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  • Ethiopian Opposition leader Arrested for trespassing state of emergency rulings

    Awramba Times (Addis Ababa) – Ethiopian security agents have arrested Merera Gudina (PhD), chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress today. Merera was arrested at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport while returning back to his home country from abroad.

    Reliable sources disclosed to Awramba Times that the cause for Merera Gudina’s arrest is trespassing the state of emergency rulings. More updates to come 

     

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  • Ethiopia’s internet crackdown hurts everyone

    Ethiopia has never been an easy place to operate. But a six-month state of emergency, combined with internet and travel restrictions imposed in response to a wave of anti-government protests, means it just got a whole lot harder.

    The government has targeted the mobile data connections that the majority of Ethiopians use to get online. Internet users have also been unable to access Facebook Messenger and Twitter, with a host of other services also rendered unreliable. 

    This has impacted everyone: from local businesses, to foreign embassies, to families, as well as the extensive and vital international aid community.

    “Non-governmental organisations play crucial roles in developing countries, often with country offices in the capitals, satellite offices across remote regions, and parent organisations in foreign countries,” said Moses Karanja, an internet policy researcher at Strathmore University in Nairobi.  “They need access to the internet if their operations are to be efficiently coordinated.”

    The Ethiopian government has been candid about the restrictions being in response to year-long anti-government protests in which hundreds of people have died.

    It has singled out social media as a key factor in driving unrest. Since the beginning of October, there has been a spike in violence resulting in millions of dollars’ worth of damage to foreign-owned factories, government buildings and tourist lodges across Oromia Region, initially ground zero for the dissent.

    “Mobile data will be permitted once the government assesses that it won’t threaten the implementation of the state of emergency,” government spokesman Getachew Reda – who has since been replaced – told a 26 October press conference in Addis Ababa.

    The Oromo are the country’s largest ethnic group, constituting 35 percent of the country’s nearly 100 million population. They have historically felt ignored by successive regimes in Addis Ababa. In August, similar grassroots protest broke out among the Amhara, Ethiopia’s second largest ethnic group. The ruling EPRDF is portrayed by opponents as a narrow, unrepresentative clique that refuses to share power.

    Ethiopia is not alone in its approach to political unrest. Around the world, as countries become increasingly integrated with online technology, the more autocratic governments are blocking the internet whenever they deem it necessary.

    “The trend appears to be growing because more people are going online and using the internet, often through the use of mobile connections,” said Deji Olukotun of Access Now, which campaigns for digital rights. In 2016, it documented 50 shutdowns, up from less than 20 in 2015.

    “People are enjoying the freedom and opportunity that the internet provides, which enables them to organise themselves and advocate for what they want,” Olukotun told IRIN. “In response, governments are shutting down the net to stop this practice.”

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  • Inside a Trump Chinese shoe factory: 100,000 pairs of footwear branded with Ivanka’s name have been made at huge facility (but now it’s moving to Africa!)

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    • Donald Trump has railed at politicians for allowing US manufacturing jobs to be moved abroad to China
    • But 100,000 pairs of shoes bearing his daughter Ivanka’s name have been made in Dongguan, China
    • The Huajian company is now moving production to Africa because labor there is evencheaper
    • It can employ five Ethiopians at its factory near Addis Ababa for the price of one Chinese worker

    Donald Trump has pledged to bring long-lost American manufacturing jobs back from China.

    But he may be too late – even for products that bear his family name.

    A Chinese company that makes shoes for his daughter’s fashion line is moving production to Africa, where labor is much cheaper.

    Workers on a production line at the Huajian factory in Dongguan, southern China, where Ivanka Trump-branded shoes have been made over the years

    Night-shift workers at the Huajian shoe factory, where about 100,000 pairs of Ivanka Trump-branded shoes have been made over the years, in Dongguan, south China

    The billionaire tycoon has frequently accused China of stealing US jobs through unfair trade practices and currency manipulation, while simultaneously relying on the country to make Trump-branded goods.

     

    But the kind of work that goes into making such products may never return to America, says the president of major footwear producer Huajian Group.

    Zhang Huarong, speaking in his office in the southern factory hub of Dongguan, said: ‘Some manufacturers can’t even survive in China any more.’

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  • High-profile cardiologist convicted on corruption charges implicated in deadly prison fire

    Dr. Fikru Maru, the high-profile cardiologist who was convicted on corruption charges, was indicted along with 37 other suspects for starting the deadly fire that broke out in the Qilinto federal penitentiary on September 3 that led to the death of 23 inmates and razed property worth 15 million Birr.

    In a charge filed with the 19th Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court the federal Attorney General accused the suspects of violating Articles 32 and 38 of the Revised Criminal Code as well as Article 3 of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009. The indictment states that the defendants were under custody on charges of carrying out the mission given to them by the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Ginbot 7 and Al-Shabaab, groups designated as terrorists by Parliament, with the aim of pressuring the government.

    The charge further reads that the defendants, intent on instigating a riot inside Qilinto so as to break out and join the terror groups, had engaged beginning January 2016 in recruiting and organizing inmates for said purpose.  It accuses the suspects of raising money from abroad and prisoners jailed in local prisons to finance what they called the “terror and gang group”, a group comprised of inmates charged with serious offences, to perpetrate the riot.

    Dr. Fikru, 66, is accused of financing the “terror and gang group” to the tune of 70,000 Birr and giving instructions to the group to carry out the insurrection. The group is said to have organized the defendants under cells and exchanged information through encrypted codes. Though it had planned to set off the riot in March 2016, it put off its plans because members of the OLF and Ginbot 7 who were anticipated to join Qilinto as inmates did not, according to the charge.

    The defendants allegedly conspired to murder inmates they suspected of ratting on them to prison authorities and beat them to death with steel bars. They then abducted and disarmed prison officers who were conducting a routine a head count, freed prisoners and set prison cells on fire.

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