GET down, like James Brown! Dances with the stars? Dances with wolves? How about dances with thugs! The Godfather of Soul, or as his fans call him J.B. (R.I.P. J.B.) had a song called, “The Boss”. It’s a cut on the soundtrack album for the movie “Black Caesar”.
President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Africa, touted as his legacy tour, did not garner the attention and excitement in the mainstream media as his previous visits did. The US President’s itinerary included only two countries, Ethiopia and Kenya and analysts in the region speculated that he chose the two nations, one of them for being his father’s hometown and the other for being the headquarters of the African Union. It was also the first time a sitting U.S. President had visited Kenya or Ethiopia. Of the two, most questioned his trip to Ethiopia, a country ruled by a repressive entrenched minority regime, whose lawlessness and belligerence have been a source of embarrassment to US Administrations, which claim to support human rights and democracy in Africa, but look the other way when Ethiopia, a “staunch US ally” commits crimes against its own people and others in the region. His visit to Kenya on the other hand, was considered less controversial and regarded as being a family reunion of sorts. Continue reading Barack Obama’s Visit to the Horn of Africa – Another Squandered Opportunity→
We Ethiopians are famous for our hospitality. It has been our specialty since antiquity. The comfort we give to strangers and guests are out of the ordinary. It is regrettable, however, to see the quality of our hospitality and the protocol accompanied with it going down the drain in the era of the present regime.
US President Barack Obama has been accused of hypocrisy by choosing to visit Ethiopia during his only official visit to Africa, despite concerns international human rights groups have voiced regarding the country’s human rights record.
After spending two days in Kenya, Obama arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Sunday, where he was met by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who took office in 2012.
The Ethiopian government is a key strategic ally of the US in its ‘war on terrorism,’ and has close security ties with the US. Ethiopia has thousands of troops in neighboring Somalia, which along with Ethiopia and Kenya, face insurgent al-Shabaab Islamic militants.
Ethiopia has introduced anti-terror legislation, called the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which Human Rights Watch [HRW] says has been used by the government to target political opponents.
According to a HRW report on war crimes in Ethiopia, “Since mid-2007, thousands of people have fled, seeking refuge in neighboring Somalia and Kenya from widespread Ethiopian military attacks on civilians and villages that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In an open letter written to US Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013, published by the watchdog Genocidewatch.org, former Ethiopian ambassador Imru Zelleke wrote:
“Ethiopia is a major US ally in the Horn of Africa, yet America does not seem to be concerned about the blatant violations of human rights, lawless governance and unmitigated corruption by the regime in Addis Ababa.”
“The regime’s flagrant interference both in Christian and Muslim religious affairs has created rifts and contentions amongst the religious communities.”
“In the past the regime was boasting to have broken the back of the Orthodox Christianity with similar terrorization of innocent civilians; at this moment, in the guise of an unproven terrorist activity, it is conducting indiscriminately a most vile campaign of terror, mass arrests, killings and tortures against the Muslim Community in Ethiopia.”
Despite the criticism, Obama praised Ethiopia as an “outstanding partner” in the fight against militant Islamists at joint press conference held with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia on Monday.
Human rights campaigners from Amnesty International also expressed their reservations about Obama’s visit to Ethiopia.
“We don’t want this visit to be used to sanitize an administration that has been known to violate human rights,” said Amnesty spokesman Abdullahi Halakhe, who warned that the visit would be used by the administration as evidence of international support.