California Congressman demands the release of Andargachew Tsige


WASHINGTON – Rep. Dana Rohrabacher on Monday urged Ethiopia’s prime minister to release Andargachew Tsige, a native-born opposition leader with British citizenship who last month was extradited to the African nation from Yemen under questionable circumstances.

In a letter to Prime Minister Hailemarian Desalegn, the California Republican wrote: “Mr. Andargachew is a British citizen and a leader for political reform in Ethiopia. He should be released and allowed to return to his family immediately. Any maltreatment or harm to him, or other prodemocracy activists, in your country only serves to widen the gap between our two countries.”

Andargachew was traveling from Dubai to Eritrea on June 23 when, stopping over in Yemen, he was forcibly flown back to Ethiopia, which he fled in 2005 following protests of the nation’s elections. He was granted asylum in Britain, where his wife currently lives. British officials have expressed concerns that his extradition was not properly handled.

The activist was charged with terrorism and sentenced to death in absentia. In his letter to the Ethiopian prime minister, Rohrabacher added concerns from the United States.

His letter can be accessed here: >> … n-leader-0

The Abduction of Endargachew Tsige, and the Nature and Reality of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Opposition

By Drs. Tsegezab Gebregergis,

1. Introduction



Endargachew Tsige was kidnapped on June 23rd, 2014 at the Sana’a International airport  while on transit to Eritrea by Ethiopian security agents with the active connivance and collaboration of Yemeni intelligence services. After denying his abduction for more than two weeks , on July 9th,, the TPLF gangs were seen to be parading their victim on Ethiopian Television. The freshly tortured and humiliated Endargachew Tsige is seen being displayed on Ethiopian television and desperately telling his torturer; “I am at ease with myself. For me it is a blessing in disguise. I am in no rush. I just want to rest. I am really exhausted. I have no resentment, no anger and no despair. I am totally in control and stable.”

In the end, we see Endargachew shaking hands with his torturer and showing a sardonic smile, while the face of his coward interrogator/torturer remained hidden from  public view. The TPLF gangs ruling Ethiopia today, are well known for savagely and routinely torturing their victims to extract information/confessions, and as a means of humiliating, and inflicting maximum pain on their victims. Torturing political prisoners apart from being cruel and inhuman, is also illegal in all its manifestations under international law. However, the TPLF political gangs can get away with their crude violations of international law and norms because, as allies in the war against terrorism, they are politically and diplomatically shielded by the dictator friendly American and British governments.

2. The purpose

The  purpose of this article is to raise awareness of the kidnapping of Endargachew Tsige, and the nature and reality of the Ethiopian and Eritrean opposition groups. The article raises, among other things, some basic questions of common interest for both Eritreans and Ethiopians engaged in the struggle for justice, democracy and human right. It also discusses how Eritrean democrats should respond to his abduction. It is written from the perspective of an independent Eritrean democrat, engaged in the protracted struggle for democracy, justice and human rights in Eritrea against the rotten dictatorial PFDJ regime.

3. Who is Endargachew Tsige; and who entrapped him in Saana?              

Endargachew Tsige is a well known Ethiopian opposition leader and Secretary General of Ginbot 7. Before he joined the opposition, Andargachew was a former member of the ruling party –the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and had briefly held the position of  Deputy Mayor of Addis Ababa. To be sure, Ginbot 7 is an opposition Ethiopian political party, officially launched in 2008 in the aftermath of Ethiopia’s fraudulent May 2005 national elections. The founders of Ginbot-7 are Berhanu Nega and Endargachew Tsige and other like minded Ethiopians. Its declared political objectives are to overthrow the semi-fascist TPLF regime in Ethiopia and create a democratic government in its place.

In 2011, three years after its birth, Ginbot 7, along with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), who are fighting for the Ogaden people’s right to self-determination, and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), who are also struggling for the right to self-determination for the Oromo people, were declared terrorists by the semi-fascist Tigrian rulers of Ethiopia . It should be remembered here that, in the aftermath of the May 2005 rigged election, more 200 unarmed protesters were murdered in cold blood in broad-day-light by the TPLF security forces. It should also be remembered that in 2009 and 2012, Mr Andergachew Tsige was among those opposition leaders sentenced to death in absentia for allegedly planning to overthrow the tyrannical Woyane regime.

4. The Big Question

The big question is-how did the intelligence agents of Ethiopia and Yemen know in advance the travel itinerary of Endargachew Tsige? In other words, who could have informed them about his travel plans in advance? In my opinion, it could only be either his close comrades, the airline or the travel agency which made the travel arrangements for him,  British intelligence, or an Eritrean double agent operating from his base in Eritrea, with whom Endargachew might have had an active contact who  betrayed him in the end. In any case, these are some of the most important questions which require exploring and scrutinizing by all concerned to determine how his enemies knew about his planned travel via Yemen to Eritrea and kidnapped him.

5. Some Questions Requiring Answers

So far, I have stated the basic facts related to the profile and kidnapping of Endargachew. Let me now raise some relevant questions related to what should be the stand of Eritreans on his abduction. The first question which requires an appropriate answer is thus: can the Eritrean opposition groups have a common stand on his abduction? And what does it mean to Eritrean and Ethiopian democrats when opposition groups claiming to be struggling for democracy and the respect of human rights, go and ally themselves with tyrant leaders? I will answer now the questions I have posed here as objectively and honestly as I can.
To begin with, the answer to the question can the Eritrean opposition groups have a common stand on the abduction of Endargachew is a definite no! Why? Because Eritreans today are sharply divided between those on the one hand ,who support and entertain the Eritrean dictator and his oppressive government, , and those on the other that oppose the Eritrean regime supported by the TPLF oppressive government of Ethiopia,. But this is not all. For Eritreans are also sharply divided between the opposition groups based in Ethiopia and those operating in the diaspora. For the Eritrean groups based in Ethiopia consider and propagate that the TPLF led government of Ethiopia is democratic and are the strategic friend of Eritrea and its people. Much to their discredit, these groups do not even have the political will to demand their TPLF paymasters vacate the illegally occupied Eritrean territories and  stop its crude interference in Eritrean internal affairs. There are therefore qualitative differences between the opposition groups nurtured and supported by the TPLF government of Ethiopia, and those independent Eritrean groups and individuals uncompromisingly opposed both to the semi-fascist PFDJ regime and the expansionist and anti-democratic TPLF led government of Ethiopia. Thus, unlike the puppet Eritrean groups based in Ethiopia, these independent Eritrean political groups and individuals portray the TPLF led government of Ethiopia as the strategic enemy of the Eritrean and Ethiopian people and consistently struggles and call for the overthrow of both the PFDJ led government of Eritrea and the TPLF led government of Ethiopia. In other words, these Eritrean opposition groups believe genuine peace, stability and the collective economic emancipation of the oppressed people of both countries will be realized only if we succeed in overthrowing the two oppressive governments in both Eritrea and Ethiopia through the joint struggle of Eritrean and Ethiopian democrats.

Having explained the existing division and qualitative differences within the Eritrean opposition groups based in Ethiopia and those operating in the diaspora, let me now pose the question: how do the independent Eritrean democrats opposed both to the PFDJ and TPLF regime view the abduction of Endargachew Tsige?

Before I answer the question , there are several other questions which beg for an appropriate answer. These are the following revealing questions: Are  Endargachew Tsige and his party a friend of the Eritrean people or a committed friend of the Eritrean dictator? Could a leader of a party allied with a demonic dictator, such as Issayas Afeworki, be trusted to be a friend of the Eritrean people? What is more, could he also be trusted to establish an accountable and democratic state based on the rule of law in Ethiopia itself? I will now attempt to answer my own questions by way of an example.

Some years back, I participated in a seminar conducted by Endargachew Tsige for Ethiopians living in London. The seminar was attended by Ethiopians opposed to TPLF rule of Ethiopia and by some invited PFDJ cadres. During the question and answer session, I asked Endargachew the following questions. How do you explain that your party – the party which has the declared political objectives to topple the oppressive Woyane regime and institute a democratic and accountable government on its ruins in Ethiopia- is allying itself with the tyrannical Eritrean regime tormenting the Eritrean people? Don’t you understand that Eritrean democrats are also struggling to overthrow the demonic PFDJ regime- just like Ethiopian democrats opposed to the TPLF government are busy doing – in order to construct a democratic regime based on the rule of law in Eritrea?

The following is the reply Endargachew gave to my question. “We are in Eritrea not by choice as such, but because Ethiopian freedom fighters cannot effectively fight and successfully defeat the Woyanne dictatorship without a base in Eritrea, and the cooperation of the PFDJ led government of Eritrea. For this concrete reason, we are in Eritrea to conduct effective operations against the TPLF dictatorship.”

Having heard his response, then I tend to believe that Ginbot 7 and its political leadership were operating from Eritrea for reasons dictated by the prevailing historical circumstances and the geopolitics of the region. However, in 2013 in an interview with the diaspora based Ethiopian Satellite television, I heard Engargachew praising lavishly and unambiguously, and lionizing the Eritrean dictator, defending the PFDJ government and its policies. He indeed spoke unapologetically and at great length as if he was a senior PFDJ cadre in charge of propaganda, and not as an Ethiopian who is in Eritrea dictated by unyielding historical necessity.

Similarly, as if it was meant to be an insult to the intelligence of Eritrean democrats opposed to the PFDJ regime, Elias Kifle, the editor of Ethiopian Review and an ally of Ginbot 7, and a regular visitor to the Eritrean Dictator, has gone to the extent of  selecting the Eritrean dictator, Issayas Afeworki, as the Man-of-the-Year in 2008. It is therefore crystal clear that Ginbot 7 and its political leadership are working hand in glove with the cruel and semi-fascist dictatorial PFDJ regime and its dictatorial leader Issayas Afeworki- the man who has transformed Eritrea into a giant prison. Ginbot-7 and its political leadership are therefore the friends and allies of the Eritrean Dictator.

There are therefore obvious similarities between the different Ethiopian opposition groups operating from their bases in Eritrea and the Eritrean opposition groups based in Ethiopia. In other words, the different Ethiopian opposition groups are operating from their base in Eritrea under the firm control of PFDJ officials, just like the various servile Eritrean opposition groups based in Addis Ababa operate  under the firm control of the TPLF rulers of Ethiopia. The Eritrean opposition political groups in particular are groups who do not and cannot even dare to say a word of protest when more than 200 innocent Ethiopian demonstrators were gunned down in front of their eyes in Addis Ababa. On the contrary, these Eritrean puppet groups who wine and dine with the Ethiopian government officials are defending and praising the Woyane regime unashamedly as the best government Ethiopia has ever had ,and portray the vicious regime as the strategic friend of Eritrea and its people.

As matters are today, the Ethiopian opposition groups based in Eritrea have put their lot and trust on the Eritrean Dictator; just as the different Eritrean opposition groups based in Ethiopia have put their faith and hope in the treacherous TPLF junta. However, in my opinion, and seen from angles of realpolitik, it is a tragic mistake to put trust and ally with Dictators. I think to entertain or expect to get genuine help from the despotic Eritrean leader, as Ginbot 7 and the leaders of other Ethiopian political groups based in Eritrea do, is a serious and a foolish political blunder and a pipe dream.

As far as I am concerned, the Ethiopian opposition groups based in Eritrea know just as much as informed Eritreans do that Issayas Afeworki is a leader who has an open contempt for democracy and people’s power. They know perfectly well that Issayas Afeworki has systematically robbed and denied Eritreans their birth right to be free and enjoy the fruit of their labor. Thus, as far as Eritrean democrats are concerned by allying themselves with the present repressive and most hated PFDJ government of Eritrea, the Ethiopian political groups based in Eritrea are jeopardizing and forfeiting any future relationship with a democratic Eritrean government that will emerge in the aftermath of the overthrow of the tyrannical PFDJ regime.

I therefore believe that it is high time now that the political leadership of Ginbot 7 and other Ethiopian political groups opposed to  TPLF rule in Ethiopia, critically and urgently reassess their overall strategy, especially so their ill-advised political alliance with the repressive PFDJ led Eritrean regime. Indeed, in my humble opinion, the abduction of Endargachew Tsige by the terrorist TPLF regime is a wake-up call to all the Ethiopian political groups based in Eritrea and their supporters, to mend their ways before they become politically irrelevant in Ethiopian politics, or are devoured by their Eritrean political hosts. The same goes to the Eritrean political groups based in Ethiopia and allied with the treacherous TPLF government of Ethiopia.

6. The Reality of the Eritrean and Ethiopian Opposition

As is the case, both the Eritrean and Ethiopian opposition groups loudly claim that they are democrats and they are struggling to bring democratic change in their respective countries. Paradoxically, however, the leaders of the Eritrean opposition groups based in Ethiopia are politically allied with the murderous  TPLF government of Ethiopia, while the Ethiopian opposition political groups based in Eritrea have  also allied themselves with the despotic PFDJ government of Eritrea. In other words, much to the dismay of  independent Eritrean democrats, the Ethiopian political groups opposed to the Woyane regime are unashamedly and openly fraternizing and collaborating with the most repressive and predatory PFDJ regimes in Eritrea, while the Eritrean opposition groups based in Ethiopia are also actively collaborating with, and operating under the control and direction of the Woyane rulers of Ethiopia.

Although the Eritrean and Ethiopian opposition political groups may not have yet realized, the hard truth  that their chosen path is the path of self-destruction. For no political group, be it Eritrean or Ethiopian, allied with a dictatorship and repressive government, could ever conduct an effective and meaningful struggle for democratic change in its respective area. Indeed, such submissive political groups- groups that fraternize and uncritically collaborates with a murderous dictatorial government end up being used as a tool of the foreign policy objectives of the beleaguered rival dictatorial governments. Besides, historical experience shows that only groups that are organized within their own territory on the basis of the philosophy of self-reliance, and with a direct and organic link with the oppressed people can and do conduct effective and meaningful struggle for a democratic and societal change, and are eventually crowned with victory.

7. Conclusion:  What Should Be The Stand of Democrats?

After all is said and done, the question which still requires an  appropriate answer is this: what should be the correct stand of democrats on the abduction of Endargachew? First and foremost, it is very important that democrats clearly understand that his terrorist style abduction by the rogue TPLF government of Ethiopia is not a political question as such. It is rather a question of sheer and crude breach of international law and violation of human rights [u repeat yourself!]. Seen therefore from a noble human rights perspective and the sanctity of international law, and considering the fact Andargachew Tsige is a dedicated, active and engaged participant in the struggle to topple the terrorist TPLF regime, and bearing also in mind that his abductors are also the strategic dead enemies of Eritrea and its people, the independent Eritrean democrats must stand firmly on the side of justice, and on the side of all the Ethiopian diaspora based freedom activists demanding the immediate and unconditional release of Endargachew Tsege.

Crucially,, Andergachew Tsige is a British citizen, and a family man with a permanent residence in London. Hence, his abduction demands urgent attention.  Likewise, the most effective intervention on his behalf could come from, and be initiated by the British government. Because the British government is the major donor, and political backer of the tyrannical Woyane regime in Ethiopia, it has  massive leverage and influence to secure his immediate release from his TPLF abductors. It seems, however, the British government is keeping a diplomatic silence on Andargachew’s abduction . What could be the reason for this  guarded silence Could it  be because Andargachew Tsige is opposed to a regime allied with the British and American governments in the war on terrorism? Would the British government have reacted in the  disinterested way it has done if Andargachew was a white British man kidnapped in Yemen while on transit to another country? I don’t believe so. For the record shows whenever British citizens are arrested overseas, even on drug charges, the British government had intervened on their behalf and demanded immediate access to its citizens and their immediate release. The action of the British government in the case of the four British nationals who entered the sovereign Eritrean territory illegally and who were arrested in 2011 armed with sophisticated spying equipment and a cache of sniper weapons fitted with silencers, telescopes, and distance-monitoring equipment is a good example in this instance. In any case, the British government has a duty and an obligation to both demand a stay of execution (if required) and to firmly insist  that he be immediately released.

It should be clearly understood that the abduction of Endargachew while on transit to Eritrea is against international law and a terrorist act to be condemned by all law-abiding governments and democrats. Henceforth, the Eritreans in the diaspora, especially so the independent Eritrean democrats opposed to the murderous TPLF and PFDJ regimes, must condemn the criminal act, and join the worldwide demonstrations being organized by Ethiopians to protest the abduction of Endargachew Tsige and demand  his immediate release.

Finally, I like to remind my fellow Eritreans in general, and the politically conscious Eritrean democrats in particular, to bear in mind that in the era of globalization, democrats and human rights activists must operate and extend their activities beyond the narrow horizons of nationalism and backward sentiments. They need to show active solidarity to people in distress in the Horn of Africa in general, and with the oppressed Ethiopian people in particular. Indeed, the independent minded Eritrean democrats should never lose sight of the fact that, seen from strategic, economic and political perspectives, Eritrea and Ethiopia are like the Siamese twins. Thus, active solidarity and cooperation between the oppressed people of these two countries should be energetically promoted and strengthened.

On their part, the Ethiopian democrats must be courageous enough to kill big nation chauvinism and expansionist sentiments in all its manifestations, understand unambiguously and unconditionally accept that Eritrean independence is irreversible and that the colonial boundaries between Eritrea and Ethiopia are non-negotiable and unalterable and thus educate their own people accordingly.


P.S: Reader views and comments are welcome. Email:

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US and UK collude with the rogue regime in Ethiopia to trample on international law

By Kiflu Husain 


This piece is prompted by the recent unlawful arrest of an Ethiopian born British citizen in Sanaa, capital of Yemen while on a transit flight from Dubai to Asmara, capital of Eritrea. The arrested person named Andaragachew Tsige was handed over by Yemeni officials to the security agents of the Ethiopian regime who whisked him away to his country of origin in order to subject him to a grueling torture.

Andargachew was one of the founder and top leader of a group called Ginbot 7 named after the May 15, 2005 polling day that saw unprecedented voter turnout. The results of that election were blatantly rigged by the ruling party which subsequently gunned down hundreds of civilians in broad daylight. Thousands were rounded up throughout the country and were confined in various detention centers and concentration like camps. A considerable number of them were subjected to torture and inhumane treatment. Among the victims, was Andargachew Tsige who had been beaten up badly to the extent of losing one of his eye sights.

Like the majority of Ethiopians, Andargachew too became disillusioned with the idea of contesting the repressive regime through a ballot box. Unlike the majority of his fellow countrymen,however,he not only remained disillusioned.Thus,he chose a different path to make a difference in Ethiopia whereby he founded Ginbot 7 that embraced all means available to dislodge the current rulers who hailed from a minority ethnic group called Tigre under the guise of liberating it.

Although, Andargachew’s Ginbot 7 never achieved a level of posing a mortal dread to the regime in Ethiopia, the rulers know very well how determined and committed Andargachew is to bring Ginbot 7 to that level no matter how long it takes.Hence, to them he was not an individual but an institution to be demolished at all costs.They even arrested his octogenarian father who suffers from a serious cardiac condition in 2009 to make Andargachew desist from the activism he carries out from abroad.

That is Andargachew Tsige, the high profile activist whom apparently the Ethiopian regime goes to great length to incarcerate and even eliminate.

Is the Ethiopian regime, however, only confined to targeting high profile dissidents wherever they are? Is it only preoccupied with those who claimed to have espoused armed struggle to unseat it from the throne the regime itself occupied and sought to sustain by gun?

For answer to this question, I refer you to regional and global human rights watchdogs’ incessant reports wherein the unabated human rights violations and growing culture of impunity is documented ever since this regime took the mantle of power in 1991.

Assassination, deportation & rendition; to be grateful to Uganda or not

Up until the fateful 2005 election, the Ethiopian regime’s target of repression focused only on dissidents living in Ethiopia. Except badmouthing Ethiopians living abroad, for their criticism of its divisive ethnic politics and tyranny in the name of democracy, the regime had never dared to harm Ethiopians living abroad.

That changed drastically and officially with the advent of trumped up charges leveled against Ethiopian/Americans working for Voice of America and some individuals who run critical websites from abroad. They were charged in absentia alongside Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) opposition party leaders who won the 2005 election. The trumped up charge called for death penalty. The regime also found an opportune moment globally to extend its instrument of repression abroad with impunity. It did so by ingratiating itself with Washington and the entire West as an ally in the so-called war on terror. Its monopoly on the country’s natural resources and key economic sectors also enabled it to cut deals with regional greedy powers who do not hesitate to hand over Ethiopian asylum seekers and refugees in violation of the international law.Djibouti,Sudan,Yemen and Kenya are notorious in this.

In July 2005, the government of Djibouti handed over two Ethiopian Air force pilots named Behailu Gebre and Abiyot Mangudai.They defected with the assault helicopter they were flying as conscientious objectors against the regime that uses lethal weapon on civilians. Last time I checked, these asylum seekers who were unlawfully returned were kept incommunicado at the Air force Headquarter and had been subjected to torture that might have caused their death. Taking advantage of the rotten Police Force in Kenya, the Ethiopian regime has been using the Kenyan territory as its backyard to abduct and assassinate Ethiopian dissidents who sought asylum. Notable among the Ethiopian refugees who were arrested by Kenyan authorities and handed over to the Ethiopian regime around 2009 were two young Engineers named Mesfin Abebe Abdissa and Tesfahun Chemeda Gurmessa.At the time the duo sought asylum, they were sentenced by a Kangaroo court in absentia to life imprisonment and death. As a result of their forcible repatriation, they were subjected to severe torture which ultimately caused the death of Tesfahun while Mesfin is still languishing in death row. He was the one who had been sentenced to death.

In a bid to give unlawful repatriation of asylum seekers and refugees as well as extraordinary rendition of other individuals a legal cloak, these banana republics of Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region later signed a sort of extradition treaty under the auspices of IGAD.Since the Ethiopian regime is almost the sole beneficiary of that extradition treaty, it was initiated by its diabolic architects of repression.

Despite hosting a considerable number of Ethiopian refugees since the early 1990s, Uganda by contrast had never exposed Ethiopian exiles to the regime they fled from. On top of having reliable information as to how Ugandan officials resisted and even rejected requests of deportation of certain Ethiopian refugees, I myself, as a former refugee in Uganda until recently survived a deportation request alongside two fellow refugees.

In November 2013, my exiled journalist friend and I received a strange summon by phone from the Internal Affairs and Immigration Office of Uganda. To cut a long story short, both my friend and I went to the office. After being received politely, we were asked questions, separately, about our exile life such as how we came to Uganda, what we do and used to do for a living, etc.Both of us find it very odd, that we were summoned to the Immigration office to be asked for these information which we already availed when we lodged our asylum requests. We also couldn’t accept the fact that four officials, out of whom three, came from another office outside of the Immigration compound, to simply waste their valuable time on information already obtained and available on the public domain.

Refusing to believe the cock and bull story they gave us for our summons and the line of questioning; as well as refusing to be lulled by the polite and civilized way they talked to us, we contacted our source to find out the meaning of the summons.

Surprise! Surprise! Our source revealed to us that the Ethiopian regime requested for our hand despite our being the most insignificant and ineffectual exiled dissidents. But the biggest element of surprise came from the reason the Ethiopian security agents requested their Ugandan counterparts for our hand. They accused us of being attached with Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) which made me doubt the accuracy of our source. While I came from a diverse background, ethnically and religiously and was born and grew up in Addis Ababa as a cosmopolitan Ethiopian with little knowledge of Oromiffa, Girma Tesfaw, my friend who were summoned with me and who was Addis Neger’s deputy editor came from what you call a predominantly Amharic speaking ethnic background.Yet, we’ve been informed that the “logic” of the Ethiopian regime illogically linked us with OLF. A few days after this unusual encounter which we reported to all human rights groups and agencies working on refugee issues, I received a call from another fellow refugee from Ethiopia. He told me that he received a call from the same gentleman who summoned us to Internal Affairs and Immigration Office. Unlike us this refugee named Mulatu Aberra is from Oromo ethnic group. He was arrested twice and severely tortured by the Ethiopian régime. I translated his harrowing testimony for the benefit of Amnesty International and UNHCR.Mulatu’s traumatic experience of torture had been published by Amnesty International in 2009.Now that the Ethiopian regime leveled one of its most farfetched trumped up charge against Zone9 Bloggers as OLF among other things, I regret for doubting the reliability of our Ugandan source.

On the other hand, despite being shielded by Ugandan officials from deportation, I found myself in a dilemma as to whether be grateful to the government of Uganda or not. Because I know fully well if and when Uganda finds it “geopolitically” compelling to hand over Ethiopian refugees like it does Rwandan refugees, it will not blink an eye over a higher principle of “non-refoulment”meant to protect pathetic refugees like me from forcible repatriation.Already, some elements from the Ugandan regime had started making life very hard for Ethiopian refugees who wanted to form a refugee association. I have reliable information that Ugandan Police guided by Ethiopian security agents in Kampala prevented the refugees from holding their meeting in hotels. And so it’s a matter of time for Ethiopian refugees to meet the same fate like Rwandan refugees who run the risk of mass deportation to targeted forcible repatriation and even assassination like Charles Ingabire, a Rwandan exiled journalist who was gunned down in Kampala in 2011.Of course, Ugandan officials can cynically defend their inability to protect the Rwandan journalist by equating it with the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian dissident who turned a British citizen.

Meanwhile, rogue regimes like the Ethiopian one continue to expand their impunity beyond their borders like they demonstrated recently in Yemen with the abduction of the Ethiopian born British national, Andargachew Tsige.That carrying impunity to an international level is the motto of the Ethiopian regime is also evidenced in Alexander Betts excellent book “Survival Migration; Failed Governance and the Crisis of Displacement.” In a chapter sub titled “Yemen” on page 166, Alex, the author, tells us that when he puts allegations of kidnappings and even assassinations of Ethiopian migrants to Minelik Alemu, Attorney-General for International Law and Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he was simply told that “we reserve the right to pursue people we deem to be criminals, both within and beyond the boundaries of the state.”And so, with devil advocates like this, the regime will not only confine itself to targeting poor asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. It also goes for those Ethiopians who adopted foreign nationality like it did on Mr.Okello Akoy the Ethiopian born Norwegian citizen and others to be followed.


In order to show why banana republics such as Ethiopia dare to taunt the First World that props it up, by jailing citizens of Sweden, Norway, Canada, Britain, USA etc, Prof. Alemeyahu Gebremariam asked a simple question “war on terror or war on international law?” Thereby demonstrating how United States and its Western cohort’s double standard on international law emboldened regimes like Ethiopia not only to do the same but to take advantage of the situation and stamp out all legitimate dissent. Recently in an interview on BBC, even Hailemariam Desalegn made a mockery of Britain by claiming that Ethiopia sends dissidents to jail according to anti-terror bill copied from Britain. He also threatened the BBC journalist with imprisonment if he doesn’t stop questioning about jailed dissidents.

A case of unequal concern for citizens of the First World whose safety is jeopardized at the hands of rogue states such as Ethiopia is also clearly being seen. One seriously doubt that a British government who went out of its way to have Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist, released from his captivity in Gaza by meeting a Hamas member for the first time, will do the same for Andargachew Tsige, a naturalized British citizen.

Also when one expects that the United States government will express outrage against the Ethiopian regime upon receiving information on the latter’s plan to “stop, arrest and detain “all Somali origin American citizens traveling to Ethiopia for “an extended period of time with no charges” by saying “you mess with my citizens, you mess with my sovereignty “or “you disrespect my citizen, you disrespect me as a nation, “the United States merely released a statement of warning to its “citizens” who originated from Somalia. So such is the state of the world where the so-called big democracies and outright dictatorships colluded to trample on human rights and international law.

Kiflu Hussain, an Ethiopian Social & Political Commentator stretching in exile from Uganda to United States

Why the arrest of Andargachew Tsige is huge embarrassment for the West

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Ethiopia?

BY MARTIN PLAUT, ForeignPolicy


Tall metal gates guard a courtyard just off a busy street north of London’s financial district. The area, once down and out, is today much sought after, but scattered between the newly refurbished warehouses and loft apartments are some blocks of municipal housing populated largely by the city’s African immigrant communities. Inside their yard, small boys are kicking a soccer ball. “Yemi’s my mum,” one of the boys says, leading the way up the building’s aging concrete stairwell to the fourth-floor flat.

A small, slim woman, Yemi smiles easily. On her shelves are portraits of her parents, who left Ethiopia for the United States in 1982 to make a new life for their family. A black-and-white photograph shows her father as a young man in Ethiopian uniform. “He was in the army,” Yemi explains. “But he left for civilian life in 1972 before the Derg took power.”

The Derg, or “Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and Territorial Army,” comprised a group of low-ranking officers who deposed Emperor Haile Selassie. The emperor had ruled Ethiopia for four decades until his failure to respond to a devastating famine in 1974 led to his overthrow and subsequent murder. Mengistu Haile Mariam, an obscure army major, led the coup and went on to rule Ethiopia with an iron fist, engaging in a ruthless campaign of repression that became known as the Red Terror. Executions were rife and tens of thousands of people were imprisoned until the Derg was ousted by the country’s current rulers in 1991.

Yemi was lucky that her father left the military when he did. “Yes,” she agrees, “they killed so many of their own.”

The violent revolutions that have marked Ethiopia’s recent history still reverberate today. The country has enjoyed substantial donor supportever since the devastating 1984-1985 famine and has been an important ally in the fight against Islamic extremism in the Horn of Africa. But the government, while nominally democratic, still tolerates little opposition — a reality Yemi knows all too well.

Yemi, whose full name is Yemsrach Hailemariam, is today caring for her two small boys and their sister on her own. On July 9, her partner, Andargachew Tsige, a leader of Ethiopia’s largest exiled opposition movement, was arrested in an airport transit lounge in Yemen. He had been on his way from the United Arab Emirates to Eritrea when he was picked up by Yemeni security, who then bundled him onto a plane bound for Ethiopia.

Andargachew is the secretary-general of Ginbot 7, an opposition movement outlawed by the Ethiopian authorities. The party was founded after the government refused to accept the 2005 election results. Ginbot 7 has been declared a terrorist organization, and Andargachew was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death in absentia in June 2012. Since then, he has toured the world, working with the Ethiopian diaspora in defiance of the government.

Now, he is in its hands.


Andargachew’s entrance into politics came when he was a college student in Addis Ababa in the early 1970s. He joined one of the left-wing parties that fell out with the regime. But soon, life became untenable: The Derg sent its security services door to door to crush its opponents. Bodies were left in the streets of the capital. Andargachew’s younger brother, Amha Tsige, was murdered for his involvement in left-wing politics.

Like many of his generation, Andargachew slipped out of the country and sought sanctuary in Britain in 1979. After being granted refugee status, he returned to his studies in London.

“He studied philosophy. Kant and Sartre were his favorites,” says Yemi, with a smile.

“He studied philosophy. Kant and Sartre were his favorites,” says Yemi, with a smile.


When the current government came to power in 1991, Andargachew decided to return home and took up work with the Addis Ababa city council. Yet hopes that Ethiopia’s new government, led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, would put the country’s violent past behind them soon faded. A coalition government with the opposition fell apart, and renewed repression followed. Andargachew fell out with the authorities and left for Britain once more.

In 1998, during a trip to the United States, Andargachew and Yemi met through a friend. They started a relationship and a new life in Britain. But in 2005, with fresh elections and a renewed hope for democracy back home, Andargachew went back to Ethiopia to work with the charismatic opposition leader, Berhanu Nega, in the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD).

In the elections, the CUD managed to take almost every seat in the capital and may have even won a majority in the rest of the country. But the authorities were not prepared toaccept the outcome. Amid allegations of vote rigging and widespread protests, Andargachew was arrested. “For 18 days, there was a blackout,” says Yemi. “They told us nothing.” Traveling from Britain, she finally managed to see him. He had been beaten in detention, his face badly bruised and his eye injured. “It still gives him problems,” Yemi explains.

After a month, Andargachew was released on bail and slipped out of the country. With the election effectively annulled, some 60,000 people detained, and around 200 dead, the opposition decided there was little room left for democratic opposition. Meeting in Washington in 2008, Ginbot 7 was formed; the name, “May 15″ in Amharic, commemorates the day of the 2005 election. Andargachew became secretary-general.

Since the 2005 election, Ethiopia has proved to be a remarkable economic success story. The World Bank recorded growth of 10.3 percent in 2013. Analysts suggest this is skewed in favor of the ruling party and its associates, but there is no doubt that the economy has flourished.

The political picture, by contrast, is bleak. The U.S. State Department 2013 report on human rights in Ethiopia documents “restrictions on freedom of expression and association, including through arrests; detention; politically motivated trials; harassment; and intimidation of opposition members and journalists, as well as continued restrictions on print media.” Opposition members have been arrested and had their phones are tapped, and exiled movements such as Ginbot 7 have had their websites blocked.

The government alleges that Ginbot 7 engaged in active rebellion and that Andargachew has participated in terrorist activities, a claim that Yemi adamantly denies and that many analysts find dubious. (Groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemnedAndargachew’s arrest.)

Andargachew, Yemi says, has simply been working to keep the opposition alive among Ethiopia’s widely dispersed diaspora. He has traveled regularly across Europe and the United States and also visited Ethiopian communities in Australia. “He is the backbone of the organization,” she says. “He travels a great deal, and our family life has suffered a lot. But he’s clear: His family must come second.”


Andargachew’s arrest is an embarrassment for London and Washington, because Ethiopia is their most important ally in the Horn of Africa. Despite its rights record, Ethiopia is seen by the United States as an important supporter in the fight against radical Islamist movements. During a visit to Addis Ababa in July 2013, Ash Carter, then the U.S. deputy secretary of defense, characterized the U.S.-Ethiopia partnership as an important bilateral relationship and expressed gratitude to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn for the critical role Ethiopia has played in addressing regional challenges in Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan.

“Ethiopia and the United States have shared interests in these countries,” Carter said during his visit, “and we continue to explore additional ways that we can work together to tackle East Africa’s security challenges.”

Washington backs Ethiopian efforts to fight al Qaeda-aligned groups through Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. base in neighboring Djibouti. It alsomaintains a base inside Ethiopia from which drone attacks have been made against the Somali Islamist movement al-Shabab. Citing unnamed U.S. officials, a 2007 New York Times article described a “close and largely clandestine relationship with Ethiopia [that] also included significant sharing of intelligence on the Islamic militants’ positions and information from American spy satellites with the Ethiopian military.” The article also outlined operations by a secret U.S. special operations unit, Task Force 88. The task force was described in a separate article byTime as a secretive “hunter-killer team” used in targeted killings.

The British relationship with Ethiopia — though concentrating on aid rather than military assistance — is just as close. The bond goes back many years: Emperor Haile Selassie spent World War II in Britain, which then went on to help restore him to his throne. More recently, the 1984-1985 famine in Ethiopia became a cause célèbre in Britain, which raised 5 million pounds ($8.56 million) in just three days. Today, Britain gives Ethiopia 374 million pounds ($640 million) a year and has ignored past calls for aid to be curtailed due to authorities’ numerous human rights violations.

A case currently making its way through British courts alleges that aid money has paid for developments that have resulted in Ethiopians beingdriven from their lands. The case, on behalf of an anonymous farmer, “Mr. O,” is being brought by Leigh Day, a British legal firm with a long record of winning compensation for clients abroad. It arises from a 2012 report by Human Rights Watch that alleged that some 45,000 families have been removed from their lands in the western Ethiopian region of Gambella.

Lynne Featherstone, a British aid minister, happened to be in Addis Ababa at the time of Andargachew’s extradition and raised his case with Prime Minister Hailemariam. Yet diplomatic engagement seems to be the only means of protest that is of any interest. There is no suggestion that British aid to Ethiopia will be halted or curtailed. There have been no statements from the U.S. government.


At around 9 p.m., Yemi puts her 7-year-old son, Yilak, to bed. He’s happily oblivious of his father’s situation. “I don’t know how to tell the children,” Yemi says quietly. “They are used to him being away, but Yilak wants to talk to his father on the phone. I just change the subject.”

How long does Yemi think it will be before the family sees their father again? “It depends on how hard people can push,” Yemi replies. “If we can get Cameron” — the British prime minister — “then maybe things will move.”

She has some reason to be hopeful: Andargachew’s detention has drawn public protests in Britain and the United States. His member of Parliament has raised the case with the British government, as has an influential member of the European Parliament.

But more pressure will be required if the Ethiopian authorities are to drop the charges against Andargachew. Threats to the multimillion-dollar aid budget might just do the trick. Otherwise, the Ethiopian government might silence one of its most prominent critics for good — through jail or worse.

“They told [Featherstone] they would not carry out the death sentence,”Yemi says quietly. “But I have no confidence in what they say.”