out from sources within the country, that the TPLF/ERPDF is planning massive arrests of Muslim activists and leaders, including members of the Independent Islamic Arbitration Committee, an elected group which has been leading the cry for religious independence. Allegedly, none of this will take place until African Union meetings end, later this week.   read...

July 13, 2012

Coffee pot

Ethiopia in Danger! Is There a Way Out Without Our Mutual Destruction?
Word is out in the Ethiopian community that Meles Zenawi is seriously ill or may even be dying. It has caused many to speculate—or panic, depending on one’s position—about the future of the TPLF/EPRDF should Meles be suddenly gone from leadership, whether the reason is poor health, death or retirement—forced or voluntary—if rumors about an internal power struggle are correct.    read...




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June 28, 2012
Western journalist from Addis Ababa interviews Mr. Obang metho about security and stability in the Gambella region
Gambella has become an area of concern for investors and yet, most do not really know what is going on. A Western journalist in Addis Ababa recently asked Mr. Obang Metho, the Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) and a native of Gambella, with many existing connections to the local people, to comment on the conditions in the Gambella region. However, due to the Ethiopian regime’s extreme sensitivity to critical information and its willingness to utilize vague anti-terrorism laws to repress members of the media or deport foreign journalists who do not comply, this journalist and the newspaper he/she represented have decided against publishing this information while in Addis. We, the SMNE are now publishing the answers to his/her questions along with Obang’s answers as we believe it may be of interest to the public.   read... (pdf)

June 18, 2012
HRW’s New Report Confirms Land Grabs, Abuses and Forced Displacement in the Lower Omo Valley
“There will be a problem during the dry season. Now there is water, but when there isn’t, if we do not go back to Omo, we will need government to bring water. If they do not, [we] and our cattle will die. We will go to Omo anyway, if not, we will die, they can kill us there if they want.” Mursi villager (Quoted from the HRW report, “What Will Happen if Hunger Comes?”)

(Washington Dc, June 18, 2012) The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) calls on all Ethiopians, international aid organizations and nations providing key support to Ethiopia, members of the United Nation, World Bank, IMF and other international decision makers, foreign investors, financial institutions and the business community, civic organizations, social justice groups and the religious community to do its share in addressing the international violations of the rights of indigenous people to their land as documented in the new report by Human Rights Watch regarding the people of the Lower Omo Valley.
  read... (pdf)

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June 8, 2012
Open Letter to President Peter MacKinnon, University of Saskatchewan
Dear President MacKinnon,
On June 10-15, an Ethiopian delegation of top-level officials from Hawassa University (HU), located in Ethiopia’s Southern Regional State, will arrive in Saskatoon to further their long-standing collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) in the advancement of sustainable agricultural development, land management, human nutrition, community health and food security in Ethiopia, all with a strong emphasis on education. This relationship dates back to 1997, when the U of S and HU first partnered in a project in sustainable land management, and continues today with several worthy projects.   read... (pdf)

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Karuturi at his farm in Gambela, Ethiopia
(BW Pic By Rajeev Dubey)

June 2, 2012
Indian Farmer’s African Safari
April 2008. The government of Gambela state in Ethiopia had invited Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi to discuss his offer to lease 100,000 hectare for farming. Karuturi’s expectations of a deal going through were so low that he sent his public relations officer Ashok Sharma and some  lawyers for the meeting. The managing director of the world’s largest rose exporter, the Rs 645-crore Karuturi Global (KGL), had better things to do with his time than take a 700-km ride from Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa for a deal that seemed unlikely to materialise.  read...

May 25, 2012
Ethiopian Muslims and Ethiopian Christian Orthodox Demand Religious Freedom for All Ethiopians
Ethiopian Muslims and Ethiopian Christians are creating history! Leaders of both faiths are now publically supporting the religious freedom of each other and with it, condemning the Ethiopian regime of Meles Zenawi for its interference in the religious practice of Ethiopians

Such interference has already taken a major toll on both groups. When the Meles regime appointed their own choice for patriarch over the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it divided the church in two. As a result, many would not recognize the authority of the regime-controlled leadership and began a church in exile in the United States.   read...

May 21, 2012
Concerns regarding the Regional Eastern Africa Power Pool Program (APL1)
Dear President Zoellick,
According to World Bank documents, the Regional Eastern Africa Power Pool Program is slated to be considered by the Board of Directors on June 21, 2012. The project would fund the construction of a 1000 km transmission line between Ethiopia and Kenya. We would like to raise the following concerns with you, which we believe need to be addressed before the Bank submits the APL1 Project to the Board of Directors.   read... (pdf)

May 18, 2012
SMNE’s Comments on the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition
To members of the international media: As the African leaders and others at the G8 summit at Camp David, to discuss this new initiative, we have many critical concerns we believe must be addressed and remedied if the goals of this worthy effort are to be achieved. We hope by bringing these to your attention, you, as a member of the international media, will examine these issues more closely.     read...

May 17, 2012
SMNE and the Oakland Institute
Open letter to President Obama regarding land security in Ethiopia
Dear President Obama:
Your meeting at Camp David on May 19, 2012 to discuss food security with African leaders, including Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, is a major opportunity to address what may be the single largest man-made contributor to food insecurity on the continent today: largescale land investments by foreign investors..   read... (pdf)

May 2, 2012
TPLF/EPRDF Retaliates Against Civilians for Killings at Saudi Star
Today, May 2, 2012, in Pokedi Village, in the Gambella region, TPLF/EPRDF Defense troops opened fire on a group of terrified Anuak civilians, killing two students, namely Zewudu Ochorjoo and Opiew Ojulu; a teacher, Mr. Obang Ochang and two local Anuak police officers named Owar Oman and Okung Oman.   read...

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April 30, 2012
Saudi Star Pakistani Foreign Workers and Ethiopians Killed in Raid on Saudi Farm Compound—Believed Related to Land grabs
On April 28, 2012 at about 5:00 PM, unknown assailants attacked workers at the Saudi Star compound, killing innocent people. According to what we have heard, a total of ten people or more were killed, with eleven others wounded. Six of the dead were foreigners from Pakistan; allegedly agricultural experts, hired by Saudi Star. The other four were Ethiopians; including an Anuak local police officer defending the workers.   read... (pdf)

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April 22, 2012

Ethiopians rallying last week

Open Letter to Ethiopian Muslims, Christians, Jews and all believers in freedom of religion, belief to stand together for religious freedom.
Dear Ethiopian, this message to you is extremely urgent! I am calling on Muslims, Christians, Jews and all believers in freedom of religion, belief, opinion and thought to stand together for the religious freedom of our Ethiopian Muslim sisters and brothers right now, but also for the religious freedom of all Ethiopians to worship and practice one’s religion without government interference.

As a follower of Jesus Christ and as the Executive Director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, we are called to defend the lives, rights and liberties of all members of our greater human family, regardless of what faith they do or do not practice. If we do not stand up for each other’s religious freedom and other rights, we will all be harmed for no one is free unless all are free!   read... (pdf)

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April 18, 2012
TPLF/EPRDF Defense Forces Brazenly Murdering Innocent People in Gambella in Broad Daylight


Today, in Gambella, there is little to no accountability for TPLF/EPRDF Defense Forces who are committing rising numbers of human rights crimes against the people of the region. It used to be that murders, beatings and torture were carried out secretly in the bush or in the rural areas, but now there is no security even in the middle of Gambella town for any but those carrying the guns. As these criminal acts against the unarmed civilians in Gambella are being so easily dismissed by authorities, it is increasingly clear they are actually being condoned or promoted by higher ranking officers and government officials—all the way up to Meles.  read..

April 5, 2012
Open Letter and Call to Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches and Religious Leaders everywhere
We in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, come to you as freedom-seeking people who believe peace can only come to Ethiopia and beyond when we value the God-given humanity in each one of us and uphold the right to one’s own beliefs and religious practices.   read... (pdf)

March 31, 2012
We condemn the assault on the Amhara people and call on all Ethiopians to stand with them.
We in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia strongly condemn the deportation of an estimated 78,000 Ethiopians from their homes in the Southern Nations and challenge Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian Supreme Court, the president of the Southern region and the Ethiopian Parliament under both Ethiopian and international law to stop this illegal action! This is a serious dereliction of duty to the Ethiopian people and is just one more example of how this regime is unfit to govern and should be recalled.   read...

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March 27, 2012
Civilians Under Attack as Human Rights Violations Soar in Gambella
We in the SMNE call on human rights organizations, civic groups, media groups and donor countries to focus their attention on the Gambella region as the number of human rights violations—assaults, arrests, torture and disappearances—in the region are soaring due to an intense crackdown on the local people by TPLF/EPRDF troops.   read...

March 23, 2012
TPLF/EPRDF “Suspends” its Land Allocation Program!
“Suspends!” This one word really signifies a great accomplishment by hard-working activists, both Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians, who have sought to stop the rapid-paced land grabs going on in the country. We all should be rejoicing at this news, revealed earlier this week in The Reporter, that the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) will suspend land allocations for investment purposes until they better assess their own internal structures and the compliance of investors! This is a “battle” won and should be a source of great encouragement to us! It should strengthen our resolve to win the greater “war” for truth, freedom and justice in Ethiopia!  read...

March 17, 2012
A New Colonialism for Africa? Hunger, Aid Dependency and the Selling Off of Land & Resources

Obang Metho

There is a new phenomenon happening all over Africa, since the food crisis of 2008, the sale or long-term leasing of prime African agricultural land, especially land with access to water, has become a scramble for millions of hectares of land on the continent. Those at the front of the race include Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia and Asian countries like India and China but many more are also involved and still more are hoping to capitalize on the best deal of the century.  read... (pdf)


March 10, 2012
Mr. Obang Metho, Message to Ethiopian Women
Ethiopian women in our country make up half of the population; yet, in terms of political representation or participation in the mainstream, they are pretty much at the bottom.... Our valuable women are taking the brunt of our dysfunctional and violence-based society. They experience more domestic abuse than women in most any other country. This is both shocking and shameful and must change! It has no part in a New Ethiopia!.  read... (pdf)

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March 7, 2012
Open Letter of thanks to the International Criminal Court
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia and the Anuak Justice Council sincerely thank you for responding so quickly and affirmatively to our petition that asks ICC Prosecutor, Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to give consideration to opening an active investigation into the genocide, crimes against humanity and other human rights crimes directed against the Anuak people of the Gambella region of Ethiopia in concordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  read... (pdf)

March 2, 2012
Open Letter to the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and the Police, Ms Grete Faremo
Starting on March 15, 2012 and in the next months, hundreds of Ethiopians seeking asylum in Norway will be returned to Ethiopia, either by voluntary agreement that provides Norwegian funded “incentive funds” to returnees before they leave Norway as well as “reintegration funds” to be administered by the Administration of Refugee and Returnees Affairs (ARRA) once they return; or, by forced deportation to those who refuse. Most would refuse if they really had a choice; however, according to the Norwegian Ministry of Justice, these asylum seekers failed to prove their case for needed protection and as a result, permanent residency in Norway was denied.   read... (pdf)

February 29, 2012
PBS Newshour
Ethiopia: A Battle for Land and Water
A controversial resettlement program in Ethiopia is the latest battleground in the global race to secure prized farmland and water. Correspondent Cassandra Herrman reports as part of the Food for 9 Billion series, a NewsHour partnership with the Center for Investigative Reporting, Homelands Productions and Marketplace.   read and watch...

February 19, 2012
Cultural Survival


The Ethiopian government leased the homelands
of these Anuak women to an Indian company,
Karuturi Global Ltd, and moved them
to a village where there is no land for farming.
© Photo courtesy of Anuak Justice Council.

Ethiopia: Stop Land Grabbing and Restore Indigenous Peoples' Lands
Ethiopia receives more foreign aid than any other African nation—upwards of $3 billion a year. Western governments see Ethiopia as a strategic bulwark in the “global fight against terrorism” and point to its progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals, an international program to end poverty and hunger.   read ...

More Information for Ethiopia: Stop Land Grabbing and Restore Indigenous Peoples’ Lands   read ...





ACT NOW: US Aid to Ethiopia Supports Forced Relocations for Land Grabs
Sign the Petition to President Barack Obama and
USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah

read and sign petition

You are cordially invited to attend a ‘Round Table’ discussion on:
The second Scramble for African Land, Water and Resources.
University of Toronto St. George Campus
January 27, 2012, 5-8 pm
read or download poster

January 16, 2012
Human Rights Watch
Ethiopia: Forced Relocations Bring Hunger, Hardship
(London) – The Ethiopian government under its “villagization” program is forcibly relocating approximately 70,000 indigenous people from the western Gambella region to new villages that lack adequate food, farmland, healthcare, and educational facilities, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. State security forces have repeatedly threatened, assaulted, and arrested villagers who resist the transfers.   read ...

“Waiting Here for Death”
This report in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region,” examines the first year of Gambella’s villagization program. It details the involuntary nature of the transfers, the loss of livelihoods, the deteriorating food situation, and ongoing abuses by the armed forces against the affected people. Many of the areas from which people are being moved are slated for leasing by the government for commercial agricultural development.   read ...

January 15, 2012
Allegations of Corruption Emerge Against Federal Government Examiners as they Investigate the Corruption of the Gambella Regional President, Mr. Omot Obang Olom, and His Administration
In a yet unfolding drama involving the TPLF/EPRDF evaluation hearing surrounding allegations of corruption and mismanagement of the Gambella Regional Government under the current president, Omot Obang Olom, new allegations have now emerged accusing these same Ethiopian Federal government examiners of their own corruption in the execution of this hearing.   read ...

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January 10, 2012
The people of the Omo Valley Sound SOS for help!
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia sounds an urgent emergency alert regarding the present endangerment of the people of the Omo Valley. These fellow-Ethiopians are being threatened with human rights violations and atrocities by the TPLF/EPRDF’s troops in the region as the regime moves ahead to remove the people from their land in another crony development scheme for a state-owned sugar plantation on245,000 hectares of land with an additional 100,000 or more hectares of some of the most fertile land committed for other agricultural projects. Those who resist, face state-sponsored human rights crimes.  read ...

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January 5, 2012

Ethiopian prisoner in Malta

Open letter to Mr. Mario Guido Friggieri, regarding the Ethiopians who have been detained in Malta
We in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia are writing this letter in regards to the Ethiopians who have been detained in Malta for nearly a year. We have been in contact with these people and are highly concerned about the length of their detentions. We are also concerned regarding the extremely difficult conditions they face while in detention, including a lack of adequate medical and/or psychological attention for some who need it services related to epilepsy, women’s health, depression and mental health. Additionally, some are disabled and some are underage.   read ...

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