የቀድሞው ፍትህ ጋዜጣ ዋና አዘጋጅ የነበረው ጋዜጠኛ ተመስገን ደሳለኝ ተፈርዶበት የነበረውን የ3 ዓመት ፅኑ እስራት አጠናቆ በጣ። ጋዜጠኛው የእስር ጊዜውን ካጠናቀቀ ሁለት ቀናት ቢያልፉትም፤ ዛሬ ጥቅምት 5 ቀን 2010 ዓ.ም. መለቀቁ ታውቋል።
ጋዜጠኛ ተመስገን ደሳለኝ ፎቶ_ ከማኅበራዊ ገፅ
ጋዜጠኛው ከመታሰሩ በፊት በባለቤትነት እና በዋና አዘጋጅነት ከሚያስተዳድረው ፍትህ ጋዜጣ በተጨማሪ፥ በልዕልና ጋዜጣ፥ በአዲስ ታየምስ እና በፋክት መፅሔቶች ላይም በቋሚነት ይፅፍ እንደነበር ይታወቃል።
ጋዜጠኛ ተመስገን ለእስር የተዳረገውም ቀደም ሲል በፍትህ ጋዜጣ በፃፋቸው ፅሑፎች እንደነበር ቀርቦበት የነበረው የክስ ሰነድ ያስረዳል።
በኢትዮጵያ ምንም እንኳ ጋዜጠኛ ተመስገን የተፈረደበትን የእስር ጊዜ አጠናቆ ቢወጣም ፤ ጋዜጠኛ እስክንድር ነጋ እና ጋዜጠኛ ውብሸት ታዬን ጨምሮ ሌሎች ጋዜጠኞች እና ብሎገሮች አሁንም ድረስ በእስር ላይ እንደሚገኙ ይታወቃል።
በኢትዮጵያ 2010 አዲስ ዓመት ህዝባዊ ተቃውሞዎች ዳግም ተቀሰቀሰ። በተለይ በኦሮሚያ ክልል በተለያዩ ከተሞች በገዥው መንግሥት ላይ ዳግም ህዝባዊ ተቃውሞች ተጠናክረው መቀጠላቸውን ተከትሎ የመንግሥት የፀጥታ ኃይሎች በወሰዱት ወታደራዊ የኃይል ርምጃ 8 ያህል ሰዎች መገደላቸውን መረጃዎች አመልክተዋል።
ባለፈው ህዳር 2008 ዓ. ም. ጀምሮ ክዓመት በላይ የዘለቀው የኦሮሚያ፥ አማራ እና ደቡብ ክልል በተለይም ኮንሶ አካባቢ የተከሰተውን ህዝባዊ የፀረ አገዛዝ ተቃውሞ ተከትሎ ሀገሪቱ ለ10 ወራት በአስቸኳይ ጊዜ አዋጅ ስር እንደነበረች ይታወሳል። ይሁን እንጂ በአስችኳይ አዋጁ ጊዜ ህዝባዊ አመፁ የተረጋጋ ቢመስልም በያዝነው ጥቅምት 2010 ዓ .ም. ዳግም ማገርሸቱ ታውቋል።
የህዝቡ ተቃውሞ ዋነኛ ምክንያት ተደርጎ የተጠቀሰውም ባለፈው መስከረም 2010 ዓ ም በኦሮሚያ እና በኦጋዴን የኢትዮጵያ ሶማሌ ክልል ድንበር አካባቢ በተቀሰቀሰ ግጭት በርካታ ሰላማዊ ዜጎች መገደላችውን እና በኦጋዴን የኢትዮጵያ ሶማሌ ክልል አስተዳደርና በክልሉ ልዩ ኃይል ፖሊስ አማካኝነት ከ70,000 በላይ ዜጎች ከሚኖሩበት ቀዬ መፈናቀላቸውን በመቃወም እንዲሁም የታአሰሩ የህሊና እና የፖለቲካ እስረኞች ይፈቱ የሚል ጥያቄም እንደነበር ለማወቅ ተችሏል።
በተለይ ባለፈው መስከረም 2010 ዓ ም በሁለቱ ክልሎች ድንበር አካባቢ በተቀሰቀሰ ግጭት ከሁለትም ክልል በርካታ ንፁሃን ዜጎች መገደላቸው ይታወሳል።
ይህ ዘገባ እስከተጠናቀረበት ድረስም በተለይ በኦሮሚያ ክልል ባሉ አንዳንድ ከተሞች ህዝባዊ ተቃውሞች መቀጠላቸውን ምንጮች አረጋግጠዋል።
ሰሞኑን ዓለምአቀፍ የመገናኛ ብዙኃንን ከተቆጣጠሩ አጀንዳዎች ውስጥ አንዱ የመገንጠል ጉዳይ ነው፡፡ የኩርድስታን እና የካታላን ሕዝበ ውሳኔዎች፣ እንግሊዝኛ ተናጋሪ የሆኑት ካሜሩኖች የመገንጠል እንቅስቃሴ ተጠቃሽ ናቸው፡፡
በኢራቅ፣በስፔንም ይሁን በካሜሩን ሕገ መንግሥቶች ላይ ከአገር መገንጠያ አንቀጽ የላቸውም፡፡ ለነገሩ በቀድሞዎቹ የሶቪየት ኅብረት (ሩሲያ) እና ዩጎዝላቪያ፣አሁን ደግሞ ሴንት ኪትስና ኔቪስ ከምትባል የካሪቢያን ደሴት እና ከአውሮፓ ኅብረት ቻርተር ውጭ የመገንጠያ አንቀጽ ያለው ሕገ መንግሥት የለም፤ከኢትዮጵያ በስተቀር፡፡ የኢትዮጵያው ወደ ሩሲያና ዩጎዝላቪያ የሚቀርብ ነው፡፡ ይሁን እንጂ፣ እነዚህ አገራት ጥቅም እንደሌለው ተረድተው ሲተውት፣ ኢትዮጵያ እንደ አዲስ ተቀብላዋለች፡፡ ሩሲያና ዩጎዝላቪያም ቢሆኑ ግን ሕገ መንግሥታቸው ላይ በተቀመጠው ሁኔታ አለመገንጠላቸውን ልብ ይሏል፡፡
ይህ ጽሑፍ የሚዳስሰው ሕገ መንግሥቱ ሲረቀቅም ሆነ ሲጸድቅ እንዲሁም ኋላ ላይ ፖለቲከኞችም ይሁኑ ምሁራን ብዙም ትኩረት ካልሰጠባቸው ጉዳዮች አንዱ የሆነውን የመገንጠል ሥነሥርዓትን ወይንም ሒደትን ነው፡፡
ሕገ መንግሥቱ ሲረቀቅም ይሁን ሲጸድቅ እጅግ ካጨቃጨቁት ጉዳዮች ዋነኛው አንቀጽ 39 ንዑስ ቁጥር 1 ላይ የተገለጸው የብሔሮች፣ብሔረሰቦች እና ሕዝቦች ያለምንም ገደብ መገንጠልን በሕገ መንግሥቱ የመካተቱ ነገር ነው፡፡በዚህ አንቀጽ ውስጥ የተዘረዘሩት ሌሎች አራት ንዑሳን አንቀጾች ግን ከጅምሩም ትኩረት አልሳቡም፣ወይንም አልተሰጣቸውም፡፡
የመገንጠል መብት ሕገ መንግሥታዊ ዋስትና እንዲኖረው በትጋት የተከራከሩት እና የሚከራከሩት ሰዎች ከሚያነሷቸው ምክንያቶች መካከል ቀዳሚው እና ዋነኛው ብሔሮች፣ ብሔረሰቦች እና ሕዝቦች በኢትዮጵያዊነት ጥላ ሥር አብረው መኖር ካልቻሉ ያለ ጦርነት ወይንም በሰላም ለሚለያዩበት ሁኔታ ዋስትና ይሰጣል የሚል ነው፡፡
በመሆኑም፣ መገንጠልን የመረጡ ቡድኖች ደረጃ በደረጃ ሊከተሏቸው የሚገቡ አምስት ሥነሥርዓቶች በዚሁ አንቀጽ ንዑስ ቁጥር አራት ላይ ተቀምጠዋል፡፡ ‘የሰይጣን ጆሮ አይስማና’፣ አንድ ብሔር መገንጠል ቢፈልግ እና እነዚህን ሥነሥርዓቶች በመከተል ምንም ዓይነት ጦርነት ወይንም እልቂት ሳይኖር በሰላም የመገንጠልን መብት ሥራ ላይ ለማዋል ማስቻላቸው ግን ፍተሻ ያስፈልጋቸዋል፡፡
ይህ ጽሑፍ እነዚህን ሥነሥርዓቶች ያሉባቸውን እንከኖች በማሳየት የመገንጠል መብትን ሥራ ላይ ማዋል የሚፈልግ ብሔር ቢኖር በሰላም ለመለያየት የማያስችሉ መሆናቸውን ማሳየት ነው፡፡
መገንጠል በዘፈቀደ የሚፈጸም ድርጊት እንዳይሆን በማሰብ ሥነሥርዓቶቹ ቀድመው ተቀምጠዋል፡፡ የመገንጠልን ጉዞ ለሚመርጥ ተጓዥ፣ መንገዱ እንዲህ ነው፡፡
መገንጠልን የሚፈልገው ብሔር ወይንም ብሔረሰብ ወይንም ሕዝብ ምክር ቤት በ2/3ኛ መገንጠሉን ሲደግፍ፣ የፌደራሉ መንግሥት በሦስት ዓመት ጊዜ ውስጥ ሕዝበ-ውሳኔ ሲያዘጋጅ፣ መገንጠሉን አብዝኃኛው ሕዝብ ሲደግፈው፣ የፌደራሉ መንግሥት ሥልጣን ሲያስረክብ፣ እና የንብረት ክፍፍል ሲካሔድ ነው፡፡
እነዚህ የመገንጠያ መንገዶች ናቸውና ተራ በተራ እንያቸው፡፡
የምክር ቤት ውሳኔ፤
በመጀመሪያ፣ መገንጠል የሚፈልገው ብሔር የራሱ ምክር ቤት ሊኖረው ግድ ነው፡፡ ምክር ቤቱም በ2/3ኛ ድምፅ የመገንጠሉን ሐሳብ ካልደገፈ በስተቀር ቀጣዮቹ ሥርዓቶች ምንም ፋይዳ የላቸውም፡፡ በመሆኑም ጥያቄው በዚሁ ተኮላሸ ማለት ነው፡፡
በሴንት ኪትስ እና ኔቪስም (ከኢትዮጵያ 12 ዓመታት በመቅደም የመገንጠል መብትን በሕገ መንግሥቷ ያካተተች ባለ ሁለት ክልሎች አገር ናት፡፡) መጀመሪያ የኔቪስ ደሴት ሕግ አውጭ ምክር ቤት በ2/3ኛ የድጋፍ ድምፅ መስጠት አለበት፡፡ከዚያ በኋላ ይሄው ምክር ቤት በሕዝበ-ውሳኔ ወቅት ለኔቪስ ደሴት መራጮች የሚያቀርበውን አማራጮች ሕዝቡ ድምፅ ከመሰጠቱ ቢያንስ ከዘጠና ቀናት በፊት ማሳወቅ ይጠበቅበታል፡፡
አማራጮቹም፣ ከሴንት ኪትስ ተለይቶ ነጻ አገር መመሥረት፣ ከሌላ አገር ጋር መቀላቀል ወይንም አለመለየት ሊሆኑ ይችላሉ፡፡ በካናዳም፣ ለሕዝበ ውሳኔ የሚቀርበው ጥያቄ ግልጽ መሆን እንዳለበትና ቀድሞ በአገሪቱ ፓርላማ መጽድቅ አለበት፡፡
በኢትዮጵያ፣ የብሔሩ ምክር ቤት ለመገንጠሉ አጀንዳ የ2/3ኛ የድጋፍ ድምፅ ከሰጠ ይሄንኑ ውሳኔ በጽሑፍ ለፌደሬሽን ምክር ቤት ያቀርባል፡፡ የፌደሬሽን ምክር ቤትም ጥያቄው ከደረሰው ጀምሮ በሚታሰብ በሦስት ዓመት ጊዜ ውስጥ ሕዝበ-ውሳኔ ማዘጋጀት አለበት፡፡
በኔቪስ ደሴት ግን ሕዝበ-ውሳኔውን የሚያከናውነው የፌደራል መንግሥቱ ሳይሆን ራሷ ደሴቷ ናት፡፡ የምርጫ ኮሚሽኑም የሚዋቀረው የደሴቷ ገዥ የሚሾመው ሰብሳቢ፣ተቃዋሚ ፓርቲዎችን እና የአገሪቱን ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትርን አማክሮ ሁለት በድምሩ ሦስት አባላት ባሉት የምርጫ ኮሚሽን አማካይነት ይከናወናል፡፡ በኩርድስታንና በካታሎኒያም ቢሆን ኢራቅ ወይንም ስፔን አይደሉም ምርጫውን የሚያስፈጽሙት፡፡
በመሆኑም፣በኢትዮጵያ፣ከፌደሬሽኑ ለሚገነጠል ብሔር የፌደራሉ መንግሥት (የቀሪው አካል) የምርጫ ቦርድ አስፈጽሞት በምን መልኩ ሰላምን ሊያመጣ ይችላል? ቅሬታዎችም ወደ እዚሁ ቦርድ እና ወደ ፌደራል ፍርድ ቤቶች የሚመጡ ከመሆናቸው አንጻር እንደምን ተኣማኒነትና ተቀባይነት ይኖራቸዋል? የፌደራሉ መንግሥት ሊይዝ የሚችለው አቋም እንዳይገነጠሉ እንደሚሆን ይጠበቃል፡፡ ምናልባት እንደ ኤርትራ “ተገንጠሉልን፣ሂዱልን” ካልተባለ በስተቀር!
ብሔሮች፣ ከኢትዮጵያ ከመፋታታቸው በፊት የማሰላሰያ ጊዜ ባይቀመጥም የፌደራሉ መንግሥት በሦስት ዓመት ጊዜ ውስጥ ሕዝበ-ውሳኔ እንዲያዘጋጅ መደንገጉ ወይንም በጣም አጭር ጊዜ አለመሆኑ መገንጠል የሚፈልገው ብሔርም እንዲያስብበት፣ ቅስቀሳና የማሳመን ሥራ የማከናወኛ ጊዜ በመሆን ሊያገለግል ይችላል፡፡
በተቃራኒው ደግሞ አንድነትን ለሚሰብኩትና የሚደግፉት የማግባባትና የመቀስቀስ ተግባራቸውን በዚህ ወቅት ለማከናወን ዕድል ያገኛሉ፡፡ በመሆኑም፣ይህ እንደ ማሰላሰያ ጊዜ ሊወሰድ ይችላል፡፡
የመገንጠያ ሥነ-ሥርዓት በሕገ መንግሥቷ አብጅታ የነበረችው ሩሲያ ግን ከዚህ የተለየ የማሰላሰያ ጊዜ ነበራት፡፡ የሩሲያ ሪፐብሊኮች(ክልሎች) ለመገንጠል በትንሹ አምስት ዓመት ይፈጅባቸዋል፡፡ ምክንያቱም ሕዝበ-ውሳኔ ተደርጎ በ2/3ኛ ድምፅ ድጋፍ ካገኘ በኋላ በድጋሜ በአምስተኛ ዓመቱ መጨረሻ ላይ የማረጋገጫ ሕዝበ-ዉሳኔ በማከናወን ድምፅ መስጠት ከሚችለው ከሪፐብሊኩ ኗሪዎች ውስጥ 2/3ኛው መገንጠልን መደገፋቸው መረጋገጥ አለበት፡፡
በመሆኑም ሐሳባቸውን ሊቀይሩ ከቻሉም ዕድል ይሰጣል፡፡ ይህ አድራጎት ሽማግሌዎች ባልና የሚስት ለማስታረቅና ለማግባባት የሚጠቀሙበትን ስልት ያስታውሰናል፡፡ ባልና ሚስት ተጣልተው ጉዳያቸው በሽምግልና እንዲታይላቸው ለመረጧቸው ሽማግሌዎች ብሶታቸውንና በደላቸውን ማሰማት ሲጀምሩ ሽማግሌዎች የጠቡን ምንጭ ጊዜያዊነት ወይንም ጥንካሬ ለመረዳት ሁለቱንም ወገኖች “እስኪ ከማሸማገላችን በፊት ጉዳዩን ነት ይንካው” በማለት ይመልሷቸዋል፡፡
“ነት” ማለት፣ ብዙ በገጠር አካባቢ የሚኖር ሰው እንደአንሶላ የሚጠቀሙበት የለሰለሰ (የታረበ) የበሬና የላም ቆዳ ነው፡፡ “ነት ይንካው” ሲባል ባልና ሚስት ጥልና ብሶታቸውን ከማሰማታቸውና ውሳኔ ከማሳለፋቸው በፊት አብረው በአንድ ነት ላይ ተኝተው አድረው በድጋሜ እንዲያጤኑት ለማድረግ ነው፡፡ በንዴት የተፈጠረ፣ በድንገት የተከሰተ ከሆነ ነቱ ላይ ይቀራል፡፡ የመረረና የከረረ ከሆነ አንድ ነት ላይ መተኛት ስለማይችሉም የችግሩን መጠን ለመረዳት ይረዳል፡፡
የሩሲያዎች ሕገ-መንግሥት “ነት ይንካው” የሚለውን አካሔድ የተከተለ ነበር ማለት ይቻላል፡፡ አምርረው በ2/3ኛ ድምፅ ከወሰኑም በኋላ አምስት ዓመት ነት ማሥነኪያ ወይንም ማሰላሰያ ጊዜ ሰጥተዋል፡፡ ከዚህ አንጻር የእኛን ሕገ-መንግሥት ስናየው አፍን ሞልቶ ለማሰላሰል፣” ሽልም ከሆነ መግፋቱን ቂጣም ከሆነ መጥፋቱን” ለማወቅ የሚያስችል ጊዜ እንዳልተሰጠው መረዳት ይቻላል፡፡
የፌደራሉ መንግሥት በሦስት ዓመት ጊዜ ሕዝበ-ውሳኔ እንዲያስፈጽም፣ እንዳያጓትት የጊዜ ጣሪያ ከማስቀመጥ በዘለለ በወሩም ይሁን በዓመቱ ማዘጋጀትን አይከለክልም፡፡
Violence between ethnic groups has put the country on edge
FOR centuries the city of Harar, on the eastern fringes of the Ethiopian highlands, was a sanctuary, its people protected by a great wall that surrounded the entire city. But in the late 19th century it was finally annexed by the Ethiopian empire. Harar regained a bit of independence in 1995, when the area around it became the smallest of Ethiopia’s nine ethnically based, semi-autonomous regions. Today it is relatively peaceful and prosperous—and, since last month, a sanctuary once more.
In recent weeks thousands of Ethiopians have poured into areas around Harar, fleeing violence in neighbouring towns (see map). Nearly 70,000 people have sought shelter just east of the city. Several thousand more are huddling in a makeshift camp in the west. Most are Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group. Its members clashed with ethnic Somalis in February and March, resulting in the death of hundreds. The violence erupted again in September, when more than 30 people were killed in the town of Awaday. Revenge killings, often by local militias or police, have followed, pushing the death toll still higher. In response, the government has sent in the army.
Ethnic violence is common in Ethiopia, especially between Oromos and Somalis, whose vast regions share the country’s longest internal border. Since the introduction of ethnic federalism in 1995, both groups have tried to grab land and resources from each other, often with the backing of local politicians. A referendum in 2004 that was meant to define the border failed to settle the matter. A peace agreement signed by the two regional presidents in April was no more successful.
When the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) swept to power in 1991 after a bloody 15-year civil war, federalism was seen as a way to placate the ethnic liberation movements that helped it to power. The previous regime had been dominated by the Amhara, the second-largest ethnic group (the Eritreans broke away to form a new state). Eventually ethnic loyalties would wither as people grew richer, went the thinking of the Marxist-inspired EPRDF.
But the way federalism was implemented caused problems from the start.New identity cards forced people to choose an ethnicity, though many Ethiopians are of mixed heritage. Territories often made little sense. In the Harari region, a minority of Hararis rule over much bigger populations of Oromos and Amharas, a source of resentment. Boundaries that were once porous became fixed, leading to disputes.
For years the EPRDF sought to dampen the tension by tightly controlling regional politics. But its grip has loosened over time. Local governments have grown stronger. Regional politicians are increasingly pushing ethnic agendas. The leaders of Oromia, the largest region, have drafted a bill demanding changes to the name, administration and official language of Addis Ababa, the capital, which has a special status but sits within Oromia. They have stoked ethnic nationalism and accused other groups of conspiring to oppress the Oromo.
Politicians in the Somali region are no more constructive. They have turned a blind eye to abuses by local militias and a controversial paramilitary group known as the Liyu. The region’s president “has a fairly consistent expansionist agenda”, says a Western diplomat. “He may have spied an opportunity.” The federal government, now dominated by the Tigrayan ethnic group, was rocked by a wave of protests last year by the Oromo and other frustrated groups.
Many complain that the rulers in Addis Ababa are doing too little. They have been slow to respond to the recent violence, fuelling suspicions that they were complicit. “We are victims of the federal government,” shouts Mustafa Muhammad Yusuf, an Oromo elder sheltering in Harar. “Why doesn’t it solve this problem?”
Federalism may have seemed the only option when it was introduced in 1995. But some now suggest softening its ethnic aspect. “In the past the emphasis was too much on ethnic diversity at the expense of unity,” says Christophe Van der Beken, a professor at the Ethiopian Civil Service University. “The challenge now is to bring the latter back.”
Source: The Economist.
“A WARM FRIENDSHIP connects the Ethiopian and American people,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced earlier this year. “We remain committed to working with Ethiopia to foster liberty, democracy, economic growth, protection of human rights, and the rule of law.”
Indeed, the website for the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia is marked by press releases touting U.S. aid for farmers and support for public health infrastructure in that East African nation. “Ethiopia remains among the most effective development partners, particularly in the areas of health care, education, and food security,” says the State Department.
Behind the scenes, however, Ethiopia and the U.S. are bound together by long-standing relationships built on far more than dairy processing equipment or health centers to treat people with HIV. Fifteen years ago, the U.S. began setting up very different centers, filled with technology that is not normally associated with the protection of human rights.
In the aftermath of 9/11, according to classified U.S. documents published Wednesday by The Intercept, the National Security Agency forged a relationship with the Ethiopian government that has expanded exponentially over the years. What began as one small facility soon grew into a network of clandestine eavesdropping outposts designed to listen in on the communications of Ethiopians and their neighbors across the Horn of Africa in the name of counterterrorism.
In exchange for local knowledge and an advantageous location, the NSA provided the East African nation with technology and training integral to electronic surveillance. “Ethiopia’s position provides the partnership unique access to the targets,” a commander of the U.S. spying operation wrote in a classified 2005 report. (The report is one of 294 internal NSA newsletters released today by The Intercept.)
The NSA’s collaboration with Ethiopia is high risk, placing the agency in controversial territory. For more than a decade, Ethiopia has been engaged in a fight against Islamist militant groups, such as Al Qaeda and Shabab. But the country’s security forces have taken a draconian approach to countering the threat posed by jihadis and stand accused of routinely torturing suspects and abusing terrorism powers to target political dissidents.
“The Ethiopian government uses surveillance not only to fight terrorism and crime, but as a key tactic in its abusive efforts to silence dissenting voices in-country,” says Felix Horne, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch. “Essentially anyone that opposes or expresses dissent against the government is considered to be an ‘anti-peace element’ or a ‘terrorist.’”
The NSA declined to comment for this story.
In February 2002, the NSA set up the Deployed Signals Intelligence Operations Center – also known as “Lion’s Pride” – in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, according to secret documents obtained by The Intercept from the whistleblower Edward Snowden. It began as a modest counterterrorism effort involving around 12 Ethiopians performing a single mission at 12 workstations. But by 2005, the operation had evolved into eight U.S. military personnel and 103 Ethiopians, working at “46 multifunctional workstations,” eavesdropping on communications in Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. By then, the outpost in Addis Ababa had already been joined by “three Lion’s Pride Remote Sites,” including one located in the town of Gondar, in northwestern Ethiopia.
“[The] NSA has an advantage when dealing with the Global War on Terrorism in the Horn of Africa,” reads an NSA document authored in 2005 by Katie Pierce, who was then the officer-in-charge of Lion’s Pride and the commander of the agency’s Signal Exploitation Detachment. “The benefit of this relationship is that the Ethiopians provide the location and linguists and we provide the technology and training,” she wrote. According to Pierce, Lion’s Pride had already produced almost 7,700 transcripts and more than 900 reports based on its regional spying effort.
Pierce, now a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and a lawyer in private practice, had noted her role with the NSA’s Ethiopia unit in an online biography. When contacted by The Intercept, she said little about her time with Lion’s Pride or the work of the NSA detachment. “We provided a sort of security for that region,” she said. The reference to the NSA in Pierce’s online biography has since disappeared.
Reta Alemu Nega, the minister of political affairs at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C., told The Intercept that the U.S. and Ethiopia maintained “very close cooperation” on issues related to intelligence and counterterrorism. While he did not address questions about Lion’s Pride, Alemu described regular meetings in which U.S. and Ethiopian defense officials “exchange views” about their partnership and shared activities.
Lion’s Pride does not represent the first time that Ethiopia has played a vital role in U.S. signals surveillance. In 1953, the U.S. signed a 25-year agreement for a base at Kagnew Station in Asmara, Ethiopia (now the capital of Eritrea), according to a declassified NSA report obtained by the nonprofit National Security Archive. Navy and Army communications facilities based there were joined by an NSA outpost just over a decade later.
On April 23, 1965, the Soviet Union launched Molniya-1, its first international communications satellite. The next month, the NSA opened STONEHOUSE, a remote listening post in Asmara. The facility was originally aimed at Soviet deep space probes but, in the end, “[its] main value turned out to be the collection of Soviet MOLNIYA communications satellites,” according to a 2004 NSA document that mentions STONEHOUSE.
STONEHOUSE was closed down in 1975 due to a civil war in Ethiopia. But its modern-day successor, Lion’s Pride, has proved to be “such a lucrative source for SIGINT reports” that a new facility was built in the town of Dire Dawa in early 2006, according to a secret NSA document. “The state of the art antenna field surrounded by camels and donkey-drawn carts is a sight to behold,” reads the NSA file. The effort, code-named “LADON,” was aimed at listening in on communications across a larger swath of Somalia, down to the capital Mogadishu, the Darfur region of Sudan, and parts of eastern Ethiopia.
At a May 2006 planning conference, the Americans and Ethiopians decided on steps to “take the partnership to a new level” through an expanded mission that stretched beyond strictly counterterrorism. Targeting eastern Ethiopia’s Ogaden region and the nearby Somali borderlands, the allied eavesdroppers agreed on a mission of listening in on cordless phones in order to identify not only “suspected al-Qa’ida sympathizers” but also “illicit smugglers.”
“It is very troubling to hear the U.S. is providing surveillance capacities to a government that is committing such egregious human rights abuses in that region.”
From the time Lion’s Pride was set up until predominantly Christian Ethiopia invaded mostly Muslim Somalia in December 2006, the U.S. poured about $20 million in military aid into the former country. As Ethiopian troops attempted to oust a fundamentalist movement called the Council of Islamic Courts, which had defeated several warlords to take power in Somalia, Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter said the two nations had “a close working relationship” that included sharing intelligence. Within a year, Ethiopian forces were stuck in a military quagmire in Somalia and were facing a growing rebellion in the Ogaden region as well.
“While the exact nature of U.S. support for Ethiopian surveillance efforts in the Ogaden region is not clear, it is very troubling to hear the U.S. is providing surveillance capacities to a government that is committing such egregious human rights abuses in that region,” says Horne, the Human Rights Watch researcher. “Between 2007-2008 the Ethiopian army committed possible war crimes and crimes against humanity against civilians in this region during its conflict with the Ogaden National Liberation Front.”
For the U.S., “the chaos” caused by the invasion “yielded opportunities for progress in the war on terrorism,” stated a top secret NSA document dated February 2007. According to the document, the Council of Islamic Courts was harboring members of an Al Qaeda cell that the NSA’s African Threat Branch had been tracking since 2003. After being flushed from hiding by the Ethiopian invasion, the NSA provided “24-hour support to CIA and U.S. military units in the Horn of Africa,” utilizing various surveillance programs to track Council of Islamic Courts leaders and their Al Qaeda allies. “Intelligence,” says the document, “was also shared with the Ethiopian SIGINT partner to enable their troops to track High Value Individuals.” The NSA deemed the effort a success as the “#1 individual on the list” was “believed killed in early January” 2007, while another target was arrested in Kenya the next month. The identities of the people killed and captured, as well as those responsible, are absent from the document.
As the Council of Islamic Courts crumbled in the face of the invasion, its ally, the militant group Shabab, saw Somalis flock to its resistance effort. Fueled and radicalized by the same chaos exploited by the NSA, Shabab grew in strength. By 2012, the terrorist group had formally become an Al Qaeda affiliate. Today, the U.S. continues to battle Shabab in an escalating conflict in Somalia that shows no sign of abating.
The first batch of Ethiopian troops leaving the Somali capital Mogadishu hold a departure ceremony Jan. 23, 2007 at Afisiyooni Air Base. Photo: Stringer/AFP/Getty Images
At the time the NSA set up Lion’s Pride, the U.S. State Department had criticized Ethiopia’s security forces for having “infringed on citizens’ privacy rights,” ignoring the law regarding search warrants, beating detainees, and conducting extrajudicial killings. By 2005, with Lion’s Pride markedly expanded, nothing had changed. The State Department found:
The Government’s human rights record remained poor. … Security forces committed a number of unlawful killings, including alleged political killings, and beat, tortured, and mistreated detainees. … The Government infringed on citizens’ privacy rights, and the law regarding search warrants was often ignored. The Government restricted freedom of the press. … The Government at times restricted freedom of assembly, particularly for members of opposition political parties; security forces at times used excessive force to disperse demonstrations. The Government limited freedom of association. …
A separate State Department report on Ethiopia’s counterterrorism and anti-terrorism capabilities, issued in November 2013 and obtained by The Intercept via the Freedom of Information Act, noted that there were “inconsistent efforts to institutionalize” anti-terrorism training within Ethiopian law enforcement and added that while the Ethiopian Federal Police use surveillance and informants, “laws do not allow the interception of telephone or electronic communications.” The readable sections of the redacted report make no mention of the NSA program and state that the U.S. “maintains an important but distant security relationship with Ethiopia.”
A 2010 NSA document offers a far different picture of the bond between the security agencies of the two countries, noting that the “NSA-Ethiopian SIGINT relationship continues to thrive.”
In an after-action report, a trainer from NSA Georgia’s “Sudan/Horn of Africa Division” described teaching a class attended by soldiers from the Ethiopian National Defense Forces and civilians from Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency. He praised the Ethiopians for “work[ing] so hard on our behalf” and wrote that his students were “excited and eager to learn.”
According to the documents, analysts from the Army’s 741st Military Intelligence Battalion were still detailed to Lion’s Pride while the Ethiopians they worked beside had increased their skills at analyzing intercepted communications. “More importantly, however,” the American trainer noted, “is the strengthening of the relationship” between NSA and Ethiopian security forces. NSA Georgia, he declared, was eager to continue “developing the relationship between us and our Ethiopian counterparts.”
The NSA refused to comment on whether Lion’s Pride continues to eavesdrop on the region, but no evidence suggests it was ever shut down. There is, however, good reason to believe that U.S. efforts have strengthened the hand of the Ethiopian government. And a decade and a half after it was launched, Ethiopia’s human rights record remains as dismal as ever.
“Governments that provide Ethiopia with surveillance capabilities that are being used to suppress lawful expressions of dissent risk complicity in abuses,” says Horne. “The United States should come clean about its role in surveillance in the Horn of Africa and should have policies in place to ensure Ethiopia is not using information gleaned from surveillance to crack down on legitimate expressions of dissent inside Ethiopia.”
Source: The Intercept.