Tuesday, 27 December 2011

COUNTER-PIRACY UPDATES



STATUS OF SEIZED VESSELS AND CREWS IN SOMALIA, THE GULF OF ADEN  AND THE INDIAN OCEAN (ecoterra - 27. December 2011)

PROTECTING AND MONITORING LIFE, BIODIVERSITY AND THE ECOSYSTEMS OF SOMALIA AND ITS SEAS SINCE 1986 - ECOTERRA Intl.
ECOTERRA Intl. and ECOP-marine serve concerning the counter-piracy issues as advocacy groups in their capacity as human rights, marine and maritime monitors as well as in co-operation with numerous other organizations, groups and individuals as information clearing-house. In difficult cases we have successfully served as mediators, helped hostages to get medical or humanitarian relief and released, assisted in negotiations and helped the families of victims. Our focus to make piracy an issue of the past is concentrating on holistic coastal development as key to uplift communities from abhorrent poverty and to secure their marine and coastal ecosystems against any harm.

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STATUS-SUMMARY:

Today, 27. December 2011 at 18h00 UTC, at least 26 larger plus 18 smaller foreign vessels plus one stranded barge are kept in Somali hands against the will of their owners, while at least  436 hostages or captives - including a South-African yachting couple, two (or now only one) frail elderly ladies and four aid-workers - suffer to be released.
But even EU NAVFOR, who mostly only counts high-value, often British insured vessels, admitted now that many dozens of vessels were sea-jacked despite their multi-million Euro efforts to protect shipping.
Having come under pressure, EU NAVFOR's operation ATALANTA felt now compelled to publish their updated piracy facts for those vessels, which EU NAVFOR admits had not been protected from pirates and were abducted. EU NAVFOR also admitted in February 2011 for the first time that actually a larger number of vessels and crews is held hostage than those listed on their file.
Since EU NAVFOR's inception at the end of 2008 the piracy off Somalia started in earnest and it has now completely escalated. Only knowledgeable analysts recognized the link.
Please see the situation map of the PIRACY COASTS OF SOMALIA (2011) and the CPU-ARCHIVE
ECOTERRA members can also request the Somali Marine & Coastal Monitor for background info.

- see also HELD HOSTAGE BY PIRATES OFF SOMALIA

and don't forget that SOMALI PIRACY IS CUT-THROAT CAPITALISM

WHAT THE NAVIES OFF SOMALIA NEVER SEE:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/05/fighting_for_control_of_somali.html

What Foreign Soldiers in Somalia and even their Officers Never Seem to Realize:
The Scramble For Somalia

PEACE KEEPERS OR BIOLOGICAL WARFARE AGENTS ?
SG Ban Ki-Moon (UN) and President Ram Baran Yadav (Nepal) should resign and take the responsibility for now over 7,000 Haitians having been killed by an Asian Cholera strain introduced by unchecked, so-called UN Peace-Keepers from Nepal into Haiti. Ban Ki-Moon is lying when he says that it has not yet been proven scientifically. He has to take responsibility, pay financial reparations and console as well as compensate the families of those killed and those almost 500,000 infected as well as the future losses in a country which had eradicated Cholera over 100 years ago - until Ban Ki-Moon sent sick biological agents from Nepal.


LATEST:

STILL OVER 400 SEAFARERS ARE HELD HOSTAGE IN SOMALIA !
ECOTERRA Intl. has been the first group to clearly and publicly state that the piracy phenomenon off the Somali coasts can only become an issue of the past again, if tangible and sustainable, appropriate and holistic development for the coastal communities kicks in. Solutions to piracy have to tackle the root causes: Abhorrent poverty, environmental degradation, injustice, outside interference. While still billions are spend for the navies, for the general militarization or for mercenaries or conferences, still no real and financially substantial help is coming forward to pacify and develop the coastal areas of Somalia as well as to help the Somali people and government to protect and police their own waters.
Updates and latest news on known cases of piracy - see the status section :

AFTER TWO ITALIAN VESSEL WERE FREED ANOTHER ITALIAN IS CAPTURED
Somali Pirates Seajack Italian Tanker MT ENRICO LEVOLI (ecop-marine)
On Dec 27 pirates hijacked the Italian flagged and Italian owned chemical tanker Enrico Levoli in position 17.35N - 56.52E, some 30 nm off the Omani coast, the owners confirmed.
The vessel was en route from Fujairah UAE to Yumurtalık,  Adana Province, Turkey. At about 03h00 UTC (06h00 local time) the company was informed that the tanker was under pirate attack while navigating off the coast of the Sultanate of Oman and the master immediately had also alerted the Italian Coastguard Headquarters.
The tanker is loaded with 15,750 tons of caustic soda, which could if leaks occur pose a serious environmental hazard and a health risk to people on board.
The crew of  18 seafarers consists of 6 Italian, 5 Ukranians and 7 Indians.
Judging from news and owner’s press-release, there were no armed guards on board, the Maritime Bulletin stated.
The MT ENRICO LEVOLI (IMO 9188415),
a chemical tanker of 16,630 dwt, was built in 2000, flag and is owned by Marnavi SPA, Napoli.
Just two days ago, on 25. December 2011 NATO had sent an alert saying a merchant vessel reported 3 skiffs acting suspiciously in the Gulf of Oman, approximately 30nm off the coast of Iran in position 2458N 06020E. The vessel reported that the skiffs closed to 3.5nm and then the vessel used self-protective measures and increased speed.
Sources in Somalia stated that the tanker is now commandeered towards the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast.


SOMALI MP PROTESTS AGAINST NAVY THEFT OF SOMALI FISHING BOAT EQUIPMENT (ecop-marine)
"While we fully support the anti-piracy operations of the navies, if they are conducted in accordance with the provisions of the UNSC resolutions and with the specific consent of the Somali Government," Somali member of parliament Hon. Ashareh stated, "we, however, have not given permission to the foreign navies to transfer property from the Somali territory into the hands of the Djiboutian navy."
The legislator explained: Many of these outboard engines were stolen by the pirate gangs from poor  local fishermen or from governmental fisheries projects," and demanded: "All the equipment confiscated by the foreign navies within the waters of Somalia or in connection with the stopping of boats from Somalia must be returned into the hands of the Somali authorities. Anything else is pure theft."
MP Ashareh demanded that the engines be handed back by the Chief of the Djiboutian Navy Colonel Abdourahman Aden Cher to the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia.
"The Somali sovereignty must be respected by all means," the Somali lawmaker concluded and urged the Somali Foreign Minister to follow up with his counterpart in Djibouti.

The European Naval Forces had reported earlier:
EU NAVFOR transfers pirates’ outboard engines to the Djiboutian Navy (EUNAVFOR)
In Djibouti on 7 December, RAdm Christian Canova FRAN, Deputy Commander EU NAVFOR, transferred six powerful outboard motors which had been confiscated from Somali pirates to Colonel Abdourahman Aden Cher, Chief of the Djiboutian Navy.
The engines were taken from small skiffs which had been stopped by EU NAVFOR units conducting counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa and exchanged for smaller engines which have sufficient power to get the suspected pirates back to Somalia but would not allow them to intercept and board merchant ships, thereby preventing subsequent pirate attacks. The engines have been completely overhauled and will provide a very useful upgrade to the Djiboutian Navy Rigid Inflatable boats.
During the handover ceremony, attended by the EU Ambassador, Nicola Delcroix, RAdm Canova said how pleased he was to be able to assist the Djiboutian Navy and that EU NAVFOR would continue to work with Navies in the region to counter the menace of piracy
EU NAVFOR conducts counter-piracy in the Indian Ocean and is responsible for the protection of World Food Program ships carrying humanitarian aid for the people of Somalia and the logistic support vessels of the African Union troops conducting Peace Support Operations in Somalia. Additionally, EU NAVFOR monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia


©2011 - ecoterra / ecop-marine - articles above are exclusive reports and, if not specifically ©-marked , free for publication as long as cited correctly and the source is quoted.
The maritime articles below are cleared or commented. If you don't find a specific article, it most likely was not worth to be republished here, but if you feel we have overlooked an important publication, please mail it to us.
What you always wanted to know about piracy, but never dared to ask:
SEARCH THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE INTERNET PORTAL ON PIRACY

EU says "Somali Pirates are honest" - are they? by Voytenko Mikhail (MaritimeBulletin)
In my recent Study “Year 2011, pivotal in Somali piracy history” I criticized all involved parties and especially, major media, for the only one source they use in their ransom statistics, that source being pirates themselves. I wrote:
A chain was build up: pirates – media – officialdom – media – pirates. What pirates say is immediately spread around by media, then officialdom makes up statistics and expertise based on media publications, then media publishes officialdom statements, and finally, pirates find that their lies return to them twofold, to the best of their interests.
Now, if you compare the figure given by admiral with the Ransom figures given in Somalia Report Table of vessels released during this year, you’ll find them equal. All the ransoms figures given by major media and Somalia Report have one source only – pirates phone calls to Reuters and Somalia Report, no one ransom’s sum is confirmed by other involved parties, like ship owner or bank, or negotiator. Somalia Report by the way, recently included in its’ statistics the remark about the reliability of the figures claimed by pirates. But we find no such doubt on Navies side, the brass finds pirates as an absolutely trustworthy source of information, those Jolly Rodger lads can’t lie, can they? It’s truly amazing – Navies and the whole world consider pirates as bad guys, second bad to terrorists, but trust them wholeheartedly, on their word. Pirates words are backed by all the official might, maybe pirates are not that bad after all, if they’re such trustworthy persons? Or maybe, interests of Navies, officialdom and pirates coincide, and they turned into partners in a profitable scam? I think the latter assumption is more plausible than the former.
Reference:
Somali pirates are honest and trustworthy lads, said EU NAVFOR admiral (Shiptalk.com)
"The current year has brought a record-breaking income to Somali pirates hijacking ships and crews for ransom, said deputy director of EU NAVFOR – Operation Atalanta in an interview. According to the admiral, pirates have obtained over $135 mln ransoms in 2011, while in the past year their income was $80 mln. Through recent five years, wants of the sea robbers has become 8 times higher – in 2007 they demanded about $600,000 ransom for a captured ship, and in 2011 this sum has grown up to $4.6 mln. At present, pirates hold 8 ships and about 200 hostages; this time last year they held 30 ships, said the official. However, this does not indicate of reduction of attacks; just the opposite, their number has 15% risen comparing to the previous year. Pirate attacks have become less successful. One out of four attacks was effective in 2010, but in the current year only every fourteen attack is successful, concluded the admiral”.

ARE DUTCH PARLIAMENTARIANS USED TO PUSH MISSION CREEP?

The Dutch were among the first who attacked hijacked vessels with hostages on board, creating havoc and repercussions which are still felt in the hostage release negotiations today. Then they tried (luckily unsuccessful) to push for boots on the ground in Somalia, now they want their troops on UN ships - what's wrong with the Dutch?

Dutch cabinet wants marines on UN ships (RNW)
Dutch marines will soon accompany UN food transports destined for Somalia.
Sources in The Hague have told Dutch daily de Volkskrant that the heavily armed marines are to provide protection against pirates. The proposal will be discussed in Friday’s weekly cabinet meeting.
The first contingent of marines is to board a UN ship in January. The new mission means fewer marines will be available for the special teams currently involved in the protection of Dutch merchant shipping off Somalia.
The marines would initially be deployed for a six-month period. It is not clear how many marines would be involved.

New "Charities" spring up
Time To Be Afraid (shiptalk)
It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid. Sadly the words of Band Aid do not apply to the hundreds of seafarers still being held hostage off Somalia.
As we enter this time of quiet reflection we can perhaps be look forward with some optimism as the number of successful hijacks have dropped, but while even one seafarer remains in captivity we as an industry cannot rest or let up on our efforts to ensure that political and military pressure is still applied.
However, it is not just about the battles being fought out at sea – there are bitter struggles going on in the homes of seafarer’s families and in the heads and hearts of those who are eventually released. One organisation, looks to support, guide and assist in these matters and we would urge you to support them.
Hostage UK is an independent charity that supports hostages and their families, take a look at their website :http://www.hostageuk.org/

Is Playing Mum Really Helpful In Somali Cases Of Kidnapping?
4 Minutes TV Interview on Abduction of Spanish MSF Staff
Jose Antonio Bastos was introduced as MSF Spain branch president. Aitor was introduced as MSF Spain branch general director (minute 1:40 approx.)
Lucas (moderator): minute 2:50: "Two MSF members, Blanca and Monica, are kidnapped somewhere in Africa, do you have any news about them?"
Aitor: Nothing at all, what we want... and have said several times, is that keeping quiet is critical for the solution of the case; what we clearly say is that we condemn attacks against humanitarian personnel working to help vulnerable populations.
See the 4 minutes interview by clicking in the link below. You will get an introduction of MSF Spain plus the interview itself.
http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/en-dias-como-hoy/dias-como-hoy-medicos-sin-fronteras-celebran-40-aniversario/1277945/

The two ladies are held now by a pirate group in the coastal hinterlands of Central Somalia's Galmudug regional state.

"Allready looking for funds..."

Somali piracy – year-end humanitarian tragedy (SaveOurSeafarersCampaign)
During this year;s holidays, 212 people still being held hostage! [N.B.: A gross understatement, counting only larger vessels and neglecting the hostages on vessels not linked to the British insurance circus.]
This humanitarian tragedy of Somali piracy becomes particularly apparent over Christmas and New Year with 212 people still being held hostage – even after the release of the Italian crude oil tanker Savina Caylinthis week at the end of  more than 315 days of being held by pirates.
The merchant ships Iceberg 1, Olib G, Albedo, Orna, Fairchem Bogey, Liquid Velvet have clocked up over 2,000 days between them with 127 hostages on board in total.
The fishing vessels Malaysia 618, Shiuh Fu No 1, Al Musaah, Alfardous have clocked up 1,595 days between them with 72 hostages on board in total.
The yacht Choizil has clocked up 417 days with two hostages on board.
But we think in particular of those seafarers being held without the negotiating power of being on board a ship – this includes the seafarers not released and retained when the Asphalt Trader was released (seven Indians), when theGemini was released (four South Koreans) and when the rest of the crew from the fishing boat Prantalay 12 were released (four Thais). They are now being held ashore and should NOT become the forgotten casualties of Somali piracy.
The SOS SaveOurSeafarers campaign is already looking for funds for 2012 from its 30 supporting organisations. The campaign hopes to gather enough funding to continue through 2012 at the same pace as it did in 2011, and will not give up until our seafarers can trade their ships through the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean without fear of attack by Somali pirates.

Indian Ocean:
Will A Chinese Port Combat Piracy in the Seychelles?
(privateislandnews.com)
The famous private island destination off the coast of Africa is hoping to combat security concerns with a strategic partnership with China, while allowing the superpower to extend its sphere of influence.
Few countries are as closely associated with luxurious private islands as the Indian Ocean nation of the Seychelles, a chain of 155 islands found to the north of Madagascar and more than 900 miles from continental Africa. After all, dozens of high-end resorts dot its small tropical islands, and it was here, in May of 2011, that the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had their honeymoon on North Island, generating an enormous amount of publicity. Of course, the country had countless celebrity visitors before the royal couple, all attracted by its incomparable beauty – and most importantly, privacy.
Privacy is, perhaps, the Seychelles’ key commodity.  The country’s isolation offers many advantages; a relatively pristine environment giving rise to ecotourism, few paparazzi concerns for wealthy and famous individuals, and refuge from the economic and civil problems besetting is mainland neighbours. In recent years, however, the country’s secluded location has presented dangers to its tourism-based economy, as an ancient problem has reared its head: piracy. West across the Indian Ocean, one of the closest countries to the Seychelles is Somalia, and its thriving industry of seafaring criminals.
Regarded for many years as a safe tourism destination, the Seychelles was stunned in April of 2009 when a group of Somali pirates captured the commercial tour yacht Serenity, which was travelling from the country’s far islands south to Madagascar. Seven hostages, all Seychellois, were taken captive and brought to Somalia. Eventually, the yacht was sunk by the pirates, and months later, the men were released. However, this was only the beginning of a hijacking campaign that in ensuing months would hit numerous other craft near the Seychelles, including a small cruise ship, a scientific research vessel, and several more yachts. In 2009, total ransoms paid to Somali pirates exceeded US $50 million, according to unofficial figures.
Now, at the end of 2011, piracy in the waters of the Seychelles has become an entrenched problem, rather than a frightening novelty. Heightened security off the coast of Africa has driven the pirates to more remote waters, and the prospect of wealthy tourists has made the Seychelles a prime target. Former President of the Seychelles, James Mancham, has since 2010 travelled extensively warning about the dangers of piracy, giving lectures both within the country and across the globe at conferences in places like New York. The current president, James Michel, has lobbied a variety of countries for assistance, including Spain, India, and the United States.
In 2010, India sent naval vessels to deter and offer quick responses to attacks, and has been a crucial ally. Spain, whose own fishing trawlers in the Indian Ocean have been targeted, also signed a mutual defense agreement with the Seychelles. The United States, for its part, sent unmanned Reaper drones to help with monitoring the waters for potential dangers, one of which recently crashed at the airport on the island of Mahé. Piracy, however, has continued to be a problem, as President Michel reaffirmed in early December with a letter to world leaders asking for more assistance, citing a 4% drop in the country’s GDP from piracy impacts like skyrocketing shipping costs and reduced maritime tourism.
Now, another major player has stepped in with offers of help – China. The superpower has a vested interest in combatting piracy; it makes heavy shipping use of the Straits of Malacca, a frequent pirate target that divides the Indian and Pacific oceans. The proposed plan from China’s Ministry of Defence, not yet finalized, is for China to maintain a port of call at Mahé‘s city of Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles. American and other Western allied military vessels already dock here, bringing a side benefit for the country – the prospect of sailors on leave, ready to spend their hard-earned wages.
However, China’s aggression in staking its claim to the contested South China Sea has some geopolitical thinkers concerned that other countries, like India and the United States, would regard any incursion by China into the Indian Ocean as an attempt at dominance, rather than mere security. While increased maritime security in the region would benefit China’s interests regardless, their potential establishment of a port is seen by some political analysts as the latest addition to the country’s “string of pearls” strategy: essentially, to attain oceanic supremacy by securing a series of ports along the African coast and throughout the Indian Ocean.
Whatever the concerns of other nations, the impact of piracy on the Seychelles will continue to be severe, unless further help is received. The government has long held the stance that it is still a safe place for tourists, and that piracy is only a danger in the remote outreaches of the country, but this may not hold true for long. Piracy is a public relations nightmare, even if there is not yet an impact on travellers to the country’s island resorts, and President Michel has already warned that pirates are now better armed and “resorting to more desperate measures”. For this besieged country, the geopolitical concerns of powerful countries are, out of necessity, outweighed by a fight for its survival.

Somali Piracy is bad. What about Spain Governmental Piracy? (MaritimeBulletin)
There are some States who racket shipping in order to patch up their leaking budgets, most notorious are the States of Venezuela and North Korea. There are PSC inspectors, who racket shipping for their own benefit, there is almost no country whose PSC inspectors, here and there, detain vessels either demanding a direct bribe, or demanding the deficiencies they find to be fixed with the help of companies they “recommend”. The latter racket is especially wide-spread in European countries, it’s a well-known fact to all shipping, excluding of course, industry media and maritime organizations, being virginally ignorant of the unpleasant reality.
Still, racket on a governmental level of a country considered to be developed and civilized, acceptance and pursuance of a vile practice of extorting money from shipowners, is some kind of singularity, even in our crazy world. What’s the difference between piracy acts as they’re understood and accepted generally, acts committed by criminals, and government-approved acts of extorting money in form of groundless and unlawful fines? Pirates use AKs and risk their lives, States use all their might and risk nothing. While pirates may be credited with boldness, States may be credited only with despise.
Voytenko Mikhail
SKULD P&I Spain warn letter to Club members
Due to the current financial situation in Spain, and due to the fact that the Spanish Government urgently needs income, they have instructed the Treasury office inspectors to increase their surveys/inspections in all companies in order to get an extra income of EUR 4 billion. Other taxes will be also increased shortly.
Treasury inspectors have denounced this tactic in the newspapers therefore everyone knows of the Government’s intentions. In our opinion, the Spanish Government has also instructed the Head Office of PSC in Madrid to trace, arrest and fine vessels in order to get extra income. We reported this increase in arrests and fines in May 2007 to two Clubs, which we are representing as Correspondents.
The amount of the fines is based on a case-by-case basis, although our experience shows that it is always within EUR 60.000-90.000 and normally EUR 60.000 which is the minimum amount which has to be guaranteed in order to release the vessel.
The procedure is that after the PSC inspector goes on board and deficiencies are found based on detention, the Harbour Master decides to arrest the vessel and requests a deposit or Bank Guarantee (no LOUs are accepted). Therefore, after the PSC completes its inspection if applicable, the vessel is detained as a precautionary measure in a sanctioning procedure against Owners to guarantee the payment of a possible sanction - where a guarantee will have to be provided to release the vessel.
Normally, the fines imposed are alleged to be for an offence according to Spanish law Art. 115.3 Law 27/92, de 24th November (Offences against the ordination of maritime traffic) especially Rule Ñ which states that if a captain fails to inform correctly or fails to provide any information of something wrong on board regarding equipment, safety, propulsion etc. will be considered an offense. That means that they would have sufficient excuses for arresting any vessel which they consider has not informed them of, let’s say, that any part of the vessel could be damaged or under repair before entering a Spanish port.
When Master reports something is wrong on board, Port State Control will proceed onboard and the vessel will go through an inspection and most probably get arrested. If Master does not report any anomaly on board and the Harbour Master finds out, the vessel will be arrested as per above article. Even a small failure or lack of an official stamp in the normal books can be a reason to arrest and to fine a vessel. As everyone knows, anyone who wishes to find amiss on board, can find them without any problems, as even new ships are not perfect ships.
We recently had a detention and fine of a vessel, which was only 6 months old. Normally the search for violations is against normal vessels, tankers and bulk cargoes, but never against Spanish Flag vessels, passenger vessels (due to its implications), or major shipowners. The focus is on non-ECC flags, and medium to small tonnage.
Once the vessel is arrested and a Notification of Arrest is delivered on board, (which is written in Spanish even if the Master does not speak Spanish), the Harbour Master assigns an instructor from his connections to deal with future developments. It is always recommended that a Lawyer is instructed to make allegations and defend the vessel’s position or to try to reduce the fine.
After approximately one month, depending on each port and workload they have, the final fine is imposed, and then this new amount must be placed before the first guarantee is returned. As a matter of curiosity, the first payment is made to the Treasury office, but the second one after the final resolution is made to the Merchant Navy Head office in Madrid.
The vessel is released and allowed to sail only after the amount requested by the PSC has been transferred. Another problem which has to be taken into consideration is that in order to release the vessel, it is not as simple as paying the amount which PSC requests. No matter if the Owners agree or not with the deficiencies traced, the ONLY WAY TO RELEASE THE VESSEL IS TO PLACE THE AMOUNT without any arguments. There are two ways to place the fine at the PSC office:
1. To pay the amount in cash (deposit)
2. To pay the amount in a Bank guarantee
In our opinion, the best solution is to pay the guarantee in cash as a bank guarantee can take up to two or three days to be made and accepted by the PSC and Treasury office.
Presently the situation is so drastic that any silly excuse is used to detain vessels following all laws and regulations, including article 105.3 lay 27/92 which states that the Master must advise of any deficiency on board. The article considers this a minor offence, but the fine imposed is EUR 60.000.
As per our experience, and after being involved in numerous cases, we suggest to Masters that if the PSC comes on board, to treat them fairly, but not to be too cooperative as his cooperation could go against them. Only after the vessel has left the port, we have 15 days (which can be extended up to 22 days) to provide to the PSC our allegations. And then the matter can take up to one to three years until the matter is finally solved. Therefore, Members should be extra vigilant when calling Spanish Ports.


From the SMCM (Somali Marine and Coastal Monitor):
(and with a view on news of events with an impact on Somalia)
The articles below - except where stated otherwise - are reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and are for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions held by ECOTERRA Intl.
Articles below were vetted and basically found to report correctly - or otherwise are commented.
Somalis say:
NO TO UN-TRUSTEESHIP OVER SOMALIA AND NO TO AU AND IGAD MILITARIZATION
NO foreign or local military governance on land or foreign naval governance on the Somali seas.
NO to any threat infringing on the sovereignty of Somalia, especially concerning the 200nm territorial waters, given since 1972, and the 200nm EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone / UNCLOS) already in place since 1989 as well as the 350nm continental shelf zone.
NO to any Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in relief food or Genetically Engineered (GE) seed supplies.

Peace cannot be kept by force.
It can only be achieved by understanding.
- Albert Einstein


Iranian Imam Khomeini relief foundation assists Somali displaced people (PressTV)
The Islamic Republic of Iran is assisting thousands of Somali displaced persons in Somalia who are suffering from an unprecedented deadly drought that has claimed the lives of thousands and displaced millions of others in what the UN aid agencies term as the worst to have ever befallen the Horn of African Nation.
The Somali capital Mogadishu itself witnessed the full wrath of the drought with almost one million displaced persons flocking the capital Mogadishu where Islamic countries had their bases and were assisting millions of drought ravaged Somali civilians with food aid and medicine.
Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation officially opened up its offices in the war-torn capital as a part of the ongoing Iran's assistance to the people of Somalia.
The foundation alongside the Islamic Republic Red Crescent team have so far assisted in feeding thousands of people in more than ten camps under their management as well as treated thousands suffering from ill health.
The Foundation on Wednesday distributed sewing machines to Somali women in Hamar Wayne district in Mogadishu so as to create employment opportunities for the Somali people.
The beneficiaries of the aid thanked the Islamic Republic for the aid. The Foundation also plans to sponsor Quran learning centers in Mogadishu in a bid to foster the knowledge of Islam to the Somali youth who have been forces to endure civil war for more than two decades now.
Islamic countries assistance towards Somalia has improved the living conditions of the displaced persons with Iranian Red Crescent being among the first group to initiate the resettlement of IDPs back to their regions after the UN declared three famine regions of Somalia as no longer experiencing famine.

Somalis Agree On Formula to Pick MPs (AllAfrica)
A United Nations sponsored consultative meeting on Somalia's Roadmap to Stability has concluded in Garowe town, the capital of the semi autonomous state of Puntland, 1,000 kilometres northeast of Mogadishu.
One of the thorny issues at the meeting was good governance, which included parliamentary reform before end of the shelf-life of the current government by August 20, 2012.
According to the Garowe Principle, the Somali parliament will be composed of 225 MPs that will be selected on the basis of the clan power sharing-formula of 4.5, that is an allocation for 'one lot' for each of four big Somali clans while 0.5 is allocated for a coalition of smaller clans.
It will mean a marked reduction from the current number of 550 MPs.
When the TFG was established in Kenya, following two years (2002-2004) of talks at Mbagathi, 275 individuals were selected as MPs.
The number was doubled at the end of another reconciliation conference in Djibouti in 2008, boosting the legislators to 550. The next parliament will have a Chamber of Elders (a sort of Senate).

Garowe Principles (GaroweOnline)
Somalis from different clans and different regions intermingled, discussed, negotiated and eventually agreed to a set of principles that will guide the political and constitutional development in Somalia for the coming years.
There can be apology for victory. It comes to those whom Almighty Allah bestows His Mercy and His Honor upon.
The Somali National Consultative Constitutional Conference (21–23 December 2011) was held in Garowe, the capital city of Puntland State. The signed document, aptly entitled the Garowe Principles, is a historic record that will be referenced in future political developments in Somalia. In short, the Garowe Principles serve rightfully as a set of steps that guide the constitutional process in Somalia.
What happened in Garowe this week was incredible as far as the political turmoil with which Somalia is associated is concerned. Inside Somalia, a high-level conference was held – with Somali leaders and dignitaries debating openly and freely among themselves, with no foreign interference.
Our praise goes to the Puntland Government for hosting this conference and to the Puntland public for generously welcoming their fellow Somalis. We commend the brave step taken by the visiting delegations from Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP), the Galmudug authority and Ahlu Sunna group. Somalia today needs a process that consolidate political and security gains, but our war-torn country does not need any more meaningless political wrangling.
Furthermore, we praise the key role played by Puntland security institutions and particularly the soldiers and police officers of Puntland State – who stood guard, day and night, to prevent terrorist attacks – even as Al Shabaab terrorist group issued public threats against the Somali national conference in Garowe. It is unfortunate – yet satisfyingly revealing of people’s inner intentions – that certain Somali websites reported AMISOM peacekeepers were in Garowe to secure the conference venue. Aside from 10 soldiers traveling with the TFG delegations, more than 600 police and soldiers who partook in security in Garowe and at the conference venue (Puntland State University) were Puntland government forces.
What is truly remarkable is the spectrum of debate and discussions during the constitutional conference. Somalis from different clans and different regions intermingled, discussed, negotiated and eventually agreed to a set of principles that will guide the political and constitutional development in Somalia for the coming years.
Yes, indeed Somalis have met in Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Djibouti, Cairo, London, and other world capitals before. But what is remarkable is the epoch-making conference was held inside Somalia for the first time in 20 years in an atmosphere of peace, respect and understanding.
What is more remarkable is that, when the delegates were bogged in negotiations, leadership emerged and a compromise deal was reached – purely among Somalis. Yes, the international community is frustrated and disappointed with developments in Somalia – insecurity, humanitarian crises, terrorism and piracy, poverty, illiteracy, disease. But today, the international community has a renewed faith and opportunity to glance at Somalia through a new set of eyes. Somalis are more than able to talk among themselves and to work out their differences in a civilized and respectful manner.
The political dispute in Mogadishu among the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) was created simply to oppose the conference being held in Garowe. Perhaps the world forgets, but we Somalis know that clan hostilities persist and the genocidal maniacs who massacred civilians, mothers and children since 1991 are today Members of Parliament. They want to retain their parliamentary seats because they have the cover of legitimacy to protect them from war crimes prosecution. It is natural that such warmongers oppose parliament reforms – as the Garowe Principles declares the reduction of the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) from a bloated 550 MPs to 225 MPs, a reasonable number for Somalia’s 8million population. One wonders: is it any surprise that the MPs who have engaged in fistfights inside parliament this month in Mogadishu are led by Mogadishu’s notorious warlords – Yalahow, Caato, Xaaran-ku-naax, Seeraar, just to name a few.
The cover of legitimacy and immunity from prosecution, as MPs, will fall apart as of mid-2012. The taste of justice is the air.
So they opposed the conference to be held in Garowe. But now that the conference was held and ended in success with the signing of the Garowe Principles, the opposition camp – led by Mogadishu’s bloodthirsty warlords – will now try new tricks.
But the doors are closing in fast. The TFP unanimously ratified the Kampala Accord in Sept. 2011 – as such, the Roadmap process and the Garowe Principles are borne out of the Kampala Accord, which extended the mandate of the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFI) in Somalia. It is the Kampala Accord which gives the TFIs legitimacy today.
The international community wants to see results in Somalia. Yet, the spoilers are relentless in their efforts to derail every attempt at consolidating national peace and security. Indeed, as the world focused on the war against Al Shabaab terrorist group, we forgot about the warmongers and spoilers within the TFIs, who are attempting to destroy the system from the inside.
All the resources spent in Somalia will go to waste if the international community remains unable to take strong actions against spoilers.
On the Garowe Principles, there is need for cautious celebration. More importantly, there is need for us all to remember fellow Somalis who are dying, who are starving, those who are facing daily intimidation and death threats, those in refugee camps, and those suffering at the high seas as they escape their homeland in search of a better life.
The Roadmap process is ambitious with clear timelines and benchmarks. So far, Somalis have been able to keep up with the requirements of the Roadmap – showing commitment to a cause. However, with spoilers running free and the availability of an unregulated sensational media, there is growing risk to derail the ongoing peace process.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s visit to Mogadishu on 9 Dec 2011 and UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement of an international conference on Somalia, scheduled for 23 Feb 2012, emphasizes the growing international interest in Somalia. But the time to act robustly is now, not only in the ongoing campaign to defeat Al Shabaab terrorists and piracy gangs, but also to act robustly against spoilers of the peace process.

Probe Civilian Abuses In Somalia - Human Rights Watch By Adow Mohamed (AfricaNews)
An international human right lobby group, the Human Right Watch (HRW) has decried the continued civil right abuses inflicted on civilians in Somalia following the Kenya’s incursion into the horn of African nation in October. HRW asked Kenya to investigate the death of villagers during an air strike by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) where an unconfirmed number of people were killed and scores injured.
The government of Kenya should investigate the death of as many as 11 civilians during a Kenyan air force raid on Hosingow village in Somalia on December 20, 2011, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
According to witnesses, KDF bombed makeshift huts including a school killing seven children and a woman. A second fighter jet attacked ground targets from low-flying aircraft using machine guns, killing one woman and at least two men, all civilians.
“One of the bombs struck near a street where people were running their businesses,” another witness, Ahmed Yusuf, told AFP.
“A prompt and impartial investigation is needed into what happened in Hosingow village,” said Ben Rawlence, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“International humanitarian law, or the laws of war, obliges the parties to an armed conflict to take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to the civilian population.
Attacks that target civilians or civilian objects are prohibited, as are attacks that do not discriminate between civilians and military objectives, or that were expected to cause civilian harm that was greater than the anticipated military gain. The laws of war require governments to investigate credible allegations of violations,” read the statement seen by the Africanews.
Kenya military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir confirmed the air strike by denied any civilian casualties. He however warned civilians to keep away from Al-Shabaab territories.
“We call on peace loving Somalis not to interact Al Shabaab as KD intensifies air attacks in South-Central Somalia,” the major said in his tweeter account.
Hosingow is in a territory manned by the terror group Al-Shabaab but HRW could not confirm whether its forces were there when the Kenya military attacked the village.
It is not the first the Human Right Watchdog is raising the red flag about the civilian attacks by Kenya defence forces. On October, Daniel Bekele, Director, Africa Division, Human Rights Watch, wrote to Kenya’s defence minister Yusuf Haji when Kenyan air force bombarded an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp on the outskirts of the town of Jilib in Somalia.
The international humanitarian organization Médecins sans Frontières reported five civilian deaths following the aerial bombardment.
“International humanitarian law applies at sea and prohibits deliberate attacks on civilians. It requires that warring parties take all feasible precautions to ensure that objects attacked are valid military targets. International human rights law, which was also applicable, permits the use of lethal force outside of zones of armed conflict only when it is strictly and directly necessary to save human life,” he said.
“The Kenyan Armed Forces have an international legal obligation to conduct any and all operations, both within and outside of Kenya, in accordance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” he further said in the letter.
In the same months Kenyan fishermen were killed and their boat sunk by Kenya army in the Indian Ocean waters when they “defied” orders to stop. Those who survived the ordeal were allegedly beaten at the army base by Kenyan military personnel before being transferred to local police custody before being released.


LET'S NOT FORGET THAT IT WERE BRITISH WAR-PLANES DROPPING THE FIRST BOMBS EVER ON AFRICA - AT TALLEX IN SOMALIA
UK FM: Britain Considering Bombing Somalia (AntiwarForum)
UK Minister: More British Training as Terrorists in Somalia Than Anywhere Else
Reports coming out of Britain’s Foreign Ministry today confirm that the British government is considering “direct military assistance” to the various foreign troops in Somalia through direct bombing campaigns by the British Air Force.
Prime Minister David Cameron has also claimed that Somalia “directly threatens British interests” so long as its self-declared government doesn’t have control over it, and is also pushing humanitarian operations.
Several military operations are already ongoing in Somalia, with Ethiopia and Kenya both invading in recent months and the African Union already occupying much of the capital city of Mogadishu. US drones and French ships also regularly attack the nation.
In an attempt, apparently, to build support for the upcoming operation, British International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell said large numbers of British citizens are in Somalia now training a terrorists, saying there are more British trainees there than anywhere else in the world.

British Minister: More Citizens Training at Somali Terror Camps (VOA)
Britain's minister for international development says more British citizens are training alongside terrorists in Somalia.
Minister Andrew Mitchell said Thursday there are probably more British passport-holders at terrorist training camps in Somalia than in any other country in the world.
The minister said his government plans to deepen its involvement in Somalia because the Horn of Africa country poses a major security threat to Britain.
An international conference in London next year will focus on instability in Somalia.
Leaders will focus on issues including the threat posed by the Somali-based militant group al-Shabab, piracy and the great humanitarian needs caused by drought and famine.
Last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron said it is time to stand up to Somali pirates who have terrorized vessels in the region, including the waters off the Somali coast, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Somali pirates have made hundreds of millions of dollars hijacking ships for ransom in recent years.

The lost BBC Somali neutrality returns after two decades (WagoshaNews)
When the civil war erupted in Somalia in 1991, many Somalis turned their ears to the BBC Somali Service to hear what was happening in their country, since there was no any other media that could satisfy them. Though the BBC put much efforts to report Mogadishu fighting that led to the fall of the military dictator, General Muhammad Siyad Barre on 2 Jan, 1991, the station took a side after that and supported one of the warring factions.
The BBC Somali Service failed to provide full and fair coverage of the brutal massacre and abuses against the innocent civilians in Bay and Bakool in 1991 and 1992, by clan militants loyal to General Barre. The worst was the genocide in Jubba regions against the Wagosha community by Darod clan militants between 1991-1993, though the BBC Somali Service was not the only media hosue that failed to cover this massacre.
During the massacre of Wagosha people, BBC Somali Service gave publicity air time to warlords Morgan and Gabyow, who organized the systematic genocide against innocent civilians. In this period Morgan and Gabyow used the relief aid to fund their war with the help of humanitarian officials who hailed from their clan of Darod.
Its obvious that the BBC Somali Service administration during that time backed the Darood militants, who were part of the Somali clan based conflict.
Currently, some differences can be learnt from the BBC Somali Service, by providing air time to all Somali groups, including the marginalized communities like the Wagosha.
This is a new dawn and light for the BBC Somali Service to conduct such move of justice in terms of media coverage, and this will be the only way the Somalis can have access of balanced reporting.
In this year 2011, it has been observed that many marginalized Somali groups got access to provide their opinions of different matters concerning their country.
We urge all other media houses (international and local) to learn from the BBC Somali Service in practising real neutrality when covering the complex and the sensitive issues of the war-torn Somalia.

Armed struggle only way to regain dignity of Wagosha By Yarow Sharif Adan (WaGoshaNews)
In 1950 the Wagosha people in southern Somalia asked the UN not to put their region (Jubbaland) under Somalia, fearing for discrimination and apartheid. The UN and the western colonial powers did not listen to the calls of the Wagosha people.
Ever since the independence in 1960, Somali governments maintained a reign of terror, marginalization, apartheid and all sorts of segregation against Wagosha people in their land.
The brutal process which was in different stages claimed the lives of thousands of Wagosha people and destroyed their dignity, humanity and basic rights as legal Somali citizens living in one of Somali regions.
The Somali government decided to do so to eliminate the Wagosha people from Jubba Valley because of wealth, natural resources, as well as trying to settle other Somali clans from Ethiopia and elsewhere in the country.
In this process it was obvious that foreign countries helped the Somali government to conduct its dirty politics by financing, arming and even training Somali forces because of economical purposes and other hidden agendas.
Legality of liberation wars
International law generally holds that a people with legal right to self-determinations are entitled to wage wars of liberation. Wars of national liberation are usually fought using guerrilla warfare.
Wars of liberation generally depend a large amounts of public support, with ordinary civilians providing crucial support.
Its a golden opportunity for Wagosha people, because most of them now believe that there is no alternative but for armed struggle by themselves to liberate their land and share power equally with other Somalis.
As for crucially necessary outside support, the most important backbone for this struggle should be the Wagosha themselves, because no one is going to help you before you help yourself.
Wagosha people are now scattered everywhere in the world, Africa, Europe, Asia and elsewhere. This will help Wagosha to come up with ideas, contributing money even a penny that will make the struggle fruitful.
Successful armed struggles
During the height of Japanese imperialism in Asia against neighbours like China and Korea, one of the meeting to oppose the oppressors recorded this historic speech “The present situation demands that we immediately organize and wage armed struggle against Japanese imperialism”. According to history this message though delivered in 1931, is still valid to other people in this present day of time including the Wagosha people.
You need to wake up in order to build your country, starting from the grass-root level. If you do not wake up and end up of blaming others for your problems, its going to be hard to realize your dreams.
The invaders who are occupying the Wagosha land are human being like you, and they also fear dying like you, but you have the advantage of being at your home and winning the battle at the end however time it will take.
Look now, China, Korea and other countries that suffered under the Japanese imperialism are now free and well advanced countries.
In many African countries liberation and freedom had not been obtained through speeches, blaming others etc, but the real tool behind the success was armed struggle.
The Dutch people fought for their independence for almost 80 years and never gave up until they materialized their dreams of gaining self-determination from Spain.
The Eighty Years’ War, or Dutch War of Independence, (1568–1648)[1] began as a revolt of the Seventeen Provinces against Philip II of Spain, the sovereign of the Habsburg Netherlands.
After the initial stages Philip II deployed his armies and regained control over most of the rebelling provinces. However, under the leadership of the exiled William of Orange the northern provinces continued their resistance and managed to oust the Spanish armies, and established the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.
Same thing has to take place in Goshaland, because all the occupiers have their own home lands, and if they are pushed properly one day they will leave and persecution will end in Jubbaland forever.
Remember even prophets sent by God did not easily fulfil their duties until they fought and ensured their dreams through armed struggle. Among them is prophet Muhammad who had to involve in several battles, notably Uhud and Beder in order to fulfil God’s duties of spreading the Islam religion.
The only solution for living with honour and as citizen with full rights in his country for Wagosha men, women, youth, elders and children is to fight and accept to shed your blood for your land.
To organize and launch armed struggle is the only correct method of restoring our regions and liberating the people from the invaders and those who want to continue enslaving in their country.
Liberation and Freedom for Wagosha People, Discrimination and Apartheid should end in Somalia
(*) Eng Yarow Sharif Adan is the Chairman of the Wagosha Movement of Somalia


- FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD (with an influence on Somalia and the water wars) :
"We're fighting terrorists, pirates, and militias. What happened to the days when we fought uniformed armies?"
SEE ALL THE ARTICLES BELOW LIKE A PICTURE, A COLLAGE AND LET THE MAIN COLOUR SINK IN. THEN LISTEN TO THE FINE TUNES AND DETAILS AND COME TO YOUR OWN CONCLUSION. WE TRY TO BALANCE THE FALSE PICTURE IMPLANTED INTO YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS BY THE MAINSTREAM'S RULERS - THE POWERS THAT BE.  .- / .- / .- .- .=

US bank move highlights importance of remittances (IRIN)
The welfare of hundreds of thousands of Somalis who depend on financial assistance from the diaspora is at risk following a decision by a US bank to close down accounts of Somali money transfer companies in the state of Minnesota by 30 December, according to local and international sources.
Somalis, both in Somalia and in the diaspora, have reacted with dismay at the move by Sunrise Community Bank, arguing that money transfer companies are a lifeline to millions of Somalis who depend on remittances for their livelihoods.
"After suffering conflict and famine, cutting off the only lifeline left for Somalis is tantamount to a death sentence for [many] Somalis," Ilmi Gedi, head of Qaran money transfer company (one of the largest in Somalia), told IRIN. "If the closure goes ahead, it will not only hit those whose families used to get money but also drought- and famine-displaced people supported by other Somalis."
Laura Hammond, a senior lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said the problem was serious with regards to Minneapolis (the largest city in Minnesota and home to an estimated 60,000-80,000 ethnic Somalis) but potentially not critical to remittance-sending from the rest of the USA.
However, Hammond said, if other US banks follow suit and close their doors to Somali money transfer companies, the situation would be very serious.
"The diaspora is one of the main lifelines to [people in] the famine areas and their support is more effective than that of most aid agencies because they are able to deliver funds to precisely where they are needed almost instantly," she said adding: "Aid agencies have technical expertise, but when it comes to getting money to where it's needed quickly they can't begin to compete with the diaspora.
"One of the cruel ironies of this famine is that the worst-affected areas are also those most conflict-prone, so funding is vital to precisely the areas that make banks nervous."
Big impact
It is estimated that US$1.3-2 billion per year is remitted to Somalia from around the world, Hammond said.
"In a `normal' year, probably 10 percent of that goes towards `collective contributions' - relief and development. In an emergency year, the amount of remittances goes up - by how much, we don't know - both to individual recipients and to community-based relief for internally displaced camps, feeding centres, etc," she said.
The impact of such a closure will be felt the most inside Somalia, where the UN estimates four million are in need of assistance - three million of them in southern Somalia, with 250,000 in famine affected areas at risk of starvation.
Madino Ji'ale Farah, a 65-year-old grandmother and resident of Mogadishu, told IRIN she and 13 members of her extended family were living on the $200 a month that one of her children sends regularly.
"We have no other income except our monthly bill from my daughter. We survive on this money and if it stops we have no other means," Jama said. "We would be forced to either go to the camps [for refugees and displaced people] or beg."
She said her daughter had warned her that she may not be able to send money next month.
Abdisalam Abdinur, 55, a father of five, depends on the $200 his 21-year-old son sends from Minneapolis. "If it stops we will have nothing else to live on."
Abdinur told IRIN stopping money transfers will make most Somalis depend on food handouts. "We already have too many waiting for food handouts. Why add to it? It is very cruel. Maybe they want us all to beg."
In a statement on 27 December, the Somali American Money Services Association (SAMSA) said it was concerned by Sunrise Community Bank's decision to close their accounts. It is estimated that in an average year, over US$100 million is transferred to Somalia through SAMSA from the USA.
Aid workers worried
On 23 December, Oxfam America and the American Refugee Committee (ARC) issued a statement decrying the move by Sunrise Bank.
"This is the worst time for this service to stop. Any gaps with remittance flows in the middle of the famine could be disastrous," Shannon Scribner, Oxfam America's humanitarian policy manager, said in the statement.
She called on the US government to give the bank assurances "that there will be no legal ramifications of providing this service to Somalis in need".
Ken Menkhaus, Somalia expert and associate professor at Davidson College, North Carolina, was quoted as saying: "The 2011 famine in Somalia would have been far worse had it not been for the extraordinary mobilization of remittances sent by the Somali diaspora to both their extended families and to local charities - and all those remittances were sent through the `hawala' system."
SAMSA said money transfer operators were by far the main facilitators of aid and development funds for Somalia. "In addition to the needy Somalis, the Somali government, international NGOs, the UN and USAID [US Agency for International Development] use remittance operators to conduct their operations in Somalia."
SAMSA said its members were fully compliant with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations, including all relevant provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act and the US Patriot Act.

International Journalists, Writers, Rights Activists Protest Terrorism Charge Against Ethiopian Journalist
A broad international group of journalists, writers and human rights activists today called for the Ethiopian government to unconditionally release journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega, imprisoned since Sept. 14 on terrorism charges that carry a maximum sentence of death.
The petition’s signatories include Mark Hamrick, president of the 3,500-member National Press Club based in Washington, D.C.; Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Foundations; Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists; Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch and William Easterly, a New York University economics professor and author of the bestselling book “The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Harm and So Little Good.”
In an open letter to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Minister of Government Communication Affairs Bereket Simon and Justice Minister Berhan Hailu, the petitioners expressed concern about reports that Eskinder is at risk of abuse in prison and called for the government to end its use of terrorism laws to silence the press.
“We urge the Ethiopian government to unconditionally release Eskinder and other journalists unjustly detained; to ensure that he and others are treated humanely; to halt the use of anti-terrorism laws to prosecute journalists; and to fully defend the rights of the press outlined by Ethiopia’s constitution and international agreements,” the petition says.
About Eskinder Nega
Eskinder Nega is a prominent Ethiopian journalist arrested in September of 2011 under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009. Just prior to his arrest, Eskinder had published an online column critical of the use of the terrorism law to silence dissent and calling for the Ethiopian government to respect freedom of expression and end torture in the country’s prisons. Eskinder is a journalist and dissident blogger who espouses non-violence. He now faces charges with a maximum penalty of death.
Previous to his current arrest, Eskinder and his wife Serkalem Fasil, both newspaper publishers, spent 17 months in jail after being charged with treason following Ethiopia’s disputed 2005 elections, along with dozens of journalists, human rights activists and opposition leaders. While in custody, Serkalem gave birth to their first child. Even after they were acquitted by Ethiopia’s Federal High Court, Eskinder and Serkalem were blocked from reopening their newspapers and the government continued to pursue civil charges against them.
Eskinder was detained earlier this year, after he published an online column asking members of the security services not to shoot unarmed demonstrators – as they did in 2005 – in the event the ‘Arab spring’ should spread to Ethiopia.
Additional Signatories
The letter’s signatories also include Marshall Ingwerson; managing editor of the Christian Science Monitor; Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek journalist jailed by the Iranian government for 118 days in 2009; former Ethiopia-based BBC correspondents Elizabeth Blunt, Nita Bhalla and Alice Martin; Anya Schiffrin, director of the media and communications program at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs; John Ryle, professor of anthropology at Bard College; Helen Epstein, author of “The Invisible Cure, Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa” and The New York Review’s “Cruel Ethiopia,”; Lonnie Isabel, director of the international reporting program at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism; Ben Rawlence, senior researcher in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch and a co-author of “Development Without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia,”; Tom Rhodes, East Africa consultant for the Committee to Protect Journalists and former Bloomberg News correspondent in Ethiopia Jason McLure.
Previously, a number of press freedom and human rights groups, including PEN/International, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International and the International Federation of Journalists have called for Eskinder’s release.
Additional information about Eskinder’s case can be obtained online at www.FreeEskinderNega.com*.
New York Review of Books letter
A separate letter about Eskinder’s case, published in the new issue of the New York Review of Books dated January 12 and signed by Mark Hamrick, president of the National Press Club; Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Foundation; Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists; Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch; and William Easterly, professor of economics at New York University, notes that Ethiopia tops Iran and Cuba to lead the world in the number of journalists who have fled into exile over the past decade and calls for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and America’s Western allies to publicly repudiate Ethiopia’s efforts to use terrorism laws to silence political dissent and to take steps to ensure that aid money does not foster political repression. The New York Review is America’s leading biweekly book review and journal of intellectual events.
Committee to Free Eskinder Nega media contact: Jason McLure +1 202 370 6905 or FreeEskinderNega@gmail.com
*Website is blocked in Ethiopia. To view from Ethiopia, please utilize a proxy server or contact FreeEskinderNega@gmail.com
Ethiomedia.com – An African-American news and views website.
Copyright 2010 Ethiomedia.com. Email: editor@ethiomedia.com

Related posts:
  1. A climate of corruption, Ethiopian edition By Janice Winter, Daily Maverick | December 19, 2011
  2. Opposition Leader Labels Ethiopian Government ‘Dictatorship’ By Peter Heinlein, VOA | December 12, 2011
  3. Ethiopia charges opposition figures, reporter with terrorism
  4. Ethiopia’s ‘bulldozer’ government arrests 100 tribal people over dam Survival International | Oct 6, 2011
  5. Ethiopia uses anti-terror laws to silence critical journalists By Caellain Barr, Bureau of Investigation | September 29, 2011
Ethiopia jails two Swedish journalists for aiding rebels  (WorldNews)
Rights group: calls conviction a 'sham,' says purpose of terror law is to suppress media
Journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye were sentenced to 11 years in Ethiopian jail for supporting terrorism and entering the country illegally. The two say they had been gathering news about a Swedish oil company exploring the region for oil.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated
An Ethiopian court sentenced two Swedish journalists on Tuesday to 11 years in prison for helping and promoting the outlawed Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebel group and entering the country illegally, a judge said.
Reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson were arrested in July after they entered Ethiopia's Ogaden province from Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region with a team of ONLF fighters.
"The court has sentenced both defendants to 11 years. We have heard both cases ... and we believe this is an appropriate sentence," Judge Shemsu Sirgaga told the court.
Both journalists looked at the judge without expression as the sentence was being read out and then translated by their defense lawyer, a witness said. No family members were present.
There are 29 Ethiopian journalists, opposition members, and others on trial under the anti-terrorism law, according to Human Rights Watch.
The international community has closely followed the terror trial.
Human Rights Watch has called the trial unfair and contends there was no credible evidence that the men supported terrorism or entered the country illegally to conduct subversive activities.
"The sham convictions ... confirm that the chief purpose of the anti-terrorism law's clause on 'supporting terrorism' is to suppress the legitimate work of the media," it said in a statement on December 21. "The vague and broad anti-terrorism law was open to abuse and it is being abused."
The rights group Amnesty International said after the verdict that there was no evidence to suggest that the two Swedes were doing anything but carrying out work as reporters.
The sentencing is also likely to cause outcry in Sweden, where last week's guilty verdicts provoked anger in Swedish media amid accusations the case had taken on a political dimension.
The journalists' lawyer said his clients were weighing the option of an appeal, but that for now there was no talk of pleading for clemency.
"We are only talking about the possibility of appealing for the time being, which follows judicial procedure," defense lawyer Sileshi Ketsela told Reuters.
'My job is to gather news'
Persson and Schibbye are both freelance contributors to the Sweden-based photojournalism agency Kontinent. Schibbye is also a writer. The two regularly had their work published in national newspapers in Sweden and Norway.
The pair said they had been gathering news about a Swedish oil company that is exploring Ethiopia's Somali region for oil. Sweden's foreign minister, Carl Bildt, was a member of the board of the company — Lundin Petroleum — between 2000 and 2006. He left the board when he was appointed foreign minister.
Persson and Schibbye have acknowledged that they entered Ethiopia illegally.
"Your honor, I am a journalist and my job is to gather news. I am guilty of entering Ethiopia illegally, but I am not guilty of the other activities I am charged of," Schibbye said during the case's preliminary hearing in October.
"I entered the country illegally and nothing else," Persson added.
Story: Ethiopian court: 2 Swedish reporters guilty

ETHIOPIA Jailed Swedish journalists convicted of terrorist crimes

Reporters Without Borders is outraged that the court today found Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye guilty of supporting terrorism and on a charge of entering the country illegally.
“This verdict is absurd and demonstrates the stubbornness of the Ethiopian authorities. Instead of proving their guilt, the judge accuses them of failing to prove their innocence. This is back-to-front. Since the first day of the trial, the defence position has been very clear: Persson and Schibbye entered the Ogaden illegally for the purposes of reporting, but they never supported terrorism.” says, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard.
=> for more details please go to: http://www.martinandjohan.org/ and see what you can do to help.

An appeal, in the name of the freedom of the press, to the International Media and the International Community
The Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye are not alone in being subjected to terrorism charges in Ethiopia! Only the past month there have been reports of 24 people being charged with terrorism. Among them are opposition politicians as well as journalists. Dawit Kebede, editor of one of the leading independent newspapers in Ethiopia and winner of the CPJ International Press Freedom Award in 2010, himself fled the country in the end of November. With him, several journalists have chosen to leave the country.
In the past months the group Free the Journalists Johan and Martin have actively been campaigning in various ways to put Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye´s case on the agenda, politically as well as in the media. Unfortunately, it has proven difficult to get extensive international media attention.
We now appeal to the Swedish and International media to help Johan and Martin by reporting on their case. We believe that international media attention is crucial for the two journalists.
We, as a group, also call upon the Ethiopian government to immediately stop using criminal proceedings to silence its critics, opposition politicians and journalists who are carrying out legitimate work. And we urge the international community to appeal to Ethiopia to abide by its international commitments.
We refer accordingly to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT: http://www.swedwatch.org/en/reports/ugly-exploration

An Ugly Exploration By Jonathan Ewing
(Original Sep 2010 – updated 2012)

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA

After the battle he was given the ugly task of counting the bodies and separating them – Ethiopians and Chinese. This wasn’t an easy job. Each time he finished the tally he’d forget the number and have to start again. This happened to Omar Muktar four times. He was shocked by what he had just seen and participated in.

He counted the body of a Chinese oil worker who lay partially covered by a cardboard box. Next, there was the body of a uniformed teenager, one of the Ethiopian guards assigned to protect the Chinese. A group of five bodies lay across a wooden set of stairs near the barracks, where staff from China’s Zhoungyan Petroleum Exploration Bureau (ZPEB) lived, just outside the town of Abole in Ethiopia’s Ogaden desert.

These are Muktar’s recollections. On April 24, 2007, he along with several hundred separatist rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) attacked the Chinese-run oil installation near Abole. They entered the barracks in time to see the Chinese flee. Those who were too slow tried to hide under beds or in closets before they were shot at close range. Sometimes they were shot in the head, Muktar said, which made it very difficult to identify them later.

Survivors were marched outside, lined up and executed by the ONLF. The separatist rebels had warned the foreign oil companies, including ZPEB, against working with a government that was waging war against them. For the ONLF, any oil money to be made would almost certainly go toward buying more of the weapons and ammunition used to suppress them.

The government in Addis Ababa was humiliated by the ONLF attack, which underscored its inability to provide security to international businesses operating in remote parts of the country. Worse still, the attack occurred just as Ethiopia was beginning to attract foreign investment. The oil companies were shaken too, and demanded meetings with top officials and security guarantees. The government complied and within weeks, the military launched a counter-insurgency campaign, which continues today, and is characterized by the destruction of towns and villages, beatings, executions and the forced resettlement of thousands.

Ethiopia’s Ogaden is home to a Somali-speaking people = an ethnic extension of the lawless nation to the east. Their homeland is one of the poorest and most underdeveloped regions of Ethiopia. But while many accuse Ethiopia’s Christian-led government of persecuting the Ogadeni because they are Muslim, the real reason likely has more to with the oil and natural gas that may lie beneath their ancestral land.

Ethiopia remains one of America’s most important allies in the Horn of Africa, receiving more than 280 million SEK (42 million USD) in aid from Sweden in 2010. But Ethiopia is quickly becoming a public relations nightmare for international donors. Since 2008, as many as 40 villages have reportedly been destroyed, and many of the people have been displaced. The inhabitants were then ordered to move to larger towns nearby, but many refused, instead becoming refugees in neighboring Kenya and Somaliland - an island of stability since it broke away from Somalia in 1991. The UN High Commission for Refugees reported that an average of nearly 500 Ethiopian Ogadenis arrived in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps each month throughout 2009. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians now live there, along the remote Somali border in northeastern Kenya. Those with some money, means or connections might live in the nearby towns of Garissa or Wajir, or the Eastleigh section of Nairobi - where I met Muktar.

Harassments

We were first introduced at the New Hiddig Palace, a small hotel on a dead-end street in Eastleigh, a Nairobi neighbourhood inhabited by ethnic-Somalis, who are the majority in this section of Kenya’s capital city. Refugees, many living here illegally, feel comfortable and reasonably secure meeting in the New Hiddig - away from police who beat them or Ethiopian intelligence officials, who also cause trouble. Muktar told me that his village was first harassed by the military in the summer of 2006 when the Chinese arrived in Abole. Most of the locals employed by the Chinese were Christians, either Amhara or Tigray, the politically dominant ethnic groups in Ethiopia. His village elders began complaining to local authorities that Ogadenis were not being hired. They were told that the decision was the federal government’s, completely out of the hands of local or regional authorities.

At night they heard music from the worker’s camp and saw them mingling with soldiers, barbequing meat behind the barbed wire fences, whic

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