February 17, 2014
"Civil Society Cannot Exist in Ethiopia!” SMNE Calls for Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Board to Reject Ethiopia’s Re-application for Membership
Ethiopia is once again applying for membership in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), “a coalition of global countries, companies, investors and civil society working together to improve openness and accountable management of revenues from natural resources.”
In 2010, Ethiopia’s application was denied based on Ethiopia’s enactment of the Charities and Society Proclamation (CSO), a law that aggressively targets civil society. According to the principles of EITI, an active, independent and robust civil society is essential for the protection of society from the excesses and harmful practices sometimes associated with unethical extractions of oil, gas and minerals; therefore, the lack of such was enough to reject Ethiopia.
If one asks the people of Ethiopia about the state of civil society in Ethiopia four years later, most would ask, “What civil society? None can exist in this repressive environment!” If one asks Ethiopians whether their civil and human rights have improved in the last few years, most would say they have declined, not improved. read...
January 26, 2014
US House Appropriation Bill Requires Increased Accountability from Ethiopia as Prerequisite for Funding
Is United States policy towards Ethiopia shifting? For years Ethiopians, social justice groups, human rights organizations and civic groups have been calling on donor countries to demand greater accountability from the Government of Ethiopia for funds received, citing the lack of political space, endemic injustice, the repression of basic freedoms and widespread human rights crimes; however, now, the people of Ethiopia have reason to expect that the climate of impunity is changing. read...
November 22, 2013
SMNE urges Minister Tedros Adhanom to take swift and comprehensive action in addressing the shameful treatment and humiliation of Ethiopian migrant workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Dear Minister Tedros Adhanom:
I am writing this letter to you as your Ethiopian brother who shares the same beautiful country despite the fact we hold to significantly different political views. As the executive director of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE), a social justice organization that stands for the well being of all our diverse Ethiopians, I am not here to please you or anyone else, but instead I am here to urge you, the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to take swift and comprehensive action in addressing the shameful treatment and humiliation of Ethiopian migrant workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and other countries in the Middle East. read...
November 11, 2013
SMNE Calls on the Saudi government to stop this brutal and inhumane treatment of the Ethiopian migrant workers
The SMNE is highly disturbed by reports, pictures and video footage of the violence being perpetrated against Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.
Graphic pictures of blood, injury and death are circulating on websites and in the social media and we in the SMNE have received countless phone calls, emails, pictures, videos and messages telling about and showing Ethiopians who have been victims of these crimes. One was a heartbreaking picture of a young Ethiopian man who was shot dead on the street, the blood from his wounded body flowing onto the pavement. Eyewitnesses to his murder report that this man was shot in the head as he tried to run away. He may have feared arrest or the brutal treatment at the hands of Saudi police. In one reported case, a handcuffed man, already contained, was still beaten by the police. In another video clip, Saudi civilians can be seen beating up other men. According to reports to the SMNE from Ethiopians in Saudi Arabia, a total of 7 Ethiopians have been killed, 218 have been injured and over 368 are missing. This brutality is outrageous. read... (pdf)
November 4, 2013
PRESS RELEASE: SMNE Calls for Strong Measures from the International Community, Donors and International Investors in Confronting Official Corruption in Ethiopia
The Government of Ethiopia is broadly soliciting for development aid, foreign-based business partnerships and financial investors; yet, the unpopular ruling party has been accused of abuse of state power, misuse of donor funds, widespread party-run business monopolies, illicit financial practices and endemic corruption. It is time to demand accountability from all involved and concerned. read...
October 19, 2013
Ethiopians Who Fall Prey to Human Traffickers on Rise as Government of Ethiopia Cracks Down on Freedom
Many of us feel especially touched by this topic after the recent tragic shipwreck off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa, where 500 people, mostly African migrants, were crowded onto an unsafe boat, which eventually lost power, caught on fire and sunk. Only 155 people were saved. The display of their coffins has left heart-wrenching images in our minds. Only four days prior to this, 13 other African migrants drowned off the coast of Sicily. These are only the ones we know about. Most of the victims were reported to be Eritreans and Somalis—two countries of immense suffering; however, Ethiopians were also among the dead and were also possibly underreported due to the practice of Ethiopians taking on Eritrean nationality as a short-cut to being accepted for asylum. read...
September 5, 2013
SMNE Applauds Non-Violent, Peaceful Struggle in Ethiopia as TPLF/ERPDF Tries to Intimidate and Label Opposition as Extremists
We in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia are deeply disturbed by illegal and violent actions by the TPLF/EPRDF that prevented the Semayawi Party from carrying out its peaceful rally on Sunday, September 1. Despite receiving the go ahead from authorities to stage this lawful rally nearly two months ago, with no warning, federal police stormed and ransacked Semayawi [also known as the Blue Party] headquarters on Saturday, August 31, 2013. read...
read in Amharic...
August 8, 2013
SMNE Warning to the TPLF/EPRDF to Uphold Its Constitution: Stop Unlawful Acts of TPLF/EPRDF –Sponsored Terrorism Against Ethiopian Muslims or Face Future Charges
Ethiopians of Muslim faith have taken to the streets of Ethiopia to peacefully demand religious freedom in Ethiopia. According to their demonstration organizers, the numbers of protesters will increase to new levels of participation in the coming days and weeks; while at the same time, the TPLF/EPRDF government warns of new cracks down, some of which have already taken lives, injured young and old and resulted in the arrests of thousands of political prisoners.
This is no easy issue to resolve. Freedom of religion is close to the hearts of millions of Ethiopians, not only Muslims but all people who seek to pursue their faith and conscience without restriction. This has created a deadlock where the TPLF/ERPDF’s position is unsustainable without making concessions; however, based on past actions, it is highly doubtful that the TPLF/EPRDF will take the necessary steps to prevent the situation from escalating out of control, especially if the TPLF/EPRDF-sponsored violence against civilians is continued. read...
July 25, 2013
Ethiopians at the 30-Year Anniversary of the ESFNA Soccer Tournament Model the “New Ethiopia”
What I witnessed as I watched and met thousands of people at this great gathering of Ethiopians was so extraordinary that I have been pondering it ever since. I saw the face of genuine humanity among Ethiopians and was very emotionally moved by it. My hope for a better future for Ethiopia is greater than ever.
Sometimes we focus on the most discouraging issues and obstacles before us like the lack of political space, the arrest of journalists, activists, and religious leaders, the grabbing of land and resources, the displacement of the people, the human rights abuses, ethnic division, the hardship of life in the country and the ongoing exodus of our young people out of the country; however, what I observed after being around so many Ethiopians all week was “the New Ethiopia” being put into action all around me. It was so remarkable and encouraging that I had to share it. I know that Ethiopians are people who, with God’s help, can be transformed, but seeing it played out before my eyes was inspiring! read... (pdf)
SMNE Handout for ENSFA Soccer Tournament (English - pdf)
SMNE Handout in Amharic (pdf)
June 20, 2013
Testimony before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations
Mr. Obang Metho
“Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights”
In 2006, I gave testimony at that previous hearing in regards to the massacre of 424 members of my own ethnic group, the Anuak, in 2003, perpetrated by members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces. I also testified regarding the ongoing crimes against humanity and destruction of property and infrastructure in the Gambella region of Ethiopia; however, because similar abuses were being perpetrated in other places in the country, I also spoke of the 193 peaceful protestors who were shot and killed as they peacefully protested the results of the flawed 2005 national election and the repression in Oromia. This also included testimony regarding the imprisonment of opposition leaders, including Dr. Berhana Nega, who is sitting next to me today. read... (pdf)
Subcommittee Hearing: Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights
View a live video feed during the hearing
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations
2172 House Rayburn Office Building Washington, DC 20515
Jun 20, 2013 10:00am
Chairman Smith on the hearing: “Ethiopia is a vital American ally in Africa, but its human rights and democracy policies fall short of the basic rights that Ethiopians deserve. Our hearing will look at the policies of the current Ethiopian government in hopes that it will better accommodate political opposition and civil society, and respect the rights of all Ethiopians. We also need to consider how the U.S. Government can support ways to improve the rights—and lives—of the Ethiopian people.” read...
SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING NOTICE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WASHINGTON, DC
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Chairman
TO: MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
You are respectfully requested to attend an OPEN hearing of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, to be held by the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building (and available live on the Committee website at www.foreignaffairs.house.gov):
DATE: Thursday, June 20, 2013
TIME: 10:00 a.m.
SUBJECT: Ethiopia After Meles: The Future of Democracy and Human Rights read the invitation... (pdf)
June 3, 2013
SMNE Calls on Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn To Lead Ethiopia towards Change by Answering the Demands of the People
Dear Prime Minister Hailemariam,
On behalf of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, I, as the SMNE’s executive director, am writing to you regarding the peaceful rally that took place in Addis Ababa yesterday, June 2, 2013. We highly commend you and the TPLF/EPRDF for allowing the rally to proceed without interference. Even though freedom of assembly is allowed under the Ethiopian Constitution; since 2005, Ethiopians have been denied this right. For the first time in eight years, after some negotiation with the Semayawi (Blue) party’s leadership to change the date, the TPLF/EPRDF government agreed to provide the permit that allowed the Ethiopian people the right to express their beliefs without arrests, brutality or death. read... (pdf)
May 21, 2013
SMNE Urges Secretary Kerry to speak out on behalf of freedom of expression,
freedom of assembly, independent judiciaries and open political space in Ethiopia.
Open Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry,
Dear Secretary Kerry
We are pleased to know you will be one of the distinguished guests at the 50th anniversary of the African
Union. This is a celebration not for Africans alone, but for the world. Sadly, the progress made over the last
half-century falls substantially short of what could have been possible.
The formation of the African Union (AU) followed the liberation of many African countries from the minority
rule exercised during the colonization of Africa. At the AU’s inception, the hope for Africa was that it
become a continent where freedom of expression, freedom of belief, freedom of assembly, equality,
impartial justice, and the rule of law would undergird all aspects of African life—just the same as what
America’s founding fathers had envisioned for the United States. However, if the founders of the AU were
alive today, would they be celebrating?
. Click here to read the entire letter...
April 15, 2013
African Land and Natural Resource Grabs Destroy Lives and Futures of Africans
Mr. Obang Metho gives warning of the impacts on the people at the U.S. Congressional Briefing on Land Grabs in Africa
When I speak today, my testimony will not be as an outsider, but as a witness. When I talk about the people being displaced from the land grabs, in many cases I am speaking about people whose names I know. They include my uncle, my cousins, my nephews, my extended family, my community and my people—the people of Gambella, the people of Ethiopia, the people of Africa and the people of the world. We the people of Africa must be able to feed ourselves, but when the powerful take the food and land we have to sustain ourselves, leaving little behind for the indigenous, it is unconscionable and should be challenged. I welcome the opportunity we have to talk about this today. I request that my statement be submitted into the record in its entirety.
April 8, 2013
THE LAND-GRAB ISSUE IN AFRICA
A Discussion with Advocates & Policymakers
Monday, April 15 at 2:00PM U.S. CONGRESS: Rayburn House Office Building (45 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC) A SHORT DOCUMENTARY ON LAND GRABBING WILL BE SCREENED
Land grabbing is becoming the single most combative issue in Africa. It involves large-scale land acquisitions by foreign countries and corporations for farming, biofuels, logging and minerals. Unlike land acquisitions in the United States and Europe where purchasers pay the fair market values for land, in Africa unscrupulous deals are displacing thousands of farmers and leaving local communities in abject poverty, while government officials benefit from land sales and leases. read... (pdf)
April 8, 2013
World Bank Must End its Support for Human Rights Abuses in Ethiopia By David Pred
A multi-billion dollar aid program administered by the World Bank is underwriting systematic human rights abuses in Ethiopia. Last September, Ethiopian victims submitted a complaint about the program to the World Bank Inspection Panel, which is tasked with investigating whether or not the Bank complies with its own policies to prevent social and environmental harm. A meeting of the Bank’s board of directors to discuss the Panel’s preliminary findings was postponed on March 19th due to objections from the Ethiopian government. read...
April 6, 2013
Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) Declares Commitment to Work with Others towards a Democratic, Multi-national Ethiopia: Is this the Same “New Ethiopia” We in the SMNE Envision?
On March 30, 2013, I had the privilege of watching history in progress while attending the first meeting of the newly formed Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) as an observer. Those involved included most of the founding leaders of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). As they announced their new vision, direction and organization to more than 500 people attending the meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota, I was deeply struck with the vastly different message I was hearing that day—calling Oromo to work together for one Ethiopia—from what I had heard at their 2006 OLF meeting where their secessionist goals and strictly Oromo agenda dominated every aim. I can only think that this transformation has been brought about by a renewed hope among its leadership that the great people of Oromia can contribute to the creation of an Ethiopia for all its precious people. read...
March 23, 2013
Obang Metho addresses Ethiopian women on the second annual International Conference of Ethiopian Women in the Diaspora in Washington, DC
Sponsored by the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women
The role of Ethiopian women in building a New Ethiopia is so important that I believe we will never achieve our goal without the involvement of the women of our nation, many of whom are our wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, colleagues and community members.
If we think of our struggle as a huge puzzle of many pieces that must be put together, Ethiopian women make up a huge section of the still missing pieces. Our Ethiopian women make up one of the largest sub-groups in the country, around 50% of our population. They share many common values, aspirations, challenges and obstacles; however, they also are representative of our rich and diverse Ethiopian culture. read...
February 26, 2013
TV Debate: Lands and Natural Resource Grabs in Africa
Rajya Sabha TV RSTV, February 19, 2013
Two of my colleagues and I went to India to speak directly to the good people of India, who have themselves thrown off the shackles of colonialism only 65 years ago, to asked them to join with Ethiopians and other Africans in confronting the hundreds of Indian companies who are now at the forefront of colluding with African dictators in robbing the people of their land, resources, lives and future! read and view on YouTube...
February 5, 2013
Doing Business with a Dictatorship is a Risky Venture:
Can an Outsider Ever Be Assured of Winning?
Obang Metho addresses the National Press Club of India
According to the 2012 Index of Freedom, a study completed yearly by Freedom House, 88% of all Africans are not free or are only partially free. Food insecurity is more about freedom than any other factor. According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), one out of three persons in sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished and according to the African Human Development Report of 2012, hunger in Africa is the highest in the world; yet, it is said to possess some of the most fertile agricultural land in the world. read...
February 5, 2013
Understanding Land Investment in East Africa
Seminar Hall II, India International Centre, Max Muller Marg, New Delhi A Day Light Robbery in Ethiopia: “Doing Business” With African dictators“
Africa has emerged as the premiere frontier market in the world for vast agricultural land acquisitions, often called “land grabs” due to widespread evidence that the land being acquired is not “free and clear” of inhabitants. Instead, repressive African governments, like in Ethiopia, are forcing some of the poorest people in the world from their homes and land without consultation or compensation, leaving most of them more destitute than before. Those who resist have faced arbitrary arrests, beatings, rape, torture, and death.
In Ethiopia, huge swathes of fertile, well-watered agricultural land are being leased for up to 99 years and for negligible amounts to foreign countries, foreign multinational companies and private investors. At the forefront of these mostly secretive deals are investors from India, China and Saudi Arabia. read...
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.
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)
read in Amharic
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
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
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...
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
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...
read in Amharic
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