Seven Days Update, Vol. 20 No. 49

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Eskinder Nega, an Ethiopian publisher, journalist and blogger who is serving an 18-year jail sentence under anti-terror legislation, has been awarded the 2014 Golden Pen of Freedom, the annual press freedom prize of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). Mr. Nega was arrested on Sep. 14, 2011 after publishing an article criticizing his government’s use of the 2009 Anti-Terror Proclamation to jail and silence critics, including Ethiopian actor and activist Debebe Eshetu. He was sentenced on 23 Jan. 2012 and  denounced as belonging to a terrorist organization (Tadias Magazine, Jan. 28).

- Members of the Arena Tigray Party in Tigray were beaten, arrested and tortured as they were came out for a public meeting in Adigrat. The party had set a program to promote its agenda to the people of Adigrat but this was met with beatings by the police. A founding member of TPLF who is now in the opposition, Ato Assegid Gebre Selassie, and other leading members of Arena Tigray Party, including Ato Ambo Gebre Selassie and Ato Abreha Desta, have been put under arrest (Yegna Press, Jan. 28).

Members of Semayawi Party who were arrested inGondar when they were mobilizing the public for a protest rally have been released. The party had called the rally in protest against the handling by Ethiopia of the border democratic issues between Sudan and Ethiopia. The released members complained that the government still keeps the cameras, laptops and other materials it had confiscated from them following the arrest.  (Addis Admas, Feb. 1).

Reports from Baidoa the provincial capital of Bay Region suggest that additional troops from Ethiopia arrived at Baidoa. Reliable sources obtained by Shabelle Media Network confirmed that Ethiopia troops arrived at Baidao will hand over the overall security of Bay, Bakol and Gedo regions. On the other hand news sources from Baladweyne town the capital of Hiran Region noted that also Ethiopian forces reached at Kalaberka intersection in Baladweyne town (Shabelle Radio, Jan. 28).

Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome laid the foundation stone of a Turkish textile compound in the African country. The $175-m compound, meant to be the largest in Ethiopia, would feature four factories. The broadcast quoted President Teshome as saying that the Turkish compound would boost his government's industrialization drive. According to the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce, Turkish investments in Ethiopia hit $1.8 billion by the end of last February. In recent years, many Turkish companies set their sights on Ethiopia for untapped investment opportunities, taking the volume of trade exchange from only $30m in 2006 to $400m in 2013 (World Bulletin, Jan. 29).

 Ethiopian farmers are preparing to plant genetically modified cotton seedlings when the rainy season gets underway in June, in a move the government hopes will boost textile and garment exports. In early 2013, the Ethiopian parliament ratified a proclamation stating that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be imported if the environment ministry approves their compliance with bio-safety and public health guidelines. Late last year, Ethiopia’s Minister of Industry Ahmed Abitew said the government was planning to use GM cotton crops as part of a strategy to boost the country’s textile sector, although testing had yet to start. Ethiopia exports both cotton fabric and garments made of cotton (Ethiopia Investor Newsletter, Jan. 30).

Ethiopia and Italy on Jan 27 signed a grant agreement amounting to 9.52m USD to support health care program to achieve the MDG in health. The finance will be used for the implementation of the MDG Fund 2013-15 initiative. The overall objective of the project is to meet the MDG goals in relation to health, namely reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Ethiopia has already achieved one of the goals under MDG 4, which is to reduce maternal mortality by two-third by 2015 (WIC, Jan. 30).