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Ethiopia's Tsegaye Adhne ends Keneya's 14-year winning streak at the Marathon Eindhoven

Ethiopian favourite Yemane Tsegay Adhane won a thrilling battle at the conclusion of the 2013 De Lage Landen Marathon Eindhoven, crossing the line in 2:09:11 and ending a 14-year Kenyan winning streak in the Dutch city on Sunday (13).

Yemane Tsegay Adhane (Ethiopia) 2:09:11

Yemane Tsegay Adhane (Ethiopia) 2:09:11

Heavy rain meant that the course record of 2:05:46 was unlikely to be challenged this year but there were still three men were in contention for the honours with barely a kilometre to go.

The 28-year-old Tsegay Adhane, who can boast of a personal best of 2:04:48 when winning the 2012 Rotterdam Marathon, then surged as the trio entered the old market area in the centre of Eindhoven and shook off his younger compatriots Bazu Worku and Belay Assefa, who finished second and third in 2:09:19 and 2:09:31 respectively.

“I am happy for the win, but not so happy with the time. I said before that I wanted to run under the course record (set by Kenya’s Dickson Chumba in 2012) but it was not possible with this weather. I’m sorry, I wanted to do better,” said Tsegay Adhane, although no apology was necessary after his valiant performance after battling with the elements.

Sisay Lemma made it a quartet of Ethiopians in the top four as he came home fourth in 2:09:44.

The weather forecast had changed dramatically less than 24 hours before gun went in the Dutch city and the runners had to race in driving rain, a strong breeze and cooler conditions than expected, with the temperature just six degrees at the start.

A pack of 14 runners, including four pacemakers, went through 21km in 1:04.11, well off the 1:02:35 target time that had been discussed the day before at the technical meeting.

Shortly after the halfway point, runners started to steadily drop off the back of the leading group.

Six men – Tsegay Adhane, Worku, Lemma and Assefa, along with their Kenyan pacemakers Timothy Kiptoo and Sammy Kigen Korir – went 25km in 1:15:48.

Kiptoo was to drop out shortly afterwards but Kigen Korir carried on driving the pace with the four Ethiopians slipstreaming behind him as they went through 30km in 1:30:59.

At that point, a winning time just inside 2:08 was still on the cards but, as Kigen Korir started to drop back just before 32km although he stayed in the race to the finish, the Ethiopians then started to concentrate on racing each other rather than against the clock.

Lemma began to lose contact three kilometres before the finish as his fellow Ethiopians commenced their three-way duel, with Tsegay Adhane eventually triumphing in emphatic fashion to continue his streak of winning at least one Marathon every year since he started racing over the classic distance in 2008.

Tsegay Adhane, eighth at the IAAF World Championships in August, has now won six Marathons in 18 outings.

Kenya’s Ruth Wanjiru was a convincing winner of the women’s race in 2:34:48, winning by 51 seconds from local runner Andrea Deelstra.

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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in News, Articles, PR, Sport


Why Africa leaders failed to strike deal on ICC in Ethiopia [By BERNARD NAMUNANE]


A clash between French-speaking and English-speaking African countries sunk a move to withdraw Africa from the International Criminal Court in Addis Ababa at the weekend.

A combination of factors — including a division between Anglophone and Francophone countries and endless conflicts in the continent — put paid to efforts by some countries to have the African Union announce its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.

They instead issued five demands to the ICC and its guarantor, the United Nations Security Council, to meet and pave the way for new relations with the court on crimes against humanity and high level impunity.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) speaks with Cabinet secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed (R), and Attorney General Githu Mungai (2-R) at the African Union ahead of a special summit on the continent's relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) on October 12, 2013. Photo/AFP

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) speaks with Cabinet secretary for Foreign Affairs Amina Mohammed (R), and Attorney General Githu Mungai (2-R) at the African Union ahead of a special summit on the continent’s relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) on October 12, 2013. Photo/AFP

They also warned that should their list of demands not be met by November 12, the date set for President Kenyatta’s trial at The Hague, they will convene another Special AU Summit to make far-reaching resolutions. (VIDEO: Uhuru urged to skip ICC trial)

Sources at the AU executive council and the Heads of State meeting said that Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania and Algeria pushed for the immediate declaration of the withdrawal from the Rome Statute. Algeria is a French-speaking nation and is not a member of the ICC.

Kenya’s delegation at the executive council meeting, led by Foreign Secretary Amina Mohamed and Attorney-General Githu Muigai was said to have reminded their colleagues that what ICC was doing to Kenya could be done to any African country in future.

This was the reason, they said, decisions should be taken to stop the ICC. They were aghast that the ICC had failed to respect elected African presidents and time had come for the continent to flex its muscle by renouncing its ICC membership.

It was said that they were disturbed by remarks made by the lead prosecutor in the Ruto case, Mr Anton Styneberg, that Kenya could appoint someone else to play the Deputy President’s role to allow the substantive holder of the position to be tried without interruption.

The remark, they said, bordered on lack of respect for elected African leaders.

However, Francophone countries were opposed to the proposal for mass withdrawal, saying, the AU should pursue their concerns with the UN Security Council and the State Parties forum.

Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Mali and Burkina Faso were unhappy with the slow pace at which the AU has been moving to resolve conflicts in Africa.

Joined by Botswana, they argued that while they were in agreement that the ICC should not prosecute sitting presidents, Africa — which has a long list of conflicts — should not be seen to be taking a move that will create room for such dark acts. They cited civil war in Eastern Congo, the Boko Haram conflict in Nigeria and events in Mali where the AU failed to act on time.

The Francophone countries were further opposed to the proposal that all AU members who wish to invite the ICC to investigate cases in their countries should first consult the union. This, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire argued, would deny countries their right to solve internal problems.

It was also understood that Côte d’Ivoire and Sudan, which have cases at the ICC, wanted their position in the final statement from the Special AU Summit to be strongly reflected as was Kenya’s. Their delegations argued that while the Kenya case was urgent, their own situations also merited being included higher up in the resolutions.

Perhaps, this was the reason AU chairman Hailemariam Dessalegn, also Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, said in his opening remarks: “It should be underscored that our goal is not and should not be a crusade against the ICC, but a solemn call for the organisation to take Africa’s concerns seriously.”

The Special Summit apparently had attracted the attention of the UN and the ICC.

Sources at yesterday’s meeting said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called each of the presidents in attendance, seeking to persuade them against resolving to withdraw from the ICC.

Mr Ban promised to use his position to amend the Rome Statute charter to bring on board the concerns that were being raised by the continent.

It is understood that President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, a strong supporter of severing links with The Hague, reminded the UN boss that he has “no teeth” to push for the amendments.


AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zumba, in her welcoming remarks, said:

“I met ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda early in the week and expressed to her the concern that the UN Security Council and the ICC should work with us to enable the elected leadership of Kenya to fulfil their constitutional obligations by urgently considering deferment of the ICC proceedings against the President and Vice-President of Kenya in accordance with Article 16 of the Rome Statute.”



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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in News, Articles, PR


Nigeria/ Ethiopia: … Now That We Know Ethiopia[By Paul Bassesy]

There is celebration in the land, celebration that was not seen in the first half. A first half that made a mess of all those stupendous predictions by overzealous fans who believed that Ethiopia will be meat for supper.

It was fun listening to radio and television programmes where Nigerians predicted two or three goals victories for The Super Eagles. Yes, why not? It was okay to be patriotic and optimistic, but reality was yesterday.

Reality was our defence working overtime and Enyeama being called to make breath taking saves.

Was it the white jersey? Don’t laugh. It seemed even the Ethiopians played on our psychology because their preferred yellow dominated jersey was substituted for green to deny us our top choice.

The first half was torture for Nigerians. Nothing that the Eagles did right. Yes, analysts have blamed the altitude, the weather, pressure and wind that worked against Nigeria. Did I see the Ethiopians going for water break?

Whatever it was, Ethiopia used the first half to earn respect and prove to us that they did not get to this stage by fluke. Ethiopia played as a team. They understood each other perfectly and strung passes that made our defence look amateurish.

That they recorded over 60 per cent possession in the first half was an indication of their control, so much that we started praying for a goaless draw, believing that perhaps when we get to Calabar we will finish it off.

The second half started like the first with the Ethiopians all over the place. It took Enyeama’s effort in the 55th to keep us alive.

Two minutes later, If the referee believed that the first incident against Nigeria had not crossed the line, his second assistant did not allow him to think twice about the second, ruling that Enyeama had plucked the cross from inside the goal post.

One goal down, panic!

Then came Emenike, that moving train, the tanker, the modern day Amokachi, African Nations Cup highest goalscorer who manufactured a goal from nothing with a stupendous shot in the 67th minute. That was the tonic the Eagles needed to prove that one on one they were the better team, even if on paper.

The same Emenike it was whose solo effort ended in a penalty call from Camerounian referee Alioum Neant. Now that we have seen Ethiopia, now that we know Ethiopia, we will certainly respect them come November 16. But I make bold to say that this same Ethiopian side can be slaughtered, if we play traditionally, like Cote Divoire, Ghana and Cameroun would have done.

The Ethiopians played like the English. European football if you ask me, a football that Mikel and Moses are used to, where the opposition has the ball and you allow him all the space to caress, dress, move into position, pass and take possession until they miscue and you take over.

If we crowd the Ethiopians in Calabar, power play them, bulldoze may not be the word, but there will be need to utilize our muscle against their frail nature and bombard them to submission, in which case we can score more than three goals.

Well that is the future for you. For the present, it is celebration galore. a 2-1 victory away is a great result, one that sees us one and a half leg in Brazil. We congratulate Keshi and his glory boys, we congratulate Nigerians for this great step.

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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in News, Articles, PR, Sport


At Least 2 Killed in Ethiopia Blast [VOA]

Ethiopian state media have reported that a bomb blast in the capital city Addis Ababa has killed at least two people.

The attack took place Sunday in the city’s Bole district, which is home to a large Somali population. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing, but Ethiopia says it has thwarted plots of attacks in the past two years and blames rebel groups based in the south and southeast, as well as Somalia’s al-Shabab insurgents.

Ethiopian troops have been fighting al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants in Somalia since 2011, alongside African Union forces from Uganda, Burundi and Kenya.

Last month, al-Shabab led an attack on a shopping mall in Kenya in which at least 67 people were killed. The al-Qaida-linked group said the attack was retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.

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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in News, Articles, PR


Open Letter to the ESFNA Board [LJ Demissie]

Out of a sense of duty, for the last few years, I have been attentively following and researching the organizational behavior and the financial activities of the Ethiopian Sport Federation in North America, ESFNA.

I am aware that you – the board of the Federation along with your Executive Committee – are holding your annual meeting in Addison, TX from October 12, 2013 to October 14, 2013. For that reason, I am writing this open letter to prompt you to provide me and, by extension, the Ethiopian communities, a response regarding issues I have been raising about your organization in the articles I have been publishing since December 15, 2010 – which I have emailed to the board and the Executive members of your organization.

Nothing would please me more than having you, the board, negating the assertions I have been making in my articles. So I would appreciate a reply – which is long overdue – from you proving me wrong rather than right.

Note: The purpose of this open letter is not to assign blame about potential mismanagement of your exempt organization’s public resources. But to encourage your organization to realize its full potential and to increase the Ethiopian communities awareness about one of your unfortunate organizational behavior – the ferocious cycle of the infighting between the board and the EC – has been mainly caused by nothing but who gets a turn to mismanage your organization’s public resources, money – which you generate at the expense of your players and vendors.

Non-transparent ESFNA

On December 15, 2010, in my article titled Non-transparent ESFNA, I have encouraged you, the board, to consider running your organization transparently, without success. On the same article, I promised my readers to provide data that most of the ESFNA venders lose money by vending at your tournaments. I am withholding the data, hoping you might start running your organization effectively and improve handling of your vendors. Concerning your handling of your players, I provided the general public data on August 29, 2013 in my article titled Should the ESFNA Solicit Leadership from the Community which shows you have not been thoughtful enough about them.

Based on my observations, your organization has become more secretive than ever about its financial information since I shared my articles with you. For instance, your Executive Committee has been refusing to easily and willfully distribute your organization’s financial reports to the board and to the general public. To illustrate, I sent an email on October 7, 2013 to your EC members including your President Getachew Tesfaye to request a copy of your 2012 tax return to be emailed to me. Thirty five days after I made the request, your EC has not provided me a copy of the tax return although it has a legal obligation to do so.

If you are not aware, “responsible persons of a tax-exempt organization who fail to provide the documents as required may be subject to a penalty of $20 per day for as long as the failure continues.” There is a maximum penalty of $10,000 for each failure to provide a copy of an annual information return, according to the Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Requirements for Exempt Organizations to Disclose IRS Filings to the General Public.

I inferred that you, the ESFNA board, do not review the Federation’s tax returns prior to filing it. You also do not receive a copy of the tax return in a timely manner after it is filed. I gathered that as of this article date you have not been able to obtain a copy of the Federation’s 2012 tax return from your EC due to your EC refusal to distribute the tax returns to its board. When I learnt, your EC has only allowed you, the board, to see the IRS electronic tax filing confirmation that the Federation’s 2012 tax return is accepted instead of the tax returns I was stunned.

A question that begs for an answer is that who is governing the ESFNA? Is it the board or the Executive Committee?

By the way, a board’s inability to govern, monitor, and manage an organization via an Executive Committee is a breach of fiduciary duty. In a court of law, proving a board’s breach of its duty is easier than proving fraud, embezzlement, and/or mismanagement of the organization’s resources by its Executive Committee.

Your Organization’s Disproportionately Higher Expenses than Incomes

On August 29, 2013, in my article titled Should the ESFNA Solicit Leadership from the Community, I have discussed: the progress of your organization, your organizational behavior, your organization’s disproportionately higher expenses than income, etc. For example, I documented that your former EC members – some of whom are active current board members – from 2006 to 2011 might have mismanaged $1.6 million public money of your Federation. To date the ESFNA board has not taken responsibility, or it has not countered the assertions I made in the article. Since the board has not addressed the allegations I made, its silence implies its consent.

Your Executive Committee Contradictory Declarations

The first declaration, the Federation’s 2013 tournament held at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland was the most successful tournament the organization ever hosted; there were about 33K attendees which helped the Federation generate roughly $651K gross ticket sales revenue.

The second declaration, according to the Federation’s 2008 tax returns, the gross ticket sales revenue from its 2008 tournament at the RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C was $848K; a public turnout of about 55,858 attendees.

The third declaration – which is contradictory of the information on Federation’s 2008 tax returns – the gross ticket sales revenue from the Federation’s 2008 tournament at the RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C was $712K; a public turnout of about 47K attendees.

Using the Federation’s historical and current financial data, media reports, and attendees’ testimonies, I have estimated 47K to 65K guests attended the 30th anniversary, 2013 tournament, at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Maryland. However, your EC is claiming that the number of attendees of your 2013 tournament were only 33K.

Put another way, I have estimated $940K to $1.3M as your gross ticket sales revenue of 2013 tournament. However, your EC is reporting to you that your 2013 tournament gross ticket sales revenue is only $651K. The difference between your EC reporting and my estimate is quite large – which is $289K to $649K.

In summary, I have not been putting pen to paper just for the sake of writing, but to contribute my fair share to take your organization to the next level and to unveil your organization’s tragic internal infighting – which has been causing me and, therefore, the Ethiopian Diaspora enormous anguish. So I would appreciate a letter from you, the board, proving the assertions I have been making in my articles about your organization are wrong rather than right.


I look forward to hearing from you very soon.


The writer can be reached at

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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in News, Articles, PR


The AU’s Mass Treaty-cide Brinksmanship[Pro Almayehu]

Charge of the light brigade

The African Union’s threatened “mass treaty-cide” (a phrase I am compelled to coin to describe the bizarre threatened walkout on the Rome Statute) fizzled out. Those who predicted the “extraordinary  summit” on the “AU’s relation with the International Criminal Court” (ICC) would end in a big bang were pleasantly amused to see it wrap up with a whimper about “undertaking consultation with members of the UN Security Council” to seek “deferral of proceedings against the President and Deputy President of Kenya as well as the President of the Sudan in conformity with Article 16 of the Rome Statute.” After all, October 11-12, 2013 will not live in infamy as I had feared. The scheme to convince the 34 Rome Statute signatory African states to commit “mass treaty-cide” was a total flop.

The Sturm und Drang of a mass walkout on the Rome Statute proved to be nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.  The tag team of Hailemariam Desalegn and Teodros  Adhanom of the ruling regime in Ethiopia bleated out  their stealthily cloaked message of a walkout but nobody was buying it. Adhanom broadsided the media for bearing bad news: “Some media reported earlier today that we are divided but we have seen no sign of any of that. We are not divided and we will not be divided. Unity is the only option.”

Adhanom was right in a way; the group of 34 signatory states were united in their refusal to dump the Rome Statute. Desalegn and Adhanom were the last two men standing alone flying the white flag of flight from the ICC. No signatory state stepped forward to dump the Rome Statute. African signatories understood the Statute may not be good for African heads of states and warlords who commit gross human rights abuses, but it is damn good for ordinary Africans.  After all the huffing and puffing at the “extraordinary session”, the ICC proceedings will proceed and the trials of Ruto and a co-defendant will continue. Kenyatta’s trial is set to begin on November 12. Bashir will remain a fugitive from international justice with a hot warrant on his tail.

Brinksmanship of Mass Treaty-cide: Dangerous game of chicken

The significance of the African Union’s “extraordinary summit” on the ICC on October 11-12, 2013 should be neither underestimated nor ignored. It should be appreciated for what it is: A dangerous game of brinksmanship. Those AU leaders who insisted on having the summit on the ICC were playing a game of chicken with one of the most important international human rights institutions to emerge in the post WW II  period. They hoped to load up the 34 signatories of the Rome Statute on a bus that was careening on a collision course with the ICC, certain in the knowledge the ICC will blink and swerve at the last second. Fortunately, the ICC stood its ground and the AU bus drivers did not have any passengers on board with whom to play a game of chicken. They limped away   in dismay mumbling something about transforming the ICC from an institution that investigates and prosecutes perpetrators of crimes against humanity, war criminals and genocide to a mediation club that brings together victims of human rights abuses with their abusers to sing kumbaya.

Game plan to end-run the ICC 

The Hailemariam/Adhanom game plan to end-run the ICC was based on an appeal aimed at strategically galvanizing  the 34 African signatory states to turn their backs on the Rome Statute. In their speeches, Hailemariam and Adhanom laid out a number of propositions they hoped would appeal to the signatory states: 1) “Sitting Heads of State and Government should not be prosecuted while in office. 2) Let bygones be bygones. There is a need in the continent to “balance justice and reconciliation in complex conflict situations”. 3) The ICC is a “political instrument targeting Africa and Africans.” 4)  The 34 African states that signed the Rome Statute were snookered because they  “joined the ICC perhaps fully concerned that the organization would promote the cause of  justice with a sense of impartiality and justice. The practice so far however leaves so much to be desired.” 5) The ICC prosecution of Kenyatta, Ruto and Bashir  will upset the “reconciliation process.” 6) The ICC and the U.N. Security Council use a “double standard of justice”– a harsh and unfair one for African suspects and something else for others. 7) “We should not allow the ICC to continue to treat Africa and Africans in a condescending manner.”

It is ironic and the height of hypocrisy for “leaders” of a country that is not a signatory to the Rome Statute to pontificate and spearhead the effort to get other countries to abandon the Statute and the ICC. The only thing worse than a hypocrite is a cynical hypocrite!

Give sitting African heads of state get out of jail free card

Adhanom declared in his opening remarks that  “the immunities of Heads of State cannot be taken lightly and our meeting should come out very clearly on this issue.” He demanded in his closing remarks, “sitting Heads of State and Government should not be prosecuted while in office.” Investigating and prosecuting heads of states “has wider ramifications for Kenya and Africa as a whole. We do not want this simplistic suspect/victim approach to destabilize Kenya and our region.” Adhanom argued the “search for justice should be pursued in a way that does not impede or jeopardize efforts aimed at promoting lasting peace.”

Adhanom is right in his contention that investigating and prosecuting heads of states “has wider ramifications for Kenya and Africa as a whole.” There is no question it will have a chilling effect on African leaders and warlords who commit crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide with impunity. The certainty that the long arm of the International Criminal Court will snatch human rights violators in Africa will definitely cramp the styles of current dictators in power who abuse their citizens from their palaces and others who commit atrocities from their hideouts in the bush.

Of course, heads of states and other human rights violators in non-signatory states such as Ethiopia have nothing to fear or be concerned about. They can and will go on committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide with impunity. They are accountable to no one. They do what they will and even feel free to set up a wrecking crew for the ICC by telling tall tales and rumors of an ICC boogeyman race hunting Africans.

Why shouldn’t sitting heads of states be investigated and prosecuted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide? Adhanom provides no answer. It is ipsit dixit — Adhanom said therefore it is true. What Adhanom fails to understand (or is willfully ignorant about) is what is good for the goose is good for the gander.  There are no good and bad criminals against humanity, war criminals and genociders. There is no moral or legal difference between a warlord and a head of state who commit such crimes. If one follows Adhanom’s warped logic in the context of Africa’s volatile politics, no one will ever be prosecuted. Rebel leaders and warlords who commit atrocities and seize power or are elected in rigged elections will remain free and at large for no reason other than Adhanom’s self-serving and preposterous maxim: “ Sitting Heads of State and Government should not be prosecuted while in office.” In fact, human rights violators in power will have great incentive to stay in power for decades committing more human rights violations because being a head of state makes them untouchable, above the law.   On the other hand, what would keep rebel and militia leaders and warlords from demanding that they too be exempted from prosecution because they believe themselves to be the true leaders of a given country?

Justice delayed is justice denied, injustice prolonged 

In his speech at the “extraordinary summit”, Hailemariam argued Bahsir’s prosecution at the ICC should be “deferred” because Bashir “has been demonstrating the necessary political leadership and commitment to resolve the Darfur issue and address outstanding issues with South Sudan.” Similarly, Kenyatta’s and Ruto’s prosecution should be “deferred” because of Kenya’s “adoption of the new Constitution, the reform of the judiciary and the holding of successful legislative and presidential elections [which] have opened a new chapter in the country’s political dispensation.” Moreover, because  Kenyatta and Ruto  “have played a critical role in reconciling the different communities and creating a peaceful condition for the smooth conduct of elections,” they deserve a break.

Simply stated, Hailemariam argues the ICC should let Bashir, Kenyatta and Ruto off the hook because they now see the error of their old ways. This argument is tantamount to saying that a criminal suspect should be immune from prosecution because he has abandoned his old evil ways and has reformed and rehabilitated himself by becoming a good family man who goes to church/mosque/synagogue/temple regularly, gives alms to the poor and no longer steals, cheats, robs and kills. Alternatively, a suspect who committed a crime during war time or political conflict should be exempted because the suspect’s prosecution could endanger the current peace.

Hailemariam’s notion of “deferred prosecution” by another name is known as delayed justice.  Justice delayed is not only justice denied; it is injustice prolonged. Could there ever be a right time to prosecute an African  head of state for crimes against humanity? How long must victims wait to get justice? How long should the ICC wait before it prosecutes a head of state accused of crimes against humanity?

Over four decades ago, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger of the United States Supreme Court noted: “A sense of confidence in the courts is essential to maintain the fabric of ordered liberty for a free people and three things could destroy that confidence and do incalculable damage to society: that people come to believe that inefficiency and delay will drain even a just judgment of its value; that people who have long been exploited in the smaller transactions of daily life come to believe that courts cannot vindicate their legal rights from fraud and over-reaching; that people come to believe the law – in the larger sense – cannot fulfill its primary function to protect them and their families in their homes, at their work, and on the public streets.” I believe justice delayed is injustice prolonged.

Let bygones be bygones

There is a need in the continent “to balance justice and reconciliation in complex conflict situations,” pontificated Adhanom in his speech. There is a strange historical irony in this assertion. Hailemariam’s and Adhanom’s “visionary” late political godfather and the chief architect of the ruling regime in Ethiopia for over two decades thrived and prospered by keeping justice and reconciliation out of kilter; he would not even deign to temper justice with simple mercy. After the “visionary” leader ordered the massacre of hundreds of unarmed demonstrators following the 2005 parliamentary election in Ethiopia in which 193 persons were killed and 763 suffered gunshot wounds, his way of balancing justice with reconciliation was to jail dozens of major opposition party leaders, civic society and human rights advocates and journalists on bogus charges of “treason.”  That late “visionary” leader was so blinded by vengeance and retribution he threw Birtukan Midekssa, the first female political party leader in Ethiopian history in prison and in prolonged solitary confinement without so much as a court hearing.  He later gloated, “There will never be an agreement with anybody to release Birtukan. Ever. Full stop. That’s a dead issue.” That same “visionary” leader jailed his opponents after he convicted them in a kangaroo court trial and later forced them to drop on their knees and publicly confess their “guilt” in a humiliating manner before he granted them a pardon. Now Hailemariam and Adhanom want to make the “Darfur issue” in the Sudan and the “post-2007 election violence issue” in Kenya a dead issue.

Hailemariam and Adhanom seem to conveniently forget (or lack the perspicuity) that one of the foremost causes of conflict in Africa is rooted in pre-election suppression of opposition parties and leaders, rigged elections and the refusal of incumbent leaders to accept elections outcomes or defeat. Inevitably, incumbent regimes who cannot win in a free and fair election almost always adopt a scorched earth policy against their opponents jailing, torturing and killing them.   That happened in Ethiopia in 2005; in Kenya in 2007; in Zimbabwe in 2008; in Cote d’Ivoire in 201o; in the DR Congo in 2011 and in Mali in 2012 when a coup disrupted elections. There is indeed a need to balance justice with reconciliation; but first justice must be done without delay. Let Bashir, Kenyatta and Ruto go through their trial; and if they are convicted, they could be eligible for pardon, commutation of sentence or other alternatives.

The “condescending” ICC: Africans just don’t get no respect! 

Adhanom asserted the ICC has ignored the African Union’s  “active engagement in the resolution of the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya, and “scuttled” the work of the “mediation team established by the African Union composed of African Eminent Personalities.” The ICC and the U.N. Security Council have been so contemptuous of the AU that they have not even bothered to dignify AU’s simple requests with a response. “It is  regrettable that our repeated call has fallen on deaf ears and our concerns have been completely ignored.” Specifically, the AU’s application to the U.N. Security council to defer the prosecution of Bashir, “has neither been heard nor acted upon.” The AU “has received no response to our request for a deferral of the ICC investigation and prosecutions of [Kenyatta and Ruto]”… In spite of Kenya’s full cooperation with the Court, it is unfortunate that the Court has neither been ready nor willing to even entertain simple requests made on technical issues of the proceedings…”  To add insult to injury, Adhanom lamented, “The manner in which the Court has been operating particularly its unfair treatment of Africa and Africans leaves much to be desired. Far from promoting justice and reconciliation and contributing to the advancement of peace and stability in our continent, the Court has transformed itself into a political instrument targeting Africa and Africans.” Simply stated, Africans just don’t get no respect! He urged, “We should not allow the ICC to continue to treat Africa and Africans in a condescending manner.”

Adhanom “doth protest too much”, to paraphrase Shakespeare. Perhaps Adhanom has not read the Rome Statute. The ICC’s jurisdiction under Article 5 is “limited to the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole… and [covers only] the crime of genocide; crimes against humanity; war crimes [and] the  crime of aggression.” The ICC has no power to function as a truth and reconciliation commission or a mediation service for reconciliation. Adhanom is asking the ICC to do something the ICC has absolutely no power (and if it did act, it would be acing ultra vires [beyond its legal powers]) whatsoever to do even if it wanted! Adhanom can badger the ICC until he turns blue in the face, but the ICC cannot become a truth and reconciliation commission. The U.N. Security Council is also limited; it cannot tell the ICC what to do. The ICC is not a kangaroo court which politicians can manipulate and intimidate. It is Adhanom who is “condescending” to the ICC and the Security Council by insisting that they buckle down to his naïve and benighted demands. If the Security Council has turned a deaf ear to Adhanom’s repeated pleas, it is because Adhanom is talking loud and saying nothing!

Double talk on a double standard

Hailemariam claimed, “The double standard that both the United Nations Security Council  and ICC have displayed with regards to the African Union’s request for deferral of prosecution… for the last seven years… in a number of cases, has been particularly worrisome…” In his “closing remarks”,  Adhanom observed: The AU has “rejected the double standard that the ICC is applying in dispensing international justice” and has “expressed our serious disappointment against the ICC and its selective approach vis a vis Africa”. Prosecution of  Kenyatta and Ruto “in an international court infringes on the sovereignty of Kenya and undermines the progress achieved thus far in the country’s reconciliations and reform process.”

It is remarkable how some African “leaders” could be so witless that they are unable to see glaring contradictions in their own positions. Hailemariam and Adhanom accuse the ICC and Security Council of a double standard but they are completely blinded to the duplicity of their own double standard by demanding a double standard of justice for African heads of states. When Hailemariam asks for deferral of prosecution for Bashir, Kenyatta and Ruto, he is asking that these suspects be brought to trial at some undetermined future time. But he is not demanding “deferred” prosecution for Joseph Kony, Bosco Ntganda or any of the others. How could one explain to Hailemariam and Adhanom that the ICC cannot establish one standard of justice for Bashir/Kenyatta and Ruto and another for Kony and Ntganda. The ICC cannot use two standards of justice, capish?!

Since Hailemariam and Adhanom are so incensed and bent out of shape about the alleged double standard of justice meted out by the ICC and U.N. Security Council, how come they practice a double standard of justice in their own country? For instance, they have not prosecuted a single policeman, security official, party leader or  regime official for any human rights violations. In fact, for over two decades, they have been practicing their own brand of double standard called “Just Us” justice. Let the truth speak for itself.

The moment of truth has finally arrived!

In his speech Hailemariam said,  “Africa has and never will support impunity of leaders who willfully murder their own people.” Adhanom chimed in: The AU has “unwavering commitment to fighting impunity and promoting democracy, rule of law and good governance throughout the continent” and AU has “ taken concrete actions to uphold these values..”

This is an amazing statement by “leaders” of a country that has sneeringly refused to sign the Rome Treaty since it opened for signature in 1999. Are they telling the truth about “taking concrete actions” in “fighting impunity and promoting democracy, rule of law and good governance throughout the continent? Let the facts speak for themselves!

Following the 2005 parliamentary elections in Ethiopia, the ruling regime established an Inquiry Commission to look into the post-election violence that had occurred. The Commission also investigated disturbances in Kality prison where the regime keeps most of  its political prisoners.  The  Commission examined 16,990 documents, and received testimony form 1,300 witnesses. Commission members visited prisons and hospitals, and interviewed members of the regime’s officialdom over several months. In the end, the Commission determined that the police shot and killed 193 persons and wounded 763 others on specific dates and in specific locations.  It also documented that prison guards fired more than 1500 bullets into inmate housing units in Kality prison leaving 17 dead, and 53 severely wounded.

Commission Chairman Judge Frehiwot Samuel noted: “Many people were killed arbitrarily. Old men were killed while in their homes, and children were also victims of the attack while playing in the garden.” Over 30,000 civilians were arrested without warrant and held in detention. By an 8-2 vote, the Commission made specific factual conclusions about the “disturbances”: 1) The persons killed or wounded during the violence were unarmed protesters. “There was not a single protester who was armed with a gun or a hand grenade (as reported by the government-controlled media that some of the protesters were armed with guns and bombs)”. 2) “No property was destroyed by the protesters.” 3) “The shots fired by government forces into crowds of protesters were not intended to disperse but to kill by targeting the head and chest of the protesters.” 4) There was no evidence that any security officers involved in the shootings were attacked or killed by the demonstrators: “Security forces which are alleged to be killed by demonstrators were not taken to autopsy, even there is no evidence of either photograph or death certificate showing the reason of death and couldn’t be produced for police as opposed to that of civilians.”

There is a Certified List of 237 Killers in the Massacres of 2005. In 2008, a “think tank that met regularly at the Ethiopian Embassy in London” commissioned an “internal security study” to counter criticism by various international human rights organizations following the 2005 elections. In a report entitled “Modernizing Internal Security in Ethiopia”, counterterrorism expert Col. Michael Dewar, British Army (Rtd.) revealed some shocking facts about the federal police, detention facilities and riot control capabilities and procedures in Ethiopia. One of the most surprising facts revealed by Col. Dewars was the existence of a certified list of policemen involved in the 2005 post-election massacres. Col. Dewars stated in his report that “after three hours of one to one conversation”, Werkneh Gebeyehu, the Director General of the Ethiopian Federal Police, told him that “As a direct result of the 2005 riots, he [had] sacked 237 policemen.”  These officials who have manifestly committed crimes against humanity have yet to be brought to justice in Ethiopia.

Adhanom pontificated about “our principle of providing African solutions to African problems.” Some Ethiopian solution for an Ethiopian human rights problem!

The massacre of the  innocent demonstrators is the singular reason I got involved in Ethiopian and African human rights advocacy. For the past seven years, every single week without fail, I have, in one form or another argued and called for legal accountability for the policemen who pulled the trigger, the invisible hands that pulled the fingers of the policemen who pulled the trigger and the masterminds who orchestrated the whole bloody carnage in 2005. I shall continue to call for justice to those who were massacred in 2005.

No justice no peace; no truth, no reconciliation

Hailemariam and Adhanom waxed eloquent about justice and reconciliation. Their definition of reconciliation is giving African heads of state accused of crimes against humanity a get out of jail free card, at least a card that will keep them out of the ICC dock for an undetermined amount of time. It is easy to sloganeer about reconciliation; but genuine reconciliation is a coin with two sides. On the other side of the coin is truth. There can be no reconciliation without bringing out the truth in the open. The crimes committed against victims in secret must be brought into the light of truth so that the truth can set the victim and victimizer free. The truth allows the victim to reconcile with the victimizer by creating a bridge of compassion, forgiveness and contrition in their hearts.  It allows the victims to excavate their hurt and hate from their hearts and begin to heal themselves and their victimizers.  Reconciliation allows the victimizers to look at the evil buried deep in their hearts and minds and permanently purge it. The practice of reconciliation, as seen in South Africa and elsewhere in Latin America, allowed victims to face their torturers and jailers and through a confrontation of love (not hate, revenge or vengeance) both victim and victimizer put the past behind them and kept moving forward to future where such crimes will never be repeated. How can there be reconciliation when those accused of crimes against humanity are given “deferrals” of prosecutions or when there is a double standard of justice for the powerful in the palaces and the out of power in the bushes?

Justice is like a train that is nearly always late. 

Lady Justice “is like a train that is nearly always late”, but she has finally arrived at her African destination with a scale in one hand and a sword in the other, and without her blindfold to see the atrocities that continue to be committed in Africa. A new dawn is rising over the darkness of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Africa. I am glad to see the scales of justice insignia of the International Criminal Court rising over the African horizon. I know the  ICC’s achievements during its decade-long existence are modest. I also  appreciate the growing pains of the ICC.  I do not believe for a nano second that the ICC or the Office of the Prosecutor are racist institutions with double standards of justice for Africans and everyone else. I have not seen a scintilla of evidence to support the claims of ICC critics and detractors. Of course, the racism and double standard accusations are red herrings. The burden of proving the ICC and OTP are racists who have contempt for Africa and use a double standard to mistreat Africans is on those who make their allegations. All I can say is: Put up or shut up!

No more AU brinksmanship by mass treaty-cide!

The time to support the ICC is NOW!

Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino and is a practicing defense lawyer.

Previous commentaries by the author are available at:

Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:

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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in News, Articles, PR


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Posted by on October 12, 2013 in News, Articles, PR