A grim week in the Horn

A teacher in Ethiopia burns himself to death in protest

On Nov.15, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at City University in London reported an Ethiopian teacher, in his late 20s, burned himself to death, protesting the growing clampdown on dissent and lack of justice in Ethiopia. According to the report, after setting himself on fire, Yenesew Gebre, told protesters,

“I want to show to all that death is preferable than a life without justice and liberty and I call upon my fellow compatriots to fear nothing and rise up to wrench their freedom and rights from the hands of the local and national tyrants.”

Gebre’s self-immolation is being hailed as martyrdom – the ultimate call for justice. Ethiopia suffers from a growing economic crisis, unemployed youth bulge, and a famine that maybe exacerbated by the arrival of rainfall. Pundits argue, Gebre’s self-sacrifice is a sign that the public is fed up with Meles Zenawi’s regime.

African Union considers sending Ethiopia troops into Somalia

The conflict in Somalia keeps on growing. The African Union is reportedly considering a plan to send “thousands of Ethiopian troops” into Somalia to “stabilize” the country and defeat Al-Shabab.

If history is any indication, Ethiopia’s incursion is likely to worsen the situation. Somalia and Ethiopia have a long history of conflicts. Ethiopia’s controversial intervention in 2006 left Al-Shabab bolstered. Some argue that Al-Shabab was actually a reponse to Ethiopia’s incursion. Three years later, Ethiopian forces retreated after facing a quagmire and unpopular support for continued presence in Somalia.

Since the Ethiopian withdrawal, a small and ineffective battalion of African Union forces have been trying to fend-off the treat of Al-Shabab, the Al-Qaeda affiliated military group in the Horn of African nation.

Jeffrey Gettleman, the East Africa bureau chief for The New York Times, reported on Thursday that, “the prospect of the Ethiopian Army returning to the country under the African Union’s banner is highly charged because of Ethiopia’s bitter history in Somalia.”

Kenya is the latest regional player to enter the Somali conflict. Its unconstitutional military incursion five weeks ago has been the subject of protests in Nairobi. Faced with high inflation and a rising cost of living, more than 7,000 university professors have gone on strike. The goverment while “sympathetic” to the lecturers concerns claim not having money to guarantee the pay-raise.

Ethiopian satirist silently joins ranks of the exiled

Ethiopia continued its campaign of intimidation against dissidents and has forced yet another journalist into exile this week. The latest to join exiled Ethiopian journalists is Abebe Tola, better known as “Abe Tokichaw”, who made a name for himself poking “fun at Ethiopia’s ruling party and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi,” the Voice of America’s Peter Heinlein reported. Last week, Ethiopia charged 24 dissidents including journalists with terrorism and association with outlawed opposition parties.

Rainfall and disease hitting refugee camps

At a press briefing held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Andrej Mahečić, a spokesperson for UNHCR, said, insecurity for the safety of aid workers, and “heavy rains and accompanying risks of waterborne diseases” may exacerbate the refugee crisis in the Horn.  With reported “outbreak of cholera” at some of the camps including Dadaab, Kenya’s most crowded refugee camp, the situation of Somali refugees is said to be getting worse by the day.



About the author

Mohammed A

Mohammed Ademo is a freelance journalist based in Washington, DC. He's the founder and editor of, an independent news website about Ethiopia.

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