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Who should monitor organizations and Medias involved in Ethiopian Affairs?

April 21, 2014

The tragedy is the impunity and laziness of our contemporary professionals to do the right thing in the public’s interest. It is taxing the struggle for freedom and democracy.

by Teshome Debalke

Ethiopian International Professional Support for Abbay V.S. International River

A war of words between the little known and clandestine outfit called Ethiopian International Professional Support for Abay (EIPSA) and International River (IR), the world known networks of environmental group that oppose grand dams building around the world as environmental disaster is ongoing.

Unlike IR, what is strange about EIPSA is it was established on June 22 in 2013 by unidentified individuals that claim to support the building of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Though from all pressing issues of the people Ethiopia ‘professionals’ coming together for a cause of building a dam by itself questionable, one can’t help but wonder why the hide their identity and credentials should alarm the public at large, professional organizations and the Media.

Recently, the EIPSA’s ‘GERD Panel of Experts’ Report titled A Proxy Campaign against Ethiopia?’– alleged International River is the Egyptian government’s paid proxy as posted on its website and Ethiomedia with no indefinable author and followed by another article titled The Africa Report: Ethiopia Slams Anti-dam Group’s Egypt ‘Proxy Campaign’ posted on Tadias Magazine – see the full article on Africa Report. There is no explanation why Tadias Magazine fails to clarify the source of the accusation was not the government of Ethiopia but, EIPSA that claims to be ‘independent professional Ethiopian voice surrounding the issue of the Nile River’ according to its website.

International River in its response titled “No Room for Debate on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?” Written by Lori Pottinger refuted the EIPSA’s accusation.

An inquiry at the Headquarter in San Francisco would not revile much but, said ‘no comment until IR explores the possibility; if legal action is warranted for slander’.

Closer examination of EIPSA’s website reviles none of the officers and what the outfit refers as ‘International professional experts panel’ were named or, the official website provides their credential for the public. The only two people that were found on the website were Dr Belachew Tesfa, on an article he wrote on July 7 2013 titled ‘Benefits the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project for Sudan and Egypt’ and referred as a researcher at University of Huddersfield, UK, a chartered engineer and Director for EIPSA. The University’s websitealso confirms his identity and credential.

The other individual by the name ዘሪሁን አበበ (Zerihun Abebe) referred as ‘የህዝብ ግንኙነትና የኮሚዩኒኬሽን ሀላፊ’ (Public Relation and Communication Director) on an interview conducted by Addis Admas titled “ዓለም አቀፍ የኢትዮጵያ ባለሙያዎች ማህበር ለአባይ” ምን እየሰራ ነው?’ also posted on EIPSA’s website. Zerihun Abebe Yigzaw’s LinkedIn profile reviles he was Assistant Lecturer at Dilla University but reviles his present position or the where about. He also runs a website called Ze Nile Abbay,

In addition, Ethiopian International Professional Support for Abbay (EIPSA) doesn’t provide no contact person, phone number, location address or e-mail to the public except an email (abayipsa@gmail.com) found on the only Press Release dated June 26, 2013; three days after it was officially established. Also, the website’s domain name registrar is not reviled either.

In contrast, the California based International River claims ‘since 1985 is at the heart of the global struggle to protect rivers and the rights of communities that depend on them’, according its website. The organization revels it is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization and discloses its staffs, Board of Directors and its annual report… since its establishment.

There is no explanation why EIPSA to the minimum failed to disclose its officers’ name and credential and the individual involved to form the Expert Panel that publicly accused IR on its website without reviling its whereabouts, contact address and its legal status. How a clandestine organization can accuse a legal organization and get away with it shows the dilemma of Ethiopians to identify who-is-who gambling on the lives and rights of the people of Ethiopia with impunity.

More disturbing were Ethiomedia and Tadis Magazine posting EIPSA’s slander without verifying the legality of the accusing organization and the identity and credential of the individuals involved. What motivated the two Medias decided to cut-and-paste without doing basic research on EIPSA and finding out the motives of the unidentified officers and expert panelist? In general, it says more about the ‘dog eats my homework’ excuses of contemporary Medias, particularly in the Diaspora where there is no excuses.

There is also no record found the outfit organizing public forum to educate the public on the merit of the dam project and the credibility of the government of Ethiopia’s claim. Nor EIPSA has any issue with the government’s contract bidding process, the lack of independent environmental assessment, the involvement of the ruling party — TPLF’s owned business in the construction’s bidding process and the fact the government collected billions of dollars from the public without independent monitor and disclosure to the public.

Then, who are the people behind EIPSA and what could be their relationship with the ruling party? Could it be another proxy for TPLF led regime to distract the public from the burning issue of freedom and lack of democracy in Ethiopia?

Can we count on the two ‘independent’ Medias that posted the report and article without verifying the identity of the individuals in the Organization? If not can other Medias call on Dr Belachew Tesfa, the Director of EIPSA or Zerihun Abebe, the ‘Public Relation’ person to disclose the individuals involved in the organization on its website and investigate the outfits legality and the activities to inform the public? Is it possible to interview both parties (EIPSA, the accuser and IR the accused) to disclose the evidence of their claim IR is a paid proxy for the Egyptians and/or if EIPSA is proxy of the ruling party of Ethiopia?

When organizations fail to disclose their members’ identity and Medias fail to do the job to investigate their claims of organizations– who should monitor and make them accountable?

In a normal situation the free Media supposed to be the eyes and the ears of the public. One major problem Ethiopians are still facing is there is no organization to monitor the credibility and the integrity of free Medias. Some are a one-person show; others are clandestine operation with unidentified editors with unverifiable credential.

Likewise, many organizations refuse to revile their officers’ identity and legal status and the responsible person[s] in the organization to the public. Notwithstanding those opposing the ruling regime are forced not to revile their identity for fear of not be victim of the ruling regime, there is no explanation for others like EIPSA that support the government position on building the Grand Dam not to disclose their identity; unless they have other agenda or work as a proxy for the regime as many front organization do.

When Medias like EthioMedia failed to investigate outfits like EIPSA on behalf of the public before they entertain to post its report or article what purpose do they serve besides providing platform for propaganda of interest groups?

It’s about time to independent organizations evaluate and demand transparency from organizations, Medias, civic organization… that claim to be independent but push their own agenda or campaign on behalf of the regime and other interest group to divert the public attention from the struggle for justice, freedom and democracy.

Ethiomedia and Tadias Magazine owe the public to investigate EIPSA, identify the individuals involved and inform the public who they really are and what exactly they do. Claiming to be free Media and posting articles and reports from unidentified and unverifiable source by itself is pushing propaganda and crime against the public interest. After all, free Media is all about searching for the truth in public interest.

The tragedy is the impunity and laziness of our contemporary professionals to do the right thing in the public’s interest. It is taxing the struggle for freedom and democracy.

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