Aigaforum) Nov 06, 2017 - Ethiopia is passing through tough times! Innocent people from north to south, west to east are being killed in broad day light! This has been going on for a while now and no sustainable action is being taken by the ruling party.
Many people that Aigaforum talked to are asking for the country to be under an emergency decree similar to last year until the EPRDF member organizations are done with their reorganization. Last year’s Decree came at the end of gruesome killings of innocent people in Amhara and Oromia regions. As you might recall last year Aigaforum pleaded and alerted respected government individuals to avert unfair uproot, displacement and loss of lives. Unfortunately no one listened and the country became embroiled with crisis until the the emergency decree.To date Gondar has not revived itself from the effect of the crisis. Instead that vibrant city is at a standstill, yet again!
A year has passed since the last crisis and it is obvious that lessons have not been learned. The regional border conflict between Somalia and Oromia regions has left a black spot in the country’s history, Currently in the Oromia region, people are still being killed and displaced based on their ethnic background. In Shahsemene, Metu, Bedele and Ambo people are being killed and displaced despite OPDO’s pledge to respect the constitution and the unity of the country.
Innocent people should not be killed or displaced because of EPRDF’s internal bickering or political disagreement among the leadership. EPRDF must know there is a limit to people’s patience and respect to authorities. Those promoting and sponsoring the killing of innocent people must be held accountable. No individual should be above the law!
It is sad that lessons were not learned from the Gondar debacle. It is also sad that after 27 years of EPRDF rule the country is immersed in such violence. EPRDF needs to wake up and call a spade a spade. What is stopping the EPRDF government from taking action against demagogue politicians? What seems to be the problem now? Ere Beqa!
Below is Tamrat Yemane Reporting of one recent incident in Shashemene.
Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced he is nominating Sam Assefa – the senior urban designer for the City of Boulder, Colorado – as the next director of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD).
Prior to Boulder, Assefa served as Director of Land Use and Planning Policy for the City of Chicago, and as a deputy chief of staff to former Mayor Richard Daley.
“Sam Assefa brings leadership and a holistic approach to urban planning that integrates land use, transportation, design and sustainability,” Mayor Murray said. “Throughout his career, Sam has shown a passion for placemaking and a commitment to working with all communities to solve the challenges of growth. His experience will be invaluable to implementing our shared vision for building neighborhoods that are affordable, livable and equitable.”
OPCD was created to better integrate strategic planning across departments, while coordinating public investments in transportation, parks, housing and other areas.
“I have always admired the City of Seattle for its natural beauty, innovative spirit and strong commitment to social justice,” Assefa said. “I am thrilled at this opportunity to help implement Mayor Murray’s vision for building thriving and vibrant communities through an integrated and equitable approach to city planning and community development.”
Since 2010, Assefa has worked for Boulder’s Department of Community Planning and Sustainability, where he was responsible for urban and building design policies and directed the City’s Sustainable Streets and Centers Program.
Prior to Chicago, he served the City of San Francisco as director of Special Projects for the Department of Planning and Development. He was responsible for the implementation of various urban design policies and redevelopment plans, including the Hunters Point Shipyard, the Trans Bay Center, Rincon Hill, and the Better Neighborhoods Program.
Assefa has a master’s degree in city planning from MIT, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He brings perspective as an immigrant to the United States, having fled Ethiopia as a teenager when his father was killed in a coup. In San Francisco, Assefa served on the city’s Immigrant Rights Commission.
Assefa, if confirmed by Seattle City Council, will replace Diane Sugimura, who has served as interim OPCD director since the new integrated planning agency launched January 1. Assefa is expected to start June 1, with an annual salary of $167,000.
“This is a very exciting time for Seattle — to have someone of Sam’s caliber, experience and talent coming to Seattle to lead the Mayor’s new Office of Planning and Community Development,” Sugimura said. “I look forward to seeing great things happening as we grow toward becoming a more equitable city for all.”
“I am thrilled to join the Mayor in endorsing the nomination of Sam Assefa as the new Director of the Office and Planning and Community Development,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee. “Mr. Assefa’s list of accomplishments achieved during his tenures in Chicago, San Francisco, and Boulder reflects his passion for urban design and transit oriented development, and but I am mostly impressed by the manner in which he so thoughtfully engages the citizens of the communities he serves. I look forward to the prospect of working side by side with such a creative, big-picture thinker with the knowledge and experience to tackle Seattle’s complex housing, gentrification, and affordability challenges.”
As Seattle grows, OPCD will play a role in implementing Mayor Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). HALA provides a comprehensive strategy to creating 50,000 housing units over the next 10 years, ensuring that Seattle can remain an affordable, walkable, and equitable community for people of all incomes and backgrounds.
Seattle is currently one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, adding 70,000 residents and 63,000 jobs in the past five years. The city is expected to be home to another 120,000 residents and 115,000 jobs by 2035.
“I loved to draw,” says Sam Assefa. Architecture influenced him a lot, especially as a child, growing up in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. He used to draw a lot of the old Ethiopian monasteries. “Very monolithic, platonic forms, cubes and models formed out of living rock. I was always fascinated by that,” he explains. By seventh or eighth grade, he knew he wanted to study architecture. He once got punished for a drawing he did very meticulously, with correct three-dimensional proportions for a very tall building. His art teacher didn’t believe he drew it.
Fortunately, for many under-engaged communities in San Francisco, Chicago and Boulder, Colorado, Assefa did not take the punishment to heart. He still loves architecture, and still makes a life of exceeding expectations. In a few months, he’ll take all of his experience with him to Seattle, where he was recently named the next director of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development.
“I have always admired the city of Seattle for its natural beauty, innovative spirit and strong commitment to social justice,” Assefa said in a statement on the announcement.
Ethiopia has famously never been colonized, despite repeated invasions and partial occupations by foreign powers throughout its history. But amid political strife in the 1970s, Assefa’s father was executed. Assefa fled the country by foot and became a refugee in Kenya. He spent the rest of his high-school years in Nairobi, where he picked up two key influences: an international group of best friends with whom he remains in touch (one each from Austria, Sweden, the U.S. and Chile, and two others from Ethiopia), and a love for Chicago, probably due to its architecture.
“I used to read about Chicago specifically for some reason, while I was in high school,” Assefa says. He would eventually move there (after a short stint in Rome), and study architecture at the University of Illinois. While there, he met his wife, Jill Kongabel, a native Chicagoan.
In his first job in architecture, he noticed a pattern that didn’t fit with his personal ethos. “The first few years of design work I was doing was for very wealthy people. It was a wonderful place, a small design firm,” Assefa says. “But I started thinking about is that what I wanted to do.”
The answer was no. He and his wife left Chicago for Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Assefa went to graduate school for city planning at MIT. He took classes at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government too. He focused his studies on issues of equity, particularly around public housing. Meanwhile, outside the classroom, he was involved in the divestment movement seeking to end apartheid in South Africa by urging university endowments, foundation endowments and other supposedly socially minded pools of capital to dump South African companies.
After graduate school — after another false start with a private San Francisco architecture firm — Assefa landed at one of the early leaders in socially and environmentally conscious design firms, SMWM (since merged with Perkins+Will), where he joined forces with Karen Alschuler to start the planning practice at the firm. Their first big project: planning around the long-shuttered Hunters Point Shipyard in the largely black neighborhood, which was still reeling from the site’s closure around two decades earlier. The shipyard became one of the first Superfund cleanup sites.
“San Francisco was where I cut my teeth in equity and planning policy,” Assefa says. He would later work in the city of San Francisco’s planning department. He moved to become director of policy for Chicago’s department of planning and development in 2000. In Mayor Richard Daley, Assefa says, he found a willing ally for bringing more equity and diverse voices into the planning process (Assefa served as the city’s liaison for the neighborhood-centric New Communities Program), while simultaneously integrating departments and disciplines whose silos were clearly holding the city back from its potential.
Assefa’s department led Chicago’s first rewriting of its zoning code in 40 years, addressing issues where growth was happening where some communities didn’t want it and not happening where other communities did. He recalls loosening parking requirements for buildings within close proximity to public transportation, and putting in incentives for LEED-certified construction of affordable housing so that residents’ bills could be reduced. While attempting to incentivize and make room for more affordable housing where it was desired, Assefa also recalls protecting manufacturing zones from redevelopment as residential or other use (while others were creating the training infrastructure to make sure new high-skilled manufacturing jobs in Chicago would be accessible to all).
After a stint in Boulder, Colorado, Assefa will now take his silo-busting, social justice-informed approach to the Pacific Northwest.
“In Seattle, as in a lot of cities, a lot of the underrepresented communities or immigrant communities may not be at the table when major planning decisions are being made. Or they are economically affected as a result of the economic shift that is taking place in some of the major cities as well as global shifts,” he notes.
Seattle will be the eighth city where he has lived, spanning four countries on three continents.
“There are differences in context, but fundamentally from a planning perspective, all people are looking for the same general things,” he says. “They want to be safe, they want to love the place where they live, and they want to reap the benefits of what it has to offer.”
Assefa is expected to take his new office on June 1.
Eritrean men have been allegedly ordered to marry more than one wife
— Any man who does not do so, goes to jail according to reports
The government of Eritrea has reportedly ordered men in the country to marry at least two wives. This is said to be coming in order to ‘help’ the situation of shortage of men caused by enormous casualties suffered during the civil war with Ethiopia.
In the statement written in Arabic the government gave the assurance that it will give financial support to the polygamous marriages. Read the translated version in part as posted by sde.co.ke below:
“Based on the law of God in polygamy, and given the circumstances in which the country is experiencing in terms of men shortage, the Eritrean department of religious affairs has decided on the following :
”First that every man shall marry at least two women and the man who refuses to do so shall be subjected to life imprisonment with hard labour.
“The woman who tries to prevent her husband from marrying another wife shall be punished to life imprisonment,” alleged the activists in their translation.
May 1998 to June 2000 Eritrean-Ethiopian war saw 150,000 soldiers killed from either sides but having a bigger impact on male population in the tiny Eritrea nation who were then just million people in total.
A top Ethiopian government official has claimed the International Court of Arbitration Chamber of Commerce has dismissed a claim by PetroTrans that the Horn of Africa nation had unlawfully revoked its contracts.
Ethiopian authorities revoked the company’s exploration and development contracts, signed in 2011, saying PetroTrans had failed to carry out its contractual obligations.
The ministry of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas said the company had failed to commence work within the initial contractual timeframe. Minister Tolosa Shagi said after revising the date of commencement, the company still failed to start developing the gas project in time.
The Geneva Tribunal decided in favour of the Ethiopian ministry, rejecting PetroTrans’ request either to be reinstated or paid a compensation of $1.4 billion. Tolosa said the court passed its ruling on December 2015, but notified the litigants about the decision only last week. The case, which also resulted in the termination of other four agreements between the ministry and the Hong Kong-based firm, took three years to finalise. Tolosa said the verdict would set a precedent in the future in dealing with companies that flout contract regulations. The agreement, signed in July 2011 between the Ministry and PetroTrans gave the latter the right to explore and develop petroleum and natural gas in five blocks in the eastern part of the country. After revoking the agreement following the company’s failure to carry out its contractual obligations, the Ethiopian government awarded the project to a Chinese company, Poly-GCL in November 2013. Source: theafricareport
According to a damning confidential memo by Dr. Solomon Ungashe, one of the founders of the Oromo Media Network, circulating on Oromo online forums, Jawar Mohammed raised over $300,000 during the Oromo First campaign which was supposed to go to the coffers of OMN. Dr. Solomon Ungashe alleges that because Jawar and his wife Arfase Gamade were not willing to transfer the money only $20,000 was transferred to OMN from Jawar’s account. Apparently, one of the problems causing division in OMN is the issue of this money that melted away in Jawar and Arfase’s pockets. Jawar insisted that all the money raised during the Oromo First campaign was not raised for OMN but for himself. The memo reveals that OMN’s main problems are tied with the corrupt, dictatorial and manipulative tendencies of Jawar Mohammed.
“Once money was generated from Oromo communities, Arfase and I were assigned to see to it that the money was transferred to OMN account. This proved very difficult and OMN problem started at this point. Unbeknownst to us, Jawar Mohammed had created a parallel committee called Principal Coordinating Committee, PCC for short. Jawar and his wife Arfase were members of this committee. Mohammed Ademo asked Jawar what the role of the PCC was. He assured us its role is simply to collect the fund and transfer it to OMN. That proved to be false. Week after week and month after month Arfasse and Jawar who were supposed to talk to PCC members and transfer the money to OMN kept giving one reason after another for failing to do so. Out of more than $300,000 collected by Oromo community only $20,000 was transferred to OMN account. We were very frustrated,” Solomon wrote. Read full text of memo below.
1. In mid 2012, I convinced myself it was time to start a sustainable Oromo media. I reached at that conclusion because I observed that a handful of Internet radio programs and a few TV broadcasts had started in the Diaspora. This hinted to me there was sufficient manpower and expertise to establish a strong media. I discussed the proposal with some people including Abraham Mosisa, Israe’l Soboqaa, and Abdi Fixee; they all encouraged me to push the idea forward.
2. I next contacted Jawar Mohammed and Mohammed Ademo separately. Jawar was unhappy that I shared the idea with Mohammed Ademo but I did not understand the reason at the time.
3. Soon after that OMN core committee of nine members was established.
The members were: 1) Jawar Mohammed, 2) Arfase Gamada, 3)Girma Tadesse, 4) Micah Cirri, 5) Abdi Fiixee, 6) Ayyaantuu Tibeesso, 7) Mohammed Ademo, 8) Tigist Geme, and 9) Solomon Ungashe. Of these 9 members Ayyantuu Tibeesso was unable to take and we did not fill her place. We conducted once or twice weekly teleconferences to move the project forward.
4. In late 2012, I went to Oromia and one of my responsibilities was to establish OMN on the ground there. I was tasked to recruit journalists who will work for us as reporters either on a permanent basis or as part time freelancers. I was working very closely with Mohammed Ademo on this matter.
5. In Mid-2013 Mohammed Ademo told us at our weekly teleconference that there was an opportunity to get Oromo issue aired on Aljazeera. We discussed about it and delegated Mohammed Ademo and Jawar Mohammed to take part in it. That led to Jawar declaring, “I am Oromo First” on TV and that as we know became controversial
6. Shortly after that incident, Jawar suggested we should use Oromo First campaign to raise fund for OMN.
We all agreed and decided that other committee members must take part in the campaign too. The idea of me coming back to the US to take part in it was raised by Jawar himself but we decided against it because there were other things I was doing there and I also personal matters to attend to. So everybody else took part in the Oromo First campaign and we decided to end it in September 2013.
7. Once money was generated from Oromo communities, Arfase and I were assigned to see to it that the money was transferred to OMN account. This proved very difficult and OMN problem started at this point. Unbeknownst to us, Jawar Mohammed had created a parallel committee called Principal Coordinating Committee, PCC for short. Jawar and his wife Arfasse were members of this committee. Mohammed Ademo asked Jawar what the role of the PCC was. He assured us its role is simply to collect the fund and transfer it to OMN. That proved to be false. Week after week and month after month Arfasse and Jawar who were supposed to talk to PCC members and transfer the money to OMN kept giving one reason after another for failing to do so. Out of more than $300,000 collected by Oromo community only $20,000 was transferred to OMN account.We were very frustrated. ￼￼
8. Meanwhile, Mohammed Ademo drafted bylaws and code of conduct for OMN. They were all excellent. I suggested a minor change that was accepted. Only Jawar Mohammed disagreed on a clause pertaining to politics and media and promised he will write an alternative clause instead. We agreed. We waited for more than 6 six weeks but he never produced the alternative clause he had promised.
9. Then it was time to nominate people to be on Board of Trustees. Jawar Mohammed suggested that members of the PCC should take part in the nomination and we all agreed. A joint OMN-PCC teleconference was called. The PCC had 11 members including Jawar and Arfase.
The number of effective OMN members was hence 6. The discussion became the discussion of 6 against 11. The first topic to be discussed was criteria for selection of board members. A proposal was made by OMN founding member that those elected to be on board of trustees must not have a high level active participation in a political organization. All PCC members disagreed very strongly. There was no listening at all. The PCC did not come to discuss, they came to dictate and they had the vote to do whatever they wanted. They therefore handpicked Board members without participation from us.
10. Early on we had discussed we will hire a media professional for short term to help us lay the foundation in Minneapolis. We wanted that person to be someone who has TV background and practical experience and we were looking for such a person.
11. Immediately after the first PCC-OMN joint meeting, Jawar convened PCC meeting and they decided that he will quit his studies at Columbia and move to Minneapolis to lead the founding effort. That meant they have overturned our earlier decision to hire an expert in media affairs. Mohammed Ademo and I said we should instead hire an experienced person. We also argued because Jawar is a prominent person in Ethiopian politics, the idea of him running OMN, a supposedly independent media, does not sound right. The PCC members all agreed with what Jawar said and Mohammed Ademo and I resigned the next morning. Tigist Geme followed us shortly after that.
12. It is important to grasp this chain of events. Jawar Mohammed established a separate committee called PCC that his wife chaired. This committee controlled the fund raised from Oromo communities. Because of good will we never objected to PCC joining OMN committee in the selection of board of directors. That turned out to be a fatal mistake on our part. With that action, Jawar put himself in a position to single handedly pick OMN board and executive committee members.
13. Dr. Birhanu Dirbaba is supposedly the editor-in-chief for OMN. But in reality Jawar has been acting as the editor-in-chief as well. Dr. Birhanu had resigned once over disagreement with what Jawar has been doing. He was rehired again after a prolonged intense plea by OMN board members. There is no guarantee that he will not leave again.
14. Micah Cirrii, one of the founding members resigned from OMN less than two months ago protesting Jawar Mohammed’s dictatorial actions.
15. Girma Tadese, Arafase and Jawar have agreed to make Jawar the editor-in-chief of OMN. The few people remaining with OMN rejected this idea and that is why it has not been announced yet.
16. Contrary to what OMN has announced, Ahmed Yasin and Kadiro Elemo quit protesting Jawar Mohammed’s dictatorial behavior. It surprises me why people do not call them and ask what the truth is.
17. The exodus from OMN will continue unless solution is found immediately. The following actions are desperately needed. a. OMN board must appoint independent investigators. The investigators must speak to all parties concerned. b. Jawar’s role in the organization, and the pay he deserves must be decided and made public. c. A new executive director must be appointed in a transparent manner. Appointing someone hand picked by Jawar again is not going to solve the problem. d. The members of the Board of directors of a company are elected by people who invested in it. Oromo communities around the world are the investors in OMN. They should be the ones who can nominate and elect board of directors. This has to be codified in the OMN bylaws and implemented immediately.