Friday, November 04, 2005

Out of Ethiopia

My wife, Karen Hoehn, has just this morning returned from Addis Ababa, where she was helping run an NGO training conference for the Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (German Foundation for World Population). She is safe and sound, but many people she left behind in Ethiopia are not.

Here's what she experienced when leaving the country yesterday:

I came home from Addis Ababa last night, two days earlier than planned. It's a very sad situation there. The government has been pulling people (e.g., university professors, an NGO [ActionAid] program officer) out of their homes and imprisoning them or shooting them dead because they have different political views (e.g., want freedom of the press, elections without fraud, etc.). One woman was shot dead because she cried out "why are you taking him?!" when the military took her husband away from their home. Kids have been shot in the back when trying to run away from the danger.

I'm totally fine, but yesterday was scary. Driving back from the idyllic DSW training center 45 km outside Addis, we were waved off the road by men with automatic rifles. Men with guns were running up and down the road and jam-packed into military trucks -- handling the guns casually, like bling. Gunfire crackled at regular intervals nearby. The government was shooting men in the prison on the other side of the wall from where we were, picking them off like fish in a barrel. Undoubtedly, many were the university professors, etc., who had been arrested the day before. As we waited, sweating and hearts racing, I watched our young driver trying to choke back his tears.

After a while, the gunfire died down and our driver raced full throttle down the gunman-lined road, with us ducking down, holding backpacks and laptops up against the windows to protect against any stray (or intentional) gunfire. Back in Addis, we packed our things and headed for the airport.

It's very sad to think of my friends and colleagues at risk back there -- but in world news, it's not a big thing, so of course no one cares.

If you see any articles about this, you can be sure that the death tolls are much higher than is being reported, and that many of the people being shot are thoughtful, gentle (and unarmed) people.

Please say a prayer for the good people of Ethiopia and ask God to stay the hand of oppressive governments and people with guns.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thankyou so much for trying to draw attention to our situation here in Ethiopia. unfortunately i think the problem is also that those who already know choose to ignore the situation. i mean truthfully speaking, does a 10 day riot in France with only 2 dead really deserve such hype from the media as compared to only 4 sentences said about hundreds dead and thousands imprisonned?