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Friday, December 23, 2005

The friends we keep

British Prime Minister Tony Blair regularly talks about eradicating poverty in Africa. Perhaps he should take a long, hard look at one of his allies:

"An Ethiopian court has charged 131 politicians, journalists and activists with treason and genocide as the Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, continues to suppress all dissenting voices in the country.

"Two campaigners for the Make Poverty History movement are among the defendants. Daniel Bereket, the head of policy for ActionAid in Ethiopia and Netsanet Demessie of the Organisation for Social Justice in Ethiopia, have been charged with two counts of treason. If found guilty, they could face life imprisonment.

"ActionAid claims the men were arrested in November for doing their job as anti-poverty campaigners, and have done nothing illegal.

"Brian Kagoro, head of policy for ActionAid Africa, said: 'Neither Daniel nor Netsanet are anti-state. They may have been critical of the government's progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, but they are not political activists, and they are not members of the opposition.'

"Others charged include the leader of the opposition, Hailu Shawel, elected members of parliament and Ethiopian journalists.

"Mr Zenawi, an ally of Tony Blair and a member of his Commission for Africa, has accused the defendants of causing the riots that spread through the capital, Addis Ababa, after the general election on 15 May."

We shouldn't be surprised. Blair has a history of talking democracy and freedom while supporting dictatorships and oppression.

4 Comments:

Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Given the other company Blair keeps, this is just par for the course, isn't it?

Perhaps it is just another example of his brilliant strategy that has worked so well with the Bush Administration: it is better to be close to power-crazed nuts because that enables one to influence their direction towards The Good. *rolls eyes* (Who's more deluded? The nut-cases Blair associates himself with who believe they are (in some sense) virtuous, or Blair himself for thinking he can actually influence them?)

Friday, December 23, 2005 11:13:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Or the poor fools who actually think Blair believes in democracy in the first place?

Friday, December 23, 2005 11:19:00 pm  
Blogger J F said...

Mr Blair is, in fact, merely engaging the Ethiopians diplomatically, in hopes of drawing them closer to the west. You know, just as the EU is doing with Iran. What do you suggest he (they) do differently?

Saturday, December 24, 2005 12:25:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

J F said...
Mr Blair is, in fact, merely engaging the Ethiopians diplomatically, in hopes of drawing them closer to the west. You know, just as the EU is doing with Iran.

...and the UN is doing with Israel.

Saturday, December 24, 2005 7:21:00 pm  

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