Saturday, December 27, 2014

Ethiopia breaching UN Security Council Resolution 1874 (2009) Sanctions against North Korea ?

Is Ethiopia Violating UN Sanctions against North Korea
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By Andrea Berger
23 December 2014


Since the 1970s, Ethiopia has been in the company of North Korea’s most loyal military customers. Amongst other things, Pyongyang has been a source of munitions, armored personnel carriers, tanks and tank parts, artillery and rocket fuel. In addition to these forms of assistance, North Korea has helped Ethiopia construct, operate and upgrade two weapons factory complexes—today known as the Gafat Armament Industry and Homicho Ammunition Industry. From Ethiopia’s perspective, contracting to North Korea for the initial supply of weapons production technology was a means of reducing long-term dependence on foreign military suppliers. (More comically, according to the Ethiopian Chief of Defence Staff, North Korea’s help in this regard also allows Ethiopia to meet its peacekeeping obligations).[1] Yet in practice, the effects of Ethiopia’s investment have been mixed. On the one hand, it has indeed learned to build certain varieties of small arms and munitions domestically, and now even exports its wares to countries like Sudan.[2] On the other hand, it does not seem to have been able to easily or entirely eschew North Korean assistance, and may still depend upon their goods and services.

Gafat Armament Industry  brochure. Photo: Metals and Engineering CorporationSecuring North Korean help to establish and operate arms factories in the late 1980s was neither politically poisonous, nor outright illegal, in the way that it is today. It was first with UN Security Council Resolution 1874 (2009) that a clear prohibition against purchasing “all arms and related materiel, as well as…technical training, advice, services or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of such arms or materiel” from North Korea was articulated. For this reason, the UN Panel of Experts (established pursuant to Resolution 1874) has taken interest in signs of recent, continuing involvement of DPRK entities in the operations of the Homicho Ammunition Industry. And it is for the same reason that further investigation is needed into potential North Korean links with the second small arms plant in Ethiopia—the Gafat Armament Industry—about which new information, dating to the period shortly before the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1874, has come to light.

Capacity Building

Ethiopia is neither the first, nor the only country to have lusted after an indigenous arms manufacturing capability and paid Pyongyang to help. Such facilities are peppered across the globe, in countries as diverse as Madagascar, Syria, Libya, Iran and possibly Uganda. North Korean-designed ballistic missile production lines throughout the Middle East are the most well-known examples of Pyongyang’s efforts to bolster the indigenous capacity of foreign friends. Factories producing small arms and ammunition, light weapons and some heavier conventional systems are less renowned, but are equally relevant to the implementation of the current sanctions regime against the DPRK.

For North Korea, the design and manufacture of arms factories (or individual arms production lines) in foreign countries remains an evident market opportunity. Most countries with export-oriented military industrial complexes are reluctant to assist another country in developing a level of indigenous capability that eventually reduces the customer’s dependency on foreign supply. However, in this respect as in many others, North Korea is not ‘most countries.’ It has proven more than willing to earn profit in the short-term by helping foreign friends learn to make their own weapons, even if that means losing revenue in the future. For example, in a 2004 meeting between the Nigerian Vice President and Yang Hyong Sop—the Vice President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly—the latter proposed that North Korea provide Nigeria with ammunition production assistance.[3]

The Homicho Ammunition Industry

The first of two Ethiopian defence industry sites believed to have ties to North Korea—the Homicho Ammunition Industry—was established in 1987 as ‘Project 130’ and subsumed under the parastatal Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) in 2010. Based near Ambo, its production lines include: small, medium and heavy ammunition; tank shells, mortar bombs and grenades; and 120mm ‘Katyusha’ rockets.[4] The Homicho complex is the largest North Korean-assisted site. Initially, Pyongyang’s involvement probably centered on the design and establishment of production lines for munitions. These forms of assistance apparently continued through to at least late 2007, and included help manufacturing rocket-propelled grenades and truck-mounted multiple rocket launchers.

Around the same time, it also became clear that Ethiopia was suffering from dependency on North Korean spare parts and machinery for the factory. Because of their (presumably antique) North Korean design heritage, Homicho’s production lines use specific parts and machines, for which there are apparently few cost-effective available sources outside of Pyongyang.[5] Sunk costs in those facilities would have similarly made re-tooling a pricey affair.

Homicho’s centrality to the Ethiopia-North Korea relationship has made it a subject of intense interest and scrutiny. Until at least 2009, and likely thereafter, the US Embassy in Addis Ababa[6] continually exerted pressure on senior Ethiopian officials to sever related contracts with North Korea, much like the US had previously done with governments in Libya and Yemen. In November 2008, it appeared that this pressure might finally yield greater cooperation by the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense, which agreed to let the US Ambassador and a small team into Homicho the following month. Only a few days before the visit was scheduled to take place, the Defence Minister resigned and US access was promptly suspended. The Embassy was told that ‘there would be no problem with the visit if Ethiopia were to get technology or financial assistance from it.’ It is unclear whether access was successfully facilitated thereafter, though the initial offer suggests that the Ethiopian government may at least be open to greater transparency.[7]

In 2014, the UN Panel of Experts spotted public evidence of a possible continuing link between North Korea and the Homicho Ammunition Industry—by then controlled by METEC. Homicho’s official company profile listed the ‘Korea Mineral Trading General Corporation’ as one of its primary suppliers: an entity that does not appear in South Korean company registries. Given the factory’s history, it is therefore reasonable to assume that the company is North Korean. Supporting this conclusion is the fact that reference to the Korea Mineral Trading General Corporation was swiftly removed from the Homicho website following the publication of the UN Panel’s report[8] (though they apparently forgot to sanitize the accompanying PDF brochure).[9]

Gafat Armament Engineering Industry

The second site known to have been assisted by North Korea in the past is the Gafat Armament Engineering Industry, located near Debre Zeit. Gafat was opened in 1989, two years after the Homicho plant. While originally built to manufacture AK-47s and light machine guns, in 2002 it was incorporated into METEC (which also controls Homicho) and was upgraded to produce ‘40mm grenade launchers and other automatic weapons attached on armored vehicles and helicopters’ as well as ‘heavy artillery and howitzers.’ Around this time Gafat’s remit was also allegedly expanded to include armament maintenance.[10]

In addition to the confirmation of early North Korean involvement in Gafat offered in leaked US cables, a glance at marketing material for Gafat highlights the evident overlap between the weapons systems North Korea is able to indigenously produce, and those that Gafat now manufactures.

Gafat Armament Industry brochure. Photo: Metals and Engineering Corporation
(Click to enlarge) Gafat Armament Industry brochure. Photo: Metals and Engineering Corporation
Many of the systems shown above are ones that North Korea is able to produce.[11] Of course, it is worth noting that North Korea originally received or reverse-engineered many of these same systems from the Soviet Union or China, and therefore the Gafat designs bear resemblance to weapons produced by those countries as well. The twin-barreled anti-aircraft gun that is depicted (originally a Soviet design), or twelve-barrel multiple rocket launcher (originally a Chinese design) are examples. Worthy of note is the tear gas gun shown in the top right of the Gafat brochure. A gun of strikingly similar design was photographed in the hands of North Korea’s People’s Security Minister while on a 2013 visit to Uganda—a country also suspected of having received North Korean assistance in indigenous weapons production.[12] While not conclusive evidence, a commonality between many of the designs featured in Gafat’s marketing material is their familiarity to North Korea’s own defense industrial complex.

A gun of strikingly similar design to one shown on the Gafat brochure was photographed in the hands of North Korea’s People’s Security Minister while on a 2013 visit to Uganda. Photo: AFP.
A gun of strikingly similar design to one shown on the Gafat brochure was photographed in the hands of North Korea’s People’s Security Minister while on a 2013 visit to Uganda. Photo: AFP.
More concrete evidence of North Korean involvement in operations at Gafat dates to late 2007. An industrial engineering study of the complex’s inefficiencies, published by the University of Addis Ababa, speaks of a contract with the ‘Korea Ryong Bong General Corporation,’ active at the time of writing in late 2007, to retool production lines for the AK-47 and AK-103.[13] Records of conversations between General Samora and US officials in 2008 discuss what seems to be the same contract between the governments of Ethiopia and North Korea. Samora insisted, however, that “North Koreans have now finished their work and are leaving” Gafat.[14]

The General’s statements regarding the North Korean presence at Homicho and Gafat were frequently contradictory, however. They alternated “between ‘we will continue to source from North Korea’ and ‘we haven’t sourced from North Korea in the past year’ as well as ‘the North Koreans have left’ and ‘some of the North Koreans may still be around.’”[15] It is therefore possible that Pyongyang’s involvement in Gafat and other Ethiopian weapons factories continued beyond 2008. Enquiries into the affiliation of the ‘Korea Ryong Bong General Corporation’ and the nature and duration of its contract with Gafat is therefore necessary.

Build It and They Will Come (Again)

Contradictory statements by Ethiopian officials, as well as fresh suspicions about Gafat’s ties to North Korea, are reasons to continue to ask questions about whether Pyongyang’s involvement in domestic arms production persists. Alleged dependency upon North Korean supply is another. General Samora and other Ethiopian officials have repeatedly affirmed that METEC-run weapons factories are ‘dependent’ upon North Korean spare parts and machines for their production lines, as noted above. Provision of any such spare parts, machines or maintenance services by North Korea would now be sanctioned activity.

Even if cooperation has recently ended, modest but growing evidence suggests that sanctions may at some stage have been breached by the Ethiopian government and/or METEC, which controls the two factories in question. The UN Panel of Experts’ recent interest in Homicho speaks to the Panel’s concern that any North Korean link with the site may be in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874. Indeed, Homicho’s subsequent, swift sanitization of its publicized suppliers list compounds suspicion that interaction between METEC and Pyongyang is continuing in breach of the current sanctions regime. Furthermore, North Koreans were acknowledged by officials to still be on the ground at the Gafat site only months before Resolution 1874 was passed—as part of a contract between the government-run METEC and the Korea Ryong Bong General Corporation. Temporally, this takes confirmed cooperation too close to sanctions territory for comfort.


[1] “Defense Officials Impose Last-Minute Impediments on Arms Inquiry on North Korea,” Embassy Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), 14/01/2008, #08ADDISABABA87. Accessed via Wikileaks on May 27, 2014.

[2] Homicho Ammunition Engineering Industry—A Fact Sheet, Metals and Engineering Corporation,,

[3] “North Korea offers Nigeria missile deal,” Washington Times, January 28, 2004,

[4] Homicho Ammunition Industry, op cit.

[5] “Ethiopia: Scenesetter for Secretary Rice’s December 5 Visit,” Embassy Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), November 30, 2007, #07ADDISABABA3430. Accessed via Wikileaks on May 27, 2014

[6] “Defense Officials Impose Last-Minute Impediments on Arms Inquiry on North Korea,” op cit.

[7] Ibid.

[8] “Report of the Panel of Experts Established Pursuant to Resolution 1874 (2009),” United Nations Security Council, S/2014/147, pp. 35 -36.

[9] Homicho Ammunition Engineering Industry—A Fact Sheet, Metals and Engineering Corporation, A search using Wayback Machine reveals the fact that reference to the Korean entity was removed following the UN Panel report.

[10] Gafat Armament Industry, Metals and Engineering Corporation,

[11] For an overview of North Korean weapons systems in the 1990s, including photographs or drawings, see the “North Korea Country Handbook,” US Department of Defense, May 1997,

[12] Andrea Berger, “A Legal Precipice? The DPRK-Uganda Security Relationship,” 38 North, November 13, 2014,

[13] Tewodros Rufael, “Design of Enterprise Resource Planning: Framework and Its Implementation,” Supervised by Dr. Subhash Chandra at the Graduate Studies of Addis Ababa University, November 2007, pp. 8-9.

[14] “Defense Officials Impose Last-Minute Impediments on Arms Inquiry on North Korea,” op cit.

[15] Ibid.

Found in section: Foreign Affairs
Tags: africa, africa-dprk relations, andrea berger, conventional arms, ethiopia, gafat, gafat armament industry, homicho, Homicho Ammunition Industry, Korea Mineral Trading General Corporation, Korea Ryong Bong General Corporation, Metals and Engineering Corporation, panel of experts, resolution 1874, sanctions, uganda

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3 Responses to “Is Ethiopia Violating UN Sanctions against North Korea”

Dereje says:
December 24, 2014 at 5:24 pm
This is very old information. A new ammunition factory built by poly technology inaugurated few years ago.

now, it is mostly from ukraine and china. watch it on youtube

Andrea says:
December 24, 2014 at 8:33 am

I agree that the information is not ‘new’ in the sense of ‘recent’. Some of the information in the Uni Addis paper, for instance is however, ‘new’ in the sense that it has not been discussed by those examining the implementation of DPRK sanctions before. At least to my knowledge.

Nor is the above concrete evidence of a sanctions violation by Ethiopia. It is merely highlighting an important avenue for further enquiry.


Gembre says:
December 24, 2014 at 2:18 am
I do not see what part of the so called evidence is new. All of the evidence mentioned in this article is more than 5 years old. ???

Friday, December 26, 2014

Ethiopian security forces killed at least five protesters and injured dozens more during the Bahir Dar demonstrations


Ethiopian security forces killed at least five protesters and injured dozens more during the Bahir Dar demonstrations

As 2014 draws to a close, the recent defection of several high-level Ethiopian military personnel,1and the Ethiopian government’s bloody crackdown on protests in Bahir Dar2 highlight serious questions about Ethiopia’s tense internal socio-political situation and the West’s ongoing support for Ethiopia’s repressive government.

Late last week, in Bahir Dar, several people were killed and many others wounded after police abruptly opened fire on protesters defending a sacred site against government-sponsored demolition.3 On the heels of the crackdown, several military pilots and a technician absconded with MI-35 helicopters; notably, the defections are only the latest in a series of similar such high-profile desertions.

Although Ethiopia has witnessed several years of respectable economic growth, last week’s developments reflect “the politics of fear” that pervades Ethiopia’s socio-political landscape, and emphasize the country’s significant “challenges concerning human rights, political competition, good governance, and corruption.” 4 Earlier this year, Ethiopian authorities arrested nine journalists and bloggers, subsequently denying them access to lawyers, family, and colleagues. They have been held on allegations they work for foreign human rights groups or used social media to incite violence.5 Such allegations have become common-place, as Ethiopia’s highly-controversial anti-terrorism laws allow the government to hand down long sentences to anyone who “writes, edits, prints, publishes, publicizes, [or] disseminates” statements the government considers terrorism.6 The arrests of the bloggers coincided with mass non-violent protests led by students in the central Oromia region,7 ultimately seeing numerous protestors killed, wounded, and arrested.8,9

Furthermore, the Ethiopian army has systematically engaged in executions, rape, torture, arbitrary arrests, and various other abuses in its ongoing brutal counter-insurgency against the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).10 Ethnic groups residing within and around the region have endured arbitrary detentions, torture, and mistreatment in detention, as well as severe restrictions on movement and commercial trade, and minimal access to independent relief assistance. Effectively, such abuses constitute direct threats to their survival.11

As well, weeks ago, TV4 reported that H&M, the popular Swedish clothing company, has purchased cotton from regions in Ethiopia where land-grabbing and forced displacement have occurred.12 Problematically, a central component of Ethiopia’s developmental and agricultural strategy involves “villagization,” a program entailing the relocation of millions of people from locations reserved for industrial plantations.13 Villagization has long been condemned by international organizations,14 since it leads to greater food insecurity, a destruction of livelihoods, and the loss of cultural heritage of ethnic groups. Ethiopia’s program, which utilizes forced evictions, has been plagued by a plethora of human rights violations, with a variety of human rights groups documenting beatings, killings, rapes, imprisonment, intimidation, and political coercion by the government and authorities.15

With national elections on the horizon (scheduled for May 2015), the potential for further instability, discord, and popular revolt loom large, especially considering past precedent. In 2005, following national elections widely believed to have been rigged, the Ethiopian government, under the late, authoritarian leader Meles Zenawi, “massacred” hundreds of protestors, many of them teenagers.16 Moreover, in recent years, massive protests by the Blue Party opposition group and Muslim groups, have ended in deaths, repression, and state violence.17 Finally, in November, a 166-page report on the plight of the Oromo people in Ethiopia was released.18 Concluding that the Oromo people have suffered “sweeping” repression in Ethiopia, the report detailed that between 2011 and 2014, more than 5000 Oromos have been arrested based on their opposition to the government, with the majority of those arrested being peaceful protestors or members of opposition parties.19 Looking towards the 2015 elections, Berhanu Nega, Professor of Economics at Bucknell University and former leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy in Ethiopia, asserts that the Ethiopian government can “never have free and fair elections.” Specifically, according to Nega,

“[t]he reason why there’s so much repression, the reason why there’s so much muzzling of the press, the reason why the Ethiopian government is arresting opposition figures inside the country is precisely because they know that this is a despised government. It cannot last a day in an environment of freedom. This is a government that will lose catastrophically if there were [a] free and fair election.”20

Last, it is noteworthy that Ethiopia’s various internal challenges are compounded by its transgressions which extend beyond its borders. Specifically, Ethiopia has continued to occupy sovereign territory of its northern neighbor, Eritrea, in direct violation of international law, and in blatant contravention of the rulings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission.21 The 12-year-long military occupation has frozen any possibility of developmental cooperation or economic partnership between the two countries, and the military occupation is seen as an influential factor to much of the instability within the Horn of Africa region.

In seeking to address Ethiopia’s flagrant dismissal of international norms and laws, a variety of measures could plausibly be undertaken (e.g. sanctions). However, the first, and possibly most far-reaching and effective response by the international community should be to withdraw its unwavering support for the repressive Ethiopian government. George Galloway, respected British politician, broadcaster, and writer, has often voiced concern of how the West’s (led by the US and UK) support for dictatorial, tyrannical regimes results in harming the populations of those countries. Regarding Ethiopia, Galloway has decried how the UK and US policy of encouraging, arming, training, financing, and facilitating the Ethiopian government’s “reign of terror” is “morally vacuous.”22 Similarly, renowned international economist, William Easterly, has recommended that the international community “stop financing tyranny and repression” in Ethiopia.23

An indication of the possible far-reaching effects of removing external support for a harsh, brutal regime can be seen in the example of Indonesia. Professor Noam Chomsky (MIT) has written and spoken extensively on how US and western support for the despotic regime in Indonesia played an indirect, yet extremely harmful role in the carnage and deaths of hundreds of thousands in East Timor.24 However, in 1999, after much pressure, the US finally “pulled the plug” on its support for the Suharto regime, quickly leading to the cessation of Indonesia’s brutal campaign. Specifically,

“[f]or 25 years, the United States strongly supported the vicious Indonesian invasion and massacre, a virtual genocide. It was happening right through 1999, as the Indonesian atrocities increased and escalated, after Dili the capital city was practically evacuated. After Indonesian attacks, the US was still supporting it. Finally, in mid-September 1999, under considerable international and also domestic pressure, Clinton quietly told the Indonesian generals “It’s finished.” And they had said they’d never leave, they said “this is our territory.” They pulled out within days, and allowed a UN peacekeeping force to enter without Indonesian military resistance. Well, you know, that’s a dramatic indication of what can be done.”

While the socio-political dynamics and historical contexts of Indonesia and Ethiopia are quite different, the comparison presents several clear similarities. Both regimes received decades-worth of external economic, military, and political support (particularly from the US). Additionally, both regimes systematically and persistently violated human rights, transgressed various international laws – such as through military occupation, and engaged in large-scale campaigns characterized as “genocidal.” Consequently, with Ethiopia continuing to overlook basic international norms, standards, and laws, the international community must end its complicity in and (in)direct support for Ethiopia’s various transgressions. As Clinton relayed to Indonesia’s leadership, the international community must tell Ethiopia, “It’s finished.”


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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of hijacking helicopter | Africa | Worldbulletin News

Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of hijacking helicopter
file photo

The Ethiopian Defense Ministry said in a statement that an Ethiopian helicopter – that has disappeared since Friday – was forced to land in neighboring Eritrea

World Bulletin/News Desk
Ethiopia on Monday accused what it described as the "agents" of the regime in Eritrea of hijacking an Ethiopian helicopter.
The Ethiopian Defense Ministry said in a statement that an Ethiopian helicopter – that has disappeared since Friday – was forced to land in neighboring Eritrea.
It said the helicopter was on a training mission when the Ethiopian pilot forced a trainee and a technician on board to head to Eritrea.
 "The agents of the Eritrean regime had carried out the helicopter hijacking," the Ethiopian Defense Ministry added in the statement.
It denounced what it called the "enemies of peace and democracy", probably in reference to the ruling regime in Eritrea.
It said "anti-peace" groups would not be able to impede development, peace and democracy in Ethiopia.
The Anadolu Agency could not immediately obtain comments from the Eritrean government on the accusations of the Ethiopian Defense Ministry.
Ethiopia and Eritrea have been on no-peace, no-war terms since 2000 when the war between the two African states came to an end over a border triangle.
The war left thousands of people dead on both sides.
The two sides have also been trading accusations of supporting internal opposition since the end of the war.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Two Ethiopian Air Force pilots defected , three protesters killed in Bahir Dar | Diplomat News Network

Ethiopian Mi-35 Helicopter

Ethiopian Mi-35 Helicopter
Addis Ababa ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – Two Ethiopian Air Force pilots reportedly went missing since yesterday morning with their two MI-35 combat helicopters.
Due to the increasing number of defection, the Ethiopian Air Force enforced a restriction that only allow flying within a 30 minute flight radius during training periods. The ban, however, couldn’t stop disgruntled members of the force to abandon the regime and seek protection in neighboring countries like Eritrea, flying with their multi-million dollar military machines.
According to ESAT, the two missing pilots are named as Captain Samuel Ghidey and Lieutenant Yililign Mekonen.
Ethiopian Air Force is no stranger to such high profile defection. In October of this year alone, Four SU-25 Fighter Jet captains deserted the Air Force to join armed opposition groups based in Eritrea.
Until the time of reporting, it was not clear if these two helicopter pilots defected to Eritrea or not. However, it is highly unlikely for an Ethiopian Air Force pilot to seek protection elsewhere apart from Eritrea.
Ethiopian Regime Shoots and kills protesters in Bahir Dar
At least three Ethiopian protesters were killed and seven others were wounded after regime forces unleashed a hail of gunfire towards demonstrators in Bahir Drar.
The demonstrators, who mainly comprised of the Christian Orthodox faith, came together to protest the city’s administrator’s plan to take parts of “Meskel Square” for road expansion.
The ‘Meskel Square’ area is largely used by the city’s Orthodox Church followers to observe annual religious ceremonies such as “Meskel” (the Founding of the True Cross), colorfully celebrated on 26th of Sep. each year.
In a similar incident over development, last April, regime security forces shot and killed at least 47 Ethiopian students after they protested the “Integrated Urban Development” Master Plan of Addis Ababa, a plan protesters said is intended at taking lands from Oromos near Addis Ababa and giving them to party loyalists.
Last week, a top Swedish prosecutor told Swedish Radio that 12 Ethiopian government officials and one other military commander who is based in Sweden are being investigated for executing the killings of 193 innocent protesters following the 2005 Ethiopian post election.
For more news and stories, join us on Facebook,Twitter and Subcripe ourYoutube Channel,Or contact us through our Emails :,,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why Are We Not Listening to Andargechaw Tsige–Ginbot 7 leader held by Ethiopian Government |strathink

The Ethiopian Government is holding Andargachew Tsige, Secretary General of Ginbot 7, since his extradition from Yemen last month. Yemeni security forces apprehended Mr. Tsige while he was attempting to board a plane bound for Eritrea. His arrest brought attention from the British Government, a U.S. Congressman from California, and a number of human rights organizations.
Are we on the right side of history in condemning the Government of Ethiopia for detaining a man who simply belongs to a group opposing the current government? Is this a case of denying a group the political space to exercise its constitutional right to disagree? [1] Or, based on what the leaders of Ginbot 7 are saying publicly, does this particular case require a closer look?
What is Ginbot 7?
Ginbot 7 was created in 2006 and formally established as a non-profit organization in the United States on May 15, 2008 by Birhanu Nega, the current chairman. Birhanu Nega and Andargachew Tsige became the leaders of Ginbot 7. Birhanu Nega lives in Pennsylvania and Andargachew, formerly a resident of the U.K., was sent to Eritrea and has lived there for five years. The question is—why was Andargachew sent to Eritrea?
According to public statements made by the current chairman, Birhanu Nega, the objective of Ginbot 7 is to overthrow the Government of Ethiopia and dismantle the federal political arrangements by any and all means necessary. Birhanu Nega has stated that these means include violence, diplomacy and public insurrection. In its press releases, manifestos and public statements—all are available online at and archived on its affiliated internet media channels—their goals and means of achieving these goals are clearly and unequivocally stated.
In 2008, Birhanu Nega and Andargachew Tsige travelled to Dubai to meet with Asamenew Tsige—a representative of Brigadier General Tefera Mamo, the leader of an armed terrorist group. There in Dubai, Ginbot7’s leadership planned to carry out assassinations against key Ethiopian government officials, including the Prime Minister and the Army Chief of Staff, and attacks on sensitive installations such as Bole International Airport, the Ministry of Defense and the Federal Police in Addis Ababa. The attempt was thwarted when the conspirators were caught with an arsenal of weapons to carry out the attacks and documents with their plans meticulously laid out.
Birhanu Nega, the chairman, has been upfront about the organization’s close relationship with Eritrean strongman Isayas Afewerki. Birhanu Nega has publicly stated that Eritrea has provided one million dollars annually to Ginbot 7 as well as training for members in how to make bombs for detonation in public spaces.Andargachew Tsige, in his last interview with ESAT, the satellite TV network owned and operated by Ginbot 7, confirmed that the activities of Ginbot 7 are fully financed by the Eritrean government.
The United Nations Security Council pursuant to Resolution 1907(2009) and Resolution 2023(2011) imposed sanctions against the government of Eritrea by strongly condemning any acts by Eritrea that undermine peace, security and stability in the region and demanded Eritrea, among others, to cease all direct or indirect efforts to destabilize the states in the region, including through financial, military, intelligence and non-military assistance, such as the provision of training centers, camps and other similar facilities for armed groups, passports, living expenses or travel facilities.
The US Department of Treasury pursuant to Executive Order 13536, also blocked the property of two senior Eritrean government intelligence officials, Col. Tewelde Habte Negash (a.k.a. Colonel Mussa) and Col. Tea’me Goiteom, (a.k.a. Mekele) who have been responsible for the ongoing bloodshed and instability in Somalia. Col. Twelde Habte Negash was identified as the principal architect of the Government of Eritrea’s relations with Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu in 2006, and as the principal coordinator of financial and logistical support to a number of armed groups, including the Al-Shabab. Similarly, Col. Tea’me, a senior Eritrean Government official, who played direct role in decisions concerning key ARS (Alliance for the Re-libration of Somalia), was identified as a key arms trafficker in the region with clients such as the insurgents in Somalia.
What Was Andargachew Tsige Doing in Eritrea?
Andargachew Tsige was stationed in Eritrea for five years. What was he doing during that time? In his own words, in a surprising turn of events heard on Ethiopian television, Andargachew Tsige admitted to organizing an armed terrorist wing of Ginbot 7, called Ginbot 7 Popular Force. He gave a detailed account of a series of trainings he carried out with members recruited from the Ethiopian Diaspora—including the United States, Great Britain, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa and Kenya.
Masresha Badenga (a.k.a Abass), Cosmos Gebremichael (a.k.a. Abichu), Tedros Seyoum (a.k.a. Minilik) and Shita Shiferwa (a.k.a. Che Guevarra)- who had eventually escaped from Eritrea, having been recruited from the Diaspora community in South Africa, had earlier confirmed Andargachew’s stories about recruiting and training of Ethiopians in terrorist tactics. Their stories give further weight to Andargachew Tsige’s confession and Andargachew himself recounted all the names of Ethiopians who were recruited and sent to Eritrea for training.
Further support for Andargachew’s confession is the case of Abebe Wondemagn, a.k.a. Abreham, a British citizen of Ethiopian origin, who was arrested on January 23, 2013. He was caught by police providing training on explosives to Ginbot 7 clandestine operatives. Abebe Wondemagn told police he was recruited by Ginbot 7 in Great Britain and sent to Eritrea for training by Andargechew Tsige. He told police that he was assigned to blow up Edna Mall—a popular gathering place for Ethiopians that hosts an indoor playground for children—located in a busy shopping area near Bole Holy Savior Church.
Why are the British Government, a U.S. Congressman and Human Rights Organizations Supporting Andargachew Tsige?
It seems as if no one is listening to Andargachew Tsige himself. In an astonishing turnaround, Andargachew Tsige openly expressed his frustration with the leadership of Ginbot 7. He accused them of not willing to take on the hardships he has experienced in Eritrea; putting careers and family before the struggle; and incapable of providing the strategic leadership he provides in achieving their goal of overthrowing the Ethiopian Government.
Why is the international community supporting a man who has, for all appearances, been forthright in his account of his leadership in an organization that openly professes using violence against civilians to achieve its aims? Why are we supporting a man who confesses to recruiting and training members of the Ethiopian Diaspora in bomb-making?
Human Rights Watch, as it always does, wasted no time in condemning the Ethiopian government and to quickly express its deep concern for the safety of Andargachew Tsige. It warned the international community of the risk of mistreatment, including torture, that Andargachew Tsige would be facing at the hands of the Ethiopian government. Although Andargachew Tsige subsequently appeared on Ethiopian television and publicly stated that he was doing fine and his handling was good, nobody listened to him. Again, although a pro-Ethiopian government website reported that the British Ambassador to Ethiopia met Andargachew Tsige, the Ethiopian government was still being accused of denying consular access to Andargachew.
Again, why are we not listening to Andargachew Tsige?
Ethiopia is a staunch ally of the United States and is the only country in the region capable of playing a leading role in the global war on terror. Ethiopia has put its troops in harm’s way in the fight against al-Qaeda-backed al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The Ethiopian government is doing well in developing the county and Ethiopia has become one of the fastest non-oil growing economies in the world. Ethiopia’s impressive economic performance, with double-digit economic growth for several years, is significantly reducing poverty and significantly improving the lives and livelihood of the Ethiopian people. Although the government has allowed multiparty democracy and free press, human rights organizations frequently accuse the government for limiting the political space to opposition parties. The Ethiopian Government’s handling of the free press—and there is, indeed, a large and vocal free press in Ethiopia—and its handling of journalists is often criticized.
However, we should not forget that Ethiopia is just emerging from century-old feudal aristocracy followed by one of the most brutal military dictatorship in its long history. We should not therefore expect institutions of democracy to be built overnight and all conditions of democracy to be met at once in Ethiopia. We should also remember that Ethiopia is surrounded by failed states, such as Somalia and South Sudan and rogue states, such as Eritrea and Sudan, where we cannot talk of security and stability, leave alone about democracy and free press.
The United States has a dilemma. We see ourselves as on the frontlines of promoting freedom and democracy worldwide. We want to be on the right side of history. Yet, are we always clear about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? For example, we count the Government of Saudi Arabia as our friend because the alternative—a fundamentalist Islamic state that uses terror to conquer its so-called enemies—is unthinkable. Yet, the Government of Saudi Arabia denies the most fundamental human rights to half of its citizens—Saudi women. It is a country where it is illegal to practice any religion other than Islam. For years, we supported the Taliban in Afghanistan because the Taliban was not the Soviet Union. That foreign policy has come back to bite us. There are a number of examples where the United States has been and remains on the wrong side of history in promoting democracy and good governance.
In the case of Ethiopia, maybe we should take a closer and more nuanced look at the situation. Are we, the United States, again on the wrong side of history in supporting a group that openly advocates for the violent overthrow of a government and raises money in the United States to do so? Is Ginbot 7 deceiving the Internal Revenue Service by stating on paper that it is a humanitarian organization yet publicly raising money to purchase weapons for its armed wing, the Ginbot 7 Popular Force?
Maybe it is time to take a closer look and evaluate the merits of this particular case on the facts. Let’s take a look at Ginbot 7 based on what its leadership is saying to its supporters. Is the chairman, Birhanu Nega, actually raising money for weapons and has the Government of Eritrea been its benefactor? Andargechew Tsige has said that he is a terrorist—training Ethiopians in the Diaspora to make bombs and detonate them in public areas. Should we believe him?
If it turns out that the leadership is telling the truth,instead of providing critical support to the Ethiopian government, do we really want an organization such as Ginbot 7 to de-stabilize Ethiopia and, in turn, further de-stabilize the fragile Horn of Africa? Do we really want our national security interests to be threatened because we are not listening?
If Birhanu Nega and Andargachew Tsige are telling the truth, not only are we supporting a man who has himself thrown in the towel—and his comrades under the bus as well—but we are allowing Ginbot 7 to raise money and recruit Ethiopian Americans to plant bombs in shopping centers and places of worship. We do not support Somali Americans joining al-Shabaab. We do not support American Muslims from joining ISIS. Is Ginbot 7 somehow different? 
Andargachew Tsige has told his story. Why are we not listening?

[1] Andargachew Tsige is a British citizen so it becomes a bit murky when arguing that he has a constitutional right to engage in Ethiopian politics

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Justice and politics in Ethiopia: Snatched | The Economist

 "Justice and politics in Ethiopia
Jul 9th 2014, 9:35 by W.G. | ADDIS ABABA

ANDARGACHEW TSIGE, an exiled Ethiopian opposition leader with British nationality, could be facing the death penalty after apparently being arrested and sent back to his country of origin while on a trip to the Gulf. While transiting in Yemen on June 23rd, during a journey from Dubai to Eritrea, Andargachew mysteriously ended up on a plane to Ethiopia. It is believed that he was detained by Yemeni officials and handed over to members of Ethiopia's security apparatus.

Andargachew was charged by the Ethiopian authorities with terrorism and sentenced, in absentia, to death, at two separate trials between 2009 and 2012. Following post-election protests in 2005 he had fled the country and been granted asylum in Britain, where he created Ginbot 7, a leading opposition movement.

Now in the hands of the state which had legally prepared for his execution, his family are concerned about Andargachew's safety. “The British embassy has still not been granted consular access,” says his wife, Yemisrach Hailemariam, who lives in London. “We are deeply concerned he is being tortured and they will wait for his wounds to be healed before anyone can see him.”

There are concerns that Yemen's government did not follow the correct procedures for extradition. It is believed that Andargachew was arrested and flown to Addis Ababa without British officials being formally alerted. According to Anand Doobay, an extradition expert at Peters & Peters, a law firm, under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations the British embassy should have been notified that one of its citizens was being detained and given the chance to visit him. “Sometimes there is no legal extradition process and then there is a risk that rendition can take place following informal contact between police forces,” he says.

In recent years Ethiopia has conducted several extraditions with varying degrees of legality. Recently Okello Okuway, a Norwegian national, was arrested in South Sudan and extradited to Ethiopia. In June he was brought to court and faces terrorism charges. Prior to that Kenya detained and extradited two Ethiopian members of the Oromo ethnic group accused of having links to Oromo rebels, who were then sentenced to life in prison. One of them died in 2013 serving his term. Kenya also detained and sent a Canadian passport holder back to Ethiopia, where he faces terrorism charges for alleged links rebels from the Ogaden region. Human Rights Watch states that various other political refugees have been sent back from neighbouring countries.

“The region has always been dangerous for political activists,” says Jawar Mohammed, an Ethiopian political commentator based in America. “However, in the past kidnapping or assassinations were carried out by the Ethiopian security. Now such action is being undertaken by security services of the neighboring countries. This makes it extremely dangerous.” He believes that Yemeni officials may have been eager to take a knock at the government of Eritrea, Andargachew's destination, because of the ongoing conflict between Yemen and Eritrea over the Hanish islands in the Red Sea.

Now that Andargachew is on Ethiopian soil, where he is considered a terrorist, his fate remains uncertain. His wife has called on the British government to step up their efforts. “If the British government allows Ethiopia to get away with kidnapping its citizen in international territory and stands by as they continue to torture, detain, and potentially execute my husband, then it sets a very bad precedent for the security of any Brit travelling abroad,” she says. British diplomats say they are demanding access to Andargachew, so far without success.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Ethiopia: The post-Meles universe takes shape | East & Horn Africa

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (1), Debretsion Gebremichael (2), Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi (3)

Prime Minister Hailemariam is developing a style of consensual politics, but some politicans and businessmen are having difficulty adjusting.

The passing of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in August 2012 has shaken up the business and political elite.
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn does not favour the top-down and snap decision-making practised by his predecessor, preferring instead to consult more widely.
While this leads to a slower governmental machine, it protects the administration from the odd rash decision.
This more collegiate style of governance has opened up the space for a cadre of influential top advisers.
Old political hands Bereket Simon, who before Meles's death had been slated to leave office in the next generational purge, and Abay Tsehaye are key members of a brain trust intended to replace the phenomenal intellect of the former Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) leader.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (1) has eased into his new role as foreign minister. He had spearheaded the country's remarkable health reforms and now has room to make a name for himself on the global stage.
Unlike Meles, Hailemariam does not seem to crave the international spotlight.
Tedros's popular Twitter feed – he has nearly 24,700 followers – and his strong statements on Africa and the International Criminal Court while chairman of the African Union's executive council, have given him increased visibility.
Hailemariam's appointment, soon after taking office, of two additional deputy prime ministers has given further clout to Debretsion Gebremichael (2), deputy chairman of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), one of the constituent parties of the EPRDF.
Aside from his dual portfolio as deputy prime minister for the finance and economic cluster and minister of communication and information technology – the latter of which sees him in control of the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) – he is also chairman of two newly created companies, Ethiopian Electric Power and Ethiopian Electric Services.
Arguably, this makes him one of the most influential men in government.
Azeb Mesfin, Meles's once powerful widow, has suffered mixed fortunes since his death.
Despite her failure to win the election for mayor of Addis Ababa, losing to former transport minister Diriba Kuma in July 2013, she remains a member of the political bureau of the TPLF, the EPRDF's executive commit- tee and the Endowment Fund For The Rehabilitation of Tigray.
Public and private
The business world was rocked by the arrest in May 2013 of more than 30 suspects – including Melaku Fenta, director general of the Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority – on charges including tax evasion and receiving bribes.
But Ethiopia remains a land of opportunity, if one goes by the number of private equity companies passing through Addis Ababa.
The big state businesses like the Sugar Corporation and ETC remain unchallenged by private sector rivals.
Brigadier General Kinfe Dagnew continues to look untouchable as he sits atop the Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC).
A state-owned industrial company consisting of close to 70 engineering enterprises and military hardware manufacturing entities, METEC is the only local contractor involved in the flagship $4.3bn Grand Renaissance Dam project.
Another survivor of the Meles era, managing director of Ernst & Young Ethiopia Zemedeneh Negatu, is making a push into technology companies in his private capacity.
In a well timed move into mobile banking and IT training, Zemedeneh is poised to reap dividends.
Although he was powerful under Meles, Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi (3)'s star is no longer shining so brightly. Work on the Saudi Arabian and Ethiopian businessman's enormous five-star hotel, situated on the compound of the African Union's headquarters, stalled for several months last year.
His company Saudi Star's rice farm is not yielding results, and Pakistani company MCG Consulting, which had been working on the project, pulled out at the end of last year. ●
Photo Credits: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Evan Schneider/UN), Debretsion Gebremichael (All Rights Reserved), Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi (All Rights Reserved)

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