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POPSCI NEWS

Posted on 17 April 2013 by Africa Business

  • 5 Ways Drones Could Help In A Disaster Like The Boston Marathon Bombing
    Plus three robots that are already saving lives.

    Yesterday, the President of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Michael Toscano told U.S. News: “Whether it is in response to a natural disaster or a tragedy like we saw in Boston, [unmanned aerial systems] can be quickly deployed to provide first responders with critical situational awareness in areas too dangerous or difficult for manned aircraft to reach.”

    Is he right? Well, he’s not entirely wrong. Drones, like manned helicopters used by police and emergency responders, can hover, provide a great overall picture of action on the ground, and direct aid to where it’s needed. The trick is that, right now, drones don’t do that uniquely, which is what a sales pitch on their special capacity demands. Boston did in fact have a police helicopter flying overhead, and the problem of low fuel reportedly overheard on the police scanner is a problem that another helicopter could have solved just as easily. Drones aren’t particularly special in disaster relief-yet.

    As drone tech advances, we could soon see remotely piloted vehicles joining the ranks of police departments and emergency response organizations. Here are five drones that might save a life in a future disaster.

    1. The MQ-8C Fire Scout: This full-size, unmanned helicopter could ultimately replace police or medical evacuation helicopters. The crew compartment can, among other things, be converted to hold an EMS team for medical airlift, or extra fuel to stay aloft longer.

    2. Quadrotors: Drones like the Aeryon Scout provide a wealth of video coverage, spying on rooftops and moving in fearlessly to document a blast zone. (Of course, civilian smartphones did much of that work in Boston.)

    3. Swarm of Swiss robots: By emulating the patterns ants use to hunt for food, these swarming drones can efficiently scan a large area and then converge where they are needed-a strategy that requires an awful lot of manpower when it’s used by human search-and-rescue workers.

    4. Incredible HLQ: This quadrotor is designed to carry relief supplies to places people can’t access, or can’t access fast enough, during an emergency. It’s in development now after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

    5. The Pars Aerial Rescue Bot: While not strictly applicable to Boston, this Iranian lifeguard quadrotor could aid in disasters along coastal areas, flying through severe weather to rescue people from drowning.

    Flying machines aren’t the only rescue robots we can expect in the future. Unmanned ground machines also have a lot to offer. CHIMP, a monkey-tank-robot created by Carnegie Melon, is designed specifically to climb over rubble or up ladders to save people in collapsed buildings. DARPA’s Robotics Challenge, in which CHIMP is an entrant, has inspired several robots designed to take the place of humans in emergency situations.

    Three types of ground robots are already saving lives around the world:

    1. A whole fleet of earthquake-response rescue robots: These are currently at work in Japan, and they include the RoboCue victim-recovery bot.

    2. Talon: QinetiQ’s bomb-disposal robot made a name for itself fighting IEDs in the Iraq War. There’s also a police version available.

    3. The Land Shark EODS: This remotely controlled robot is used to detonate explosives safely away from people. Massachusetts State Police have at least one on hand.

    The future will certainly see more robots rushing to save lives, and undoubtedly some of those will be flying. The future promise of flying rescuers, however, should not distract us from the actual ground robots that are being used in Boston presently.

        

  • FYI: Can Humans Get High On Catnip?
    Samantha J. Kitty fiending for some catnip Evan Kafka via Suzanne LaBarre
    Related: Can cats get high on marijuana?

    While cats may feel effects from marijuana-no word on whether Sir Harry Paus actually likes the experience-”kitty pot” does not have a reciprocal effect on humans.

    In the late 1960s, some researchers reported catnip gave people a marijuana-like high, but it turned out they had simply mixed up the two plants. As veterinarian Arnold Plotnick of Manhattan Cat Specialists in New York wrote to me in an email, “Think about it… catnip is cheap and legal. If it had a significant effect on people, everyone would be smoking it.”

    Meanwhile, cats do feel effects from marijuana, but it may be scary for them. “Animals can’t understand they’re being intoxicated, therefore it can cause considerable anxiety,” says Bruce Kornreich, associate director of the Cornell Feline Health Center in upstate New York.

    It’s not clear why the active chemical in catnip, nepetalactone, doesn’t affect humans, Kornreich says. Pot affects cats because like many mammals, including humans and dogs, cats have receptors in their brains for pot’s active chemicals, cannabinoids. Cannabinoid receptors make pets susceptible to feeling symptoms when they inhale secondhand smoke or, more commonly, accidentally eat their owners’ stashes. (It’s actually a bigger problem with dogs, he says, because dogs eat everything.)

    Kornreich has seen pets come into veterinary emergency rooms after marijuana exposure. “The pets are presented for anxiety, active heart rate, acting a little unusual,” he says. “They may react differently to sound and to being touched” perhaps because, like humans, drugs alter their perception.

    Kornreich urges pet owners to take their pets to a vet if this happens, adding that vets are not required by law to report marijuana they run into during their practice. Most veterinarians care more about making pets better, he says. “It’s more just focused on the well-being of the patient.”

    He also strongly discourages purposefully exposing a pet to marijuana. Fido and Kitty can’t consent to getting high. “I don’t think it’s right or fair to make that decision for an animal,” he says.

    If pot affects cats because they have cannabinoid receptors, does that mean people aren’t affected by catnip because they don’t have nepetalactone receptors? Scientists aren’t sure. “While it seems that this is a reasonable hypothesis to explain why humans don’t respond to catnip like cats do, I cannot find any studies that rigorously test it,” Kornreich says. While many brain receptors are common across different animals, many receptors also differ, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented for humans to lack a receptor present in cat brains.

    In cats, inhaled nepetalactone stimulates the olfactory bulb, the part of the brain that processes odors. The olfactory bulb then interacts with the amygdala, the brain region associated with emotion and decision-making, and hypothalamus, which controls a variety of bodily functions. From the hypothalamus, nepetalactone stimulates a sexual response in cats that are genetically predisposed to sensitivity to catnip. (About 20 to 30 percent of cats don’t seem to react to the plant.)

    Some insects seem to react to nepetalactone, too. Strangely enough, chemical companies are studying nepetalactone because it seems to repel mosquitoes, ticks and mites, like a kind of natural DEET. For the insects to change their behavior around nepetalactone, even if negatively, suggests that they have nepetalactone receptors.

    As for smoking catnip: not only does it fail to get people high, it can make them feel pretty awful. Too much catnip, whether smoked or drunk as a tea, could cause headaches and vomiting.

    Have a burning science question you’d like to see answered in our FYI section? Email it to fyi@popsci.com.

        

  • Audi Wants Its Cars To Predict Where Traffic Will Be
    Traffic Jam epSos.de
    Side-stepping traffic by mining data

    At the GPU Technology Conference 2013 show in San Jose, Audi announced some of its plans for its Cars of the Future, The Register reports. One of the coolest ideas: cars that can predict where traffic will be, so drivers can avoid it.

    The amply named Predictive Traffic function would mine traffic records and current reports, including social media, as well as scheduled events like sports games that could bring cars to a standstill. The system, under Audi’s plan, could also predict a driver’s most likely destination based on their traffic history.

    Pretty neat! Along with that, Audi announced a concept for a reworked directions system that would operate in a “human-like” way, giving directions based on landmarks instead of streets. A Smart Parking feature would work similarly to the traffic-predicting system, but do it for parking spots: mapping out available spots and prices for those spots, rather than making you drive around in circles hunting one down.

    We don’t have too many details yet on exactly how these systems would work, but since Audi did make a self-driving car, hopefully we’ll see these projects come to life soon, too.

    [The Register]

        

  • Magnetic Brain Stimulation Removes Craving For Cigarettes
    Smoking Kills Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin via Wikimedia
    Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt!

    Scientists at Medical University of South Carolina temporarily blunted cigarette cravings among smokers by magnetically stimulating nerve cells in their brains. The procedure, called transcranial magnetic stimulation, is already approved by the FDA to treat depression, though its efficacy is controversial (it’s also been prescribed to stop people from lying and treat adult ADHD.)

    In the experiment, researchers randomly assigned 16 smokers to either a 15-minute session of high-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation (in which coils placed over the forehead send magnetic pulses into the prefrontal cortex), or 15 minutes of sham treatment. The magnetic stimulation isn’t painful and doesn’t require sedation or anesthesia. The scientists told the volunteers not to smoke for two hours prior to the experiment.

    Before the treatment, the researchers showed the smokers both neutral images (such as mountain scenes) and images intended to provoke nicotine cravings (such as a person lightning a cigarette.) Then they asked the volunteers to rate how they felt about statements like “I would do almost anything for a cigarette now” and “I am going to smoke as soon as possible.” After the magnetic stimulation, the participants saw similar images and again rated how much they craved a cigarette.

    The researchers found that the participants who got the real magnet treatment expressed significantly less desire to smoke at the end of the experiment compared with those who got the fake treatment. In fact, the craving reduction was positively correlated with how nicotine-dependent the volunteer was, meaning that those who smoked the most saw the greatest decrease in cigarette craving after the magnetic stimulation.

    The authors of the study note that people trying to quit smoking would need several sessions of transcranial magnetic stimulation per day in order to see longer-lasting reductions in cravings. The paper appears in Biological Psychiatry.

        

  • Everything You Need To Know About Ricin, The Poison Mailed To President Obama
    Ricin (on Breaking Bad) via Breaking Bad Wiki
    Ricin is one of the most poisonous substances on Earth, it’s scarily easy to make, and somebody is mailing it to the President and at least one U.S. senator. What it is, how it works, and more, inside.

    Yesterday, an envelope addressed to Senator Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi, was found to contain a white granular substance that was identified as ricin. Today, a similar letter addressed to President Obama was found. These envelopes were intercepted off-site–they never got anywhere near their targets–but as a precaution, Capitol Police have shut down mail service until they can figure out what’s going on.

    In the meantime, let’s talk about ricin!

    How poisonous is it?
    Oh, man. Very. It’s dangerous in just about any way it gets into your system, though ingesting (eating) it is about the least dangerous way. Injecting or inhaling requires about a thousand times less ricin to kill a human than ingesting, and that’s a very small amount indeed. An average adult needs only 1.78mg of ricin injected or inhaled to die; that’s about the size of a few grains of table salt–which ricin resembles visually.

    How does it work?
    Ricin, a toxic protein, infects cells, blocking their ability to synthesize their own protein. Without cells making protein, key functions in the body shut down; even in survivors, permanent organ damage is often the result of ricin poisoning. It’s a highly unpleasant way to be poisoned: within six hours, according to the Center for Disease Control, victims who have ingested ricin will feel gastrointestinal effects like severe vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to serious dehydration. Then the ricin infects the cells of the vital gastrointestinal organs as they pass through the body, leading to the failure of the kidneys, liver, and pancreas.

    Inhalation of ricin has a different effect, since the ricin proteins aren’t interacting with the same parts of the body. Instead of gastrointestinal problems, you’ll develop a vicious, bloody cough, your lungs will fill with fluid, and eventually you’ll lose your ability to breathe, causing death. Injection, too, is different, depending on where you’ve been injected, but will generally result in vomiting and flu-like symptoms, swelling around the place of injection, and eventually organ failure as your circulatory system passes the protein around the body. Death from inhalation or injection usually occurs about three to five miserable, agonizing days after contact.

    Interestingly, there aren’t any immediate symptoms, and indeed there can be a significant delay before symptoms show themselves, up to a day or two.

    Exposure on the skin is generally not fatal, though it may cause a reaction that can range from irritation to blistering.

    That sounds…horrible. Is there an antidote, at least?
    Haha. No. The US and UK governments have been working on an antidote for decades–here’s a nice article describing the progression of one such antidote–but there isn’t one available to the public. The CDC’s website states bluntly, “There is no antidote for ricin toxicity.” There are some steps you can take if you get to a hospital immediately; for ingestion, a stomach pump can sometimes prevent the ricin from reaching the rest of the gastrointestinal system at its full force. But…that’s about it, really.

    How does it stack up against other poisons?
    Well, that depends on what your aim is. Ricin is much easier to produce than other popular biological weapons like botulinum, sarin, and anthrax, but it is not as potent as any of those, which limits its effectiveness as a weapon. It also is not very long-lived; the protein can age and become inactive fairly quickly compared to, say, anthrax, which can remain dangerous for decades. There were experiments back around World War I attempting to make wide-scale ricin weapons, packaging it into bombs and coating bullets in it, but these proved not particularly effective and also violate the Hague Convention’s agreements on war crimes, so the US discarded ricin.

    It’s much more effective, weapon-wise, as a close-contact, small-target weapon–by injecting, as with Georgi Markov, or by putting small particles into an aerosol spray and blasting a target. It’s also not contagious, which limits its effectiveness as a tool of biological warfare. But it’s considered highly dangerous partly because it’s still outrageously toxic and partly because it takes no great skill to produce.

    So it’s not hard to make?
    Well…no. Like, not at all. It’s made from the byproduct of the castor oil manufacturing process. You take the “mash” of the castor oil seeds, which contain around 5-10 percent ricin, and perform a process called chromatography. Chromatography is a blanket term for a set of techniques used to separate mixtures, usually by dissolving in liquid or gas. The US government has done its best to eradicate recipes for ricin from the internet, sort of; a patent was filed back in 1962 for ricin extraction, and the Patent Office took it off the publicly available server in 2004 for safety reasons. That said, the recipe is super easy to find; here at the PopSci offices, I’m blocked from listening to Rdio on my work computer, but I found a recipe to make an outrageously deadly poison in about a minute.

    The techniques involved are undergraduate-level chemistry, creating a slurry with the castor bean mash and filtering with water and then a few easily-found substances like hydrochloric acid.

    It comes from castor beans?
    Ricin is a highly toxic protein that’s extracted from the seed of the castor plant, often called a “castor bean” or “castor oil bean,” despite not technically being a bean. The castor plant is extremely common; it’s used as an ornamental plant throughout the western world, prized for its ability to grow basically anywhere as well as its pretty, spiky leaves and weird spiny fruits. It’s also an important crop; the seeds are full of oil, and castor oil is used for lots of legitimate purposes. It’s a common laxative, for one thing, and since it’s more resistant to high temperatures than other kinds of vegetable oils, it’s a nice alternative to petroleum oil in engines.

    Wait, but you can eat it? So how is this a poison?
    Ah, yes. Castor oil is perfectly safe, according to the FDA and your grandma, but ricin is not castor oil. Castor seeds are still poisonous; this study says that a lethal dose of castor seeds for adults is about four to eight seeds. But the oil itself does not contain ricin; the ricin protein is left behind in the “castor bean mash” after the oil is extracted from the seed. Poisoning from eating the seed itself is rare.

    Have there been cases of ricin poisoning in the past?
    You mean, beyond the several times it’s been featured as a major plot point in Breaking Bad? Sure! The most famous is probably the assassination of Georgi Markov in 1978. Markov was a Bulgarian novelist, playwright, journalist, and dissident, and was murdered by the Bulgarian secret service, with assistance from the KGB, by ricin injection. He was crossing a bridge when he was jabbed in the leg with an umbrella, which delivered a ricin pellet into his bloodstream. He died three days later of ricin poisoning.

    There are plenty of incidents of people arrested for attempting (or, more often, succeeding) to make ricin; it’s a pretty easy poison to make. In fact, there was even another ricin-in-the-envelope attempt made back in 2003–a person identifying as “Fallen Angel” sent letters filled with ricin to the White House, apparently as a result of some new trucking regulations (seriously). “Fallen Angel” was never found, but the letters were intercepted and did not cause any injury.

    How dangerous are these envelopes filled with ricin?
    The envelope strategy has more to do with potential ease of getting the poison close to targets than its strength as a delivery system. If you’re targeting the President of the United States, it’s easier and more anonymous to mail a letter than to try to get close to him with an umbrella modified for ricin-stabbing. But it’s not a great way to poison someone with ricin. Assuming the letter actually got into the target’s hands, of the three ways ricin can get into a person’s system (inhalation, injection, ingestion), only one–inhalation–is really possible, and it’s not that likely.

    Inhalation as a weapon is best accomplished through a mist, ideally delivered through an aerosol. But that’s not possible in a letter full of powder. It’s possible that small granules of ricin could be released into the air and inhaled when handling the letter, but it is not an effective way to poison someone. And whoever’s sending these letters evidently doesn’t know that the government set up an elaborate mail-screening system after the 2001 Anthrax scare.

        

  • Mystery Animal Contest: Who Is This Fuzzy Sniffler?
    Guess the species (either common or Linnaean) by tweeting at us–we’re @PopSci–and get your name listed right here! Plus eternal glory, obviously. Update: We have a winner!

    So, here are the rules: To answer, follow us on Twitter and tweet at us with the hashtag #mysteryanimal. For example:

    Hey @PopSci, is the #mysteryanimal a baboon?

    And then I might say “if you think that’s a baboon, perhaps you are the baboon!” But probably not, because this is a positive environment and all guesses are welcome and also this is not a very common animal so guess whatever you want!

    The first person to get it right wins! We’ll retweet the answer from @PopSci, and also update this post so your amazing animal knowledge will be permanently etched onto the internet. Show your kids! Your dumb kids who thought that was a baboon!

    Update: And the winner is…Logan Copeman, who correctly guessed that this is a viscacha (Lagidium viscacia, also spelled vizcacha)! Specifically, this is a southern or mountain viscacha, a rodent found in South America. Yep, rodent: the viscacha is not related to the rabbit family, though it looks similar; the rabbit belongs to an entirely different branch of the evolutionary tree, and the fact that the viscacha looks so much like a rabbit is an example of convergent evolution. Convergent evolution describes when two species not closely related end up adapting to their environments in the same way.

    The viscacha lives in the southern Andes mountains, and is closely related to the chinchilla. It’s sometimes known as a long-tailed rabbit, thanks to its long ears and fluffy coat. It moves similarly to a rabbit, on very strong hind legs, hopping around its mountain home to eat a variety of grasses, mosses, and lichens. It lives in colonies, like all members of the chinchilla family, which can widely range in size. It’s not particularly rare; it is sometimes hunted for its meat and fur, but is believed to be holding steady, population-wise. Hi viscacha!

        

  • EuropaCity Is The Ultra-Green Mall Of The Future
    EuropaCity BIG
    Imagine a mall. Now imagine a mall in the year 2150.

    The design firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), along with a few added team members (Tess, Transsolar, Base, Transitec, and Michel Forgue) have won first place in a competition to design an experimental “urban center” in France called EuropaCity. Located in Île-de-France, the wealthiest and most populous region in France, EuropaCity is intended to be a center of culture and retail, combining all sorts of experimental sustainable technologies.

    But as a design–and a pretty spectacular one at that–it’s best experienced through images. Click through to the gallery to see and read more about the proposal!

    Click to launch the gallery.

        

  • Nanosponges In Your Blood Could Soak Up Infections And Poison
    Nanosponge Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have invented a “nanosponge” capable of safely removing a broad class of toxins from the bloodstream, including toxins produced by MRSA, E. Coli, poisonous snakes and bees. The nanosponges are made of a biocompatible polymer core wrapped in a natural red blood cell membrane. Zhang Research Lab
    Mice who got nanosponge injections survived lethal doses of toxins.

    A newly invented “nanosponge,” sheathed in armor made of red blood cells, can safely remove a wide range of toxins from the bloodstream. Scientists at the University of California-San Diego inoculated some mice with their nanosponge, and then gave the animals otherwise lethal doses of a toxin–and the mice survived.

    This is especially interesting because a nanosponge can work on entire classes of toxins. Most antidotes or treatments against venom, bioweapons or bacteria are targeted to counteract a specific molecular structure, so they can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution; this nanosponge can.

    Scientists led by Liangfang Zhang, a nanoengineering professor at UCSD, worked with a class of proteins known as pore-forming toxins, which work just the way they sound: By ripping a hole in a cell membrane. These toxins are found in snake venom, sea anemones, and even bacteria like the dreaded drug-resistant Staph aureus. The proteins come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all work in a similar way.

    They designed a nanosponge to soak up any type of pore-forming toxins. It consists of a tiny (85-nanometer) plastic ball wrapped in red blood cell membranes, which basically serve as a decoy and soak up the poison. The plastic ball holds everything together, and keeps the protein away from its real cellular targets. The entire nanosponge is 3,000 times smaller than a full red blood cell. The devices had a half-life of about 40 hours when the team tested them on lab mice, according to a release from UCSD.

    They injected mice with 70 times as many toxic proteins as nanosponges, and the sponges still neutralized the poison and caused no visible damage to the animals, the team reports. Next up are clinical trials in animals, to verify that it works safely in a wide range of cases.

    The paper is in this week’s issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

        

  • Wearing A Kilt Could Make Your Sperm Stronger
    Temperature regulation is the key to fertility.

    Temperature affects how much sperm a man makes, so there’s been speculation that the freedom offered by a kilt can increase production. Turns out that that at least could be right: a new metastudy says wearing a kilt “likely produces an ideal physiological scrotal environment, which in turn helps maintain normal scrotal temperature, which is known to be beneficial for robust spermatogenesis and good sperm quality.”

    The study (PDF), published in the Scottish Medical Journal, reviewed the literature on the link between scrotal temperature and reproduction. We know sperm fares better in lower temperatures, and some researchers have suggested that restrictive clothing could negatively affect sperm production. Enter: the kilt, which author Erwin J.O. Kompanje describes thusly: “The Scottish kilt is a male garment that resembles (but is not!) a knee-length, pleated skirt.”

    The author hypothesizes that, based on past findings about temperature and sperm production, a kilt, specifically one worn in the undergarment-free “regimental” style, would be an ideal environment for sperm production. Kompanje searched through related research, focusing on statistics in Scotland and noting along the way that 70 percent of kilt-wearers choose to go regimental. Kilts (at least in Scotland or other countries where they’re more commonly worn) might also be psychologically valuable, increasing feelings of masculinity when worn. Kompanje goes so far as to write that a downturn in Scottish fertility is correlated with the frequency of kilts being worn, although he admits it’s still somewhat speculative until a randomized trial happens. Gentlemen, put on your kilts for science.

        

  • We Could Eat Trees: Scientists Turn Inedible Plant Cellulose Into Starchy Snack
    Turning plant byproducts into digestible carbs could feed more people.

    Someday, it will be be summer again and it will be time for fresh sweet corn. In the future, you might be able to eat the whole thing, cob and all.

    This weird possibility is courtesy of some scientists at Virginia Tech, who have transformed cellulose, a mostly indigestible polymer, into helpful, indispensable starch.

    Plants produce cellulose and starch, which are chemically similar, for very different purposes. Cellulose forms the cell walls of most plants, algae and even some bacteria, and we use it for anything from clothing (cotton is almost all cellulose) to paper to ethanol. Starch is a plant’s energy source, and it’s ours, too, in the form of tasty things like potatoes, wheat and corn. The difference between the two is a simple change in the hydrogen bonds that form the molecules.

    Animals like cows and pigs can digest cellulose thanks to symbiotic bacteria in their digestive tracts, but humans can’t. It’s important in our diets as source of fiber, in that it binds together waste in our digestive tracts. Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, set out to make it a food source.

    Since cellulose and amylose are both glucose chains, you would just have to rearrange their hydrogen bonds. This is anything but simple, although essentially Zhang and colleagues used chemistry. They worked with a series of synthetic enzymes to break down the hydrogen bonds in some plant material that would not otherwise be used for food, like corn cobs and leaves. The “enzyme cascade” enabled the cellulose molecules to reconfigure into amylose, which is a form of starch. A key ingredient in this process, a special polypeptide cap, is found in potatoes.

    The resulting product is not exactly the future of bread flour, but it can be used as a fiber source, or food-safe biodegradable packaging, perhaps. The remaining portion of the original material was treated with microbes to produce a form of glucose that can then be used for ethanol. The whole process didn’t require any unusual heat or chemical reagents, other than the enzymes themselves, so it would be easy to reproduce on larger scales, Zhang and his colleagues say.

    Cellulose is the most common carbohydrate–indeed the most common organic material–on the planet, so using it for food could be a superb way to feed millions of people, they argue.

    “There is an urgent need to use abundant and renewable nonfood agricultural and forest residues and dedicated bioenergy crops that can grow on marginal land and require low inputs,” they write. The paper appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

        

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Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against Eritrea (Part 3)

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

By Simon Tesfamariam

Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against (Final) (.pdf Acrobat Reader)

Football Players

By now, almost every Eritrean is aware of the repeated high-profile defections by the Eritrean national football players during matches in other African countries. In the case of Tanzania, 13 football players, who participated in the July 2011 CECAFA Kagame Cup, failed to show up for a flight back to Asmara. They later reported to the Home Affairs Ministry asking for asylum but, according to the Tanzanian National Refugees Committee, “none of the applications met the criteria for refugee status.” [98] The UNHCR then intervened calling for their protection while arrangements could be made for their transfer to a third country. Ten months later, we learn from the Houston Chronicle that four of the players had already made it to Houston, three were due to arrive one month later, four were resettled in Boston, and two in Virginia. [99] How is it possible that every single one of the 13 players was able to arrive in America so quickly? According to the US State Department, only less than one percent of refugees worldwide are ever resettle in a third country, let alone America. [100] This case may come as a surprise to many Eritrean refugees around the world who have had to languish in refugees camps for years on end awaiting resettlement. The article then goes on to explain that “after their escape in Tanzania, where [the players] outran their handlers and met at a rendezvous spot before going to the US Embassy to seek protection. They were certified as refugees by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees and spent months in Romania before being approved for placement in the U.S.” The fact that they planned, in advance, to go to the US Embassy is quite telling of the current US Adminstration’s role in promoting youth migration. High profile asylums of Eritrean sports figures are designed to send a message to the Eritrean football-loving youth that loudly declares, “if you leave your country, then USA has your back.”

And make no mistake about it: the US knows the cultural significance football to Eritreans. Following the first defection of 4 football players in Kenya, US ambassador McMullen acknowledged in a 2010 diplomatic cable under the derisive subheading “SOCCER TEAM 1 – REGIME 0,” that “Eritreans are mad about soccer” and that the Kenyan defections “will be stunning news for the Eritrean population.” [101] This first round of defections, however, did not take place through the US Embassy. They were discovered to be hiding in a refugee camp under the protection of UNHCR and were granted automatic group asylum in Australia eight months later. [102] Apparently, their case takes priority over the millions of Somalians sitting in the same Kenyan refugee camps, fleeing civil war, drought, and religious persecution. Sensational headlines from the Associated Press, re-printed by ESPN and Sports Illustrated read, “Official: Players say death awaits them in Eritrea.” [103] Why does the AP take the asylum-seekers words at face value when they clearly have a vested interest in inflating their story for the purpose of resettlement? To this day, we have yet to see any evidence of deportees being executed by Eritrean authorities; only the claims of asylum-seekers.

It should also be mentioned that in the case of the Tanzanian defection, the players were transported via emergency evacuation from Dar es Salaam to a holding facility in Romania. Do all Eritrean refugees get this kind of treatment? Upon further inspection, we learn that this facility is the Evacuation Transit Center that was built in 2008 (officially, 2009) “by the Romanian government, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide a temporary haven for refugees in urgent need of evacuation from their first asylum countries due to life-threatening conditions….it received its first group of refugees, 40 Eritreans, last November and all have been found resettlement homes.” [104] Since then, there have reports of the transportation of large groups of Eritreans. In one case, 30 Eritreans were transported from Tunisia. [105]. This is important because it signifies a growing trend of expedited  large group evacuations of Eritreans from atypical locations. The asylum-seekers no longer have to be at a sub-Saharan refugee camp to await processing. They can be in a US Embassy, like the Tanzanian players, or perhaps in the Middle East under temporary protection status. In the words of the US State Department’s “Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2012″:

And according to the Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, we anticipate Sudanese, Somali, Ethiopian, Eritrean and other African refugees to be processed in Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. We will also process individuals who were forced to leave Libya as a result of the conflict there, some of whom will be interviewed at the UNHCR Evacuation Transit Center in Romania. We project as many as 1,300 individuals will be referred to the USRAP from the Tunisia/Libya border, and as many as 500 individuals will be referred to the USRAP from the Egypt/Libya border, during calendar year 2011. [106]

How many of those 500 were Eritreans? We don’t for sure. However, we do know that after 3 years of operations, the facility has housed 600 refugees, which, according to the UNHCR, includes “Eritreans, Sudanese, Palestinians, Ethiopians, Sri Lankans, Iraqis and Nigerians.” [107] Of that list, only Iraqis rank higher for US resettlement, according to the Proposed Refugee Admission report for FY 2013. That should tell us something.

Thus, it is clear that Eritreans are deliberately being resettled in third countries with the complicity of the international media. Eritrea maintains that it is a victim of the policies of external entities while the US and various human rights groups point the finger at the lack of human rights in Eritrea. Some groups have conducted independent studies and have come to different conclusions in regards to the causes of migration out of Eritrea. According to conclusions of a 2009 study conducted by the Global Forum on Migration and Development, in cooperation with the European Commission and the Eritrean Government:

Migration is not a phenomenon that happens only in Eritrea. It is a global issue that needs global collaboration for a viable solution acceptable to all parties involved. Eritrea is a poor country and therefore this circumstance serves as a main factor for migration. To make migration a positive contributing force to development, Eritrean migration policy needs to be more flexible and up-to-date. The benefits of migration accrue in terms of transfer of money (remittances), technology and know-how. Important as they are, remittances don’t require the physical movement of the migrants to the country.

To achieve all these, there is a need for planned and dynamic handling of the benefits of migration. This has to be done without compromising the rights and economic status of citizens by promoting openness and freedom of movement but at the same time not compromising the national interest. Therefore, the policy has to aim to address the manpower needs of the country emphasizing creation of jobs (following labour intensive technology in production) and In-country Human Resource Development Schemes as well as encouraging remittance and technology transfer.  [108]

They don’t blame the Eritrean government for human trafficking, child labor, or human rights abuses. It does suggest “promoting openness and freedom of movement but at the same time not compromising the national interest.” Unfortunately, these conclusions fell on the deaf ears of the international media as they do not fit the “human rights agenda.”

The “Human Rights Agenda”

So what does all this human trafficking business mean anyway? If we consider the above and inspect some of the recent developments in regards to human rights of Eritreans, we begin to see some trends. Most notably, it seems like the international mainstream media is trying to connect human trafficking of Eritreans to “human rights abuses” by the Eritrean government–the “human rights agenda.” The press often sites the usual suspects: US State Department human rights and TIP reports, US-funded NGO’s, “Eritrean” opposition websites and members, SEMG reports, and biased “experts”/”journalists” on Eritrea. In each case, the excuse for people leaving Eritrea is always the same: human rights abuses. Not all the other possible causes mentioned above. No one ever considers the words of independent analysts or Eritrean officials. Most importantly, they ignore the words of the people living in Eritrea with the excuse often being that Eritreans are too scared to speak up. In saying so, they are unknowingly calling the Eritrean people cowards, which is an insult considering what Eritreans have gone through to achieve the liberation of their nation. In contrast, however, they seem to have an incredible fondness for the words of Eritreans that leave their nations–i.e. asylum-seekers. Asylum seekers–whose hopes of resettlement rely on stories of persecution–make up practically the entire basis of the reports and articles by HRW, AI, SEMG, Dan Connell, and many others who seek regime change in Eritrea. Is it any surprise then that the foundation of their entire “human rights abuse” argument relies on asylum-seekers? Is it any surprise then that they fight tooth and nail to “protect” them? Is it any surprise then that they are promoting youth migration, politicizing it, and then calling it regime sponsored “human trafficking?” No surprise at all.

What is a surprise, on the other hand, is the number of times that the UNHCR publishes or references the work of petty anti-Eritrean websites, organizations, and individuals who take the “human rights” stance. It should be made clear that these entities are not only “anti-regime,” as some like to pose, but rather outright anti-Eritrean since they all have (1) called for sanctions against Eritrea; (2) practically ignored or downplayed the ever-present existential threats against Eritrea; and (3) consistently repeat the same line used by the late Meles Zenawi that “we like the Eritrean people, we just want to get rid of their government.” With that said, let us review how many times each of these anti-Eritrean elements has been published or referenced by UNHCR:

Human Rights Concern, Eritrea (Elsa Chyrum): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Assenna.com: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Asmarino.com: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

Gedab News: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Nharnet.com: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Awate.com: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55

Dan Connell: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Léonard Vincent: 1, 2, 3

Perhaps this will help Eritreans learn how to prioritize their enemies. The same Awate.com that spread the rumor that the Eritrean president was likely dead is being published or cited by UNCHR documents almost 55 times. [109, 110] UNHCR also cites the work of the same Léonard Vincent of Reporter Without Borders (RSF), who openly admitted in his book that he illegally smuggled an Eritrean Ministry of Information employee through the assistance of RSF personnel and the French Foreign Office. You simply can’t make this stuff up. It should be noted that for some of the documents, the UNHCR website has a disclaimer that reads, “This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.” If that’s the case then why publish it in the first place while not publishing material from non-US funded independent groups or Shabait.com, the Eritrean Ministry of Information website, in response to human rights allegations? Why are they so one-sided?

In light of the clear bias for anti-Eritrean entities, let us put things in perspective. Imagine you’re a young bright-eyed UNHCR intern, fresh out of Harvard, whose dream is to one day work for Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or some other non-profit organization that the media says helps the disparaged people of the world. At orientation, your boss assigns you to work at a refugee camp in East Sudan next month and suggests that you read up on the situation in Eritrea. Like a good intern, you log into the UNHCR website and access RefWorld, the supposed “Leader in Refugee Decision  Support.” You read through countless documents on Eritrea, meticulous in your reading and checking up on all citations. You also check out the US State Department-funded COR website for some extra background on Eritrean refugees in Kassala. After a while, you start to think, “surely it can’t be that bad,” so you check out some Eritrean websites for Eritreans’ personal views of their country. You remember all the websites listed in the citations of the UNHCR website so you check them out. After reading all the latest articles from Awate.com, Asmarino.com, Assenna.com, and their ilk, you come to the heart-crushing conclusion that Eritrea must be the most horrible place on Earth. All your dream organizations, like HRW, AI, RSF, and many others have nothing positive to say about life in Eritrea. You come to see the Eritrean government as an enemy of the Eritrean people that uses the “CIA” argument as a scapegoat for its failures–essentially what the media tells you. Although, you may have some doubts when talking to average Eritreans at the local community center, who often speak wonders of the Eritrean government and tell you about the FBI harassing them for supporting the Eritrean government, you have trouble accepting the distant notion that there is some crazy conspiracy to destroy Eritrea. Surely, you’re not crazy! You accept that it’s just another African tragedy. Hopeless. Now all you want is to be part of some great cause–like your hero Rachel Corrie, perhaps. As a result, you join in on the “human rights agenda” against the Eritrean government.

What we are seeing now is the “human rights agenda” on full display. Following the fabricated coup in January and the failed attempt to turn it into a campaign, [111] we see people like Dan Connell and Elsa Chyrum going around the world giving talks on human trafficking in Eritrea [112]. We see people like Meron Estifanos and the so-called “International Commission on Eritrean Refugees” writing letters to the UN Secretary General, urging him to launch an investigation into what is causing the human trafficking of Eritreans. [113] In each of these instances, these individuals and groups have been pointing the finger at the Eritrean government and we are now seeing increased efforts to see actions taken against Eritrea for alleged human rights abuses.

At its 21st session on September 27, 2012, the Human Rights Council considered the situation of human rights in Eritrea under the terms of the confidential complaint procedure (1503 procedure). By this method human rights groups and victims of human rights abuses file confidential complaints to the HRC. However, according to resolution 21/1 on Eritrea, the HRC ultimately decided to switch to the public procedure (1235 procedure) under which it can hold an annual public debate about the alleged gross violations of human rights in question. [114] This essentially represents an escalation of the case. If no change is noted in regards to the human rights situation in Eritrea, the HRC can have the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC ) pass a resolution condemning Eritrea. According to the Human Rights Education Association, this would serve as public condemnation that “tarnishes the reputation of the leaders in the state in question and discredits their legitimacy as political elites.” [115] Resolution 21/1 also called for a “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea” to investigate the complaints and report back to the HRC during the twenty-third session in June 2013.

On September 28 2012, Ms. Beedwantee Keetharuth, a lawyer from Mauritius who worked for Amnesty International’s African Regional office in Uganda and is touted to have “extensive experience in monitoring and documenting human rights violations across Africa,” was appointed as “UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea.” According to the HRC’s meeting minutes:

Eritrea noted the decision of the Council to refer the situation in Eritrea to the public and reminded the Council to abide by the principles of neutrality and impartiality. The Council had clearly violated the provisions prohibiting politicised action and had not justified its motion to disregard those basic principles and criteria of admissibility. Eritrea therefore rejected the decision of the Council because it was politically motivated and did not accept the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea. [116]

Following her appointment, there was no mention in the UN press release or any media reports about Eritrea’s rejection of her appointment [117]. Without that needed context for the reader, they instead say that “she had requested meetings with the country’s diplomats” but unfortunately, “the meetings had yet to take place.” [118] Once again, Eritrea is made to appear uncooperative because Eritrea’s voice is silenced. It should come as no surprise if her future report says “I had trouble getting a hold of Eritrean officials.”

Figure 3. UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, Beedwantee Keetharuth (Sudan Tribune)

Upon further investigation we learn that Elsa Chyrum, the Director of Human Rights Concern, Eritrea, was key in getting Ms. Keetharuth appointed. According to the “Eritrean” opposition website Asmarino.com:

Elizabeth (Elsa) Chyrum has been instrumental in bringing about the appointment of a Special Rapporteur to Eritrea; four years’ work has culminated in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointing Ms. Beedwantee Keetharuth as Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

Mrs. Chyrum has been advocating and lobbying at the HRC for recognition of the severe human rights crisis in Eritrea since September 2008. She is passionate about justice for Eritrea, and has doggedly campaigned for the appalling human rights record of Eritrea to come to the fore of the international agenda. She has done this, and more, largely by funding herself and occasional contributions for travel and other expenses from well-wishers and sisterly organizations. [119]

Acting in concert with other self-proclaimed African human rights activists, Ms. Elsa sent multiple letters curiously addressed to “African Heads of State” [120, 121] urging those states with the “highest standards of human rights” to apply for the 5 vacancies in the African Group of the HRC. Exactly which benevolent African leaders did she send them to? We may never know for sure but what we do know is that Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Gabon, and Sierra Leone were all elected to the African Group last November. Add in Uganda (in office until December 2013) and we have a dangerous anti-Eritrean triumvirate of IGAD members that will decide on Ms. Keetharuth’s report in June 2013. [122] Ethiopia was voted in despite a letter of opposition from 18 AU nations. [123]

In addition, we can’t ignore the glaring fact that the US was also elected into the HRC last year. [124] During the Bush Administration’s term in office, the US opted to sit out in protest of the HRC’s excessive focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [125] In 2009, however, Obama decided to change directions and the nation was voted in. Now that the US has been re-elected and is in the company of its client states in IGAD, the US-driven, anti-Eritrean campaign is expected to continue with an East African face. Last year, Nigeria, Djibouti and Somalia led [126] the HRC to create a Special Rapporteur on Eritrea with US co-sponsorship [127] and we can pretty much expect the same moving forward. It’s also critical to note that the Kampala-based East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) was granted “special consultative status” with the ECOSOC earlier that year. [128] What does that mean exactly? The EHAHRDP, an umbrella human rights organization with a nightmarish acronym, has the power to make recommendations to the HRC and push for resolutions that promote its agenda. Elsa Chyrum’s Human Rights Concern Eritrea is part of that network and as the EHAHRDP website states, ECOSOC status will allow its “network members to deepen their engagement at the UN Level.” [129] If history is any indication, her influence will serve as a destructive force against the Eritrean people. Back in 2011, an article on the HCRE website declared that “as we celebrate International Human Rights Day, we welcome the Security Council Sanctions on Eritrea as a means of bringing to light some of the human rights abuses being perpetrated every day on Eritreans.” [130] Anyone who calls for sanctions on a nation is an enemy of that nation. There has never been an example in history where UN sanctions have benefitted the people of a nation. How, then, can one be Eritrean or a friend of Eritrea and wish for sanctions on Eritrea?

The Global Human Rights Regime

Intervention in the name of human rights is the emerging tool of imperialism and we have seen a dramatic increase in targeted actions towards sovereign nations–particularly African nations–by the Global Human Rights Regime (GHRR). Prior to 1990, there were only two UN sanctions:  Rhodesia in 1966 and South Africa in 1977. Both failed to accomplish their stated goals. The 1990′s saw an explosion of UN sanctions, predominantly used against African nations. Despite the use of “panels of experts” and “monitoring groups” none of them worked. After a series of studies, the UN then decided to transition into using “targeted” sanctions in the 2000′s. Again, those didn’t work either. Eritrea, sanctioned in 2009, is a testament to this reality. In fact, the sanctions only strengthened the Eritrean people’s support of their government, as was evidenced by the international Hizbawi Mekhete campaigns (“popular resistance”), in which citizens around the world raised more money in support of their government, [131] and the massive, worldwide anti-UN demonstrations held on February 22, 2010. [132] In the spirit of resistance, Eritreans also initiated the E-SMART campaign (“Eritrean Sanctions Must be Annulled and Repealed Today”), which led to the creation of a website that is now the authoritative internet resource for understanding the facts and myths regarding the UN sanctions on Eritrea.

The Human Rights Council is also a new creation that came into existence in 2006 in order to promote the agenda of the GHRR. The HRC adopted special complaint procedures and special rapporteurs were given mandates to investigate alleged abuses. The US initially tried to appear as though it didn’t dominate the institution by taking a back seat and supporting it monetarily during its early years. China, Cuba, and other nations quickly took advantage by employing “bloc voting” to protect themselves from actions against their countries. Thus, the US position changed under Obama in 2009 as the country was elected into the HRC and quickly used its influence in the institution to invoke Responsibility-to-Protect (R2P) against Libya in 2011. The actions of the HRC were coordinated with those of the UNSC. Damaging human rights reports by Human Rights Watch, which is a member of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect, were used to further justify intervention in Libya. The International Criminal Court, which was established in 2002 and has issued 21 arrest warrants (all Africans!), issued an arrest warrant for Muammer al-Gaddafi. In a destructive symphony of the UNSC, HRC, ICC, HRW, and other international institutions, an African nation was brought to its knees. The well oiled GHRR acted in full force and wiped the Libyan Jamahiriya off the planet in almost the blink of an eye. The odd thing, is that there seems to be an overwhelming propensity for the GHRR to take actions against African nations relative to others nations of the world. As an African nation, Eritrea is now becoming the increasing subject of their focus.

US troops are now slated to enter 35 African countries this year. [133] As Pepe Escobar wrote in a 2011 article for Al Jazeera, “Africom has some sort of military “partnership”–bilateral agreements–with most of Africa’s 53 countries” but “the exceptions: Ivory Coast, Sudan, Eritrea and Libya. Ivory Coast is now in the bag. So is South Sudan. Libya may be next. The only ones left to be incorporated to Africom will be Eritrea and Zimbabwe.” Thus, Eritreans must be ready for any eventuality as the external forces that seek regime change in Eritrea–for simply not following their rules or refusing to kneel down–are left with no choice but to pull the human rights card. The “terrorism” card didn’t work. The fabricated “coup” card didn’t work. They are now desperate for something–anything–as was seen by the arson of multiple Swedish community centers [134]. Their desperation for an excuse makes them dangerous. “Human trafficking” just might be their excuse. Will Eritreans allow the “human rights” card to destroy Eritrea? That answer lies solely in the hands of Eritreans.

Part 1: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea/

Part 2: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea-part-2/

References

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2. http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/crimes/16-09-2011/119062-Wikileaks_says_Ethiopia_bombed_itself-0/

3. “Exclusive: Eritrea reduces support for al Shabaab – U.N. report.” Maasho, Aaron. Reuters.  July 16, 2012. link

4. ibid.

5. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/09/25/remarks-president-clinton-global-initiative

6. “Eritrea Calls for Lifting of Sanctions.” Clottey, Peter. Voice of America News.. October 17, 2012.

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11. http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2009/123136.htm

12. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386). Sec. 108-109.

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28. http://redseafisher.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-eritrean-coup-that-never-was/

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48. http://www.internal-displacement.org/8025708F004CE90B/%28httpCountrySummaries%29/09DE409E7595E1C1C125755F002D831E?OpenDocument&count=10000

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50. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200606/13/eng20060613_273561.html

51. http://www.refugeecooperation.org/publications/Sudan/07_bartsch.php

52. ibid.

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54. R. Ek. “UNHCR’s operation in eastern Sudan, 1967-2009: lessons learned.” UNHCR, March 2009.

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58. http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refdaily?pass=463ef21123&date=2007-10-09&cat=Africa

59. http://dehai.org/demarcation-watch/articles/Ghidewon_Abay_Asmerom_UNMEE_abusing_the_welcome.html

60. http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/human-trafficking.htm

61. http://www.culturalorientation.net/providing-orientation/overseas/programs/rsc-africa/eritrean-highlight

62. http://www.unhcr.org/468d0f88c.html

63. http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08ADDISABABA2749

64. http://asmarino.com/en/54-awyat/427-peaceful-demonstration-in-eritrean-refugee-camp-ethiopia-shimelba-06122009

65. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/prm/refadm/rls/rpts/2002/13892.htm

66. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/prm/refadm/rls/rpts/2003/44338.htm

67. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/prm/asst/rl/rpts/36116.htm

68. http://2001-2009.state.gov/documents/organization/74762.pdf

69. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/181378.pdf

70. http://allafrica.com/stories/201303130930.html

71. http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/11/15/egypt-don-t-deport-eritreans

72. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article25120

73. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,USCRI,,AGO,,485f50c0c,0.html

74. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Panapress. Oct 13, 2011.

75. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/198157.pdf

76. “Eritrea asks Israel to deport ‘deserters.’” Ravid, Barak. Ha’aretz. March 25, 2008.

77. “Israel detains Eritrean refugee for 18 months because he couldn’t prove his identity.” Weiler-Polak, Dana. Ha’aretz. May 24, 2011.

78. “Eritreans turned down for asylum after Ethiopia claims refugees as their own” Nesher, Talila. Ha’aretz. October 24, 2011.  link

79. “The dark side of Tel Aviv.” Ynetnews. Adino Ababa, Danny. June 7, 2012. link

80. “52% of Jewish Israelis say illegal African migrants a ‘cancer.” LA Times. June 8, 2012.

81. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/closing-the-holes-and-the-loopholes-1.278503

82. http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/229304

83. “Closing the holes and the loopholes.” Wuraft, Nurit. Ha‘aretz.  June 21, 2009. link

84. “Improving the Speed and Quality of Asylum Decisions.” Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. HC 535, Session 2003-2004: June 23, 2004. link

85. “Former Miss Ethiopia unlawfully held by British immigration.” Daily Telegraph. June 16, 2009.

86. http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2012/10/24/cabbagetown_murder_stabbing_victim_was_a_married_mother_of_4_from_eritrea.html

87. Re-blogged link: http://tedalo.blogspot.com/2012/10/by-sam-b.html

88. http://www.torontosun.com/2012/10/26/police-keeping-open-mind-in-cabbagetown-murder

89. Re-blogged link: http://tedalo.blogspot.com/2012/10/by-sam-b.html

90. http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf/2012/10/steve_duin_the_endless_hours_o.html

91. “Swedish Resident Charged with Terrorism in US Court.” Radio Sweden. March 10, 2010. Re-published link

92. http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/13/justice/new-york-al-shabaab

93. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/04/ethiopias-anti-apartheid-movement/

94. http://www.dni.gov/index.php/about/organization/national-intelligence-council-global-trends

95. http://www.unhcr.org/4ce531e09.pdf

96. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/fiscal-year-2012-refugee-arrivals

97. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article18939

98. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

99. “East African soccer team players defect, settle in Houston.” Susan Carroll. Houston Chronicle. May 23, 2012. link

100. http://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/c49034.htm

101. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/239914

102. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

103. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=soccer&id=4747830

104. http://www.unhcr.org/49ba623f2.html

105. http://www.unhcr.org/4daef2e39.html

106. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/181378.pdf

107. http://www.unhcr.org/print/4daef2e39.html

108. “Eritrea and European Community: Country Strategy Paper And National Indicative Programme For the period 2009-2013.” Global Forum on Migration and Development. Pg. 59. 2009. link

109. “Eritrean president appears to quash death rumour.” Agence France Presse. April 28, 2012. link

110. http://awate.com/the-unusual-absence-of-isaias-afwerki/

111. http://redseafisher.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-eritrean-coup-that-never-was/

112. http://asmarino.com/press-releases/1664-ms-elizabeth-chyrum-and-professor-dan-connel-in-boston

113. http://asmarino.com/press-releases/1663-statement-from-icer-the-president-of-eritreas-letter-on-human-trafficking-to-the-secretary-general-of-the-un33

114. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session21/A.HRC.RES.21.1.doc

115. http://www.hrea.org/index.php?doc_id=437

116. http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12608&LangID=E

117. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43831&Cr=Eritrea&Cr1#.UT6MlVeNASg

118. ibid.

119. http://asmarino.com/editorial/1609-elizabeth-elsa-chyrum-a-woman-of-the-year-2012b

120. Letter dated February 2008. “Re: Presidency of the UN Human Rights Council” link

121. Letter dated March 31, 2010. “Re: May 2010 UN Human Rights Council elections” link

122. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

123. http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/13/au-don-t-endorse-sudan-ethiopia-rights-council

124. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

125. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/31/AR2009033104115.html

126. www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/A.HRC.20.L.15_en.doc

127. http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2012/07/201207128920.html#ixzz2NMWKQXXz

128. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/ecosoc6493.doc.htm

129. http://www.defenddefenders.org/2012/12/end-of-year-message-from-ehahrdps-executive-director/

130. http://hrc-eritrea.org/?p=467

131. http://youtu.be/mHrwa1rU2Nk

132. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hozKaSQy1bs

133. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/12/ap-army-africa-brigade-train-anti-terror-teams-122412/

134. http://www.thelocal.se/46402/20130226/#.USyo2mft8wx

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Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against Eritrea (Part 2)

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

By Simon Tesfamariam

Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against (Final) (.pdf Acrobat Reader)

History of Migration in Eritrea

When Eritrea gained independence in the 1991, there were approximately 500,000 Eritrean refugees living in the Sudan. [34] At that time, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deemed the Eritrean refugee situation in East Sudan as a “protracted refugee situation.” Spanning back to the 1960′s, it was the world’s second longest standing refugee program after Palestine’s. [35] One year after independence, about 70,000 refugees returned home. In subsequent years, repatriation dropped dramatically. By 1995, there were still 282,000 refugees living in the Sudan, despite peace in Eritrea and despite the nation entering the so-called “African Renaissance.” [36] In a surprisingly honest 1996 Inter Press Service article, Arnulv Torbjornsen, UNHCR-Sudan chief at the time, admitted that “we (UNCHR) created a monster in Sudan”and that “we still support 2,000 jobs in the refugee business there, and there are vested interests in keeping the Eritrean refugees. If they repatriate, their refugee empire will collapse. We have to take a lot of responsibility for creating the situation in Sudan.” [37] He then goes on to explain that 80-90% of the refugees want to repatriate in Eritrea. He also said that “UNHCR conducted a survey in the camps in August 1995, and all said they wish to go home. But perhaps only about 50 percent of those spontaneously settled want to return – they have shops, houses, children in school, etc.” Therefore, complete repatriation was impossible, despite peace and development in Eritrea, due to the ineffectiveness of UNHCR and the adoption by refugees of a new cultural and economic life in the diaspora.

In 1998, Eritrea was plunged into a two-year war with Ethiopia, displacing hundreds of thousands once again. By war’s end, there were 50,000 returns and with hostilities over, UNHCR invoked the “cessation clause” (under Article 1. C. (5) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees [38]), which would terminate Eritrean refugee status as of 2002 unless individual refugees could demonstrate a continuing need for international protection. Thus, Eritreans in the Sudan would no longer be considered refugees but rather undocumented “migrants” and incoming refugees would no longer be accepted “prima facie” (i.e. automatically without processing) as they had been for decades. To gain UNHCR recognition and resettle in a wealthier nation, many Eritreans began to seek asylum–whether real or not–on the grounds that they would be persecuted if they returned to Eritrea. Thus, at this point incoming Eritreans transitioned into “asylum-seekers” as opposed to refugees. As one UN report explains “the number of Eritrean asylum seekers entering Sudan has grown quite dramatically, from around 1,000 in 2003 to almost 33,000 in 2008, with a somewhat smaller figure (between 22,000 and 25,000) in 2009 and 2010.” [39] This rise in asylum-seekers stems from the sudden cessation of prima facie recognition, which had been in place for decades and created a continuous pipeline for many Eritreans to resettle in much wealthier nations around the world. Instead of considering this reality, the UNHCR put together a 2004 position paper, taking a reductionist outlook and concluded that there was a rise in Eritrean asylum claims and decreased repatriation because “the human rights situation in Eritrea has seriously deteriorated in the past two years…with regard to the treatment of opposition political groups and movements, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, arbitrary detention…and the treatment of draft evaders.” [40] The paper relied almost entirely on highly biased and politically motivated US State Department annual human rights reports on Eritrea. It also speckled in supposedly “independent investigations” by Amnesty International, which:

1. Did not collect its data from within Eritrea; [41]

2. Relied purely on the questionable personal accounts of nameless asylum-seekers that seek resettlement; and [42]

3. Has historically been used to promote imperial humanitarian intervention in non-western nations. [43]

Notably, the UNHCR paper did not seek or consider the accounts of Eritrean officials or, as some may prefer, the work of independent observers. The paper, which strongly argued that Eritrean asylum-seekers should not be returned to Eritrea, signified a new post-2004 policy direction for UNHCR that would only serve to perpetuate migration out of Eritrea. The “cessation clause” was revoked, meaning undocumented migrants would no longer be carefully reviewed on a case-by-case basis but rather en masse. Eritrea is still dealing with the consequences of this decision.

For UNHCR to somehow expect 100% of Eritreans to gleefully return to post-war poverty in the face of a decades long culture of resettling in other countries is quite ludicrous. Many still hadn’t returned in 1996 while the honeymoon of independence was still there. Significantly, the UNHCR position paper–and their many other publications to follow–failed to make the slightest mention of the other etiologies of increased asylum and dwindling repatriation:

1. Natural economic migratory patterns. According to the Harris-Todaro theory of migration, migrants make a rational decision to increase their welfare or utility by moving to another place where they can expect to earn a higher income. [44] This is evident all throughout Africa and is a significant driving factor in “brain drain.” Why is Eritrea, a remarkably poor nation, exempt from this consideration?

2. “No peace no war” situation. Despite the cessation of hostilities in 2000, the threat of a return to war in Eritrea is real and unrelenting. The Ethiopian government not only refused a “final and binding” ruling that would normalize relations but it also encroached on the Temporary Security Zone (buffer), which is now sovereign Eritrean territory [45]. In fact, Ethiopia initiated an attack on Eritrea last spring [46].  The year before that, Ethiopia openly called for the overthrow of the Eritrean government, violating resolution 3314 (XIX)(a) of the UNGA. [47] Thus, the threat is very real today. It was even more real back then. Why was this not considered?

3. Internally displaced people (IDPs). Returning refugees had to compete for resettlement with the 210,000 IDPs that were already present in 2000. This cannot be ignored, considering that there were still 45,000 IDPs in 2005, who would not be fully resettled until mid-2008. [48] Many of them were among the 80,000 forcefully expelled from Ethiopia, after Meles Zenawi infamously stated that his government could “expel anyone even if we don’t like the color of their eyes.” [49]

4. Severed Eritrea-Sudan relations. On account of the ruling National Islamic Front’s support of terrorist groups like the Eritrean Islamic Jihad Movement that were radicalizing Eritrean refugees in East Sudan during the 1990′s, official diplomatic relations between the nations were terminated in 1995. [50] This made tripartite coordination between UNHCR, Eritrea, and the Sudan difficult. Diplomatic relations were only resumed after 2006.

5. Protracted refugee situation. As alluded to above, the presence of a decades-long UNHCR administered refugee program in East Sudan has created an economy and culture that inhibits its termination. In fact, various refugee camps economies were so successful that they became self-reliant and transformed themselves into villages. [51] In addition, various camps were seen as assets to the Sudanese Government, as large local mechanized farms became dependent on the cheap labor of Eritrean refugees. [52]

6. Reduced UNHCR donor funding. With the war over, donors expected Eritreans to return home and were reluctant to pledge more funds for East Sudan. [53]

7. Recurrent droughts. During periods of drought some Eritrean families would relocate to the Sudan.

8. UNHCR-Sudan’s ineffectiveness. UNHCR ignored the self-criticism of Torbjornsen. It was only in later publications–when the damage was already done–that the organization came to grips with it’s general ineffectiveness:

The internal factors which have visibly affected the operation in eastern Sudan include UNHCR’s recurrent financial crisis; lack of consistent long-term vision compounded by a lack of institutional memory; changes of senior management without effective accountability, bringing about frequent changes of direction … Disregarding the history of the operation has invariably led to repeated reinventions and ultimately the waste of opportunities and resources.  [54]

Following the UNHCR’s change in policy, it was discovered that the UN Peacekeeping Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE), which was blanked in Eritrea from 2000 to 2008, had also been involved in the trafficking of Eritreans yet UNCHR reports fail to mention or downplay this key fact. Instead they point the fingers at the Eritrean government, the Rashaidas, or whatever boogeyman fits their agenda.  Let us recall that in a January 18, 2007  wikileaked diplomatic cable entitled “UNMEE: Confronting Sexual Abuse and Exploitation,” the US Chargé d’Affaires in Eritrea,  Jennifer McIntyre, wrote that “since the establishment of the UN Peacekeeping Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia in 2001, there have been few reported incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse and trafficking in persons within Eritrea.” However, she then goes to make the following admission:

What has been an on-going problem is human smuggling, with one highly visible case in fall 2006 of a UN Volunteer who attempted to smuggle several Eritreans to Ethiopia in an UNMEE vehicle. (Refs B&C) Other smuggling cases have predominantly involved local staff crossing the border in UNMEE vehicles. In one case, upon arrival in Ethiopia the local staff called UNMEE headquarters in Asmara to inform UNMEE staff where in Ethiopia they had abandoned the vehicle. [55]

This diplomatic cable validates what Eritrean government officials had been saying for years, despite downplaying or outright denials by UNMEE. In addition to illegally spying on the Eritrean Defense Forces, peacekeepers were accused of trafficking Eritreans, having sex with Eritrean children, and making pornographic films of Eritrean women, contrary to traditional culture. [56, 57] It was only in 2007 that UNHCR finally reported–albeit via passing mention–that “according to the refugees, some members of the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) were involved in human trafficking.” [58] And for what reason were they doing this, exactly? In a meeting with a group of Eritreans, a candid Italian UN officer admitted that “peacekeeping is a lucrative business and that is why I am here.” [59] In 2008, Eritrea had seen enough and the “peacekeepers” were eventually kicked out. However, the damage had already been done. A pipeline outside of the country had been created through the work of foreign smugglers. Often times this smuggling leads to exploitation, which then deems it as “human trafficking.” [60] To this day Eritrea is still dealing with this issue.

Another important point illustrated by McIntyre leaked cable is that Eritreans were being smuggled into Ethiopia. Historically, Eritreans have migrated to the Sudan for refuge and hope of resettlement but migration to Ethiopia became somewhat of a new phenomenon that only took place after the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia. Why is this the case? According to the US government-funded Cultural Orientation Resource Center (COR), which is responsible for “orienting” refugees, the “Eritrean refugees first crossed into Ethiopia in May 2000 after the 1998-2000 border conflict” and “many have fled conscription and come to Shimelba, a refugee camp just 25 kilometers (air distance) from the Eritrean/Ethiopian border.” [61] They claim the camp is made of 60% Tigrinyas and that “roughly speaking, about half the cases in the P2 group [those eligible for group US resettlement] were born in present day Ethiopia, were deported by the Ethiopian Government between 1996-2000, and then later fled back to Ethiopia.” In other words, half of those eligible for US resettlement on the basis that they are Eritrean are actually Ethiopian. The document then states that the second largest group is that of the Kunamas. COR then goes on to explain that “the camp is run by the Ethiopian government with UNHCR oversight. There is a ‘central committee’ that is elected by the camp population, and the committee represents the refugees on various issues, liaising with NGOs and the Ethiopian government.” As we will see, this has led to a new sort of politicized resettlement program of supposedly Eritrean refugees.

In 2007, UNHCR announced that “700 ethnic Kunama refugees from Eritrea” were resettled in America from the Shimelba Refugee Camp. [62] Notice that it doesn’t simply say “Eritreans” but rather takes a divisive turn by singling out one ethnic group from Eritrea. This is uncharacteristic of the highly nationalistic Eritreans (“kulu dihiri hager” or “everything after nation”). So what’s going on here? Well, we learn from COR that “for some Kunama, being in Shimelba is akin to ‘returning home,’ excepting the irony that they now are refugees in their own homeland.” What COR is highlighting is that fact that Kunamas are located on both sides of the border. During the Eritrea-Ethiopia war, many Ethiopian Kunamas were displaced and found refuge at the Shimbela refugee camp. Still, why is it that only Kunamas, whether Ethiopian or Eritrean, were being resettled in the US?

We also learn from the Chargé d’Affaires in Ethiopia, Deborah Malac, in an October 6, 2008 wikileaked diplomatic cable entitled “The View From Inside Ethiopia’s Eritrean Refugee Camps,”  that politicized resettlement was being used in the Shimelba refugee camp to organize an Eritrean opposition:

UNHCR officials declared that they were unaware of any Eritrean opposition activity within Shimelba, though one Protection Officer noted that some Tigrinya refugees had requested urban relocation due to opposition harassment in the camps. ARRA [Ethiopian Administration for Refugee/Returnee Affairs] officials stated that opposition activity within the camps was not permitted, but a handful of Shimelba Kunama refugees insisted that, in fact, the opposition “controlled” activity within camp and moved in and out freely. They also alleged complicity between ARRA and the Tigrinya and Kunama opposition. They said that the Kunama opposition, DMLEK [Democratic Movement for the Liberation of the Eritrean Kunama], ensured that all elected Kunama officials to the refugee council were either DMLEK members or sympathetic to the opposition. [63]

It doesn’t end there:

According to the refugees, DMLEK used intimidation tactics to force compliance from uncooperative refugees by threatening to use DMLEK’s “relationship” with both ARRA and UNHCR to ensure that the offending individual “would never leave the camp.” One refugee, after refusing to join DMLEK, claimed he was arrested by the Ethiopian police on a trumped up charge and held for several weeks. Another refugee, who was a veteran of both the Eritrean liberation struggle and the 1998-2000 border war, said that when he arrived in Shimelba, ARRA offered to send him to Addis Ababa, and provide him with a vehicle, if he agreed to work in the opposition’s radio station. When he refused he was told he would never be allowed to leave, and that he would never be resettled. Another refugee said that the largely Tigrinya “Sedeg’e” opposition group tried to force him to join by telling him that if he did not, he would never leave the camp. (Note: Sedeg’e is also known as the Eritrean Revolutionary Democratic Front (ERDF), and is one of the three groups that joined together to form the Eritrean National Salvation Front (ENSF). The DMLEK and the ENSF are both members of the Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA). End note.)

The refugees said that armed persons could often be seen in the camp. They said sometimes the armed persons were local Tigrayan (i.e. Ethiopian) militia, but other times the armed men were opposition. The refugees said that some DMLEK members had family living in the camp and would come and go regularly. (Note: PolOff saw several armed Tigrayan militia walking through the camp at various times.)

(C/NF) PolOff could not find any Tigrinya refugees who would speak as openly as the Kunama, but the Kunama refugees said that the Tigrinya were dominated by Tigrinya opposition groups just as the Kunama were dominated by DMLEK. The Kunama refugees asserted that some Tigrinya refugees regularly left the camp to receive military training for short periods of time, and then would return. At one point during a conversation between PolOff and contacts in the camp, the contacts visibly stiffened, and warned PolOff that they were under observation by what they termed as a “politically active” Tigrinya refugee.

Is this a refugee camp or rebel training camp? It’s sort of hard to tell. This seems very reminscent of the Syrian Free Army organizing in Turkey near the border before they started operating in Syria. Anyway, the cable continues:

(C/NF) The Kunama refugees also said that DMLEK was opposed to resettlement of the Kunama refugees, and therefore, pressuring people not to resettle. The refugees stated that DMLEK wanted the people to stay to be used as a resource, and wanted the young men to join their organization to fight Eritrea. They said that DMLEK was spreading misinformation about life in the United States including showing the movie “Roots,” alleging that the Kunama would be treated like slaves in America. One refugee noted that in the last year, positive reports from Kunama who had already resettled were beginning to counter DMLEK’s negative message.

…The presence of Eritrean opposition activity in the camps was not surprising. The defensive tone in EmbOffs discussions with UNHCR, ARRA, and international NGO officials suggests that they had a vested interest in denying any knowledge of it, otherwise they might be required to address opposition harassment of refugees. The visit was yet another reminder that a priority of ARRA’s refugee program was to address Ethiopia’s national security concerns with Eritrea. Post cannot confirm complicity between ARRA and the opposition groups, but we do note that ARRA, as an organization, falls under the purview of the Ethiopian National Intelligence Security Service. End Comment.

Thus, it comes as no surprise when websites like Asmarino.com–that brand themselves as “Eritrean opposition”–write articles with headlines like “Peaceful demonstration in Eritrean refugee camp Ethiopia (Shimelba) 06/12/2009.” [64] Anyway, from reading past US State Department “Proposed Refugee Admissions” reports for successive fiscal years, we learn about the US’s role in bringing the Kunamas to America. The Kunama case was first mentioned in the FY 2003 report (published in 2002), when they explain that “among groups under consideration for possible P-2 designation are…Kuname Eritreans in Walanibhy Camp in Ethiopia.” [65] Explaining why they are receiving P-2 designation, the report states that “these 4,000 Eritreans have no local integration prospects and are viewed with suspicion by Eritrea due to their decision to seek refuge in Ethiopia during the war. We will actively pursue an appropriate P-2 designation for this group during FY 2003.” They were still under consideration in FY 2003 and 2004. [66] In the FY 2005 (published in 2004) we learn something new. The report says “we continue to monitor the situation of the group of Eritrean Kunama in Ethiopia and have urged UNHCR to consider a group resettlement referral of those who do not choose to voluntarily repatriate to Eritrea by the end of 2004.” [67] Thus, we learn that it was the US, and not the UNHCR, that made the request for resettlement. It is usually the other way around: UNHCR makes the referral and the resettling nations choose whether or whether not to resettle them. Why they specifically requested to resettle Kunamas is a mystery. They do the same thing for religious minorities in Iran and Bantus in Somalia. If not for genuine concerns for persecution, one can only suspect an agenda to forge a sub-national identity and foment division. In any case, in the FY 2007 report they finally said that they were processing up to 2,500 Eritrean Kunama in Ethiopia, with the vast majority slated to come to the USA in FY 2007. [68] The rest is history.

Thus, as the above shows, external entities have been using the refugee situations in the Sudan and Ethiopia to drive a politicized migration out of Eritrea.  We have shown how US State Department reports were used by UNHCR to grant Eritreans prima facie status following 2004 to expedite resettlement processing and how they were granted P2 status (group resettlement in US reserved for rare minorities) to resettle them in large groups.

Moving on to more recent times, the US State Department’s “Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2012″ states the following [69]:

For the first time in 20 years, staff representing the Departments of State and Homeland Security began processing Eritrean refugees inside Sudan residing in a remote camp along the eastern border. This initiative is designed to bring hope to individuals who can neither return to Eritrea nor locally integrate in Sudan.

…Eritreans continue to seek asylum in neighboring countries due to political tensions and increasing political repression; many are attempting dangerous onward migration to Europe and the Middle East in search of better economic opportunities.

Thus, they are focusing more on resettling Eritreans living in East Sudan on the basis of political repression. To call them “army defectors” or “work migrants” in search of a better life would mean that they would have to be returned to Eritrea, as practically every nation in Africa–dealing with the same internal problem–has decided to do despite threats from UNHCR (Libya, [70] Egypt, [71] the Sudan[72], Angola [73], Tanzania [74], etc.; see below).

Alas, we arrive at the latest Proposed Refugee Admissions publication. The FY 2013 report states the following:

Both Eritrea and Sudan are currently designated as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. Both Eritrea and Sudan are currently designated as “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) for particularly severe violations of religious freedom. The USRAP continues to be available through Priority 1 referrals to Sudanese, Eritrean, and other refugees who are victims of religious intolerance. Refugees from Eritrea and Sudan with refugee or asylee family members in the United States also may have access to the USRAP through Priority 3, subject to its resumption. Certain Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia may have access to the USRAP through Priority 2.

Three countries of origin (Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Eritrea) presently account for the vast majority of U.S. admissions from the region. In East Africa, we continue to process P-1 Somalis in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. We are coming closer to completing P-2 processing of Eritreans in Shimelba camp in Ethiopia, but will continue to process P-1 UNHCR referrals after the P-2 group is completed. We were able to conduct the first DHS circuit ride to Sudan in over twenty years to process the first group of a protracted caseload of Eritrean refugees there. [75]

Note that Eritreans and Sudanese are the only groups explicitly named that are granted P1 status ANYWHERE on the grounds that they are undergoing religious persecution. Somalis are restricted to certain refugee camps. What African wouldn’t take advantage of this fact? Is it any surprise that many of them are claiming Eritrean identity (see below). Also, if lack of religious freedom was truly worth P1-status everywhere in the world, then Saudi Arabians would be coming droves. However, we know that’s not the case. In regards to Africa specifically, the report makes the following proposal:

From East and Southern Africa, we expect 9,000 admissions, primarily Somalis in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and South Africa; Eritreans in Ethiopia and in Sudan; and additional small numbers of P-1 referrals of various nationalities in the countries above, as well as in Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

…Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, we anticipate up to 1,500 Sudanese, Somali, Ethiopian, Eritrean, and other sub-Saharan African refugees to be processed in Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Russia.

A total of 2,032 Eritreans are slated to come to America this year, making them the 6th highest ranking resettlement group. This is amazing when one considers that Eritrea ranks 112th in population size and only contributes 0.079% of the world’s population. Much like the Palestinians and Israeli-Jews, the Eritrean population has a very high proportion of its people living in the diaspora with anecdotal numbers placing the diaspora population at ~1.5 – 2 million versus a domestic population of 6 million. Like the Israelis, Eritreans maintain dual citizenship and actively participate in the Eritrean domestic economy. From the FY 2013 report, we also learn of another concerning piece of information: most of the Eritrean refugees targeted for resettlement are of working age and male. In a section tabulating the age data of the top 20 most resettled groups, Eritrean refugees have the highest percentage of “working age” resettlement in America (84%), suggesting preferential recruitment of youth that would have otherwise been developing their homeland. All the other refugee groups don’t even come close.  This is in line with McMullen’s aforementioned comments on focusing on the youth. Clearly, the United States is set on driving young Eritreans to resettle outside of Eritrea. Finally, it should also be noted that Eritrean refugees are the most predominantly male resettlement group (73.8.7%), beating the next group by almost 13% (the Sudan had 60.8%). In the past, this has made depression a significant issue as males have been unable to find Eritrean mates in the new land [76].

Resettlement in Third Countries

As a result of the actions by the US and its client states to preferentially resettle Eritreans outside of Eritrea, migrants from throughout East Africa have picked-up on this trend and are using it to their advantage. It is well-documented that migrants originating from countries other than Eritrea regularly claim Eritrean identity to increase their chances of acquiring visas and gaining refugee status. Nowhere is this more obvious than in than in the case Israel.

In a March 2008 interview with Haaretz–long before Eritrea was in the human trafficking limelight–the Eritrean Ambassador to Israel, Tesfamariam Tekeste Debbas, said that he sent a letter of protest to the Israeli Foreign ministry explaining that the refugees (referred to as “infiltrators”) were “not political refugees, but rather work migrants or army deserters.” The Haaretz article goes on:

The Eritrean ambassador, Tesfamariam Tekeste, noted…that his letter of protest included several issues of concern to his government. First, he said, at least half of the infiltrators represent themselves as Eritrean while in fact they are from other African states, such as Sudan or Ethiopia. “They know the Eritreans automatically receive a six-month visa, so they pretend to be Eritrean,” he said.

The letter also mentioned the fear that hostile elements helping to smuggle Africans into Israel could exploit them for carrying out terror attacks. “If that happens, the accusing finger will point to Eritrea,” Tekeste said.

“Israel is turning itself into a migration destination for Eritrean citizens fleeing from army service or looking for work,” Tekeste said. “The fact that you issue six-month visas encourages people to come here.” [76]

Unfortunately, comments from Eritrean officials–as opposed to personal accounts in Human Rights Watch reports–often fall on deaf ears. Few believed the ambassador. However, in May of 2011 we learned that he was right all along. According to Haaretz, an “asylum seeker, who can only be identified as Ibrahim, came to Israel from Eritrea in November 2009. He was arrested a month later and held at the Givon prison in Ramle for a year and a half. The prolonged detention resulted from the Population and Immigration Authority insisting that he came, in fact, from Ethiopia.” He was then asked to provide an Eritrean birth certificate or prove his identity. Being unable to do so he was questioned by the Population and Immigration Authority. Ibrahim then “attempted to escape during the interview, and eventually admitted he was Ethiopian, rather than Eritrean, and was therefore immediately returned to custody.”  [77]

It doesn’t end there, however. In October of 2011 we learned from another Haaretz piece that false claims of Eritrean citizenship were so common by Ethiopian “infiltrators” that the Interior Ministry began to seek “documents issued by the Ethiopian consulate…to attest to the fact that asylum seekers in Israel who claim to be Eritreans [were] entitled to Ethiopian citizenship and [were] therefore not eligible for asylum.” Haaretz also “obtained information which shows that the Ethiopian consulate’s documents are routinely issued in almost every case in which the documentation is sought by the Israeli Interior Ministry.” In addition, the newspaper also “obtained minutes of the meeting from a committee that advises Interior Minister Eli Yishai on refugee matters showing that the Ethiopian consulate almost always issues the transit documents for asylum seekers at the Interior Ministry’s request, relying on Israeli authorities’ representation that the person in question is Ethiopian.” [78]

By 2012, 52% of Jewish Israelis (compared to 19% of Arab Israelis) viewed the so-called African infiltrators as a “cancer.” [79] And with more reports of asylum fraud, news of the migrants quickly caught the media’s attention, spurring further investigation by Israeli journalists. One reporter for Ynet decided to go undercover in a predominantly Eritrean and Sudanese neighborhood to shed light on the lives of the refugees. In his article he reports:

My cover story has not been finalized yet, but luckily I run into Jeremiah, who’s been in Israel for three years now. “What do I tell those who ask how I got into Israel?” I ask him. “Lie,” he says. “Don’t tell the whole story. The Israelis, and mostly the non-profit groups working with the infiltrators here, like to be lied to.”

“Say you were a soldier, and that if you return to Eritrea you’ll get a death sentence. Keep in mind that you must be consistent with your story. The bottom line is that everyone uses the story I’m telling you here, and this way they fool everybody,” he says. “Almost none of them arrived on foot from Egypt to Israel. None of us crossed any deserts…it’s all nonsense.” [80]

If Jeremiah is telling the truth, then refugees are regularly exploiting Eritrean identity. With merely the hope of raising their quality of life, who can blame them? It’s simply way to easy given the fact that, according to UN statistics, 90% of Eritrean refugees are eligible for refugee status. [81]

Over time, it became increasingly clear to Israeli officials that practically all the “infiltrators” were not refugees but rather “migrants.” As the Minister for Education, Mr. Gidon Sa’ar, announced, “we need to stop the flooding of this country with immigrants from Eritrea. They are not refugees, but rather labor immigrants.” [82] The former head of the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority, Mí. Yaakov Ganot also acknowledged that “in our examinations, I would say that 99.9 percent of them are here for work. They’re not asylum seekers: they are not at any risk.” [83]

The abuse of the asylum system is not only limited to Israel. We see the same thing happening in the United Kingdom. In a 2004, UK comptroller a House of Common commissioned report entitled “Improving the Speed and Quality of Asylum Decisions.” The report went on to state that, “disputed nationality is a key issue in Ethiopian applications. The Directorate generally sought to remove failed applicants to Eritrea irrespective of whether the applicant had ever been there, and adjudicators often disagreed with this approach. The Directorate has taken steps to improve its country information and refusal letters.” [84] Then on June 16, 2009, the Daily Telegraph reported that former Miss Ethiopia beauty pageant winner, Jerusalem Mehari, was caught abusing the asylum system by taking on an Eritrean identity. She first “renounced her Ethiopian citizenship in 2007, a few days before her UK student visa expired, and claimed Eritrean nationality.” Her claim was that she “was a Jehovah’s Witness and there was a risk of her suffering persecution in Eritrea.” Sarabjit Singh of United Kingdom’s Home Office said that “the only reason for seeking and maintaining Eritrean nationality is to claim the right to remain in the UK…What the claimant is trying to do is nothing short of an abuse of the asylum system.”

In Toronto last year, a refugee by the name of Nighisti Semret was stabbed to death on her way home from work. She claimed to be of Eritrean origin and was granted asylum in Canada in 2010. According to the Toronto Star, she became a member of the local St. Michael’s Eritrean Orthodox Church and “while members of Toronto’s close-knit Eritrean community said Semret was not well-known because she hadn’t been in Canada long, a local Eritrean church offered to pay for her funeral with funds from the community.” Although the article admitted to not knowing why she sought asylum, they were quick to point out that Eritrea “is ruled by one of the most repressive regimes in the world.” [86] As later reported by Sam B of Natna blog (site down), she was later found to be an Ethiopian by the Eritrean community. [87] After learning of this information, the police notified local reporters who did not publish the new information but instead increased their attack on Eritrea. As Sam B notes, Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun even poses that the Eritrean government may have had a motive to kill her. “Could that motive have stemmed from a scam from her former country where refugees are shaken down and threatened to pay a special tax back to their homeland or face retribution?” he asks. [88] In spite of full knowledge of her identity, the Eritrean community “did not interfere in the prayer or vigil held for her. They in fact fully supported it. As one community leader put it; ‘she has no one, Ethiopian or otherwise, she is our sister, too.’” [89] Sadly, stories like these don’t make the headlines.

Asylum fraud under an Eritrean identity also happens regularly in the United States as well. According to an article published in the Oregonian on October 13, 2012, a group of Eritrean and African refugees were resettled in Threemile Canyon Farms in Oregon via the International Rescue Committee [90]. The article states that among the refugees is “Thierry Gasasu, an Eritrean.” Most Eritreans reading this are probably chuckling at this quote. Although there are an array of different ethnic groups in Eritrea, they know that Gasasu is not an Eritrean name. In fact, it is a well known Rwandan name. Honest error? Perhaps. The reality is that this same sort of error keeps happening again and again, often going unchecked by the media or their watchdogs. For instance, back in 2010, the New York Times falsely claimed that an Ethiopian indicted on terror charges was of Eritrean origin. On March 10, 2010, however, Radio Sweden, reported that  “Sabrina Schroff, the man’s lawyer in the United States, says that the Ethiopian native denies all the accusations. The New York Times identifies him as Eritrean, but the Swedish Foreign Minister holds that he is originally from Ethiopia.” [91] Despite the NYT’s error CNN was still calling him a “resident of Sweden originally from Eritrea” almost two entire years later. [92]

The above cases of asylum fraud and false claims of Eritrean identity cannot be taken lightly. Firstly, they only represent the cases of those who were caught. How about the countless others? As illustrated above, many of the false asylum-seekers cases are of Ethiopian origin, which is likely due to the shared cultural, linguistic, and physical features of the sisterly peoples. Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa, is 15 times more populous than Eritrea. It also has multiple active insurgencies and multiple reports of genocide in different parts of the country. In fact, post-Meles Zenawi Ethiopia, a ethno-federalist state with a quickly growing Muslim protest movement, [93] is among the top 15 states expected to disintegrate and become ungovernable in the next fifteen years, according to the “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Trends” published by the US National Intelligence Council. [94] Thus, how is it possible that Ethiopia comprises less asylum-seekers than Eritrea (43,400 from Eritrea vs. 42,500 from Ethiopia)? [95] As illustrated in the many cases above, the authorities of resettling nations are reporting of growing numbers of Ethiopians claiming asylum under an Eritrean identity, dating as far back as 2004. If most nations with the exception of the United States get their referrals from the UNHCR, why do no official UNHCR documents make no mention of this trend?

If we also compare the US resettlement data from the department of Health and Human Services website [96], we see that Eritrea has had progressively increasing resettlement numbers while Ethiopian resettlement numbers have waned (Fig. 1). The drop in FY 2002 is due to 9/11. From early 2007 to mid-2009, the US embassy stopped processing non-immigrant visa, which may account for the dip in US resettlement. [97] If that is in fact the case, then that suggests that the issuing of visas by the US Embassy in Eritrea has a significant effect on US resettlement. This is something that should be monitored closely. 2,032 are expected to be resettled  in the US this year.

Figure 1. Refugee Resettlement in the United States since FY 2000.

Part 3: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea-part-3/

Part 1: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea/

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124. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

125. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/31/AR2009033104115.html

126. www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/A.HRC.20.L.15_en.doc

127. http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2012/07/201207128920.html#ixzz2NMWKQXXz

128. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/ecosoc6493.doc.htm

129. http://www.defenddefenders.org/2012/12/end-of-year-message-from-ehahrdps-executive-director/

130. http://hrc-eritrea.org/?p=467

131. http://youtu.be/mHrwa1rU2Nk

132. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hozKaSQy1bs

133. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/12/ap-army-africa-brigade-train-anti-terror-teams-122412/

134. http://www.thelocal.se/46402/20130226/#.USyo2mft8wx

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Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against Eritrea (Part 1)

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Africa Business

By Simon Tesfamariam

Human Trafficking and the Human Rights Agenda Against (Final) (.pdf Acrobat Reader)

Introduction

On March 1, 2013, Joel Millman of the Wall Street Journal published a piece entitled “Ruthless Kidnapping Rings Reach From Desert Sands to U.S. Cities.” The article chronicles the touching personal accounts of Eritrean refugees being kidnapped and taken for ransom in Egypt’s Sinai desert. As disheartening as this piece may be to even the most apathetic observers, Eritreans are growing increasingly aware of the fact that similar articles highlighting the trafficking of Eritreans are becoming a regular occurrence. Although human trafficking, smuggling, and migration have been longstanding problems that have plagued the so-called developing world, it seems somewhat curious that Eritrea is suddenly getting the brunt of the international attention. Why now? Although increased international attention may be positive in that it sheds needed light on the plight of the affected migrants, the reality is that pieces like this are often politically motivated, lacking context, skewing the facts on the ground, and serving as part of larger campaign to vilify and isolate Eritrea.

Before we delve into this whole human trafficking ordeal, we must note that Eritrea was the target of UN sanctions in 2009. Since then, the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) has been regularly reporting on Eritrea’s role in Somalia to the Security Council. The group has made many ridiculous claims ranging from Eritrea’s alleged support of al-Shabab in Somalia to a failed bombing attempt on an African Union summit in Ethiopia. Both accusations were later shown to be false [1, 2]. As the last SEMG report reveals, linking Eritrea to terrorism is a futile task. [3] The expectations of the nation seem like a moving target and now the new focus of the international media and the SEMG is on Eritrea’s “use of revenues from the taxation of Eritrean citizens in the diaspora, from human trafficking of refugees through Sudan and Egypt, and from gold mining.” [4] The emerging concerns regarding a sovereign state’s use of its revenues from any legitimate source–be it from a diaspora tax or gold mining or whatever–is a mystery unworthy of pursuit. The human trafficking issue, however, is a serious allegation that may be used in conjunction with broader human rights allegations to build a case for the expansion of UN sanctions on Eritrea. Thus, the issue requires further inspection.

In a speech regarding human trafficking delivered at the Clinton Global Initiative on September 25 of last year, President Obama made the following remarks:

I recently renewed sanctions on some of the worst abusers, including North Korea and Eritrea.  We’re partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers.  We’re helping other countries step up their own efforts.  And we’re seeing results.  More nations have passed and more are enforcing modern anti-trafficking laws. [5]

What kind of “partnering” is he talking about, exactly? It’s not within the US’s authority or obligations to help people escape from a nation. To do so would be human smuggling. President Obama is essentially admitting to taking part in smuggling people out of Eritrea and North Korea. The US can only support those who take refuge in the US following immigration from another nation. The president’s comments came as surprise to many Eritreans.

About one month later, Eritrea’s presidential advisor, Yemane Gebreab, explained that “Eritrea is a victim of human trafficking” and that “for a number of years now, some people have felt that one way that they could weaken Eritrea would be by encouraging Eritrean youths to leave the country in larger numbers.” [6] Are his claims valid? Is there a systematic effort to drive youth out of Eritrea?

Linking Eritrea to Human Trafficking

Let us rewind to May 5, 2009. In a wikileaked diplomatic cable entitled “Promoting Educational Opportunity for Anti-Regime Eritrean Youth,” the then US Ambassador to Eritrea, Ronald K. McMullen explained that “Post plans to restart visa services (completely suspended in 2007) for student visa applicants; we intend to give opportunities to study in the United States to those who oppose the regime.” [7] He then goes on:

Post intends to begin adjudicating student visa applications, regardless of whether the regime is willing to issue the applicant an Eritrean passport and exit visa. If an applicant is otherwise found eligible for a student visa, Post will issue it in a Form DS-232…With an Eritrean passport and an F1 visa in a Form DS-232, the lucky young person is off to America. For those visa recipients who manage to leave the country and receive UNHCR refugee status, a UN-authorized travel document might allow the young person to travel to America with his or her F1 in the DS-232.

…Due to the Isaias regime´s ongoing restrictions on Embassy Asmara, Post does not contemplate a resumption of full visa services in the near future. However, giving young Eritreans hope, the chance for an education, and the skills with which to rebuild their impoverished country in the post-Isaias period is one of the strongest signals we can send to the Eritrean people that the United States has not abandoned them. Were we to begin processing student visa applications and require a regime-issued passport, we would be seen as strengthening the dictatorship´s hand. Thus, the limited category-specific exemption outlined above is key.

The cable’s title alone, reveals the ambassador’s intentions. And if one wonders why brain drain is an issue in the developing world, perhaps this cable may provide some insight. What young person, anywhere in the world, wouldn’t want a chance to come to the US? Though the more important question is, why now? Why restart issuing visas in 2009 after a two year suspension? Perhaps the answers will become clear shortly. McMullen, who clearly seeks to weaken the Eritrean “regime” (as in “government we don’t like”), also makes curious mention of preparing for a “post-Isaias period,” which becomes more interesting when one considers that his doctoral thesis at the University of Iowa was on the “Economic Consequences of African Coups D’etat.” [8] He also served as the Charge’ d’Affaires in the Fiji Islands during the 2000 coup d’etat. In another leaked cable he predicted the Eritrean government is ‘‘one bullet away from implosion’’ and posed that “any sudden change in government is likely to be initiated from within the military.” [9] McMullen is no longer the ambassador but in light of the recently fabricated “coup” rumor that the international mainstream media has been recklessly trumpeting,  [10] perhaps the US sent McMullen to make use of his expertise. As Rafael Correa once jokingly stated, “the only country that can be sure never to have a coup d’état is the United States because it hasn’t got a U.S. Embassy.”

While on the one hand secretly promoting Eritrean youth migration, the US administration was simultaneously taking actions against Eritrea for not doing enough to stop it. One month after McMullen’s cable announcing the secret restart of F1 visa processing, in violation of the basic tenets of consular relations, the US Administration suddenly classified Eritrea as a “Tier 3″ nation in the US State Department’s June 2009 “Trafficking in Persons Report.” [11] Keep in mind that Eritrea didn’t even make the list in 2008 and, unlike other nations that started off with Tier 1 and 2 warnings, Eritrea jumped straight to Tier 3. The entire reasoning behind doing this is that it allows trafficking nations to meet the “minimum standards” by the following year. [12] As a result of this unprecedented move, President Obama added Eritrea and 5 other African countries to a blacklist that would subject them “to the trafficking sanctions, which can include a ban on non-humanitarian and trade-related aid and U.S. opposition to loans and credits from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.” [13]

What did the report say about Eritrea, exactly? In essence it stated that Eritrea was a “source country” for human trafficking and that it didn’t do enough to prevent the practice. That could apply to almost every nation on the planet. Notably, the report focused more on “large numbers of migrant workers” and made almost passing mention of the Eritrean government being “complicit in conscripting children into military service.” In spite of no significant policy changes to the Eritrean national service program, subsequent reports, which are released annually, focused less on the “migrant workers” and increasingly more on the “conscripts,” “adolescent children” being sent to Sawa, and “child laborers.” More on this later.

Following the TIP report, US ambassador McMullen’s writes in an August 26, 2009 leaked diplomatic cable about a young unnamed Eritrean “who is preparing to flee the country” and supposedly confesses the intricate details of his escape plan. [14] McMullen writes that he will “use one of the Eritrean National Security Officers (ENSO), who he claimed to be the ringleaders in smuggling of Eritreans to the Sudan border” and “he stated the cost at 80,000 nakfa.” This is the first time we see official US documentation of claims that Eritrean government officials are directly involved in the smuggling of citizens outside the country. This is despite the fact that about a year earlier the Chargé d’Affaires, Matthew D. Smith, confessed in another leaked diplomatic cable entitled “How To Escape From Eritrea” that “the GSE [Government of the State of Eritrea] is very keen to break these human smuggling rings and dispatches agents to pose as potential customers. Other agents pose as facilitators, making all of the supposed smuggling arrangements prior to having the unsuspecting person arrested.” [15]

In spite of the Eritrean government’s efforts to combat smuggling, the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) produced a report in 2011 that expanded on McMullen’s claims. The report states:

421. The well-documented exodus of young Eritreans to escape poverty or obligatory “national service” represents yet another opportunity for corruption and illicit revenue. People smuggling is so pervasive that it could not be possible without the complicity of Government and party officials, especially military officers working in the western border zone, which is headed by General Teklai Kifle “Manjus”. Multiple sources have described to the Monitoring Group how Eritrean officials collaborate with ethnic Rashaida smugglers to move their human cargo through the Sudan into Egypt and beyond. This is in most respects the same network involved in smuggling weapons through to Sinai and into Gaza.

422. According to former Eritrean military officials and international human rights activists, military officers involved in the practice charge roughly $3,000 a head for each person exiting Eritrea.

…The Monitoring Group has obtained details of a Swiss bank account into which the proceeds from smuggling have been deposited and has provided the Swiss authorities with information related to this account, together with the personal and contact details of the Swiss-based coordinator of this trafficking ring and details of the coordinator’s Egypt-based associates. [16]

For the SEMG’s extraordinary claims it cites as its only sources an “interview with Eritrean individuals directly involved in people smuggling operations” and an “interview with Eritrean source, Switzerland, March 2011.” In the 2012 follow-up report, the SEMG repeats the same human trafficking claims, citing no sources as evidence. “The trafficking of arms and people is managed by the same networks using the same vehicles, and the same Eritrean officials are implicated,” the report states. The SEMG then claims to have acquired 1,300 testimonies of which “61 were from Eritreans who identified the names of Rashaida smugglers.” Artfully interweaving groups of similar testimonies as vignettes, the report attempts to illustrate the validity of earlier claims made by the SEMG. Finally, it shows photos of body wounds of two unnamed and faceless torture victims. The annex is only 3 pages long, filled with photos, and has nothing to do with human trafficking allegations.

After reading both reports, one is left scratching their head. That’s it? No real people’s names? No bank account numbers? No photos of human traffickers? Where is the hard evidence? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. To put things in perspective, imagine a man is brought to trial on charges of torture and the prosecuting team presents the following as their “evidence” against him:

1. Claims against him by unnamed interviewers with no transcripts for the court to review

2. Pictures of unnamed and faceless victims he allegedly tortured

3. 61 snippets of testimonies by the nameless victims who he allegedly tortured

4. Claims against him by people who openly call themselves his “opposition“

5. Claims against him by one of his former torturer buddies, who is unnamed

The defendant then demands access to the evidence and witnesses for cross-examination but his request is denied. Based on the information, he is then found guilty and expected to accept his sentence. Would that be justice? Of course not. However, this is exactly what Eritrea has had to face regularly in regards to the UN Security Council and SEMG reports. This system of international law requires incredible trust in the prosecutors–the SEMG, in this case–who Eritrea had no say in appointing. And if we think that the SEMG is actually a committee of independent experts as opposed to a prosecuting team, then why would the head of the SEMG, Matt Bryden, say “we’re trying to make the case that any improvement in Eritrea’s conduct is the result of sanctions, and that it’s too early to lift them because of the other violations they have committed”? [17] In essence, he’s saying ‘yeah, I know we couldn’t find evidence that they support terrorism but please keep the sanctions because of this new human trafficking ordeal.’ In other words he is prosecuting and making a case against Eritrea and, unfortunately, it’s completely within his mandate to share his opinion [18]. That’s UN justice for you. The SEMG’s “evidence” would be considered a joke if wasn’t so serious. According to the UNSC, the successful implementation of “targeted sanctions” on any nation is premised on the expectations that the “panel of experts” will uphold the highest standards of evidence, which is the key tenet of the 2003 Stockholm Process. In this regard, the 2003 UNSC states:

While recognizing that it might sometimes be necessary to uphold the confidentiality of sources of information available to expert panels or monitoring groups regarding sanctions busting or non-compliance, the Stockholm paper notes that the credibility of the findings and the integrity of the process required that evidence be as transparent and verifiable as possible….sanctions should be based on concrete evidence of violations of international law or Council obligations, and not based on presumptions, media reports or motivated allegations. [19]

The SEMG report clearly falls short. To make matters worse, Eritrea doesn’t get to comment or defend itself at any point in the process because according to the SEMG, which unprofessionally leaked the report to the media before Eritrea could see it, [20] “the Government of Eritrea failed to provide responses to any Monitoring Group correspondence and declined to grant the repeated requests.” How convenient. Where have we seen this sort of tactic before? For years, the world has been unable to hear Eritrea’s side of the story:

A. On the Kenyan defections: “Eritrean officials were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.” [21]

B. On Eritrea’s alleged bombing of the AU (proved false by WikiLeaks [22]): “Eritrean officials were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.” [23]

C. On claims of human trafficking: “Eritrean government…did not respond to requests to provide information for this report.” [24]

D. On relations with the US: “It has been difficult to talk to Eritrea frankly. We have had trouble getting them to talk to us. I sent the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs to talk with Mr. Isaias and he didn’t see her.” [25]

E. On breakdown of US-Eritrea relations: “Eritrean officials were not immediately available to comment on the decision” [26]

The list goes on and on, ad infintum. The point is that Eritrea is not allowed to defend itself in court, in the media, in reports, or anywhere in the international arena. It’s no surprise that Eritrea is so misunderstood by the world. In contrast, the darlings of the mainstream media, the US and Ethiopia, were also accused of violating the Somali arms embargo by the former Somalia monitoring groups yet we saw no prosecution by the UNSC. Is this justice? No way! In the words of Gerald Celente, it’s “just-us” and unfortunately Eritrea isn’t one of “them.”

Following the SEMG report, the UNHCR released a report in November 2012 entitled “Refugees and the Rashaida: human smuggling and trafficking from Eritrea to Sudan and Egypt.” [27] The document states that “it has come to light that some members of the military and Eritrean Government are complicit in smuggling” and it references the 2012 SEMG report. It talks about General Teklai Kifle, adding no new information, and then goes on at length about the Rashaida ethnic group’s involvement in the human trafficking business. In regards to both of them, “it is thought there are varying levels of experience and organization within the groups of Rashaida who engage in taking Eritreans to Sinai. However other networks, such as those organized by some members of the Eritrean Government for smuggling arms are highly organized.” In other words, the government is the syndicate–the major player. What’s interesting about this particular report is the divisive new ethnic and regional dimension it seems to take:

There is a marked difference between the majority of the refugee population and those now leaving Eritrea. Those now leaving the country are young, Christian, Tigrinya from urban areas. Much like young Sudan-born refugees, the new arrivals are generally unwilling to remain in an enclosed camp setting without access to higher education or employment.

…Eritrean brokers are key to arranging onward movement with Rashaida from within the camp. The facilitators in the route are usually of the same ethnicity as those embarking on the movement (Hamood 2006: 50). Furthermore, life in the refugee camp is characterized by ethnic divides. Different ethnicities are thought to have different aspirations. One testimony states that people from Akele-Guzai region are thought to have strong connections abroad and to be most likely going to Israel. Those from Maekel region are believed to be going to Europe, while those from Gash Barka are simply associated with smuggling people out of Eritrea and settling in Sudan (Mehari 2010).

Turning to the reference section to investigate the source of the aforementioned claims, the report cites an “unpublished paper” by someone named “Mehari, K” (Mehari, K. 2010. ‘Desert in Disorder’ unpublished paper). Investigating the rest  of the citations for follow-up is a futile task as most references are made to personal interviews with individuals like Meron Estifanos, who was integral in propagating the fabricated “coup” in January 2013 and using it as a springboard for the so-called “Forto 2013″ campaign. [28]

Returning to the latest publication of the US State Department TIP report, we hear echoes of the SEMG’s allegations of corruption by senior Eritrean army officers. As opposed to the 2009 report, the 2012 publication is focused less on migrants workers more on youth conscripted into national service. More notably, the report seems to focus on the Eritrean government’s alleged conscription of minors. It states that “adolescent children that attempt to leave Eritrea have been forced into military service despite being younger than the minimum service age of 18. As part of the requirements to complete their senior year of high school, adolescent children are also sent to Sawa, Eritrea’s military academy, prior to their eighteenth birthday.” Surprisingly, this claim was later cited by Child Soldiers International in a 2012 case study to support the claim that Eritrea uses child soldiers. This “study” was, in turn, posted on the UNHCR website and is currently being used by journalists and various NGO’s to propagate the notion that Eritrea’s use of “child soldiers” is driving youth out of the country.

Nowhere is the international media’s desperation to point out the Eritrean government’s blunders more evident than in its claim that Eritrea uses “child soldiers.” When the average person reads about child soldiers in Africa, she/he may conjure up the classical CNN-promoted image of regime-indoctrinated 9 year-olds mowing down civilians. Perhaps the image is sometimes a wee bit less graphic but the reality is that the claims of child soldiers in Africa perpetuates the stereotype of a barbaric Africa out of control and encourages intervention against nations like Eritrea. Thus, such claims must be taken seriously. In regards to their Eritrea study, Child Soldiers International states the following:

To prevent increasing evasion of national service by school leavers, the government announced in 2003 that the final year of secondary education, Year 12, must be performed at the Sawa Military Training Camp in western Eritrea near the border with Sudan. Because the Year 12 designation is based not on a child’s age but rather on the school grade achieved, some Year 12 students are under 18 years old. According to a recent US State Department report on human rights in Eritrea, “Students at Sawa were typically 18 years old or older, although a fair percentage were as young as 16 years old”.

The government denies underage conscription and argues that students attending the twelfth grade in Sawa should not be confused with national service conscripts. However, the Year 12 students at Sawa have military status and are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence and subject to military discipline. They are therefore in reality soldiers, even if not fully operational members of the Eritrean National Army. [29]

The sad part about this is that the “Eritrea recruits child soldiers” claim is entirely based on this hair splitting of mandatory twelfth grade education. Such reporting is irresponsible for two reasons. Firstly, this report is based on non-independent politically biased sources like the US State Department. Secondly, even if 16-year-olds attended Sawa they are not considered members of the Eritrean National Army, as CSI even admits. Consideration should also be given to the fact that while most of the world submits to more lax standards on child soldier laws enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Africa has collectively gone above and beyond by signing the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which by default accedes to the “Optional Protocols” of the CRC and increases the minimum military recruitment age from 15 to 18. [30] Given these more stringent laws and the known fact that most reported child soldiers are between ages 15-18 years old, it’s no surprise that half of the world’s child soldiers are in Africa. [31] Regardless of the facts, the media is quick dish out the child soldier label in Africa. There’s a reason why the spineless international media points out “child soldiers” in Eritrea while it ignores “child soldiers” in the UK, which is also a signatory to the Option Protocols and refers to the exact same argument as Eritrea. [32] Let us also refresh the UN’s memory and recall that in 2002, the UNSC Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, visited Eritrea to assess the use of child soldiers. He concluded that there was “no systematic use of child soldiers” and said that “the absence of the ‘child soldiering’ phenomenon was particularly impressive since no other conflict zone he had visited recently had been free of the problem.” [33]

As shown above, there seems to be a concerted effort to link Eritrea to human trafficking. The reality is that we have yet to see any hard evidence to support this allegation. To make matters worse the international press almost reflexively blames it on child soldiers, forced labor, and lack of [insert word like freedom, democracy, religion, or other's words used to destroy Iraq, Libya, etc.]. As some of the wikileaked diplomatic cables suggest, the US State Department has made efforts to drive youth out of Eritrea to weaken the government. It then turns around and blames the Eritrean government for “human trafficking.” These actions are part of a broader concerted and systematic effort by the US Administration to destroy Eritrea through the control of human migration. To understand this we must go back in history.

Part 2: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea-part-2/

Part 3: http://africabusiness.com/2013/03/18/human-trafficking-and-the-human-rights-agenda-against-eritrea-part-3/

 

References

1. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RL33911.pdf

2. http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/crimes/16-09-2011/119062-Wikileaks_says_Ethiopia_bombed_itself-0/

3. “Exclusive: Eritrea reduces support for al Shabaab – U.N. report.” Maasho, Aaron. Reuters.  July 16, 2012. link

4. ibid.

5. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/09/25/remarks-president-clinton-global-initiative

6. “Eritrea Calls for Lifting of Sanctions.” Clottey, Peter. Voice of America News.. October 17, 2012.

7. http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=09ASMARA146

8. McMullen, Ronald Keith. Economic consequences of African coups d’etat. Diss. University of Iowa, 1985.

9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/08/wikileaks-eritrea-president-asaias-afwerki

10. http://redseafisher.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-eritrean-coup-that-never-was/

11. http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2009/123136.htm

12. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386). Sec. 108-109.

13. “U.S. Expands Human Trafficking Watchlist.” Associated Press. June 16, 2009. link

14. http://www.aftenposten.no/spesial/wikileaksdokumenter/26082009-ERITREAN-YOUTH-IM-FLEEING-AND-HERES-WHY-5123036.html

15. http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08ASMARA575

16. http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2011/433

17. “Exclusive: Eritrea reduces support for al Shabaab – U.N. report” Maasho, Aaron. Reuters. Jul 16, 2012. link

18. http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1718/panelofexperts.shtml

19. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2003/sc7672.doc.htm

20. “In UN Sanctions Follies, Jim’ale Shifted to Somalia List, Eritrea Report Down, Bryden Spins.” Russell, Matthew Lee. Inner City Press. July 24, 2012. link

21. “Eritrea football team “hiding” in Kenya – official.” Reuters. Jack Oyoo Dec 15, 2009. link

22. http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/15/ethiopia-bombs-itself-blames-eritrea/

23. “Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of bomb plot.” Reuters. Steve Bloomfield. February 2, 2007.

24. “Trafficking in Persons Report 2012″ US Department of State. June 2012. link

25. “Foreign Affairs Committee. US Congress. 110th Session. Serial No. 110–131. Page 25. October 24, 2007. link

26. “US to suspend issuing visas in Eritrea” Sudan Tribune. Nov 27, 2006. link

27. Humphries, Rachel. “Refugees and the Rashaida: human smuggling and trafficking from Eritrea to Sudan and Egypt.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Research Paper No. 247. November 2012. link

28. http://redseafisher.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-eritrean-coup-that-never-was/

29. “Child Soldiers International, Louder than words – Case Study: Eritrea: Widespread conscription of children goes unchecked.” September 12, 2012. link

30. “Guide to the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed.” Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. The United Nations Children’s Fund. December 2003. link

31. “AFRICA: Too small to be fighting in anyone’s war”. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs News and Analysis. December 2003. link

32. “Explanatory Memorandum on the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – Command Paper number: 5759″.  International Committee of the Red Cross. Customary IHL Study Database: United Kingdom: Practice: By Country: United Kingdom: Rule 137. Article 1. Paragraph 9. Updated on December 12, 2012. Accessed on March 15, 2013.  link

33. “UN envoy reports no evidence of ‘child soldiering’ in Ethiopia and Eritrea” United Nations New Centre. March 26, 2002  2002. link

34. “No turning back: A review of UNHCR’s response to the protracted refugee situation in eastern Sudan.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Policy Development and Evaluation Service. November 2011. link

35. “3. Norway’s policy towards UNHCR.” Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. link

36. “Africa Rising” TIME Magazine. March 30, 1998. link

37. http://www.ipsnews.net/1996/07/eritrea-population-refugees-caught-in-political-deadlock/

38. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3b20a3914.pdf

39. “No turning back: A review of UNHCR’s response to the protracted refugee situation in eastern Sudan.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Policy Development and Evaluation Service. November 2011. link

40. “Position on Return of Rejected Asylum Seekers to Eritrea.” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. January 2004.

41. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR33/001/2002/en/37f3a8f8-d79f-11dd-b024-21932cd2170d/eur330012002en.html

42. http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/EUR33/001/2002/en/37f3a8f8-d79f-11dd-b024-21932cd2170d/eur330012002en.html

43. http://www.interventionism.info/en/CSI-comment:–Does-Amnesty-International-campaign-for-NATO

44. “Views on Migration in Sub-Saharan Africa: Proceedings of an African Migration Alliance Workshop.” Catherine Cross, Derik Gelderblom, Niel Roux and Jonathan Mafukidze. Human Sciences Research Council. Apr 1, 2007. Page 104.

45.  http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2004/32377.htm

46. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/03/2012317172129621636.html

47. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-29/eritrea-calls-ethiopia-s-new-stance-a-declaration-of-war-.html

48. http://www.internal-displacement.org/8025708F004CE90B/%28httpCountrySummaries%29/09DE409E7595E1C1C125755F002D831E?OpenDocument&count=10000

49. “Ethiopia’s Ethnic Cleansing.” Calhoun, Craig. Dissent. pg. 47-50. Winter 1999.

50. http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200606/13/eng20060613_273561.html

51. http://www.refugeecooperation.org/publications/Sudan/07_bartsch.php

52. ibid.

53. Kibreab, Gaim; Ohta, Itaru; Gebre, Yntiso D. “Displacement Risks in Africa: Refugees, Resettlers and Their Host Population.” Trans Pacific Press. Pg. 143-145. Mar 1, 2005.

54. R. Ek. “UNHCR’s operation in eastern Sudan, 1967-2009: lessons learned.” UNHCR, March 2009.

55. http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=07ASMARA56

56.  “Regulation of Sexual Conduct in Un Peacekeeping Operations” Simić, Olivera. Springer. Pg. 36. Aug 18, 2012.

57. “Eritrea: UNMEE Dismisses Criticism by Top Military Official.” United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network. May 4, 2004. link

58. http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/refdaily?pass=463ef21123&date=2007-10-09&cat=Africa

59. http://dehai.org/demarcation-watch/articles/Ghidewon_Abay_Asmerom_UNMEE_abusing_the_welcome.html

60. http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/human-trafficking.htm

61. http://www.culturalorientation.net/providing-orientation/overseas/programs/rsc-africa/eritrean-highlight

62. http://www.unhcr.org/468d0f88c.html

63. http://www.cablegatesearch.net/cable.php?id=08ADDISABABA2749

64. http://asmarino.com/en/54-awyat/427-peaceful-demonstration-in-eritrean-refugee-camp-ethiopia-shimelba-06122009

65. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/prm/refadm/rls/rpts/2002/13892.htm

66. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/prm/refadm/rls/rpts/2003/44338.htm

67. http://2001-2009.state.gov/g/prm/asst/rl/rpts/36116.htm

68. http://2001-2009.state.gov/documents/organization/74762.pdf

69. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/181378.pdf

70. http://allafrica.com/stories/201303130930.html

71. http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/11/15/egypt-don-t-deport-eritreans

72. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article25120

73. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/country,,USCRI,,AGO,,485f50c0c,0.html

74. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Panapress. Oct 13, 2011.

75. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/198157.pdf

76. “Eritrea asks Israel to deport ‘deserters.’” Ravid, Barak. Ha’aretz. March 25, 2008.

77. “Israel detains Eritrean refugee for 18 months because he couldn’t prove his identity.” Weiler-Polak, Dana. Ha’aretz. May 24, 2011.

78. “Eritreans turned down for asylum after Ethiopia claims refugees as their own” Nesher, Talila. Ha’aretz. October 24, 2011.  link

79. “The dark side of Tel Aviv.” Ynetnews. Adino Ababa, Danny. June 7, 2012. link

80. “52% of Jewish Israelis say illegal African migrants a ‘cancer.” LA Times. June 8, 2012.

81. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/closing-the-holes-and-the-loopholes-1.278503

82. http://www.inn.co.il/News/News.aspx/229304

83. “Closing the holes and the loopholes.” Wuraft, Nurit. Ha‘aretz.  June 21, 2009. link

84. “Improving the Speed and Quality of Asylum Decisions.” Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. HC 535, Session 2003-2004: June 23, 2004. link

85. “Former Miss Ethiopia unlawfully held by British immigration.” Daily Telegraph. June 16, 2009.

86. http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2012/10/24/cabbagetown_murder_stabbing_victim_was_a_married_mother_of_4_from_eritrea.html

87. Re-blogged link: http://tedalo.blogspot.com/2012/10/by-sam-b.html

88. http://www.torontosun.com/2012/10/26/police-keeping-open-mind-in-cabbagetown-murder

89. Re-blogged link: http://tedalo.blogspot.com/2012/10/by-sam-b.html

90. http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/steve_duin/index.ssf/2012/10/steve_duin_the_endless_hours_o.html

91. “Swedish Resident Charged with Terrorism in US Court.” Radio Sweden. March 10, 2010. Re-published link

92. http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/13/justice/new-york-al-shabaab

93. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/04/ethiopias-anti-apartheid-movement/

94. http://www.dni.gov/index.php/about/organization/national-intelligence-council-global-trends

95. http://www.unhcr.org/4ce531e09.pdf

96. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/fiscal-year-2012-refugee-arrivals

97. http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article18939

98. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

99. “East African soccer team players defect, settle in Houston.” Susan Carroll. Houston Chronicle. May 23, 2012. link

100. http://www.state.gov/j/prm/ra/c49034.htm

101. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/239914

102. “Tanzania rejects asylum request by Eritrean footballers.” Pana Press. Oct 13, 2011. link

103. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=soccer&id=4747830

104. http://www.unhcr.org/49ba623f2.html

105. http://www.unhcr.org/4daef2e39.html

106. http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/181378.pdf

107. http://www.unhcr.org/print/4daef2e39.html

108. “Eritrea and European Community: Country Strategy Paper And National Indicative Programme For the period 2009-2013.” Global Forum on Migration and Development. Pg. 59. 2009. link

109. “Eritrean president appears to quash death rumour.” Agence France Presse. April 28, 2012. link

110. http://awate.com/the-unusual-absence-of-isaias-afwerki/

111. http://redseafisher.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/the-eritrean-coup-that-never-was/

112. http://asmarino.com/press-releases/1664-ms-elizabeth-chyrum-and-professor-dan-connel-in-boston

113. http://asmarino.com/press-releases/1663-statement-from-icer-the-president-of-eritreas-letter-on-human-trafficking-to-the-secretary-general-of-the-un33

114. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session21/A.HRC.RES.21.1.doc

115. http://www.hrea.org/index.php?doc_id=437

116. http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12608&LangID=E

117. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43831&Cr=Eritrea&Cr1#.UT6MlVeNASg

118. ibid.

119. http://asmarino.com/editorial/1609-elizabeth-elsa-chyrum-a-woman-of-the-year-2012b

120. Letter dated February 2008. “Re: Presidency of the UN Human Rights Council” link

121. Letter dated March 31, 2010. “Re: May 2010 UN Human Rights Council elections” link

122. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

123. http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/13/au-don-t-endorse-sudan-ethiopia-rights-council

124. http://www.un.org/en/ga/67/meetings/elections/hrc.shtml

125. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/31/AR2009033104115.html

126. www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session20/A.HRC.20.L.15_en.doc

127. http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/st/english/texttrans/2012/07/201207128920.html#ixzz2NMWKQXXz

128. http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2012/ecosoc6493.doc.htm

129. http://www.defenddefenders.org/2012/12/end-of-year-message-from-ehahrdps-executive-director/

130. http://hrc-eritrea.org/?p=467

131. http://youtu.be/mHrwa1rU2Nk

132. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hozKaSQy1bs

133. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/12/ap-army-africa-brigade-train-anti-terror-teams-122412/

134. http://www.thelocal.se/46402/20130226/#.USyo2mft8wx

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Policy Promises and ILUC Implications Facing the Global Biofuels Industry

Posted on 26 January 2013 by Africa Business

Join the Sustainability, Policy and ILUC Conference at the World Biofuels Markets Congress and Exhibition

In a week that has been rife with talk of biofuels politics, policies and sustainability, we take a look at what is happening across the globe in the run up to the Sustainability, Policy and ILUC Conference at World Biofuels Markets Congress (12-14 March 2013, Rotterdam, www.worldbiofuelsmarkets.com).

In his inaugural address this week, President Obama spoke of America’s moral obligation to tackle climate change and the importance of their energy security and independence: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” His words provided some people with hope and the rest with growing concerns. His speech, and in particular the part on tackling climate change, was aimed not only at a domestic delegation of pro-biofuels supporters and environmentalist lobbyists but to an international platform. Obama made his intentions on addressing this issue clear to every biofuels scientist, environmentalist and industry professional across the globe with one clear statement: “America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.” – America means business!

On the other side of the Atlantic, lobbyists in Europe have been calling on the European Union to modify regulations so that GHG emission reduction targets can be met through the use of less ‘damaging’ biofuels in transport. In a recent report[1] by CE Delft commissioned by environmental groups, they put forth the idea that renewable energy is crucial, but only part of the solution. When evaluating long-term European climate goals for transport, it has become clear to those who have compiled the study that the GHG emission targets cannot be met with the policies currently in place and more needs to be done.

One of the four environmental groups that commissioned this report is the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). They have also recently released, alongside other environmental groups, a position paper[2] looking at ways to address Indirect Land-Use Change (ILUC) with suggestions as to how best to improve the European Commission’s (EC) proposal on the issue. This has been a hot topic of discussion within the industry since the EC released their proposal in the latter part of 2012 and as 2013 gets underway; ILUC is still hot on everyone’s lips. Pieter de Pous, the Policy Director at the EEB will be amongst the panellist discussing and debating this topical issue during two 90 minute sessions at the World Biofuels Markets Congress looking at ways to measure ILUC and how best to apply ILUC into policy.

EEB will be joined on the ILUC panels by ePure, WWF, ICCT, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, IFPRI, Purdue University, amongst others. Join them and many others at the 8th annual World Biofuels Markets Congress which will feature a two day Sustainability, Policy & ILUC Conference dedicated to analysing, discussing and debating global policy, the everlasting issue of ILUC and components of sustainability. Global thought leaders will debate policy-based evidence vs. evidence based policy, measuring ILUC, the extent to which the EC Proposal addresses the ILUC issue, balancing the components of sustainability standards and how member states of the EU are transposing RED legislation into national and local legislation.

World Biofuels Markets, organised by Green Power Conferences, will be held on March 12-14 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The dedicated Sustainability, Policy and ILUC Conference will take place on March 13-14.

For more information: www.worldbiofuelsmarkets.com

 

Register today

Call: +44 (0)20 7099 0600

Email: Samantha.coleman@greenpowerconferences.com

Or book online at www.worldbiofuelsmarkets.com

 

For more information on this press release please contact Melanie Botting on +44 (0)20 7099 0600 or melanie.botting@greenpowerconferences.com

 

About World Biofuels Markets

 

World Biofuels Markets is Green Power Conferences’ flagship event.   For the last decade it has provided a platform to drive the biofuels energy sector forward.

 

World Biofuels Markets brings together more than 1,500 participants to deliver and listen to a wide-roster of high-level talks, do business, network, discuss the latest in market developments and provides strategic business training to accelerate the uptake of sustainable business practices within the biofuels energy space.

 

Conference headlines, speaker agendas, speeches and sponsorship information can be found at: www.worldbiofuelsmarkets.com

 

Connect with us on Twitter @wbmnews and use #WBM13 or LinkedIn by joining our ‘World Biofuels Markets Global Series’ group.

 

About Green Power Conferences

 

Green Power Conferences is the global leader in renewable energy conferences.  It brings together governments, businesses, academics, policy makers, banks, non-governmental organisations, and opinion formers to discuss and exchange intelligence on renewable energy vital in achieving global energy security.

 

Founded in 2003 to provide high quality business events for the renewable energy industry, the company has developed strong event portfolios covering the solar wind, biomass, biogas, geothermal, ocean energy and climate finance sectors.  In 2007 the Green Power Academy was launched to provide premier training courses to impart knowledge and skills to the global energy industry.

 

More than 22,000 delegates around the world have gathered at award winning events produced by Green Power Conferences to deliver and listen to a wide-roster of high-level talks, do business, network, discuss the latest in market developments, and provide strategic business training to accelerate the uptake of sustainable business practices and to inspire the next generation of renewable energy innovators and professionals.

 

Green Power Conferences abides by a strict ‘green policy’ to pollute less.  It goes beyond compliance measures to reduce its carbon footprint where and when it can and encourages other businesses to do the same.

 

For more information about Green Power Conferences please visit:  www.greenpowerconferences.com

 

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Study: Americans Say Business –Not Government– Holds The Most Power To Create Change

Posted on 17 January 2013 by Africa Business

Around 6 in 10 of Americans Say Businesses Are Better Run than Government. Two-Thirds Believe Businesses Bear as Much Responsibility as Government for Driving Positive Social Change.

NEW YORK, Jan., 2013 /PRNewswire/ – As the world’s attention shifts to Washington next week to observe the ushering in of President Barack Obama ‘s second term, a far-reaching new study by Havas Worldwide shows that Americans are deeply skeptical of Washington and are looking to businesses to step in where their elected officials have failed. A majority of Americans believe that businesses are better run than government and are better suited to cope with at least one critical global challenge: climate change. The study also reveals a sharp contrast between the U.S. and the rest of the world: Americans (regardless of political affiliation) believe that paying one’s fair share of taxes is one of the most important factors in being a good citizen.

The global study was conducted online among 10,219 adults in 31 countries. This release focuses primarily on responses from the 503 respondents in the United States.

Key findings include:

  • Paying one’s fair share of taxes is a more important facet of good citizenship in the United States than in the rest of the world:
    • According to the global survey respondents, the most important factor in being a good citizen today is behaving ethically and responsibly (cited as a top-three factor by 68% of the total global sample), followed by being self-sufficient/taking care of one’s family (54%) and being a responsible consumer (36%).
    • However, Americans strayed from the pack in this regard: Whereas they agreed that behaving ethically and being self-sufficient are the most important aspects of good citizenship, they rounded out their top three with paying one’s fair share of taxes. Clearly, the notion that the tax burden is unevenly shared has become a sticking point—although it varies a bit by political affiliation: Democrats and Independents cited taxes as a top-three factor, whereas Republicans consider voting a stronger mark of good citizenship than paying one’s fair share of the tax burden.
    • Americans also place less import on curbing one’s carbon footprint: Globally, a majority of the sample (56%) believe that a person who recycles regularly is a better citizen than someone who votes in every election but doesn’t make an effort to reduce his or her waste. In the United States, only 36% of respondents agreed with that statement, with independents least likely to agree (28%) and Democrats most likely to do so (46%).
  • Americans want businesses to step in where government has failed:
    • Two-thirds of Americans believe that the more powerful corporations become, the more obligated they are to behave ethically and with the public interest in mind. Almost as many (73% of Democrats and 60% of Republicans) go so far as to say that businesses bear as much responsibility as government for driving positive social change.
    • Nearly half the total U.S. sample (49%) and 6 in 10 Democrats expect corporations to play an increasingly vital role in addressing the world’s major problems. And 51% (65% of Democrats vs. 45% of Republicans) would like their favorite brands/companies to play a bigger role in their local communities.
    • This doesn’t mean Americans want their elected representatives out of the picture: 7 in 10 want corporations and government to work together to make the world a better place.

“The study makes it clear that U.S. consumers expect businesses to play a higher role than making goods and generating profits,” said Tom Morton , chief strategic officer of Havas New York and co-chief strategy officer of Havas Worldwide North America. “As businesses grow larger and more powerful, they are expected to take on duties that were once the tasks of government. Partly, this is an issue of perceived competence: a majority of Americans surveyed (58% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans) think that, in general, businesses are better run than governments. And 52% (66% of Democrats and 50% of Republicans) think corporations are better positioned than governments to combat climate change.  We’re at a point where people think that the world’s problems have outgrown the reach and the capability of governments.  It’s time for companies to step up.”

“People expect more from corporate America than ever before,” added James Lou , executive vice president and chief strategy officer of Havas Worldwide Chicago and co-chief strategy officer of Havas Worldwide North America. “Being ethical and minimizing a company’s impact on the environment is no longer enough. Americans want real leadership from the business community and real solutions to the pressing challenges we face as a country and as a global community. The good news is that we’re unearthing more and more evidence that those companies that come forward to create change and proffer solutions are being rewarded with stronger customer loyalty and improved bottom lines. Doing good has become one of the most reliable pathways to doing well.”

To read more insights from the study and download the “Communities and Citizenship: Redesigned for a New World” white paper, visit www.havasworldwide.com/prosumer-report and follow @prosumer_report on Twitter.

About Havas Worldwide
Havas Worldwide, formerly known as Euro RSCG Worldwide, is a leading integrated marketing communications agency and was the first agency to be named Global Agency of the Year by both Advertising Age and Campaign in the same year. The Havas Worldwide network is made up of 11,000 employees in 316 offices in 120 cities and 75 countries, and provides advertising, marketing, corporate communications, and digital and social media solutions to clients, including Air France, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Danone Group, IBM, Kraft Foods, Lacoste, Merck, Pernod Ricard, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Reckitt Benckiser, Sanofi and Volvo. Headquartered in New York, Havas Worldwide is the largest unit of the Havas group, a world leader in communications (Euronext Paris SA: HAV.PA).

Methodology
Market Probe International fielded the online survey in summer 2012 among 10,219 adults in 31 countries: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

For more information about Havas Worldwide’s global studies, please visit http://www.havasworldwide.com/prosumer-report

SOURCE Havas Worldwide

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Ethiopia’s Tekeda Alemu Feigns Concern over Djibouti-Eritrea Relations

Posted on 05 January 2013 by Africa Business

Sophia Tesfamariam

 

It is rather interesting that Tekeda Alemu would today feign concern and call on Eritrea to show a “pacific disposition” towards Djibouti, Somalia and Ethiopia[i].  As this author recalls, it was Tekeda Alemu that asked the US to break the otherwise amicable and neighborly Djibouti-Eritrea relations. How can Eritrea have a “pacific disposition” to Ethiopia when for over a decade Ethiopia has been occupying its sovereign territories in violation of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions, international law, the United Nations and African Union Charters? As for Somalia, no one tried harder to “isolate” Eritrea from playing any meaningful role in Somalia than did the regime in Ethiopia and its handlers. Now that they have managed to create an intractable desperate situation in a dismembered and weak Somalia, don’t expect Eritrea to burn in that self created quagmire. Allow me to remind the good Ambassador of a few facts about Djibouti-Eritrea relations.

In 2006, Djibouti-Eritrea relations were improving steadily even as the situation in Somalia was taking a turn for the worse. A 14 September 2006 cable[ii] from the Embassy of France reports on a September 7-8 meetings with U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti W. Stuart Symington and French officials, Helene Le Gal and desk officer Francois Gautier; President Chirac’s Africa Advisor Michel de Bonnecorse and his deputy Jacques Champagne de Labriolle. According to the cable:

“…Djibouti had managed to maintain a balanced relationship with Ethiopia and Eritrea… The French noted that the possibility of social unrest existed in Djibouti, in part because income from the bases was not necessarily being distributed broadly…The widespread use of khat, a stimulant imported mainly from Ethiopia, was a significant factor in Djiboutian society. It had generally negative effects on the political process and economy. Social unrest was always possible when supplies of khat dwindled…Increasing numbers of Somalis, Eritreans, and Ethiopians were in Djibouti, attracted by Djibouti’s port and the illusion that it would always provide more jobs, which was not the case. Ethnic tensions were growing in Djibouti…”

In mid October 2006, when the Sudanese Government of National Unity and the East Sudan Front signed the historic peace agreement in Asmara, Eritrea’s capital, Djibouti’s President Ismail Guelleh was present and Djibouti-Eritrea relations were good. The author traveled to the Djibouti-Eritrea border in 2007 and there were no problems between the two brotherly nations and the relationship was developing on several fronts.

Djibouti was opposed to military intervention in Somalia and did not support IGASOM, the proposed IGAD peacekeeping mission. Ethiopia decided to use the US to pressure Djibouti to come on board. Ethiopia also wanted Djibouti to sever its brotherly relations with Eritrea and as we shall see later, it also provided the “faulty intelligence” to inflame the President of Djibouti in mid 2009 and coerce him into asking for sanctions against Eritrea. US and Ethiopia encouraged Djibouti to escalate the already resolved border issue (according to the French Foreign Ministry). With the help of Susan E. Rice and others in the US Administration pushed for “stand alone for sanctions against Eritrea”.  Suffice it to mention a few key cables that illustrate Ethiopia and US deliberate escalation of a non-existent Djibouti-Eritrea issue and complicating its peaceful resolution.

1.      September 2006 cable “ETHIOPIA: DEPUTY MINISTER TEKEDA TALKS SOMALIA, REGIONAL ISSUES WITH DAS YAMAMOTO”, details the conversation between the then Deputy Minister Tekeda Alemu and US Ambassador Donald Yamamoto. The cable says:

“…The Government of Djibouti’s opposition to IGAD actions in Somalia are the result of its fear of Eritrean President Isaias, Tekeda said, as well as President Guelleh’s personal business interests with Eritrea. The Deputy Foreign Minister speculated that the Djiboutian leadership was worried that Eritrea would support Afari separatist movements, as Isaias had done successfully in Sudan, if Djibouti did not follow Eritrea’s lead in Somalia. Tekeda also told Yamamoto that Aweys and other CIC leaders had stopped in Djibouti to meet with President Guelleh on their way back from Libya the week before. Tekeda maintained that the GOD was “on the wrong path,” and added that Djibouti was not strong enough to take Ethiopia’s continued friendship and forbearance for granted…”

But that was not all. Here is the rest of it:

“…Tekeda urged that the USG speak frankly with Djibouti about its role in the region. He said that President Guelleh would pay attention to U.S. concerns given the importance to him of the U.S. military base in Djibouti. “He must be told to choose” whose side he wanted to take…”

I don’t know what Donald Yamamoto’s response was to Tekeda Alemu’s request to break up Djibouti-Eritrea relations.

Ethiopia and its myopic handlers sought to isolate Eritrea and prevent Eritrea from having any role in Somalia. They accused Eritrea of supporting Al Shabbab and labeled Eritrea a “spoiler”.  The election of President Barack Obama brought Meles Zenawi’s “skirted friends” to the new US Administration. One of them was Susan E. Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations and the record will show her role in escalating the Djibouti-Eritrea conflict in her aggressive quest to get sanctions against the State of Eritrea. Suffice it to present a brief chronology of events:

According to the American Embassy cables, the Djibouti-Eritrea issue was presented to the Americans in early April 2008. According to a 17 April 2008 cable[iii] reporting on James Knight’s visit to the region, Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf delivered the protest. According to the cable:

 

“…GODJ had, on April 15, protested Eritrean military presence at Doumeira, on the Djibouti-Eritrea border. He said that the Eritrean military had set up several tents “well into” Djiboutian territory…”

 

The 17 April 2008 cable also stated the following

“…Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf contacted Charge on the afternoon of April 17 to protest what he characterized as an escalation by Eritrea, and to urge that the USG and France use its good offices to raise concern with the Eritrean government (GSE). FM Youssouf said he was informing the USG and France of the following…According to FM Youssouf, some 20-25 Eritrean troops were manning the post, which he asserted was on Djiboutian territory… Furthermore, the Eritrean ambassador had reportedly stated that the GSE was “upset with U.S. military maneuvers with Djibouti”, and that the USG was seeking to destabilize Eritrea… FM Youssouf first raised concern about the Eritrean military post on Djiboutian territory in an April 16 meeting with AF/E Director James Knight…”

The cable also noted:

“…French Ambassador to Djibouti Dominique Decherf said that while he had to take note of the assertions by Djibouti’s Foreign Minister, French military observers in the field had not/not seen any concentration of Eritrean troops along the border with Djibouti. He said French fixed-wing aircraft dispatched to the area on April 17 “did not see anything conclusive,” and did not/not see massive troop concentrations along the border…”

For some reason, the Djibouti Foreign Minister was hell bent on escalating the issue and internationalizing it. Djibouti decided to complain to the UN Security Council and with the help of the US Mission addressed the Security Council. Eritrea chose to handle the issue quietly and bilaterally, but Djibouti was being advised to make a lot of noise and it did. During one of its many visits to Turtle Bay, Inner-city Press in its report[iv] revealed inconsistencies in Djibouti’s account of events. Here is an excerpt from that report:

“…Inner City Press asked Minister Youssouf about Eritrea’s claim that French helicopters landed on or near its territory, and that an Eritrean speedboat was recently sunk, allegedly by non-Djiboutian forces. To his credit, Youssouf did not dodge these questions… He acknowledged that a French helicopter had carried him, his President and Prime Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita to the disputed area, so they could see for themselves. He agreed that an Eritrean speedboat was recently sunk, but said that Djibouti itself has been responsible. He said that a Velo-bound, hundred-some page pamphlet prepared for submission to the Security Council on Tuesday afternoon contained proof and even photos of all this…”

Hundred-page pamphlet? Let us see what Inner-city reported next:

“…Inner City Press obtained a copy of the pamphlet, which strangely is dated February 2008, before the conflict at issue…”

So who prepared the pamphlet and why was it dated before the conflict? Judging from the events that have occurred since, it is not hard to decipher who the culprits are. Djibouti’s Foreign Minister may have been a willing victim (desperate to please the US), but I doubt that it was Djibouti’s creation.

In addition, the Djibouti delegation always made its presentations in French, but on the issue of Eritrea it read from a prepared English statement. Why was that and who prepared the Statement used by the Djiboutians? Anyway let us move on…

US bias against Eritrea was evident from day one. The cable[v] issued on 20 April 2008 shows that Eric Wong, the US Charge D’Affaires in Djibouti had accepted the Djibouti Foreign Minister’s account and was already blaming Eritrea without ever providing any evidence for the allegations being made. Here is a comment that was added at the end of the cable and it clearly shows that the US was using the Djibouti issue to punish Eritrea for what it perceived as being Eritrea’s “intransigence” on the UNMEE issue:

 

“…FM Youssouf noted that no public statements from the USG were needed yet, as Djibouti sought to press Eritrea through “quiet diplomacy.” Should these talks fail, however, the international community will have to weigh what actions, if any, would be effective in reversing the Eritrean incursion. The recent withdrawal of UN peacekeeping forces from the Temporary Security Zone, following more than two years of increasing restrictions on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), highlight the GSE’s intransigence in the face of international pressure…”

US officials, including those at the UN appear to be applying double standards when it comes to Eritrea. The UN Security Council had remained silent for the last 10 years as Ethiopia occupied sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, with US acquiescence and support.  Exaggerating the Djibouti-Eritrea issue and trying to divert attentions away from Ethiopia’s intransigence, the UN US mission stated the following:

“…there can be no link between the crisis on the border between Djibouti and Eritrea and the Ethiopia-Eritrea border impasse. Eritrea cannot be allowed to use its invasion of its sovereign and peaceful neighbor to affect settlement of another dispute…”

It was agreed that Eritrea would not be allowed to raise the Eritrea Ethiopia border issue, yet the same officials had no qualms about raising the issue of UNMEE in order to make their case against Eritrea and what they consider to be Eritrea’s affront on the authority of the Security Council. If the Eritrea Ethiopia border issue is unrelated to the Djibouti-Eritrea issue, then why mention UNMEE in relation to the Djibouti-Eritrea issue?

With the gullible western media in tow, the orchestrated vilification of Eritrea began with this 20 April 2008 report from AFP[vi] which said:

 

“…Eritrean soldiers made an incursion into Djibouti territory two or three days ago in the Ras Doumeira area,” an official who did not want to be identified said in a telephone interview…A military source said French forces based in Djibouti had carried out a reconnaissance on Thursday at the government’s request but had not been able to confirm an incursion…”

Reuters, in its 22 April 2008 news with a glaring headline, “UN council angered at Eritrea over border force” reported a threat made by Alejandro Wolff, Deputy Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations:

“…U.S. envoy Alejandro Wolff said there was “a mood in the council of great, great dissatisfaction at the manner in which Eritrea has handled this,” and accused the Eritreans of “shooting themselves in the foot…In the long term Eritrea will pay a big price for this misjudgment,” he told reporters, without elaborating…”

In May 2008, as far as the French were concerned, the situation between Djibouti and Eritrea was resolved and did not need to be “internationalized”. A 2 May 2008 cable[vii], “Djibouti/Eritrea: Mfa Says Not to Internationalize Border Incursion”, reported the following:

 

“…Helene Le Gal said on May 2 that the French were not in favor of Djibouti’s bringing Eritrea’s recent border incursion before the African Union, Arab League, or UN Security Council, despite the fact that the Arab League is going to discuss the matter on May 4. She said that doing so would only create tensions over an issue that had already been resolved, de facto, by Eritrea’s withdrawal from Djiboutian territory. Le Gal confirmed that France had been supplying air reconnaissance imagery to Djibouti, and that this imagery originally showed a slight but definite incursion by Eritrean forces into Djibouti. The Eritreans used earth-moving equipment to dig a trench in Djiboutian territory. However, subsequent imagery, “which is very precise,” showed that the Eritreans had withdrawn….”

The cable goes on:

“…Le Gal added that Eritrean military units remained near the border, confronted by some 1,000 Djiboutian troops (two-thirds of all of Djibouti’s military, Le Gal said). In these circumstances, which could well indicate that the Eritreans had mistakenly advanced into Djiboutian territory, Djibouti would have little to gain by raising this incursion at an international level.

But Djibouti insisted on blowing the issue out of proportion and insisted on the US helping it “internationalize” the issue and proceeded to condemn Eritrea in the media and through the UN Security Council.

On 12 May 2008, France’s position on the issue remained the same. A cable[viii] from the US Embassy in Paris reported the following:

 

“…Le Gal said the Djiboutians had been phoning her “three times a day” and that her message to them was to avoid raising tensions in the region over an incident that had resolved itself peacefully. She repeated that, while Ethiopia’s border dispute with Eritrea was long-standing, there appeared to be no historical basis for a border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, which was another reason that both sides should avoid turning this episode into a real problem…”

On 27 May 2008, USLO-Djibouti Chief accompanied two staff directors from the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) on a site visit of the disputed Djibouti-Eritrea border at Ras Doumeira on May 27. According to the cable, “DJIBOUTI-ERITREA: U.S. OFFICERS VISIT RAS DOUMEIRA”[ix], the USLO Chief was invited to attend by MAJ Youssef Abdullah, the Djiboutian liaison officer to CJTF-HOA. The party traveled via Djibouti Air Force fixed-wing aircraft to Moulhoule (the site of the Djibouti Army command post), received a briefing, and then proceeded by ground to the border site, approximately 15K to the north. The cable also stated that all “U.S. military personnel were in civilian clothes”

 

“…The military situation at Ras Doumeira appears largely static, with neither side willing to back off the ridgeline. As reported earlier (ref A), the Eritrean military presence has also extended to DoumeiraIsland, claimed by Djibouti as wholly Djiboutian territory. The most likely scenario for an escalation to violence may be tensions related to the issue of Eritrean deserters and defectors fleeing to Djibouti. Another potential flashpoint is the continued construction by Eritrean troops of fortifications on Ras Doumeira, using heavy machinery (such as bulldozers). Neither side is well-supplied, but both seem committed to maintaining their positions. Post strongly urges public statements in international fora in support of Djibouti, and in support of seeking a peaceful resolution to reverse Eritrea’s militarization of the Bab-al-Mandeb strait…”

The US State Department upon recommendation from its Embassy in Djibouti obliged and on 11 June 2008, the US State Department issued a statement[x] on the Djibouti-Eritrea border condemning Eritrea. The Statement said:

“…The United States condemns Eritrea’s military aggression against Djibouti in the vicinity of the border between the two countries at Ras Doumeira. These hostilities represent an additional threat to peace and security in the already volatile Horn of Africa. We understand that at least nine Djiboutians have been killed and over 60 injured as a result of the Eritrean attacks…We call on both sides to cease all military hostilities immediately and to reduce tensions by withdrawing troops from the border area. The United States calls on Eritrea and Djibouti to move forward at once to resolve border issues peacefully, in accordance with international law, and for Eritrea to accept offers of third party mediation in this regard…”

AFP reporting from Djibouti on 12 June 2008[xi] conveyed the sentiments of US officials at the UN who had already decided that Eritrea was at fault:

 

“…The UN Security Council on Thursday expressed its concern over recent clashes on the border between Eritrea and Djibouti, even as Washington accused Asmara of inflaming tensions…Council members “express their deep concern with the situation and reported violence between Eritrea and Djibouti forces and call on both parties to exercise maximum restrain,” said the council president for June, US deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Alejandro Wolff…Wolff – speaking as the US representative, and not as the Security Council head – then blamed Eritrea for causing trouble…”

A November 2008 cable, “Djibouti: Senator Feingold Discusses Region, Security, And Good Governance with Godj”[xii], sheds some light into the psyche of the Djiboutian leaders and their American interlocutors. On December 18-21 visit to the region and Djibouti; Senator Feingold discussed Djibouti, Somalia, and regional concerns with Djiboutian officials. President Guelleh, Foreign Minister Youssouf shared their insights with the visiting US Senator. On the Djibouti-Eritrea issue, according to the cable:

 

“…Guelleh told the Senator that there had previously been “good relations” between Djibouti and Eritrea, and said that he attributed the June flare-up at the border to three factors: 1) Eritrea’s misguided perception that the U.S. military presence in Djibouti threatened Eritrea; 2) Eritrean concerns that Djibouti’s helpful involvement in orchestrating Djibouti Process talks between Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) was harmful to Eritrean interests; and 3) Economic rivalry linked to the announcement of an ambitious project to build a bridge between Djibouti and Yemen, to include construction of a new economic hub city at the bridge’s terminus in Djibouti in the vicinity of Moulhoule, near the Djibouti-Eritrea border…”

It is really sad to read such childish and myopic statements from these so-called leaders. Parroting Ethiopia’s spills only shows how shamefully emasculated they have become.

There is more. This time it is from the Djiboutian Foreign Minister and this is what the cable reported:

“…Youssouf agreed that Eritrea might have been motivated by jealousy over the Port of Djibouti’s economic success as Ethiopia’s main lifeline to the sea, a false fear that the U.S. was using Djibouti as a “Trojan horse” to conspire with Ethiopia against Eritrea, and a desire to thwart the TFG-ARS Djibouti Process…”

A 15 January 2009 cable[xiii] shows the close coordination between the US and Djibouti and the agenda vis a vis Eritrea.

 

“…Foreign Minister Mahmoud Youssouf called Ambassador January 15 to express thanks for UNSCR 1862 regarding the Djibouti/Eritrea border dispute. Youssouf said the GODJ was pleased with the outcome. Ambassador responded that we, too, thought it was a strong resolution — one that had resulted from a collaborative effort, including close consultation with Djiboutian PermRep Roble Olhaye. Separately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs circulated the text of UNSCR 1862 via diplomatic note to all foreign missions in Djibouti, highlighting that “the Security Council placed responsibility for the aggression on Eritrea and demanded that it withdraw its troops from Ras Doumeira and DoumeiraIsland within five weeks.” Admitting it was unlikely that the GSE would respond positively to the resolution, the Foreign Minister commented that the GODJ must now begin to develop a strategy for “the next stage,” after the five-week deadline has elapsed. This is a point that Embassy Djibouti has made repeatedly over the past two monts to senior GODJ contacts, including Youssouf, National Security Advisor Hassan Said Khaireh, and Presidency Secretary General Ismail Tani. Ambassador offered to work closely with Youssouf as the GODJ develops its strategy…”

In March 2009, the US Ambassador to Djibouti visited the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The US Embassy in Djibouti posted the following on its website:

 

“…The Ambassador of the United States of America to Djibouti, H.E. Mr. James C. Swan has made a courtesy visit to the office of the Executive Secretary of IGAD, Eng. Mahboub Maalim…”

In early April 2009, although the Djibouti-Eritrea situation had remained “static”, in violation of Eritrea’s rights to resolve its dispute with Djibouti in a manner of its choice, the US insisted on pushing for Security Council action against Eritrea. According to the cable:

 

“…In a brief Security Council session on April 7, Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe described developments in the ongoing border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti. Council members voiced unanimous support for the Secretary-General’s good offices efforts but only Costa Rica seconded the U.S. in pressing the Council to consider future action should Eritrea continue to fail to comply with UNSC resolution 1863… Amb. DiCarlo said that Eritrea’s contempt for the Council’s authority must not be allowed to set the agenda, and stressed that the Council would need to consider its options for future action should Eritrea continue to fail to comply with its obligations…”

A 4 May 2009 cable[xiv] shows that the US was behind the push to adopt UN Security Council Resolution 1862 in 2008. According to the cable authored by James Swan, the US Ambassador to Djibouti:

 

“…the U.S. had worked closely with the GODJ and PermRep Robleh Olhaye on the UNSC Presidential Statement of June 12, 2008 and on UNSCR 1862, both of which were highly favorable to the GODJ… On Eritrea, we recommend consultations through State/AF and USUN with Djiboutian PermRep Roble Olhaye — double-tracked by Embassy Djibouti with Foreign Minister Youssouf — to develop a coordinated diplomatic strategy to mobilize UNSC members to apply greater pressure to Eritrea to implement UNSCR 1862. Measures could include targeted sanctions aimed at travel by GSE leadership and at financial transactions involving parastatal enterprises and firms affiliated with the GSE ruling party…”

James Swan’s pro-Ethiopia stance is well established. Frequent visits by Ethiopia’s lobbyists to his office at the Bureau of African Affairs are also well recorded. So it comes as no surprise that he would be pushing to strangulate Eritrea’s economy without any just cause.

An excerpt from the 29 May 2009 Wikileak cable, “Djiboutian Fm Reports IGAD Seeks More Aggressive Mandate for Amisom”, shows Ethiopia as being behind Djibouti’s anxiety and need for further action at the UN. Here is an excerpt from that cable:

 

“…According to Youssouf, on May 25, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin had raised with Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula the need for a concerted approach by IGAD members to the AU and to the UN Security Council, in support of such measures, as well as the need to apply greater pressure on Eritrea… Eritrea also continued to seek to destabilize Djibouti, Youssouf said. He reported that Ethiopian FM Seyoum had informed him on May 24 of Ethiopian intelligence that more than 200 rebel fighters (presumably ethnic Afars), who had been trained in Eritrea, had infiltrated Djibouti via Ras Doumeira-which has been occupied continuously by Eritrean troops since at least March 2008. Youssouf said Djibouti responded to the report by putting Djiboutian troops on alert, and activating additional forces along the border with Eritrea…”

How can Ethiopia provide information on these “rebels” when Ethiopia does not even have borders with Eritrea at Ras Doumeira? So what happened to those troops? Or did they vanish like the “2000 Eritrean forces fighting alongside the UIC” did in 2006?

Of course the minority regime’s modus operandi is always the same…repeat the accusations as many times to as many people as possible (preferably Americans and Europeans) and Meles Zenawi did not disappoint as this cable illustrates, he repeated the same spill to Johnnie Carson, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs:

“…Meles cautioned A/S Carson about Eritrea’s efforts to recruit and train Afari rebels and infiltrate them into Djibouti to undermine Djiboutian authority and create instability through terrorism and military action. If Eritrea succeeds in destabilizing Djibouti, it would destabilize the region and add to Ethiopia’s insecurity along the border. With a sizable Afari population in Ethiopia, Eritrea’s activities would also directly contribute to creating potential instability within Ethiopia…”

Susan E. Rice’s visit to Ethiopia on 19 May 2009 and her six-hour long tete a tete with Meles Zenawi, her close friend and confidante that the aggressive push to sanction Eritrea began in earnest. With Ethiopia chairing both bodies IGAD on 21 May 2009 and AU on 22 May 2009 adopted resolutions calling from sanctions against Eritrea. The US-Ethiopian initiative would be cloaked with an “African Face”.

The 13 June 2009 cable[xv] shows the collaboration between Tekeda Alemu and Susan Rice and their intentions to hoodwink Africans and the Security Council by presenting their initiative as an “African Initiative”:

“…A delegation from the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) met with Amb. Rice on June 10 to press for UNSC implementation of sanctions against Eritrea as called for by recent communiques of IGAD and the African Union (AU). The delegation, led by Ethiopian State Minister Tekeda Alemu and Somali Foreign Minister Mohammed Omaar, agreed that action needed to be taken against Eritrea. Omaar told Amb. Rice that IGAD was only asking for a relatively minor sanctions regime, a travel ban, and asset freeze to give a political signal from the Council as a warning to Eritrea, while Tekeda said that the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) could imminently collapse if the Council did not act more forcefully. Rice told the group that the U.S. was still evaluating the IGAD proposal, and advised them to present a united African front to the Council…”

Today, Tekeda Alemu wants to defend Susan Rice and extricate her from Horn issues, but he didn’t think about that while he and other TPLF cadres were using her in their plot against the State of Eritrea. Even though Rice claimed that it was an “African Initiative”, it is the Ethiopian cadres that are calling the shots and advising her on actions against Eritrea. Let us take a look at what else the cable aid:

“…Tekeda made a case for more forceful sanctions, claiming that the TFG faced imminent collapse, and implying that only Ethiopian assistance had helped it survive thus far. (NOTE: While Omaar was titular head of the IGAD delegation, Tekeda paid him little deference. End note.) In Ethiopia’s view, Tekeda said, “we don’t have much time” to enact sanctions against Eritrea, adding “we want to see results within a week.” (C) Amb. Rice advised the group to reach agreement on a specific package of measures and counseled that the initiative would be more viable in the Council, if packaged as an African consensus proposal rather than one driven by Eritrea’s estranged neighbors Ethiopia and Djibouti…Rice also urged the group to draw a link to the situation in Djibouti when drawing up its proposal to sanction Eritrea…”

In September 2009, Ambassador Susan Rice, now personally and deeply involved in the push for sanctions against Eritrea accused Eritrea of “invading neighbors with impunity”[xvi] . The cable, “UGANDA TO CONSIDER ERITREA SANCTIONS RESOLUTION WHICH COVERS DJIBOUTI; REMAINS COMMITTED TO AMISOM”, details a conversation Susan Rice had on 20 September 2009 Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda:

 

“…Rice emphasized that the U.S. strongly supports a resolution addresses the issue of Eritrea invading Djibouti. It is a matter of principle that the U.S. cannot ignore, which puts UNSC credibility at stake, and would make Eritrea feel it can continue to invade neighbors with impunity, she said. Museveni expressed concern that references to both Somalia and Djibouti in the draft UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions resolution might jeopardize its adoption chances. Rice said that she believes there is only one chance to secure a resolution, so Djibouti must be included, and noted that the international community has never effectively confronted Eritrea for invading neighboring countries on five occasions (Yemen, Sudan, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia). She noted that in January, the UNSC gave Eritrea a deadline of six weeks to leave Djibouti or face sanctions…”

Rice was not interested in providing evidence to support her allegations against Eritrea and her remarks about the members of the UN Security Council shows her that she was willing to deceive the Council to advance her agenda:

“…Rice reminded Museveni that past experience suggested that the UNSC would not block a resolution led by African members and supported by the African Union. She shared the U.S. read that, if Burkina Faso and Uganda co-sponsor this resolution, the British will support, the French will “keep their heads down” and will not block. FM Kutesa noted that Uganda had no substantive concerns over including Djibouti in the resolution. His concern, he said, was that because the AU had never passed an actual resolution that included Djibouti, the Russian and Chinese delegations would have to consult with their capitals before agreeing to it. Rice advised Kutesa not to be overly cautious, and reasserted that a resolution perceived to be African-led would not fail. She noted that, if it became clear during consultations that Russia and China had insurmountable concerns about including Djibouti, they could be dealt with before the issue came to vote…”

James Swan, the US Ambassador in Djibouti, was only happy to report of the “effusive” gratitude the Djiboutian leaders showed for US Government help in getting sanctions against the State of Eritrea. The US Ambassador reported the following in the cable[xvii]:

“…The GODJ is pleased with UNSCR 1907 and takes pride in its diplomatic success in securing sanctions against Eritrea…”

This author asks once again…How does servitude translate into diplomatic success? How does whining and crying foul in order to appease Meles Zenawi and his thugs become diplomatic success? Obviously, Swan holds Africans to a lower standard as he would not have called it “diplomacy” if any European had done what these lawless regimes did to one of their own. He would have rightly called it treachery, as that is what it was, from the beginning to the end.

So Tekeda Alemu can stop the hypocrisy. The Djibouti-Eritrea issue was a fabrication of Ethiopia and its handlers. If Djibouti really wants to resolve its issues with Eritrea today, it can. Both Eritrea and Djibouti agreed to Qatari mediation, so why not let them work it out without further interference? After all, the two nations were doing well until he personally asked the US officials in Ethiopia to help break up the friendship…

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!


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Ethiopia: Tekeda Alemu’s Self-Serving & Ignominious Defense of Susan E. Rice

Posted on 23 December 2012 by Africa Business

Sophia Tesfamariam

The Benghazi incident that took the lives of four Americans has resulted in the resignation of four Department of State (DoS) officials and has cost Susan E. Rice, the current US Ambassador to the United Nations, her chance to head the DoS. Her potential nomination set off a barrage of commentary as those opposed to her nomination were countered by those who supported her. Several reports were written about the “radio-active” candidate and there were some who actually questioned her credentials and there were others who claimed that her “entire career has been based less on solid accomplishment than on her networking skills.”

There were those who wanted to make it a “gender” and “racial” issue, but couldn’t. She wasn’t the first woman to the post, nor was she the first Black woman. Many more questioned her diplomatic acumen and tact. For instance, Louis Charbonneau and Susan Cornwell in their 13 November 2012 article for Reuters said:

“…Diplomats on the 15-nation U.N. Security Council privately complain of Rice’s aggressive negotiating tactics, describing her with terms like “undiplomatic” and “sometimes rather rude.” They attributed some blunt language to Rice – “this is crap,” “let’s kill this” or “this is bullshit.”…”She’s got a sort of a cowboy-ish attitude,” one Western diplomat said. “She has a tendency to treat other countries as mere (U.S.) subsidiaries…”

The overwhelming majority questioned her close personal relationships with some of Africa’s most ruthless dictators, of which Meles Zenawi is the most mentioned:

  • “…should not be altogether surprising that her record in Africa seems to have been one of catering to some of the most loathsome dictators in the region. She fell over herself to praise the late Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi in September…”-( Jacob Heilbrunn, 14 December 2012)

  • “…Rice completely ignored the fact that 200 unarmed protesters were massacred in the streets and nearly 800 seriously wounded by police and security forces under the personal command and control of Meles following the 2005 elections. She turned a blind eye to crimes against humanity committed in Gambella in 2004 and war crimes committed in the Ogaden in 2008 . She had forgotten the stolen election of 2010 and fact that Meles’ party won 99.6 percent of the seats in parliament. She was completely oblivious of the thousands of political prisoners, including opposition leaders, dissidents and journalists,  rotting in Ethiopian prisons as she was waxing eloquent in her emotional eulogy. She could see Meles’ “brilliance” but not his arrogance. She could see his “world-class mind” but not his black heart. She said he was “uncommonly wise”, but could not see his common folly. She “profoundly disagreed with him on democracy and human rights”, but she would ignore all his crimes against humanity because he was “a true friend” of hers…”-(Alemayehu G. Mariam, 13 December 2012)

  • Etc. etc.

Ethiopians for their part showed their displeasure with Rice by writing several articles about the relationship she enjoyed with Meles Zenawi and they felt that her friendship clouded her judgment. The headlines were everywhere: “Susan Rice, a US diplomat who loves dictators”- By Ephrem Madebo[1], “Susan Rice and Africa’s Unholy Trinity”-By Alemayehu G. Mariam[2] and “Watching Susan twist in the wind or don’t mess with Ethiopia-By Yilma Bekele[3] , are some of the most recent publications. One of the attributes mentioned in almost all of the reports about her relationship Meles Zenawi, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia were provoked by the personal eulogy Rice delivered at his funeral. Up until then, they probably didn’t realize the extent of that relationship.

Just before Rice withdrew her name and spared the Obama Administration the embarrassment of what would have been a very ugly nomination hearing and one that would have exposed some well hidden truths of her personal and political antics, Tekeda Alemu, one of Meles Zenawi’s staunch cadres, who had remained silent as Ethiopians and others authored articles about Susan Rice, decided to come out swinging in Rice’s defense. The trigger was an article authored by an Eritrean, which was posted in the NY Times. Like all the other articles, it mentioned Rice’s relationship with Meles Zenawi.  Despite the fact that all the other articles written by Americans and Ethiopians were pretty much the same, it is the one written by an Eritrean that rattled his cage… so much so that he decided to sit down and pen a personal response.

In his OP-ED[4] Tekeda Alemu, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the UN accused the writer of attempting:

“…to inject the ugly side of the politics in the Horn of Africa into the American political debate…”

The American political debate, and in this case, Susan E. Rice’s potential nomination to the US State Department is part and parcel of the debate as Africa would be part of her jurisdiction. It is exactly what the debate needed to be, and as she had no other experience except Africa, as limited as it was, that would need to be carefully scrutinized. Besides, as someone who has contributed to the “ugly side of politics in the Horn of Africa”, and as someone who is responsible for Susan Rice’s fledgling reputation in the region, his decision to pounce on the journalist belies his real intentions, which are transparent to all that know the minority regime’s modus operandi. This is a desperate and futile attempt to prevent any scrutiny into the illegal, unfair and unjust US-Ethiopia engineered sanctions, that were mentioned in the NY Times article. Tekeda Alemu played a central role in ensnaring the gullible Susan Rice in the regime’s web of deception. Seduced by what Robert Hicks calls “the kowtowing and groveling” from Meles Zenawi and his sycophants, who are known to shower US diplomats her with flattery and gifts, the gullible Susan Rice, who they knew was “angry” with Eritrea, was used to effectuate their warped agendas vis a vis Eritrea. Tekeda Alemu understood that further scrutiny of her antics in the Horn of Africa would also expose his role in the deceptions against the European Union, African Union and the Security Council and the schemes orchestrated in order to frame Eritrea.

Let us take a look at what else Tekeda Alemu said in his NY Times:

“…the sanctions were imposed at the request of the African Union, which has troops in Somalia fighting Al Shabaab; and that a group set up by the Security Council found that Eritrea was aiding and abetting terrorism in Somalia…”

The UN never accused Eritrea of terrorism in Somalia… that is a flat out lie and this lie has been propagated by Ethiopia and its surrogates. The minority regime believes that if it repeats lies often enough, that they would somehow become truths. I challenge the good Ambassador to present one UN documents that can corroborate his erroneous statement.

If it was the African Union that was seeking sanctions against Eritrea, why were there no other Africans involved in the liaisons and meetings with US officials? Why were Ethiopian cadres doing all the leg work? Judging from the US Embassy cables, it is as if Tekeda Alemu was on a personal mission to get sanctions against Eritrea. Suffice it to mention a few excerpts:

1. http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/05/09ADDISABABA1237.html

May 2009-Ethiopia to the P-5: Time For Eritrea Sanctions

 

“…Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin on May 22 called in the UNSC P-5 Ambassadors to urge them to follow-up on the InterGovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) May 20 call for Security Council sanctions against Eritrea…In a separate meeting with the P-5 ambassadors on May 25, Ethiopian State Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Tekeda Alemu said he planned to travel to New York on May 29 to press the UNSC on Eritrea in person…Canada, he said, through its mining concessions, would soon be providing Eritrea with hundreds of millions of dollars, and he commented that “if you think Eritrea is a problem now with no economy, wait until it is flush with cash…”

2. http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09ADDISABABA1450.html

 

22 Jun 2009-Ethiopia Pressing For UNSC Sanctions on Eritrea

 

“…Dr. Tekeda called in the P-5 Ambassadors on June 18 and summarized the recent IGAD trip to the UN as having made progress in gaining UNSC support for the IGAD and AU call for sanctions on Eritrea, but concluded that more work was necessary. Tekeda met with special Africa Advisor Bruno Joubert in Paris and Somalia experts in London. In New York, TFG Foreign Minister Omar, along with Ambassadors assigned to the U.N. from Djibouti, Uganda, and Kenya, joined Tekeda in meeting the UNSC representatives. Tekeda said the Libyans were very receptive to Eritrea,s accountability in destabilizing Somalia. Tekeda added that he was mindful of comments made by the UNSC member states for further work by IGAD to secure full support from the African Union member states, and not just Ethiopia and Djibouti, which have direct problems with Eritrea. Dr. Tekeda said the African Union had already endorsed the IGAD agreement to seek sanctions on Eritrea … The U.S. Ambassador urged Tekeda that if Ethiopia and the IGAD countries wanted UN support, then Ethiopia and IGAD must secure a clear statement by the African Union of support for IGAD’s position…Tekeda added that he was mindful of comments made by the UNSC member states for further work by IGAD to secure full support from the African Union member states, and not just Ethiopia and Djibouti, which have direct problems with Eritrea…”

3. http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/07/09ADDISABABA1589.html

 

7 July 2009- Seyoum Mesfin and Tekeda Alemu urge P-5 to support sanctions

 

“…Ethiopian FM Seyoum and his deputy, Dr. Tekeda, on July 7 called in the Ambassadors from the P-5 to urge them to convey to their capitals the urgency of supporting sanctions against Eritrea. Seyoum noted that Tekeda, who led an Intergovernmental Agency for Development (IGAD) delegation to New York in June, was told by the UNSC that the IGAD resolution calling for sanctions on Eritrea would hold more weight if the African Union was also supportive because IGAD only represented East Africa, and some of its members had differences with Eritrea. Seyoum said the African Union at its early July summit in Sirte, Libya passed a resolution, with Eritrea as the only dissenting voice, in support of the IGAD resolution…Tekeda stressed that the UNSC should first approve the general concept of sanctions against Eritrea, then determine what sanctions to impose. He thought that the sanctions should include a selected travel ban against senior Eritrean officials, and efforts to cutoff remittances from the U.S. and other countries…”

4. http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/08/09ADDISABABA1914.html

5 August 2009-Record of your conversation with Charge D’Affaries Michael Gonzales

“…Dr. Tekeda stressed that the threat of sanctions against senior Eritrean officials had a clear chilling effect in Asmara. Dr. Tekeda specifically noted the Sanctions Committee,s consideration of Yemane Gebreab as being a critically important move. (Note: Dr. Tekeda had a list of individuals targeted by the Somalia Sanctions Committee which included Yemane. End Note.) Dr. Tekeda stressed that, although Yemane may not make ultimate decisions in Eritrea — a province reserved for President Isaias — he certainly advises Isaias, and his inclusion among those sanctioned would be a critical signal to Asmara that the international community is sincere in its interest in ending Eritrea,s destabilizing activities in Ethiopia…”

The 13 June 2009 cable[5] shows the collaboration between Tekeda Alemu and Susan Rice and their intentions to hoodwink Africans and the Security Council by presenting their initiative as an “African Initiative”:

“…A delegation from the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) met with Amb. Rice on June 10 to press for UNSC implementation of sanctions against Eritrea as called for by recent communiques of IGAD and the African Union (AU). The delegation, led by Ethiopian State Minister Tekeda Alemu and Somali Foreign Minister Mohammed Omaar, agreed that action needed to be taken against Eritrea… Tekeda made a case for more forceful sanctions, claiming that the TFG faced imminent collapse, and implying that only Ethiopian assistance had helped it survive thus far. (NOTE: While Omaar was titular head of the IGAD delegation, Tekeda paid him little deference. End note.) In Ethiopia’s view, Tekeda said, “we don’t have much time” to enact sanctions against Eritrea, adding “we want to see results within a week.” (C) Amb. Rice advised the group to reach agreement on a specific package of measures and counseled that the initiative would be more viable in the Council, if packaged as an African consensus proposal rather than one driven by Eritrea’s estranged neighbors Ethiopia and Djibouti…”

But she had more advice for her partners in crime:

“…Rice also urged the group to draw a link to the situation in Djibouti when drawing up its proposal to sanction Eritrea. To punish Eritrea for its activities in Somalia while ignoring Djibouti would send an inadvertent signal that Eritrea could continue to invade its neighbors with impunity, she said…”

Once again, we see how much Meles Zenawi had influenced her thinking… Rice was repeating the TPLF’s rehearsed spill on Eritrea. It is no wonder then that she has decided to allow her friends to violate international law and the Algiers Agreements which were authored, guaranteed and witnessed by the US, EU and AU. With that kind of ingrained bias, she will continue to be used and abused by dictators like Tekeda Alemu and his criminal regime.

Whilst there were many accusations against Eritrea coming from Ethiopia and its surrogates, there has never been any independently verifiable evidence provided to substantiate any of their allegations. There were many fair individuals who disagreed with the narrative on Eritrea and Ethiopia managed to have them removed or else had their voices muffled. For instance, South African Ambassador to the United Nations Dumisani Kumalo, chairman of the U.N. Security Council’s Somalia Sanctions Committee told Reuters on 23 May 2008:

“… corruption in the lawless Horn of Africa country was rampant…”elements” of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, and Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) were involved in arms trafficking activities, which have the potential to undermine the peace process…Eighty percent of ammunition available at the Somali arms markets was supplied by TFG and Ethiopian troops…continued presence of Ethiopian troops on Somali territory as a violation of the arms embargo” on Somalia, where warlords, Islamist insurgents and Ethiopian-backed Somali government forces clash almost daily…The monitoring committee received details of some 25 military flights by Ethiopia into Somalia and knew that Ethiopian troops had brought military equipment into the country to arm “friendly clans…Arms and military hardware are mainly transported to Somalia by boat and airplane, but traffickers also use horses and donkeys, making shipments difficult to track…”

Addressing a 29 May 2009 Press Conference, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, UN Special Representative for Somalia admitted that there was no evidence to support the outrageous allegations leveled against Eritrea:

“…As for the support of Eritrea for the Islamist group al-Shabab, he said that there was much talk of such involvement, but there was no way for him to monitor that situation or to know the truth of such a claim. Asked about other foreign rebel fighters, he said the rebel leaders had extended a welcome to such fighters and there was wide information available on them…”

As this author has stated several times in the past, the minority regime in Ethiopia and its cadres, are persons who are themselves involved in the criminal milieu that defines Somalia today, and can hardly be considered to be credible sources and yet, the SEMG relied almost entirely on the Ethiopian regime to build its case against Eritrea. According a 9 December 2008 cable[6], Meles Zenawi tells Senator Inholfe and other US officials visiting Ethiopia of US’ complicity. The cable said:

“…He [Meles Zenawi] said the U.S. had provided evidence of Eritrea’s security officials involved in money and arms shipments to extremists in Somalia for terrorist operations against Ethiopia…”

Allow me to remind the good Ambassador of the following facts:

•         The IGAD and the Africa Peace and Security Resolutions were passed under the chairmanship of Ethiopia. Ethiopia and Djibouti played accusers, judge and jury

•         The IGAD and the Africa Peace and Security Resolutions were passed under the chairmanship of Ethiopia.

•         The  Chair of the African Union (Libya) opposed the sanctions at the UN Security Council,

•         On 24 December 2010-The 28- member regional organization, CENSAD, condemned the unjust sanctions.

The good Ambassador knows that the UN Monitoring Group has yet to produce any evidence to support the allegations that were leveled at Eritrea. As a matter of fact, the entire Group was replaced because its credibility and integrity was compromised when it chose to place in its reports fabricated evidence-almost all manufactured in Ethiopia.

Can Tekeda Alemu provide us with the date, place and time that the African Union with all its members present discussed sanctions on Eritrea? How did each country vote and how many voted to sanction Eritrea?

As for terrorism, the minority regime’s understanding of what it really entails was duly noted by US Ambassador Aurelia Brazeal in a 25 November 2002 American Embassy cable[7] which said:

“…Meles may be going too far: the PM may have some difficulty distinguishing the GWOT [Global War of Terror] from sectarian rivalry. As reported in ref. d, Meles told codel in august that Ethiopia is in the GWOT for its own national security. his private comments indicate that he may have some difficulty distinguishing between Islam, Islamism, and terrorism. He equates Islamic fundamentalism with terrorism, saying wahhabism is “infiltrating and dominating the region.” he describes Ethiopia as being “at the epicenter” of terrorism since the seventh century (ref. e). Fortunately, Meles has not made any public statements betraying such a “lump-them-all-together” outlook…”

Ambassador Brazeal also noted the following:

“…Meles finds the GWOT politically advantageous for both Ethiopia and his ruling coalition, and even called it a “godsend” because of Ethiopia’s unfortunate experience with internal violence and international terrorism (as they define it). shortly after 9/11, Ethiopian military leaders sought U.S. engagement in a proposal for a series of large-scale strikes on neighboring Somalia, a breeding ground and safehaven for terrorists, and a perennial thorn in the side of every Ethiopian government. For this government, the GWOT is a two-fer: they use it to draw closer to the u.s. and/and gain resources for their own ct efforts…”

But she was not the only American official who was reporting of the regime’s ignominy. In the American Embassy cable, “RECENT BOMBINGS BLAMED ON OROMOS POSSIBLY THE WORK OF GOE”-Vicki Huddleston, the US Charge D’Affaires in Ethiopia wrote:

“…A series of explosions were reported in Addis Ababa on September 16, killing three individuals. The GoE announced that the bombs went off while being assembled, and that the three dead were terrorists from the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) with links to the Oromo National Congress (ONC). An embassy source, as well as clandestine reporting, suggests that the bombing may have in fact been the work of GoE security forces…”

When questioned about the sources of all the erroneous allegations against Eritrea, Susan E. Rice said that the “evidence is classified to protect the identity of US allies who provided it”. It is not hard to figure who these allies are…

In the end, it didn’t matter what Tekeda Alemu said or didn’t day, Susan E. Rice withdrew her name and spared the Obama Administration the embarrassment of what would have been a very ugly nomination hearing and one that would have exposed some well hidden truths of her personal and political life. One thing is for sure, until the UN Security Council annuls and repeals the illegal, ill-gotten sanctions against the State of Eritrea, her relationship with the minority regime in Ethiopia will be the subject of many more reports and articles, further undermining the credibility and integrity and reputation of the United States as an honest peace broker.

More on the opportunist Tekeda Alemu, his history of contempt for the people of Ethiopia and how used Susan Rice and other officials in other diabolic schemes against the State of Eritrea and its people next time…

 

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The Systematic Emasculation of Africa’s Leadership-Part 3

Posted on 20 November 2012 by Africa Business

by Sophia Tesfamariam

The Systematic Emasculation of Africa’s Leadership-Part One (.pdf Acrobat Reader)

The Systematic Emasculation of Africa’s Leadership-Part 2 (.pdf Acrobat Reader)

The Systematic Emasculation of Africa’s Leadership-Part 3 (.pdf Acrobat Reader)

In the previous two sections, the author has written about the emasculation of the UN General Assembly, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and how they were being used to effectuate the foreign policies of certain nations while subordinating the rights of others. For this third and final section, I will show how African leaders undermined one of their own in order to win the support of some donor nations. They tell me diplomacy is about telling lies and that politics is ugly. I disagree. Diplomacy is a fine art; it is about listening, more than talking, it is about bringing peoples and nations together, it’s about service, not power. Ditto for politics, it only gets ugly, when rules change and then hypocrisy and double standards rule.

 

Western governments don’t have to try very hard to break African governments as they do a good job undermining Africa and its leadership all by themselves. They have become Africa’s worst enemies. If they are not selling state secrets, they are found snitching on each other, gossiping, bad mouthing and undermining each other to Europeans whom they believe will not only provide for their people, but also protect their reign against their angry populations. In the movies and in the soap operas, women are usually depicted as the gossip mongers. After reading the many thousands of pages from the Wikileak cables, this author is convinced that some African leaders are grand gossipers… crueler and sometimes deadlier.

 

Most good leaders work for peace… Unfortunately, there are those that wrongly believe they would fare better in war and conflict. In an effort to divert attention from their own weaknesses and governance issues, they choose to keep populations perpetually in conflict. For some, creating coalitions is about pooling resources for the common good, for others it is about creating partners in crime. Some of the African leaders spent more time conniving with Americans and European diplomats against each other, instead of using their energies to improve relations with each other, for the benefit of their regions and nations. Once again, I will be using leaders in the Horn of Africa to illustrate my points and the Wiki leak cables to show the extent of their emasculation and betrayal of each other and their people.

 

For some reason, it is the regime in Ethiopia that the Americans and European depended on for their insider information. They found the weakest link. The frightened emasculated minority regime wrongly believed that its salvation would come from its servitude, by backstabbing its African peers and hob knobbing with the western leaders in their forums, serving as the “African Face” needed to advance western agendas for the continent. By suppressing the rights of the Ethiopian people using brute military force, it wrongly believed it could sustain its reign.

 

By selling out the people of Africa to elevate itself in international forums organized by its handlers, the regime in Ethiopia has been exposed for what it is…a cheap political thugocracy suffering from deep seethed envy of all its neighbors, a regime that covets the resources of its neighbors, including their lands. Inflicted with incurable inferiority complex and crab mentality, like its predecessors used the “they are Africans”, “they are Arabs”, “We are Christians”, “The Arabs are coming” scare tactics and fear mongering in order to collect stipends from its handlers. It remains a disgrace and an embarrassment to its people, and the singular threat to peace, stability and security in the Horn region.  Allow me to elaborate.

 

The American Embassy cables show that the ruling clique in Ethiopia relied heavily on US diplomats to carry out its domestic and international agendas. It also shows that the US looked the other way as Ethiopia’s leadership instigated conflicts and wars in neighboring states. The 16 September 2006 cable[i] says a lot about Ethiopia’s attitudes in the Horn region and how much influence Ethiopia has on its tiny neighbor Djibouti, who depends on it for its daily bread.  In this cable, an Ethiopian cadre is on record as he asks Donald Yamamoto, the US Ambassador, to intervene with Djibouti and break up the good neighborly relations between Eritrea and Djibouti. According to the cable, the cadre tells Yamamoto that:

 

“…The Government of Djibouti’s opposition to IGAD actions in Somalia are the result of its fear of Eritrean President Isaias, Tekeda said, as well as President Guelleh’s personal business interests with Eritrea…”

Why would the President of Djibouti fear the President of Eritrea? What do his business interests in Eritrea, assuming he had any, have to do with Somalia’s peace, stability and security? What then should be assumed of his relationship with Ethiopia’s leadership and the vast lands and business interests Guelleh has in Ethiopia?

 

Not long after the sparking of a non-existent Eritrea-Djibouti border issue and escalating it in order to use it to give substance to the US-Ethiopia engineered “stand alone” sanctions against Eritrea, the headlines were filled with stories about the Djiboutian President and land he was awarded by the minority regime in Ethiopia. According to an 8 February 2010cable[ii] Addis Ababa:

“….Djiboutian President Ismael Omar Guelleh recently acquired the right to develop about 2.5 acres of lakeside land in Debrezeit to build a hotel. This acquisition added to the 7,400 acres of farmland Guelleh leased last year in Bale, Oromia region. According to post’s conversations with local agricultural business investors and press reports, this farm has already harvested wheat and other cereals for export to Djibouti…”

 

Let us see what else Tekeda Alemu, now serving at the United Nations had to say about the Djiboutian leadership:

“…The Deputy Foreign Minister speculated that the Djiboutian leadership was worried that Eritrea would support Afari separatist movements, as Isaias had done successfully in Sudan, if Djibouti did not follow Eritrea’s lead in Somalia. Tekeda also told Yamamoto that Aweys and other CIC leaders had stopped in Djibouti to meet with President Guelleh on their way back from Libya the week before. Tekeda maintained that the GOD was “on the wrong path,” and added that Djibouti was not strong enough to take Ethiopia’s continued friendship and forbearance for granted…”

That sounds like a veiled threat to me. So what was Ethiopia’s ultimatum? Was Ethiopia going to stop sending food to Djiboutians or was Ethiopia going to stop delivering the very lucrative Khat (an illegal drug in the United States)? Or was it threatening to stop using Djbouti’s ports? Or was it going to attack Djibouti as it has done to all its neighbors since it usurped power in 1991?

 

Ethiopia’s leadership, as it has done several times, took the opportunity to take jabs at Iran- (they believe doing so will enamor them with Israel and the US). Here is what the Ethiopian cadre shared with Ambassador Yamamoto:

“…He criticized President Guelleh’s recent visit to Tehran as well as his comments on a recent BBC Somali Service broadcast, in which he had called on Somalis to be vigilant in defense of their homeland against the Ethiopian threat… Tekeda urged that the USG speak frankly with Djibouti about its role in the region. He said that President Guelleh would pay attention to U.S. concerns given the importance to him of the U.S. military base in Djibouti. “He must be told to choose” whose side he wanted to take…”

 

Needless to say, the hypocritical Ethiopians maintained their relationship with Iran, even strengthening it further by signing several bilateral agreements since then…more on that in another post.

 

Ethiopia was also the source for the erroneous and manufactured information about Eritrea trying to destabilize Djibouti, information the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia attempted to peddle as fact in December 2010. The 28 May 2009 secret cable clearly shows Ethiopia as being the source of the allegations which were then presented to the Security Council by Djibouti:

 

“…Except for Eritrea, all the countries in the region were united in seeking a common approach to support Somalia, Youssouf said. Eritrea also continued to seek to destabilize Djibouti, Youssouf said. He reported that Ethiopian FM Seyoum had informed him on May 24 of Ethiopian intelligence that more than 200 rebel fighters (presumably ethnic Afars), who had been trained in Eritrea, had infiltrated Djibouti via Ras Doumeira…”

 

Instead of helping the two neighborly nations resolve the problem, Ethiopia and its friends in Washington chose instead to escalate the issue in a futile and childish effort to isolate Eritrea. How exactly does that advance US interests in the region? I’ll let the regime’s cadres do the explaining as my mind cannot decipher warped logic…

 

The cables are very clear as to Ethiopia’s role in the destabilization of Somalia and yet, no punitive actions have been taken to prevent Ethiopia’s self serving interference in Somali affairs. To the contrary, the US has rewarded Ethiopia’s destruction, invasion and occupation of Somalia.

So far, there have been at least 16 Transitional National Governments (TNG) for Somalia. Ethiopia has undermined each and every TNG established. The Wiki leaked cables are full of instances wherein Ethiopian cadres vetted TNG candidates as opposed to allowing the Somali people to choose their own leaders. Here are some examples of Ethiopian consistent undermining of all of Somalia’s leadership:

 

§  “…Meles said that Transitional Federal Government (TFG) Prime Minister Gedi has “outlived his purpose” and is not the right person for the primary job now of ensuring an inclusive political process. The removal of Gedi would best be an outcome of the National Reconciliation Congress. Meles, Belliard said, agreed that there needs to be more Hawiye in the government, including in the security services…”-(Meles Zenawi 2007)

§  “…Tekeda said that Ethiopia’s objective for the upcoming October 27-29 IGAD Summit in Nairobi was “to soften Yusuf up…and put him in a cage.” He said that “either Yusuf will come out of the summit as a ceremonial president or he will be jettisoned.” Tekeda hoped that the summit would convince Yusuf that he cannot continue conducting business as usual with Yusuf only serving his Majerteen clan interests. Tekeda stated that there was now absolute consensus within the Ethiopian government that President Yusuf can no longer continue to be an obstacle to political progress in Somalia…Tekeda said that Yusuf was “an old man with no capacity,” and that he was a liability. The only question that remains is what can be done to limit the damage he can do. Tekeda said Yusuf could continue as President if he agreed to become a figure head, but if Yusuf does not listen, then he must leave… Tekeda revealed that in the previous weeks he had met secretly with ARS/Djibouti head Sheikh Sharif to discuss the integration of the ARS into the TFG”-( Tekeda Alemu on Abdulahi Yusuf -2008)

§  “…Tekeda suggested that the presidency was too high for ARS/Djibouti head Sheikh Sharif, but that Sharif as prime minister was possible. He added that Sharif should have some role in the government because he had some level of acceptance and credibility among Somalis. Tekeda noted that he had just gotten off the phone with Sharif, and that their discussions over the formation of a unity government were continuing. He also said that Sharif and the opposition would go to Nairobi to participate in the summit. Tekeda declined to name possible replacements for Yusuf…”- (Tekeda Alemu on Sheikh Sharif 2008)

 

§  “…Asked by Special Envoy for Somalia John Yates if Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein “Nur Adde” was capable of governing, Meles said only “no.” Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Abdisalan Aden had the right clan credentials (Habr Gedr/Ayer) but no power base of his own. Meles acknowledged, however, that “you can talk to him” and “he’s very useful.” Meles agreed with A/S Frazer that ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif might be a Trojan horse for more radical Islamists…”- (Meles Zenawi on Sheikh Sharif 2008)

§  “…Questioned about CIC leaders, Meles observed that with its defeat, the CIC had now lost its “aura of continued victory.” Whereas the Ayr sub-clan had been the CIC’s primary backer, CIC Executive Committee Chairman Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was Abgaal and now wielded little influence…”- (Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia-2007)

 

With Ethiopian officials serving as US advisors in the region, it is no wonder then that US policy for the Horn of Africa remains bloody, callous and incoherent.

 

 

Turns out, (6 years later) that Eritrea’s principled stand on Somalia was the right course, but because the regime in Ethiopia convinced its skirted friends in Washington and the UN to isolate Eritrea and prevent a constructive dialogue on Somalia. For that grave mistake, thousands of Somalis have paid with their lives; millions have been displaced, maimed and injured. Children have been irreparable scarred and Somalia has seen the total destruction of its vital infrastructures including schools, hospital and clinics, as well as its homes and villages.

 

Ethiopia’s lies and fabrication were all a cruel ruse, a pretext, so that Ethiopia could go ahead and invade and occupy Somalia and knock off a few hundred “extremists” and also maybe, while they were at it, kill off members of Ethiopian opposition who may have taken refuge next door. Needless to say, it is the Somali people, mostly women and children that have had to bear the brunt of Ethiopia’s excesses. Did Ethiopia really want peace to reign in Somalia? The answer is no and what makes this even worse is that they chose to remain silent, afraid to say so, afraid that the US would not put them on its favored country list.

 

Of all the countries in the region, Djibouti knew very well that Ethiopia did not want to see Somalia at peace. That it always felt threatened, but it chose to go along, believing it could score politically, like Ethiopia, by becoming a favored US mercenary. Let us see what Djibouti’s officials have to say about that. Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Ali Abdi Farah met with US Ambassador Marguerita Ragsdale on 10 March 2004 in Djibouti before leaving for Nairobi to attend an IGAD Council of Ministers meeting on Somalia. According to the 11 March 2004 cable[iii]:

 

“…FM Farah responded that the concept of a “federation” of entities within Somalia, rather than the traditional concept of a unified state might achieve the best result. Tribal tensions are too intense to make much else workable. He recounted historic attempts at union that ultimately proved unworkable. Yet he also said the “stupidity” of Somalis have contributed to the absence of peace…Asked about Ethiopia’s relations with Somalia (writ large), he said he saw no genuine interest in Ethiopia to peace in Somalia…”

What does that say about this Djiboutian leader? Why did he not speak up against Ethiopia and save the lives of the Somali people? Or are they too stupid for him to care…

 

There is another Djiboutian leader that has been emasculated by the Ethiopians and reduced to parroting their rehearsed spills on Eritrea. Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, the Djibouti Foreign Minister is found in several cables as he undermines leaders in the region. Youssouf’s myopic take on neighborly relations is found in a 23 May 2004 cable[iv] in which the Djiboutian Foreign Minister is found telling the US Ambassador Marguerita Ragsdale that:

 

“…In the history of dealing with Ethiopia, the farther it is apart from Eritrea, he mused, the closer it wants to move toward Djibouti. Djibouti benefits economically from the existing tensions between the two countries and while unfortunate in a way, he said, it is “a fact of life…”

 

That is not a fact of life; it is a sign of poor leadership and an insult to the people of Djibouti and Eritrea who have enjoyed brotherly relations for decades-even when they were both under colonial occupation.

 

Iran, Sudan and Zimbabwe have a difficult relationship with the West, but why should that be an issue for Africa? In order to ingratiate themselves with the West, Ethiopia and others have taken to undermining the Sudanese and Zimbabwean leaders behind closed doors-not with other Africans, but with American and European diplomats. Let us take a look at what Meles Zenawi advises[v] the US on Sudan and Bashir:

 

“…Meles offered that if he were the United States, he would look at two options. First, which he clearly conveyed as the preferred choice, would be to “remove the Bashir regime.” Acknowledging that such an option was unlikely, Meles advocated for making a clear representation to the GoS that the United States is not/not “out to get them… Meles concluded the discussion by highlighting that “they don’t trust the Obama Administration,” and “they trust the Obama Administration less than the Bush Administration,” and with a clear reference to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice and former Senior NSC Director for Africa Gayle Smith “…especially some friends of mine…”

 

But it is not only Zenawi that bad-mouth’s Bashir as we shall see in this 25 January 2007 cable from Addis Ababa, “DEMARCHE DELIVERED: ETHIOPIAN VIEWS ON AU CHAIRMANSHIP VOTE”[vi], which exposes the minority regime’s hypocrisy. This time it is Tekeda Alemu again that is backstabbing an African leader of a country next door to Ethiopia, this time it is to prevent Bashir from taking the helm at the African Union:

 

“…Minister Tekeda highlighted that while Ethiopia believed selecting Sudanese President Bashir as African Union Assembly Chair was not desirable for the AU, Ethiopia could not openly oppose Bashir’s candidacy for fear of alienating pro-Ethiopian elements within the GOS, which would thus drive Sudan closer to Eritrea… Ethiopia recognized that a Bashir chairmanship would leave the AU “paralyzed for a year”…”Don’t take our reticence as evidence of support” for Bashir, Tekeda said…”

 

The Ethiopian regime doesn’t have much confidence in the South Sudanese leadership and says so in this cable which records a meeting between Donald Yamamoto, the US Ambassador and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. According to the cable:

 

“…The Government of South Sudan lacks cohesion and is in disarray, Meles argued. The SPLM lacks leadership, and in turn “lets events determine its destiny.” The Prime Minister suggested that the internal fractures within the SPLM currently mean that if it were to an active stand on something, it would break apart from within…In light of these dynamics in both Khartoum and Juba, prospects for the successful implementation of the CPA are very poor, the Prime Minister noted. Not only is Ethiopia bracing for the outbreak of widespread violence throughout Sudan around, or in the run-up to the referendum in 2011, but Meles speculated that the chances of that violence spilling over into the nine countries bordering Sudan is high…”

 

No doubt Zenawi is hinting the need for more US support for Ethiopia as it prepares for Sudan’s implosion…

 

A 9 November 2005 cable,” AU’S KONARE ON AU ASSEMBLY CHIEF, WASHINGTON OFFICE”, reported on a meeting between Vicki Huddleston, former US Charge D’Affaires in Ethiopia, and Alpha Oumar Konare, the then AU Chairperson. Notwithstanding the fact that the African Union chair was freely providing US officials with information about the African Union’s upcoming agenda, in this cable, the AU chair seems to be offering more:

“…Asked for information on the next AU Assembly Chairman, Konare replied that he is adamant that Sudanese President Bashir not succeed Obasanjo, and that “many” African leaders agree with him that Sudan’s assuming the Chairmanship would be a disaster for Africa. Konare went so far as to declare that he will step down as AU Commission Chairperson if El Bashir were elected. He expressed disbelief that El Bashir believes he is prepared to assume the Chairmanship…”

The AU Chair had no qualms insulting his fellow Africans and their leadership. Let us take a look at more of the November 2005 cable:

“…Konare commented that there are “not many choices” in the Eastern region. Ugandan President Museveni is no longer a possibility as he has changed the constitution to allow him to remain in office, Konare stated. Tanzania would be acceptable, but the President is too new. Konare said that Kenya is not an option because the President is “ill…”

 

The various comments made by Ethiopian officials about Sudan’s leadership reflect what Ethiopia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tekeda Alemu stated in this 5 February 2008 cable:

 

“…Tekeda stated that the bilateral relationship between Ethiopia and Sudan was improving, although he characterized the relationship as more of a “love-hate” affair…”

 

A 21 May 2009 cable details a 6 hour long meeting Meles Zenawi had with Susan E. Rice on 16 May 2009. Meles opined about all the countries in the region and on Sudan, he had this to say:

“…Meles has consistently stated that instability in Sudan poses major threat to Ethiopia’s security. Noting the corruption within the Bashir regime, Meles said Sudan and Ethiopia have an understanding that Ethiopia and Sudan will not challenge each other nor interfere in each other’s internal stability. Meles noted, however, that Sudan could deteriorate into internal conflict… Meles commented that he did not characterize the situation in Darfur as genocide, because genocide depends on “intent.” While Meles recognized the massive human rights abuse in Darfur, he concluded that many of the deaths in Darfur was from starvation…”

Meles is setting Rice up into believing that the deaths of the thousands in the Gambela, Ogaden and Oromia regions of Ethiopia are caused by starvation and not genocide, as has been called by Genocide International and Survivors International.

 

To be continued…

 

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Investors Applaud Hershey’s Vow To Source 100% Certified Cocoa By 2020

Posted on 11 October 2012 by Africa Business

 

Move to certify entire product line seen as significant step to eradicate trafficking and forced child labor on cocoa farms and plantations

 

NEW YORK, Oct. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Today, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a shareholder coalition that engages companies on labor and human rights standards in global supply chains, commends the Hershey Company for its commitment to certify all its cocoa by a third party by 2020.

With a 43% share of the U.S. chocolate market, the investors view Hershey’s decision as an important advancement that is certain to influence the industry and result in more sustainable cocoa farming and production.

Said Chris Meyer of Praxis Mutual Funds and co-convener of the Hershey dialogue, “Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa, specifically Ghana and the Ivory Coast, where tens of thousands of children are forced, often trafficked, to work on cocoa plantations, and small farmers are unfairly compensated for their crops. While these conditions have persisted for decades, Hershey’s commitment sends a powerful message that human rights and labor abuses will no longer be tolerated in cocoa supply chains and that certified cocoa is the new industry norm.”

While Hershey’s Dagoba Organic chocolate is currently produced from Rainforest Alliance certified farms and the company had previously announced its commitment to make its Bliss line Rainforest Alliance certified by year end 2012, the move to accelerate certification across all its product offerings is welcome and encouraging news for shareholders and a hopeful sign for the industry.

Said Kate Walsh of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment who also leads the ICCR dialogue with Hershey, “As Hershey owns the lion’s share of the U.S. chocolate market, we are pleased to see such a substantial commitment from the corporation. While there is no one solution to injustices such as forced labor, Hershey’s commitment has helped raise the industry bar and is further acknowledgement of the reputational risks that non-certified brands face. We look forward to receiving more information around the upcoming certifications.”

ICCR members engage companies in high risk industries to promote ethical and sustainable supply chains. Examples of past campaigns include work with the apparel industry around their sourcing of cotton from Uzbekistan, labor rights abuses in the electronics manufacturing sector and the risks of human trafficking in the travel and tourism industry.

Said Pat Zerega of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, “Children who are enslaved, exposed to hazardous substances and work with dangerous tools are a concern for us all. In his address at the Clinton Global Initiative last month, President Obama said, ‘All the business leaders who are here and our global economy companies have a responsibility to make sure that their supply chains, stretching into the far corners of the globe, are free of forced labor.  The good news is more and more responsible companies are holding themselves to higher standards.’ ICCR members and NGOs have been pushing for cocoa certification for many years.  We congratulate Hershey for holding itself to a higher standard and taking this important step to help eradicate child labor in the cocoa industry.”

About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)

Currently celebrating its 41st year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of active shareholders who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for change. Its 300 member organizations with over $100 billion in AUM have an enduring record of corporate engagement that has demonstrated influence on policies promoting justice and sustainability in the world. www.iccr.org

SOURCE Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

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