Friday, April 30, 2010

Good Luck MEDREK Of Birtukan "Mandela" - The Impossible Made Possible! (Fayyis Oromia)

Good Luck MEDREK Of Birtukan "Mandela" - The Impossible Made Possible!
I wrote some articles regarding and supporting Medrek in the last few months and specially I pointed at its few weak points in the last two articles. As I already mentioned, the main conflict in the empire is the conflict between two forces, between the anti-Oromia (anti-killil) forces mostly represneted by the reactionary unitarists, who are parts of the Ethiopianists, and the pro-Oromia forces of national self-adminstration represented largely by Oromianists and by the nationalists of other oppressed peoples. This conflict was regarded as irreconcialable and the lucky Weyane used this schism as a chance for its devide and rule method.

Thanks to the far sighted leaders of OLF and CUD, this barrier was overcome for the first time and these two organizations formed AFD in 2006, which was the nice start of cooperation between these two seemingly diametrically opposite forces. Unfortunately, there was a big opposition from three directions: from the ruling fascist Weyane, from the right extremist Ethio-nationalists and from the left radical Ethno-nationalists, so that the alliance couldn't live longer. Additionally it couldn't continue as it was because of the split of CUD in to factions and due to the withdrawal of EPPF from the alliance.

I think the time for AFD as an end-solution for the troubled region is not yet come, but the future is in favour of AFD's program of forging a union of free nations in the Horn. In the future, both Ethio-nationalists (most being Amhara-Ethiopianists) and Ethno-nationalists (like pro-independence Oromianists) will agree on the common ground as a strategical goal for both camps, the goal being a union of independent nations in the Horn. Just like France and Germany were enemies of each other in the past and now are the two strong pillars of the European union, both the future independent Amharai and independent Oromia will be the two pillars of the Horn union of independent nations, which will surely work together for peace and stability of the region.

The current viable and similar alliance as a mid-solution towards AFD's end-goal is Medrek, which was formed after the deliberation and discussions among moderate politicians of the empire for more than one and half years. Now we know that both anti-Oromia forces like UDJ and pro-Oromia forces like OFC are working together against the fascist Weyane. This alliance also got oppositions from the three sides (from fascist Weyane, right extremists and left radicals). There are oppositions specially from the right extremists like UDJ faction of the neo-Chamisso (Mesfin W/Mariam) and the neo-Kihidetu (Hailu Shawel), who seem particularly to curse the political move of the moderate Ethiopianists organized under UDJ in Medrek. I have already discussed why these die-hard unitarists do now support fascist Weyane instead of cooperating with the unionist genuine opposition alliance, Medrek, in one of my articles. I tried to show in my last two articles also the opposition to UDJ and to Medrek from the nationalist Oromo individuals' and groups' point of view. But UDJ in Medrek is the only one who attempted to move from the far right to the middle. Both the left radicals and the right extremists do forget that Medrek is the compromise middle position, which could bring the apparently irreconcialable two forces together and made them work cooperatively against the worst evil in the empire/Horn. This cooperation of the two opposite forces against the fascists is really the impossible made possible.

As a compromise alliance, Medrek of course can not have the whole program of either the "multinational"/hibre-biher parties or that of the national/ye biher forces, but only the mini-program as a common ground. Is this agreement of the hitherto seemingly irreconialable forces on common program not the impossible made possible? Yes, it is! But, unfortunately it has still got oppositions from the three directions including from the slaves of the fascist Weyane. To describe the three oppositions directed against Medrek in short, it comes nowadays from:

- the fascist ruling party, who wants power by any means = dictatorial autocratic force;

- the reactionary right extremists like the faction of the neo-Chamisso and the party of the neo-Kihidetu, who want unitary Ethiopia by any means = dictatorial unitarist forces;

- some Oromo organizations, which want Oromian independence without a possibility for a union by any means and from the Weyane slaves, who sometimes try to pretend in cyber-world as pro-independent Oromo. The true pro-independence forces also seem to be dictatorial liberation fronts, but they are the best ones Oromo can have against the naturally dictatorial fascist Weyane and against the reactionalry unitarists.

Alliances like Medrek seem to be theoretically the forums for liberals and moderates i.e for the democratic forces, which do struggle for the forging of freedom and democracy including the self-administration of nations as well as for the human rights of individual citizens. Such alliances are the best anti-dote against Weyane's devide and rule machination. Medrek, despite its certain weak points, is thus the right move to the right direction. Surely the integrating figure, Birtukan "Mandela", has played a big role in initiating, forming and holding together the alliance; she is still serving as a role model even in her physical absence (because of her imprisonment) from the real political platform of the empire.

After I wrote the two crtical articles against the anti-Oromia position of UDJ in Medrek, I could get feed backs full of concerns from both the anti-Oromia and the pro-Oromia forces. The concerns revolve around the "unproductivity" of my criticism specially at this period of the sham election in the empire. My view regarding such concerns is on the contrary to what I got as the feed back. I am a critical supporter of Medrek. The alliance really did the very magnicifient job in making the impossible be possible. It should be encouraged. But to have a lasting solution, the alliance should not make a compromise on Oromian unity, just as it didn't on Ethiopian unity. My criticism on this point doesn't mean, I and Oromo nationalists are against the alliance. I just wanted to stress that accepting the two levels of unity (Oromian unity and Ethiopian unity) unconditionally might help the alliance to have the very stable mass base it needs. As expected, Weyane slaves tried to use my critcism on Medrek as a chance to "show that EPRDF is better than Medrek"

Unfortunate to these slaves, Medrek is actually the alliance of the 21st century, which could accomodate the two trends of the current global politics: the trend of promoting national freedom and the trend of fostering regional union. The reactionary right extremists like UDJ faction of the neo-Chamisso reject the politics of national freedom as some thing "ye goosa poletika/ politics of clan", whereas the left radicals tend to ignore the necessity of regional union for common benefit of all citizens and nations in the Horn. Medrek on the contrary is the de facto hibre-biher-dirijit/multi-
national coalition, which has a potential for development to the multi-national merger, which is usually longed for and advocated by Ethiopianist forces on the contrary to the right extremist anti-killil forces, which are not multi-national per se, but are Amhara nationalist forces who want to devide Oromia with the pretext of prefering geography-based federation. The move of UDJ to the middle line of Medrek is what makes it more progressive than these obsolete right extremists.

The only thing UDJ in Medrek needs yet to learn is that not to cry for only Ethiopian unity, but also struggle for Oromian unity with Oromian autonomy and even push further for Horn unity or African unity, of course Finfinnee being the political center for all these four levels of unities. Giving priority for the unity at Ethiopian level, Medrek's vision here should be to establish union of autonomous nations in the empire, taking Oromian unity as an example of national freedom. If all the member parties of Medrek agree on such common ground, then its three opponents (fascist Weyane, right extremists and left radicals) will have no chance to disintegrate this modern alliance of the century.

Medrek as the impossible made possible has survived two big challenges till now as its leaders already described, i.e the challenge of coming up with the mini-program which took them almost one and half years of wrangling with each other and the challenge of assigning the needed election candidates from the competing rival member parties for each constituency. Yet it still should overcome the following three other challenges to survive further and to become the reliable force of the future in the empire:

- the coming election challenge, where the emotionally charged moves of the different constituencies with different interests (e.g anti-killil vs pro-killil) may pull and push the coalition towards disintegration. We do observe that both the die-hard anti-killil Ethiopianists and the pro-killil others want to instrumentalize the alliance in order to assert their respective political will. If the leaders can manage and overcome this challenge, the victory can be the source of their future strength, which will benefit the alliance;

- the neo-Chamisso challenge, which UDJ in particular and Medrek in general are facing now. It is not hidden that the ruling fascist regime plays with this devide and attack method to destroy Medrek, just as it did to CUD. We have observed how the regime orchastrated the quarell between the two factions of UDJ just to make them appear ridiculous in front of their constituency, to destroy the image of the party in the doners' group of the international community and to divert the attention of the leaders and the members of the party from the election campaign. Another calculation of the fascist regime is just to separate the well respected Birtukan Midhagsa from Medrek and attach her popularity to the neo-Chamisso group, so that her supporters may not vote for Medrek;

- the challenge of accomodating both Oromian unity and Ethiopian unity, the failure of which can be the sourse of disintegration in the far future, if not in the near future. Only when all member parties, specially UDJ, accept and respect Oromian unity as they did to Ethiopian unity, it is possible to have a very stable base for further survival. The schism (OFC-wing vs UDJ-wing) I elaborated in my last two articles made Weyane cadres to jump up and down as well as to try as usual pouring benzine on the conflict.

Anyways, only by correcting the mistake of trying to dismantle Oromia per referendum, Medrek will have the lasting support of Oromo people. UDJ's main agenda (Ethiopian unity) without the concent of Oromo elites and without the support of Oromo people is fake and only temporary. If Medrek corrects this mistake in its further deliberation and discussions, then no question victory will be for both Oromian unity (goal of the Oromianists) and Ethiopian unity (goal of the Ethiopianists). I hope in the long run the right extremists and the left radicals will also come to their sense and accept this noble compromise solution for that troubled empire, at least temporarily till the time for AFD's final solution comes. Even though it is not as such easy to reverse the formal killil-federation, not accepting such compromise only leads to both disintegration of the empire (fear of the right extremists) and to the possible independent Oromia surrounded by chaotic region (fear of the left radicals).

That is why I tried to put forward my criticism against UDJ's position of anti-Oromia and against Medrek's position of referendum on the God-given right of united Oromia to exist. If referendum concerns only Oromo, it is not bad; but if the public of the referendum includes all non-Oromo in the empire, it is just unfair. As usual the fascist Weyane cadres tried to use my criticism as if there is irreconcialable discord between the pro-killil OFC-wing of Medrek and the anti-killil UDJ-wing of Medrek. But the wise political leaders in Medrek already told us that the deliberation and the discussion on this issue would go on. This is very commendable and hopefully these leaders will come up with the consensus also on Oromian unity, not only on Ethiopian unity. On the day they achieve this, then the time for the demise of the fascist Weyane, the weakening of the right extremists and the moderating of the left radicals will not be far. Additionally, I am sure in due time it will be clear for UDJ in Medrek that dismantling Oromia is not as such a free ride.

Now, at this moment, UDJ in Medrek is doing smart politics in working not only with "multi-national" forces, but also in accomodating ye-biher/national forces in order to make them accept and respect its main agenda, i.e Ethiopian unity. The crying foul of the neo-Chamisso faction and the neo-Kihidetu party is simply futile. Thanks to the farsightedness of UDJ leaders and the leaders of other member organizations of Medrek, we are on the verge of the new good beginning. I just ask Waaqayyoo/Rabbii to give them more knowledge and wisdom to help the coalition last long and be fruitful by making all nations of the empire/Horn to rally behind them against the fascist regime and I would encourage all progressive citizens to vote in the coming sham election against the fascist Weyane and against the anti-killil unitarists.

Hopefully the same kind of coalition (Tibibir) will be forged in diaspora, which involves the "multi-national" organizations like G-7 and the national fronts like OLF having both Oromian unity and Ethiopian/Horn union as their common purpose. If this happens, the demise of the fascists will not be postponed. It is only the lack of such dynamic alliance which gave the regime the chance to live longer. Specially the new generation with political mentality like that of Birtukan (hopefully she is not anti-Oromia) should come forward and take the leadership. Birtukan is just a symbol for the renowned Oromo elites and talents who served the empire just to be treated unjustly at last. It is only the likes of Medrek, the impossible made possible, which can be the panacea for such misuse of our talents, for the trouble in the region and which can help us move one step forward.

Otherwise, we know that in the coming three weeks, all citizens of the empire will go out to vote under a very undemocratic circumstance. There are different opinions given in differrent websites on what to do, the ideas ranging from the importance of boycoting to the necessity of participating in the election. I personally do support the participation and encourage the opposition leaders, their members, supporters and the whole mass against Weyane to be vigilant and seek the way how to keep their voting card not be misused by the mafia regime. In case the election will be rigged, again mass uprising using all methods of peacefull struggle is to be recommended. We should consider the sham election as part of our struggle against tyranny and we need to intensify the FDG (Fincila Diddaa Garbummaa = peaceful uprising against tyranny). I hope Medrek will take the leading position and make also a sort of cooperation with other genuine opposition parties, which is very mandatory to compell the fascist regime to respect the public verdict.

I wish also in the long run that the reactionary unitarists in the opposition camp learn from their real political experience and be transformed to be unionists similar to Medrek. Such transformation of the unitarists as well as the formation and consolidation of the alliance of all the unionists, which do believe in both Oromian unity and Ethiopian/Horn union of autonomous nations, is the best remedy to liberate the empire from tyranny. I do believe that OFC of Medrek is dedicated to this goal, even though UDJ is still on a process to digest it. Sure is that in the future, let alone the liberal UDJ of Medrek, even the right extremists will learn to accept and respect this middle position, if they want to save the empire from disintegration by transforming it to a genuine and lasting union of independent nations.

But at the moment, despite its anti-killil (anti-Oromia) position, UDJ of Medrek deserves the respect of Oromo people for its progressive approach to work with "ye-biher"/national parties like OFC and for its help in making the impossible be possible, on the contrary to the reactionary, right extremist, unitarist Ethiopianist parties, which hitherto used to demonize such Oromo national organization as "ye goosa dirijit/clanist party". This modern and tolerant approach of the member parties of Medrek to each other, inspite of their differences, shows that this alliance is better than the fascist Weyane's EPRDF. That is why I do wish good luck for this Medrek of Birtukan "Mandela", hoping that it will promote the true Oromian autonomy and Oromian unity within Ethiopian/Horn union. Even though the sham election under Weyane is fake and seems to be already rigged, who knows the impossible can be made possible also in the sham election!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Invitation to Horn of Africa Conference in Germany

Horn of Africa Conference
22 May 2010
Details are coming!

Ethiopian community demonstrates in Toronto

Ethiopian community demonstrates in Toronto

April 27, 1:52 AMAfrican Politics ExaminerFrancis Muli

Ethnic Oromo and Ogaden Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area, protested against an Ethiopian government delegation that was in the city over the weekend.

In their home country Ethiopia, the Oromo make up the largest single ethnic group. These cushites are also present in other East African countries such as Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti.

In the late 1800s, Abyssinia (Ethiopian) emperors forcibly colonized the Oromo homeland.

Like the Oromo, the Ogaden are also cushites. They trace their homeland in the area between Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia. The community came under Ethiopian rule in the mid 1930s after violent supression.

These two communities have largely been marginalized by successive Ethiopian governments since then. Their most pressing grievance is the continued violation of their human rights.

Some Oromo groups demand independece while others have embraced inclusion in today's Ethiopia. At the forefront of their independence struggle is the Oromo Liberation Front.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front established in 1984 also fights for autonomy.

The Toronto demonstration was peaceful on all accounts. The group made it clear that they stand for peace and democracy; they described the Ethiopian government as fascist killers. Also on their list of quarrels was the Canadian government's financial support of the current Ethiopian regime.

Watch the Video

Consensus For Ethiopian Unity, But Referendum On Oromian Unity? (Fayyis Oromia)

Consensus For Ethiopian Unity, But Referendum On Oromian Unity?

What a double standard in Habesha political camp? Leave alone the reactionary unitarists like AEUP and the conservative hegemonists like TPLF, even "the modern, liberals and moderates" like UDJ and G-7 are not free from such double standard, just as their friends/masters in the Western world are not free from all sorts of double standards. Here are few of the double standards, I did observe, being practiced by Habesha elites:

- "Amharinya as federal working language is indisputable, whereas Afaan Oromo needs public verdict";

- "Ethiopian unity is unconditional (needs only consensus of elites), whereas Oromian unity (one Oromia in a killil-federation of Ethiopia) needs referendum";

- "Ethiopiawinet or Ethiopian nationalism which is actually the mask for Amharanet/Habeshanet or for Amhara nationalism/Abyssinian nationalism is the holy nationalism", whereas Oromummaa or Oromo nationalism is an "evil Gosenyinet or evil clanism";
- etc.

I now write this short essay based on the recent assertion of UDJ leaders that they told us not to make any compromise on Ethiopian unity, but want to go for public verdict to decide on the legitimacy of Oromian unity, which is at least partially secured by the killil-federation (even though it is fake) in Ethiopian context, if not yet by the complete independence of Oromia from the subjugating empire. I also heared one interview given by Andargachew Tsige, who still insists on the acceptance of Ethiopian unity as unconditional precondition to make an alliance with other opposition forces such as OLF.

No question that still the media outlets of AEUP and the likes lament about gosenyinet (clanism), when they want to talk about national movements like the Oromo national liberation movement. It is also not surprising to observe that some Oromo individuals who are the decendants of the privileged Oromo individuals during the monarchy and the military dictatorship like Dr Zergabachew Asfaw Gammachu (the son of Bako/Ambo Wereda/Awuraja-gezhi, i.e son of district/regional governor during the monarchy) are now rallying behind the reactionary unitarist forces like AEPO of Prof Asrat.

We do see that there are nowadays three groups crying for unconditional Ethiopian unity, but disregard the importance of Oromian unity and autonomy. The ruling Tigrean hegemonists just talk the talk, even though their main interest is only maintaining their lucrative power in Finfinne palace. The obsolete faara (old style) unitarists cry foul against killil-federation explicitely, discrediting it as "ye gosaa politika/politics of clan". The cunning araada (street smart) unitarists in G-7 and UDJ talk about unconditional Ethiopioan unity as well as they try to act against Oromian unity by preaching about the buzz concepts like democracy, human right, individual freedom, justice, development, peace, good governance, etc, but by opposing the killil-federation which is the minimal guarantee for Oromian unity.

Anyways, be it araada way or faara way, it is about saving the empire. The faaraas try it with old methods like talking what debteraa Bahirey and aleqaa Taye wrote regarding Ethiopian history. The araadas use totally other methods. For instance to reduce the danger coming from Oromo, they use the following theories as postmodern approachs, which would be applied to fight against Oromo's right to self-determination and to save the empire from disintegration:

- "all Ethiopians including Tigrayans are Oromo so Oromo liberation is not necessary" - the approach of some "modern Habesha historians";

- "Oromo as a majority can rule Ethiopia, so let's fight for democracy together, no need of liberation movement" - an approach of the modern Abesha movements which try to instrumentalize Adde Birtukan Midhagsa;

- "everybody in Ethiopia is blended with Oromo, so Ethiopia is Oromia and Ethiopian empire is in reality Oromo empire" - Aite Siye's approach belongs here;

- "let's focus on development of Oromia, our people need more food rather than freedom" - Weyane's/OPDO's approach to divert attention of Oromo from the struggle for liberation and to pacify Oromo;

- "Oromo need unconditional independence, but OLF is the first enemy who abandoned this goal; so first focus on bashing, cursing, demonizing, discrediting and villifying OLF" - Weyane cadres camouflaged as the radical pro Oromo independence use this method.

The recent araada move is what we observed in the new alliance Medrek, where the participating elites had a consensus to keep Ethiopian unity unconditionally, but agreed to have public referendum to decide on Oromian unity (killil-federation) vs Oromian division (xeqilaigizat-federation). The cunning Habesha politicians in UDJ could "convince" the good-hearted yewah (harmless) Oromo politicians to accept this move. This move made me to ask: is there any Amhara politician, disregarding the Weyane slaves in ANDM, who really is ready to accept and respect the right of Oromia for autonomy and unity? Yes it is clear that Tigrean elites at least talk, even though they don't walk, i.e they do respect this right of Oromia, at least partially and verbally.

Why are Ethiopianist elites, the majority being Amhara elites, as such die-hard opponents of Oromian unity and autonomy? Of course it has got historical reason, which I don't want to narrate here. I leave history for historians. In short they seem to still fight the war of their forefathers against Oromo. Here it is necessary to mention the struggle which the Oromo people had against Amhara ruling class (the old nefxenyas) for more than one century and the failures Oromo experienced in the struggle to achieve their goal of Oromo liberation specially because of the assistance given by the Western regimes to their Abyssinian servants. The following are just to mention few of the assistances given as examples:

- old nefxenyas could colonize Oromia, despite the heroic resistance of Oromo people, by the help of the European colonialists at the end of the nineteenth century;

- the sporadic Oromo uprisings such as that of Raya and Bale were suppressed by the diplomatic and military help of the West;

- the demand of Oromo nationalists to establish Oromian confederation after the second world war has been rejected by the Western allies and they restored the monarchy to rule over Oromia further;

- the Oromo movement for self-determination being led by Dr. Haile Fida of MEISON was crashed by the help of the Soviets in 1977;

- the high motivation of Oromo people for liberation, being led by OLF, in 1992 was saboutaged and the OLF army was encamped and destroyed with the very help of the West and the EPLF given to the neo-nefxenya Weyane;

- the coming back of Oromo national movement via AFD to take the responsibility in the empire and to determine Oromo people's fate, again lead by OLF, including the defection of Oromo Generals to support this move was again crashed by using the "invasion of Somalia" with the help of Americans in 2007;

- the currrent attempt of the Habesha elites and their Western helpers again to isolate Oromo nationalists from taking part in discussions and delibarations concerning the empire, against which Oromo nationalists protested in the last few weeks, is again symptomatic of the trend described above;
- etc

It is interesting to observe that Abyssinian elites (Amharas, Tegarus and Eritreans) do quarell only on the position of a possible political domination in the region, but agree on making Oromia unconditionally be part and parcel of the empire without a consensus and consultation with Oromo elites. They all cry about unconditional Ethiopian unity, ignoring or disregarding the importance of Oromian unity and autonomy for the peace and stability of the region. They try to talk about the problems in the Ethiopian empire and the Horn, but forget that the centeral part of the problem is the colonization of Oromia as well as that the core of the solution is the liberation of Oromia. How long will these Habesha elites and their Western helpers fool themselves?

Orom people have survived the invasions and imperialistic dominations in the last many centuries, the colonization by Abyssinians being only part of this invasions. Oromo tried to resist all cultural, economic and political subjugations. The territory occupied by Oromo people seems to have been squeezed to the present status from all sides, specially from the north and the east. Leaving again history for historians, the current national area of Oromo aka Oromia unquestionably deserves its own autonomy and unity. All areas where Oromo people live are continous areas as depicted by the hitherto maps of Oromia from the north, Raya, to the south Lamu and from the west, Assosa, to the east Jijjiga.

Just as Habesha elites cry for Ethiopian unity, Oromo elites try to establish and keep Oromian unity (unity of Oromo national areas from north to south, and from west to east). Oromo people are not necessarilly against Ethiopian unity as the unitarist and the hegemonist Habeshas try to paint, but they are surely for Oromian unity. The question to Habesha elites is that can they learn to accept and respect this Oromian unity, just as they wish that Oromo people do accept and respect Ethiopian unity? This is the crucial issue, where specially Amhara elites should check their position. At the time they start to learn this and come to terms, it is really not hard to make a neccessary alliance with Oromo nationalists against the fascist Weyane regime. At the moment, unfortunately the unitarist Amhara/Ethiopianist elites are an obstacle for such constructive alliance.

Now it seems that Weyane is still enjoying the God-given lottery, i.e the historical face-off between the Oromo and the Amhara as a "unique historical advantage for the TPLF" to perpetuate its rule. The far sighted Oromo freedom fighters in OLF and the few reasonable Amhara democrats of CUD did forge AFD in the year 2006, which Meles Zenawi mocked as a marriage between "fire and straw" (isat ina ciid). Was he right? Again the attempt of forging alliance by some moderate politicians from both Amhara and Oromo sides as well as from other nations in a form of MEDREK has not yet got the required optimal compromise solution. These elites in Medrek should have come to the consensus to forge and keep Oromian unity in Ethiopian context unconditionally, just as they came to agreement in keeping Ethiopian unity by any means. Unfortunately AFD failed because of the withdrawal of both CUD and EPPF as well as Medrek seems to be in danger of disintegration for the rejection of UDJ to accept the right of Oromian unity and autonomy unconditionally.

At the time when Amhara/Ethiopianist elites in the parties like AEUP, EPRP, G-7 and UDJ start to accept and respect this Oromian unity unconditionally, I am sure it will not be hard for Oromo nationalists also to sing Ethiopian union for common benefit. When Oromian unity and autonomy is unconditionally accepted by all stakeholders in the region including the power players of the globe, Oromo people are the last to be disadvantaged in a union, be it in the name of Ethiopia or the Horn. But trying to by-pass Oromo's national interest with the pretext of talking about only Ethiopia or the Horn, as it was done in the last "conference on Ethiopia and on the Horn", is simply not a solution for that cursed and troubled region.

The best way to be seen as a solution is, Finfinne being the political center of Africa, to fight for Oromian unity unconditionally as a nucleus for Ethiopian/Horn unity and for African unity. When Habesha elites in particular and other stakeholders in general agree to move in this direction, Oromo elites will have no problem to forge any sort of alliance and to cooperate in any political move to stablize the region. The araadas like G-7 should accept the unconditional Oromian unity as one of the precondition, in addition to their unconditional Ethiopian unity and democracy, which they do always preach to us, in order to forge an efficient alliance with Oromo liberation forces like OLF. The other parties like UDJ should also learn to have a consensus on unconditional Oromian unity, instead of crying for the referendum they started to talk about. It is simply unfair to insist on consensus for unconditional Ethiopian unity, but demand referendum on Oromian unity, which can simply taken as Ethiopian unity at the expense of Oromian unity (an attempt to dismantle Oromia per referendum).

It is clear that any attempt of Amhara/Ethiopianist forces and Oromo/Oromianist forces to find a common ground is the move which the fascist Weyane regime want to avoid by any means. So it already dispatched its cadres to sow a discord among both the Ethiopianists and the Oromianists specially at the following three levels:

- at the level of Ethiopianist forces vs Oromianist forces. Here the cadres are doing their job in paltalks and forums being camoufalged either as a reactionary unitarist Amharas and curse Oromo forses as "goosenyas/clanists", "separatists", "narrow nationalists", "dangerous for Ethiopian unity", etc or camouflaged as radical/revolutionary Oromo and blame Ethiopianist forces as "chauvinists", "colonialisis", "anti-nationalities", "dangerous for Oromian autonomy and unity", etc. Yes of course there are still differences between the two forces as I tried to elaborate above and Weyane cadres just pour benzin to it.

- at the level of only Ethiopianist forces, being camopuflaged as supporters of AEUP to curse UDJ vice versa, as supporters of G-7 blaming AEUP vice versa; as supporters of G-7 cursing Medrek vice versa; as supporters of Mesfin's UDJ against Gizachew's UDJ vice versa; as EPRP accusing all others vice versa, etc

- at the level of only Oromianist forces, being camouflaged as supporters of different Oromo regional, political and religious groups cursing each other. Here we did a great job in the last few years to expose such Weyan cadres, so that nowadays we do hear and read not so much controversies as before. Oromianist forces simply started to move towards tokkummaa of oromummaa for bilisummaa (unity of Oromo nationalists for liberation).

The best anti-dote against this satanic action of fascist Weyanes and that of their cadres is that Ethiopianist ("multinational/hibre-biher) forces learn to tolerate each other and forge unity for common purpose of their main issue (keeping Ethiopian unity) and that Oromianist forces continue with the tokkummaa of orommummaa for bilisummaa, which they already started to forge. Of course the move of UDJ and G-7 in trying to unite the first and the role of OLF and ULFO in attempting to lead the second is encouraging.

Then, last but not least, both Amhara/Ethiopianist "multi-national" forces and Oromo/Oromianist national forces should learn to struggle together to achieve both Ethiopian/Horn unity and Oromian unity for the sake of their own economical common benefit and for the stability of the region/Horn. I hope the "multi-national" forces like G-7 and the national forces like OLF take this as a common ground which can help them to forge a necessary TIBIBIR (alliance) against the fascist Weyane to struggle in unison to build a common home at the Horn, where both Oromian unity and Ethiopian/Horn unity can be fostered and respected. The steps taken in forming both AFD and Medrek were good and now better form of Tibibir, which will be dedicated in promoting both Oromian unity and Ethiopian unity must emerge!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Oromo: It is Clear That OFC is Better Than OPDO, But is MEDREK Better Than Weyane's EPRDF? (Fayyis Oromia)

Oromo: It is Clear That OFC is Better Than OPDO, But is MEDREK Better Than Weyane's EPRDF?
Here I am showing my freedom to contradict my hitherto opinions on MEDREK. I am one of the few Oromo, who were advocates of Medrek vis a vis the fascist ruling Weyane. I wrote some articles in support of it. I tried to indicate that Medrek is a way forward only if killil-federation is part of its program. I noted that Dr. Negasso's move is not backward, but forward, only if the party he joined, UDJ, and the alliance he helped to build, Medrek, are the promoters of the genuine language-based federation.

In one of my articles, I indicated why Medrek can be good for Oromo to achieve a mid-kayyoo (goal), in contrast to AFD which was good to arrive at the end-kaayyoo, considering Medrek as a promoter of the language-based federation. Even I went further and exalted Medrek's Ethiopia (Ethiopia with autonomous national areas including Oromian autonomy) as a prototype for the future African federation. I took Medrek as a good compromise alliance, next to AFD, which really acted against the "devide and rule" game of the fascist regime. For that reason, I even recommended Birtukan "Mandela" to be the formal chairperson of Medrek. Were these all "naive" assertions from me? I was also surprised by the reservation of most Oromo nationalists regarding Medrek.

Oromo nation's political interest is crystal clear: a move from the status quo of slavery (garbummaa) towards a realization of the full national freedom (bilisummaa). Any measure to be taken in supporting this move should be accepted by Oromo nationalists. The question now important is: can we consider that Medrek's ambitions and actions do promote this liberation movement? I am now asking this question after following Medrek's meetings at home and in diaspora in the past few weeks. As I repeatedly mentioned, the rhetoric of individuals and parties in that empire regarding democracy, individual freedom, justice, development, peace, equality, prosperity, etc is not important for Oromo people to judge who these forces are. These values are important and no one denies them, even the memebers of the fascist ruling Weyane talk about such moral virtues.

The only important virtue to be taken by Oromo as a factor to judge these politicians is their position on the right of nations to self-determination including independence. It is clear Weyane talks this virtue, but walks against it. Unfortunaltely Medrek is NOT even talking the virtue, leave alone to walk it. I know OFC has got clear position on achieving and promoting Oromian autonomy in Ethiopian context. But Medrek leaders talked ambigiously in all the meetings they held till now and then they explicitily told us in a meeting they held in Washington recently that there is no clear agreement between the member parties on the type of federation they want to forge, if they take over the government position.

I personally think, the only major difference between the opposition parties in the empire is the position they do have on federal structure. There are two types of federalists: the killil-federalists, believing in the right of Oromia and other national areas to be autonomous and the xeqilaigizat-federalists, who want to dismantle Oromia with a pretext of fostering geography-based federation. Parties like AEUP are clearly xeqilaigizat-federalists. Thanks to Waaqayyoo/Rabbii, these parties do no more brag about bringing back a unitary Ethiopia with only one official language (Amharic). Weyane's EPRDF is at least ideologically killil-federalist, even though it is implementing a revolutionary centeralism, through which it is promoting Tigean hegemony.

According to the explanation given by Medrek leaders in the Washington meeting with its diaspora supporters, it seems that UDJ still insists on its anti-killil position and with that the party revealed its desire to dismantele Oromia. Dr. Negasso also showed clearly his backward political development as he tried to describe how bad it is for Oromo from Borana to come to Finfinne and for Amhara from Debre-berihan to go to Bahir-dar in order to settle their case. His explanation implies that he is ready to accept the division of Oromia in to pieces.

Interesting is also to observe that the known anti-killil Ethiopianist scholars like Ephrem Madebo and Tecola Hagos supporting this move of Medrek. Such scholars do think that with their anti-killil rhetoric they do fight against Weyane. They still didn't get the fact that killil-federation is not the will and wish of Weyane, but that of Oromo nationalists and the nationalists of other oppressed peoples. Specially clear is that Amhara nationalists hiding behind Ethiopiawinet do this move against Oromo's right to self-adminstration. Trying to discredit killil-federation in favour of their alternative xeqilaigizat-federation is simply put a move against Oromo people's political will.

So Medrek seems now not to be an alliance to promote Oromian autonomy in Ethiopian context, which could be a good compromise solution for the conflict between Amhara nationalists, who could hide behind the mask of Ethiopian nationalism and who are advocates for Imiye's unity and Oromo nationalists who do fight for Oromian independence. Medrek seems to be an alliance of both killil-federalists like OFC and xeqilaigizat-federalists like UDJ against Weyane just to get rid of the regime without having a common vision regarding federal arrangement. How long can such alliance of the contradictory ideologies hold together is a big challenge they need to overcome.

Surprisingly I have seen the young hyper-active Oromo nationalist, Jawar Mohamed, adoring this alliance, even though the position of the alliance is not the same to his position on the should-be compromise solution. According to his presentation on the recent "Ethiopian and Horn of African conference", which took place in Virginia, he is the advocate of a true "ethnic-federation" as a moderate/liberal position between the two extreme poles of the right-extremist "reactionary Ethio-nationalists", who want to dismantle Oromia and the left-extremist "revolutionary or radical Ethno-nationalists", who want to dismember Ethiopia. Is now Jawar fooling himself or is he decieved by the referendum rhetoric given by Medrek leaders?

Medrek leaders said in the Washington meeting that the discussion between member parties on the federal structure will go on and if they will not have any consensus, they will go for verdict of the public. If they are as such democrats to go for referendum to determine the type of federation we want to have, why couldn't they be so democratic to accept also the right of nations to decide on the type of sovereignity they want to have (e.g Oromian autonomy within Ethiopian union vs Oromian independence without a union) per referendum?

It seems Habesha politicians in UDJ are playing very smart politics. They used the method of elites' consnesus to make Oromo nationalists in OFC accept Ethiopian unity unconditionaly (without Oromo public verdict) and now they want to use the instrument, public referendum, to decide on the structure of the federation. It seems Oromo nationalists, as yewah (harmless) as they seem to be, agreed to the game. Fair agreement would have been actually either to use consensus in both decision making processes or to apply referendum in both cases. Looking at the harmless move of Oromo politicians in Medrek, it is not surprising that we read in Habesha websites how yewah Oromo elites like Dr. Negasso and Obbo Bulcha are.

When we do observe the drum-beating of the xeqilaigizat-federalists, who are claiming that "Ethiopiawinet has won" and are declaring that "ethno-nationalism is loosing" as Medrek came forward, we just can say it is a wake up call for Oromo nationalists to check their position. No wonder that Oromo grassroot is so cautious in supporting the move of Medrek against �39 and so sceptical to accept its position against the right of nations to self-determination including independence. Medrek people should not be surprised if they see Oromo mass voting for OPDO rather than for them in the coming "election". The principle "yemiyawuqut seyixan kemayawuqut meli'ak yishalal" (a known devil is better than unknown angle) can prevail.

It would have been better if Medrek leaders came out explicitily supporting true killil-federation and get support of all Oromo, Tigrai, Somali, Afar, Southern, Benishangul and Gambella, even if the majority of Amharas are against such federal arrangement. Now they wanted to appease the anti-killil Amharas and at the same time to appeal to the pro-killil others, which actually may not be helpfull and productive. I am afraid that they loose anti-killil voters to AEUP and pro-killil voters to EPRDF.

As I tried to describe above, the rhetoric about only the buzz words like freedom, democracy and justice is not sufficient. The important issue, which actually most politicians try to evade, is the issue of federal structure. Oromo federalists in OFC seem to be compelled or convinced to forge Oromian autonomy within Ethiopian unity, whereas specially Amhara elites are doing every thing possible to get rid of Oromia for they fear that Oromo elites are not for Ethiopian unity per se.

It is fact that the hitherto so called Ethiopian unity was built partly by the sacrifice of a known Oromo military men and politicians. Starting from Oromo "migration" in 16th century, through the "democratic" election of Ras Michael-I in Abyssinia in 1877, till the end of Mengistu regime in 1991, Oromo politicians played a big role in forming and maintaining the present shape of the empire. The convinced pro-Ethiopian unity Oromo nationalists believe that even the so called Habeshas (Amharas and Tigarus) are biologically either Oromo or Agew, nothing else, but differ only in speaking a specific other language called Amharinya or Tigrinya. With this theory, they try to justify their pro-unity position.
But it is absurd that now at this particular post modern 21st century, Habesha politicians try to damb Oromo and other oppressed nations by being represented in the politics of the empire as "pan-Ethiopian parties" like AEUP, EPPF, EPRP, G7M, and UDJ, instead of showing themselves honestly as Amharas or Tegarus. Oromo nationalists say: "stop to hide behind the name Ethiopia and come as Habesha (Amhara or Tegaru), then we can make a genuine alliance against the fascist regime". I hope Habesha elites in general and Amhara politicians in particular will gradually start to take off their mask, the name Ethiopia, and approach Oromo people as being who they really are, as Amhara and/or Tigaru so that we can build a common home called Ethiopia/Horn. The current move of Tegaru nationalists like Siye and Gebru to put on the mask, by learning form their Amhara friends, as well as the ever increasing rhetoric and song of Weyane about Ethiopiawinet also doesn't change the reality.

In the future political land scape of the empire, either the elites of both Habesha nations, specially Amhara elites will learn to be honest and come up showing their true nature or the Oromo nationalists will learn to wear the mask called Ethiopia and play the same game played by Habesha elites. The million dollar question is: can Oromo liberation forces learn to wear this mask (name of Ethiopia), which is accepted and adored by Western world in order to promote the Oromo cause they are fighting for? We have seen how the new nefxenyas (Weyanes) put on the mask and got the huge support of their masters in the West. The choice which the Western protectorates of the Ethiopian empire give to Oromo politicians seems to be either to wear the mask and be promoted or to stay honest and be "punished" by the power players of the globe.

Simply put, our preferable next move in the Oromo liberation journey seems to be to change the fake killil-federation under Weyane to the true one, where Oromian autonomy will be respected and consolidated. I know this is the programm of OFC, but I started to doubt if this is the will and wish of Medrek in general and of course if it is the intention of the partner organization, UDJ, in particular. I know this conflict (OFC vs UDJ) may help a bit for the cadres of the hegemonist Weyane and the supporters of the xeqilaigizat-federalists like Hailu Shawel and Mesfin W/Mariam to attack Medrek. Nevertheless the truth should be told.

I do believe that the only solution for that troubled region is a liberation of Oromo nation, be it within or without a union of nations in the region. Liberated Oromo people will be the foundation for the liberation of other nations like Ogadenis, Afars, as well as for those in Benishangul, Gambella and Southern region. This liberated nations can build a union for common benefit, which in a long run can include also the non-hegemonic Amhara people and Tegaru people, be it in a form of confederation or federation based on public verdict of the liberated nations in the region. It is clear that the goal of OFC is a mid-point solution, which can be a good prerequisite for the end-point solution envisioned by OLF. Otherwise the hoya-hoye (chanting) and the rhetoric made by Medrek leaders and supporters about a mythical Ethiopia of 3000 years and their attempt to make Oromo mass to rally behind their "Ethiopiawinet", disregarding Oromummaa, will surely be doomed to fail.

So Oromo nationalists in particular and Oromo people in general should check if Medrek is really better than Weyane's EPRDF in promoting Oromo's cause. As far as I am concerned, any force trying to dismantle Oromia with a pretext of opposing a "division" in to "ethnic-killil", despite the democracy rhetoric it might make, is worse than Weyane. If the choice is between this two (anti-killil and pro-killil) movements, disregarding the cermon they always give on democracy, individual freedom, justice, equality, and development, no wonder if Oromo people will choose the present fake-killil and rally behind OPDO till the better forces than Weyane come to the political arena of non-devided Oromia in particular and to that of the empire in general to forge and promote true killil-federation.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dr Dima Noggo Joins Oxford-Princeton Global Leaders Fellow

Dr Dima Noggo Joins Oxford-Princeton Global Leaders Fellow

Dima Noggo Sarbo has joined the GEG Team as an Oxford-Princeton Global Leaders Fellow. His main area of research is on the role of regional organizations in global governance with a specific research focus on Africa. His research interests include the institution of the state, governance, democratization, human rights, development, identity, nationalism and social movements.

Dima was educated in Ethiopia, Senegal and the United States. He obtained a PhD in Sociology with a major concentration in political economy and a minor in environment from the University of Tennessee. His dissertation research focused on the structure of power and strategy of survival in states with contested legitimacy. In particular, it highlights the dual structure of power, the use of excessive violence, and external patronage. Dima has a B.A. in Political Science and Government from Addis Ababa University, and a Post-Graduate Diploma from the United Nations Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP).

Dima has worked as a consultant on Development, peace and conflict issues for several international non-governmental organizations. He was also involved in struggles for social justice, in diplomacy, negotiations and mediation. In addition, he has worked in education, relief and rehabilitation among refugees, IDPs, and victims of state repression and civil wars in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya. Furthermore, he has served as a cabinet minister in the Government of Ethiopia.

Dima has lived in many countries in Africa and Europe and has travelled widely in Africa, Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas. He speaks and understands several languages, among them, English, Oromo, Amharic, German, French, and Arabic.

Source: Oxford University

Woman killed in hospital shooting

Woman killed in hospital shooting

A mentally ill gunman who killed a US hospital worker and wounded two others was upset with a doctor he thought had implanted a monitoring device during an appendectomy in 2001, police have said.

Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen IV said gunman Abdo Ibssa first entered a medical building near Parkwest Medical Centre and asked for the doctor who performed the appendectomy.

He then went to another area where patients are discharged and opened fire. He killed himself after shooting three women on Monday, a day before his 39th birthday.

"There was less than five seconds from the time of the first shot until the last shot," Owen said at a news conference.

Owen said investigators found a note at Ibssa's apartment in which the gunman said the doctor had implanted a chip that was being used to track the patient's movements.

Medication used for treating a psychological condition was also found at his apartment, but investigators believe he had not been taking his medicine, Owen said. Owen said relatives of the naturalised citizen from Ethiopia had him committed for mental treatment in February.

A copy of the book "The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception" was also at his apartment.

Cab driver Freddys Sakhleh has said he picked up the gunman outside an apartment complex, and the man told him he wanted to go to the western side of Knoxville.

They stopped at an ATM, where the suspect withdrew 20 dollars before telling Sakhleh to take him to the medical centre complex. Sakhleh said the man seemed angry and depressed and said little about himself, only that he was from Atlanta.

Sakhleh said the man then got out of the cab, handed him 20 dollars and told him to wait five minutes. He returned, grabbed a gun from his waist and started shooting. "All of this happened in a matter of seconds," the driver said, adding that he called police dispatchers to report the incident.

The Press Association

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cheesesteak stand slayer sentenced to 123 years in prison

Cheesesteak stand slayer sentenced to 123 years in prison

Prosecutor: Convict a 'key participant' in jail riot


When convicted killer Rey Davis-Bell walked into a Central District cheesesteak restaurant and gunned down its owner, Degene "Saffie" Dashasa, he destroyed more than one life.

Wounded, too, was his wife of two years, a woman living in his native Ethiopia preparing to join him in the Seattle.

There were his cousins, one young woman he'd supported in her decision to join the Army, another to whom it fell to return his remains to Ethiopia. There were the other members of the city's Oromo-speaking community, who felt their lives shaken.

For Dashasa's killing, and his attempts to kill three others during a daylong shooting spree, Davis-Bell, a multiple felon at 25, was sentenced to 123 years in prison.

King County Superior Court Judge Laura Inveen's ruling drew no noticeable response from Davis-Bell. For Dashasa's family and friends, the judge's ruling was welcome but did little to ameliorate the loss.

"When that bullet entered my cousin's chest, it didn't stop there," said Dashasa's cousin Amina, who asked that her last name not be publicized. "It went through mine, through my family, his co-workers and friends.

"It shattered our hearts."

Davis-Bell was convicted in February in the murder of Dashasa and of attempting to kill three other people. Among those caught in Davis-Bell's sights during the Jan. 30, 2008 shooting spree was Yoseb Lee, a contractor shot in the chest at the cheesesteak stand.

Charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder, Davis-Bell was convicted on all counts he faced in a string of shootings ending in the slaying of Dashasa and the life-threatening injuries to Lee.

During the three-week trial, prosecutors argued that Davis-Bell killed Dashasa, owner of Philadelphia Cheese Steak, during a spree targeting people Davis-Bell believed had wronged him. Lee was apparently shot in the chest by Davis-Bell simply for being in the restaurant when he came after Dashasa.

Describing Davis-Bell as a man without remorse, Senior Deputy Prosecutor John Castleton claimed Davis-Bell was a key participant in a March 28 disturbance at King County Jail that saw the facility and the surrounding area of downtown Seattle locked down.

At trial, prosecutors claimed the shooting spree began when Davis-Bell tried to kill his ex-girlfriend by firing nine shots through the window of her West Seattle apartment. From the stand, the woman said she'd been in an argument with Davis-Bell before bullets shattered the window; a 5-year-old girl was narrowly missed during the shooting.

From there, Davis-Bell set out after Dashasa.

Arriving at the restaurant at the corner of 23rd Avenue and East Union Street, Davis-Bell asked for Dashasa by name before killing him and shooting Lee, a stranger to Davis-Bell. He then opened fire on a restaurant employee as she ran from the restaurant.

Known as "Safie" to friends, Dashasa had come to the United States a decade before from Ethiopia. At the time of his death, Dashasa had recently married and was preparing to bring his wife to join him in his adopted home.

At Friday's sentencing hearing, Dashasa's friends and family described him as a man working toward the American dream.

A former restaurant worker, he'd become a business owner and worked tirelessly. He sent money back to family in Ethiopia while preparing for a life in Seattle with his new wife. He helped friends and strangers, delivering food to the homeless while participating in the Oromo community.

Addressing Inveen, Dashasa's wife, Meselech Edema Debella, described her husband as a man with plans for a family, a dream they shared.

"I was hurt a lot and I don't have nothing left for me," she said through an Oromo interpreter. "I never suspected my life to be this way."

Davis-Bell had led a different sort of life before taking Dashasa's.

He was convicted twice of making threats to kill before his 18th birthday. He was sent to prison at 18 after attacking a cab driver angry that he tried to pass off a bogus $10 bill.

The man's behavior didn't improve in prison, according to a civil suit filed by Lee, who is suing the Department of Corrections on the claim that the state failed to supervise Davis-Bell following his release from prison.

During an April 2005 fight at a Clallam Bay Corrections Center dining hall, Davis-Bell was shot in the leg by prison officers, Lee's lawsuit noted. The suit said Davis-Bell was attempting to kick a corrections officer in the head at the time.

Having served his sentence, Davis-Bell was classified as a high risk to reoffend and released into the community under Department of Corrections supervision. Lee's lawsuit claimed supervision consisted of little more than Davis-Bell checking in occasionally with a community corrections officer.

According to the suit, Davis-Bell "received 11 major serious infractions ranging from (threatening) staff and inmates to committing assault on staff." While in custody in 2002, he told a court-appointed psychiatrist that he planed to "get even with everybody who has done me dirty" after his release from prison in December 2006.

No motive for the Dashasa's killing has been offered.

Restaurant employees had said they'd seen Davis-Bell at the restaurant before and that Dashasa had kicked him out over suspicions that he was selling drugs. The restaurant is at a corner frequently associated with drug activity and gang violence.

Speaking Friday, Castleton described Davis-Bell as a remorseless man.

"The defendant has no remorse," Castleton told the judge. "The defendant has no feeling for anyone but himself. And the evidence shows he has an extremely short trigger."

Offered an opportunity to do so, Davis-Bell declined to address the court on the advice of his attorney.

At trial, Davis-Bell's lawyer argued that his client was the victim of mistaken identity. Not persuaded, the jury found Davis-Bell guilty on all five counts.

Even the sentence requested by Davis-Bell would have seen him imprisoned past his 100th birthday. Still, Inveen opted to impose a mid-range sentence close to that requested by prosecutors.

"It is very clear," she said, "that, for whatever reason, Mr. Davis-Bell has decided to live in a society with no respect for the rule of law."

Davis-Bell remains in custody at King County Jail. Castleton told Inveen he may face charges related to the lockdown at the facility.

Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or Follow Levi on Twitter at

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Urgent: Save the Lives of Innocent Oromos Condemned to Death (Petition)

Urgent: Save the Lives of Innocent Oromos Condemned to Death

Please sign this petition to save the lives of innocent Oromos. Forward the link to your relatives, friends, community members ... so that they can sign the petition too. Thanks.

Friday, April 02, 2010

A CASE FOR CARE A team of U.S. doctors and nurses discovers the unexpected on a mission to Ethiopia.

A CASE FOR CARE A team of U.S. doctors and nurses discovers the unexpected on a mission to Ethiopia.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Eight-year-old boys, when they are not in school, should be outdoors with their friends, playing ball, finding treasure in what grown-ups throw away, shouting in glee because that's what little boys do.

But not 8-year-old Zemen Toshome. For more than six years, Zemen has lived at Tikur Anbesa (Black Lion) Hospital in Addis Ababa. He goes outside only briefly on the hospital grounds. He can't shout because of his medical condition.

Zemen has laryngeal papillomatosis, a disease in which tumors grow inside the larynx, vocal cords, or respiratory tract. The disease occurs when the human papillomavirus (HPV) is transferred from a mother to her child at birth. The tumors can grow quickly and cause difficulty in breathing, which if not corrected can lead to death.

In the United States, treatment for Zemen might mean periodic visits to a hospital to have the tumors surgically removed. But Zemen doesn't live in the United States.

He, like other children with papillomatosis at Black Lion, underwent a tracheostomy. A small incision was made in his neck, and a little tube was inserted through the hole into his trachea, his windpipe. That's how Zemen breathes. That's how he stays alive.

But it's also why he lives at Black Lion. Were the child to leave the hospital for his home in the Gondar region, about 435 miles away, he would not make it back in time if a breathing emergency occurred.

Zemen's mother, Senait Hadgembus, 26, sleeps each night on a mat on the floor by his bed. So does a younger son with no medical condition. They share Zemen's hospital food. "It is a very difficult life, very difficult," said Senait.

Only a handful of "tracheostomy kids" are similarly imprisoned, sentenced to life inside Black Lion, perhaps until adolescence, when the tumors should go away. Some have no parents to stay with them.

Two-year-old Isac Tenodros has his father. Solomon Tenodros, 25, said his child had been in the hospital about a month. "I don't know how long Isac must stay here, but I will stay, too," he said. "The first concern is to save the life of my son. I am always here for Isac."

Those words are heartening to someone from the United States, where so many fathers in big cities similar to Addis Ababa are abandoning their children. There are many fathers, mothers, and other relatives at Black Lion taking care of family with AIDS, cancer, or other debilitating illnesses.

I met Solomon and Isac, Zemen and Senait, and other patients and parents at Black Lion while accompanying an American medical-missions team there a week ago. I learned a lot about Ethiopia, its people, and why U.S. health care, warts and all, provides a very good standard to emulate.

This mission was the first joint venture between the Philadelphia-area chapter of Healing the Children, a national group with a long history of medical missions to foreign countries, and Gemini Health Care Group, a new Alabama-based organization.

Gemini's founder and president is Ebba K. Ebba, a Jacksonville, Ala., pediatrician who left Ethiopia when he was 18. Other board members are also of Ethiopian heritage. Genesis' ultimate goal is to establish the first freestanding children's hospital in Addis Ababa.

"Out of Ethiopia's 85 million people, more than 40 percent are children under age 15. You can imagine the sheer magnitude of needs," Ebba said. "There are only 200 pediatricians in the whole country, and half of them aren't practicing."

Teaming up with Healing the Children helped Gemini raise its profile in Addis Ababa as it has pushed for its goal. Desi Ferrell, director of HTC's Philadelphia chapter, said it was the story of the tracheostomy kids that persuaded her to travel to Ethiopia. "I really wanted to make a difference for them," she said.

The earthquake in Haiti earlier this year sprouted new criticism that these types of medical missions are a mixed blessing - with foreign doctors and nurses parachuting in for a brief period, then going back home.

Carmela Green-Abate, Ethiopia coordinator for the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, told me the key is careful planning, making sure all your supplies and equipment arrive with you, and planning for follow-up care after you leave.

A slightly different perspective was taken by Glenn Isaacson, part of the Healing the Children team and director of pediatric otolaryngology at Temple University Hospital. He said patient care wasn't the only way to gauge success. "I think that the most satisfying but the least useful thing we do here is take care of patients," Isaacson said.

"The children are wonderful, the need is enormous, and as a physician, it is extremely satisfying to take care of them. But it's far more good for our [medical] residents and the Ethiopian residents to have the experience of providing good medical care, because the medical care here isn't good.

"It isn't good because the doctors doing it are too few and incompletely trained. It isn't good because they lack the resources to take good care of patients. They may have equipment, but much of it is broken."

Isaacson said it was clear that medicine had not been a top priority in Ethiopia, a country that puts only 1 percent of its meager gross national product into health care, compared with 14 percent for the United States.

"On the other hand, they're surrounded by Somalia, by Yemen, by Darfur [Sudan]; it's a country that has to spend a lot on defense and feels the need to maintain a fairly authoritarian government in order to fight its enemies," Isaacson said, "and such governments aren't as worried about a kid with hearing loss and a draining ear as we are."

Steve Serlin, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Children's Hospital in Phoenix, said it would have been nice if the nine-day medical mission could have lasted longer. "So much of our commitment is to teaching, and to really be effective in teaching, you need more continuity."

Michael Ritchey, chief of pediatric surgery at Phoenix Children's Hospital, said that what disturbed him most was the degree of severe pathology that goes untreated in Ethiopia. "There are so many patients and so few specialists, and these specialists have few resources, so they can't care for all of the patients they see."

The team was able to help the tracheostomy kids, but not so that they would be able to immediately leave the hospital. Healing the Children brought new equipment for Black Lion's staff to remove the children's life-threatening tumors, and the American agency plans to provide more equipment each year.

"These children are here because they live too far away, or their parents have finally abandoned them after years of living in the hospital," Isaacson said. "I'm hoping that the new generation of papillomatosis patients will be able to be treated and go home."

Zemen's mother said she had been told that her son may be able to leave Black Lion by the time he is 12. And Isaacson concurred. "Papillomatosis shows up in most children when they are a few years old, and it generally burns itself out or disappears on its own in preadolescence."

Healing the Children plans to return to Black Lion later this year. To help provide some continuity of care, Isaacson is working with the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology to have a volunteer physician at the hospital for one week each month.

I hope he is successful. I hope Zemen will be able to go home before he is 12 years old. I hope Isac will be able to leave Black Lion even sooner. Little boys should be outdoors playing, not stuck inside a place for the sick and dying.