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Bob, Band Aid and how the rebels bought their arms

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Peter Horrocks Peter Horrocks | 14:59 UK time, Saturday, 6 March 2010

Update 4 November 2010: This blog post was the subject of a complaint by the Band Aid Trust. A BBC investigation upheld the complaint - click here for details.

An edition of the BBC World Service programme Assignment, alleging that money intended for famine relief in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s was used to buy weapons, has prompted an angry response from aid campaigners.

Andrew Whitehead, Editor, News and Current Affairs at the BBC World Service, explains how the story came about.

--

By Andrew Whitehead

A quarter of a century ago, the BBC's Michael Buerk achieved something very rare - he not only reported the world, but changed it a little bit.

His vivid on-the-spot coverage of a famine "of biblical proportions" in Tigray in northern Ethiopia pricked the conscience of the richer part of the world.

The money came pouring in. Bob Geldof's Band Aid and Live Aid led the way in galvanising public attention, raising cash and mobilising a huge relief effort.

As a result, many thousands of lives were saved - and tens of thousands of those facing starvation received food.

In the past week, the BBC World Service has broadcast an Assignment documentary - you can listen to it here - based on the testimony of key figures on the ground in and around Tigray in the mid-1980s.

It presents evidence, compelling evidence, that some of the famine relief donations were diverted by a powerful rebel group to buy weapons.

The documentary has revealed some uncomfortable facts and provoked a strong response. This morning a British newspaper, The Independent, gives over its front page to complaints from Bob Geldof and several leading charities. They accuse the BBC of "disgracefully poor reporting".

The suggestion of aid money being to diverted to buy arms is "palpable nonsense", in the words of Phil Bloomer, director of Oxfam's campaigns and policy division.

Geldof goes further. "This is a Ross/Brand moment in BBC standards for me," he told The Independent. "It is a disgrace."

OK, so let's stand back a moment. This documentary was put together by Martin Plaut, Africa Editor at BBC World Service News.

He has a particular expertise in the Horn of Africa, and indeed reported from there on the famine back in the 1980s. He has spent almost a year gathering material and doing research for this documentary - and the BBC stands by his journalism.

As so often is the case, the famine that afflicted northern Ethiopia was compounded by war. Much of Tigray was controlled by a hard left-wing rebel group, the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front. They were fighting the Ethiopian army, then the largest in Africa.

This was also the era of the cold war - and the Americans were seeking to undermine the Soviet-aligned Ethiopian government.

It is not in dispute that millions of dollars of relief aid was channelled through the Relief Society of Tigray (Rest), which was a part of the TPLF rebel movement. It was the only way of reaching those in desperate need in rebel-held areas. What Martin Plaut's documentary uncovers is the systematic diversion of aid received by Rest to buy arms for the TPLF.

Martin tracked down two key former members of the TPLF who explained how they managed to divert the money.

They are now at odds with the then TPLF leader, Meles Zenawi, who is currently Ethiopia's Prime Minister. But they are credible voices.

One of these former TPLF fighters, the rebel army commander at the time, makes an allegation which has attracted particular controversy - that the organisation made a policy decision that only 5% of the money received by Rest would be spent on relief, with the bulk going directly or indirectly to support their military and political campaigns.

Among the other accounts featured in the World Service programme, Robert Houdek, who was the senior US diplomat in Ethiopia in the late 1980s, states that TPLF members told him at the time that some aid money and supplies was used to buy weapons. A CIA document paints the same picture.

Bob Geldof was given every opportunity to express his point of view while the documentary was being made, but declined to be interviewed.

Some relief agencies - including Christian Aid and Cafod - pointed us towards their staff involved in directing food supplies 25 years ago, and those voices were included.

Two key aid workers active in and around Ethiopia in the 1980s confirm in the BBC World Service programme the way in which relief was channelled through Rest - though they dispute that there was a significant diversion of money for arms buying.

"If we were being conned, I think it was on a very small scale," said Stephen King, then overseeing from Sudan the work of Catholic charities in providing food to the starving.

The documentary did not say that most famine relief money was used to buy weapons - it did not suggest that any relief agencies were complicit in the diversion of funds - it explicitly stated that "whatever the levels of deception, much aid did reach the starving".

But there is a clear public interest in determining whether some money given as famine relief ended up buying guns and bullets.

And that's what the evidence suggests.

--

Peter Horrocks is the director of BBC Global News.

Update 4 November 2010: The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit upheld a complaint from the Band Aid Trust about this blog post.

The complaint said:
• By using phrases such as "key figures", "compelling evidence", "uncomfortable facts", "uncovers systematic diversion of aid" and "credible voices" the article gave unwarranted support to allegations which were not sufficiently corroborated.
• The article gave support to the allegation that "95% of the money received by Rest was spent on military and political campaigns" when this allegation was not sufficiently corroborated.

The finding:
• The article gave a misleading impression that there was evidence of large-scale diversion of Band Aid money.
• The article was not clear about the extent to which the credibility of the claim of 95% diversion of aid by Rest was open to question.

For full details of the Band Aid Trust complaint and findings, click here.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Dear BBC Editors and Martin Plaut,
    Bob Geldof should be angry at the rebel group, TPLF that used the aid money for buying weapons, not at the true report of the BBC. For that matters, we Ethiopians knew all along the way about this crime. But, the international community seem to give a deaf ear to our cry. TPLF is still using the same REST organization to invest billions of dollars in every sector of the Ethiopian economy. The reporter should have included where REST stands now. Mind you, REST is still a business company of TPLF, the party in power. I think this stands a surprise to western standards, but that is the reality in our country. I actually recommend BBC to look in to how this organization operates, where the money comes and how it is used and who are the share holders. That will shed more light to the donor countries who are still tricked.

  • Comment number 2.

    Andrew,

    I totally agree with this response.BBC has the right to inform its readers and I totally admire this approach. Reporting the true or saying it hurts sometimes especially when high figures names are involved in our society now. The end of the day what ever comes from this needs to be a learning from everyone. We need to have a new approach and strategy on AID.We cannot continue to be on the denial, just impossible.
    Thank you very much for posting this! Really wonderful.

  • Comment number 3.

    Peter:

    Thanks, for bringing this important story to the audience across of the BBC regarding the situation and allegations in the 1980's.....

    (Dennis Junior)

  • Comment number 4.

    This disgracefully reporting from BBC clearly shows how gullible and naive some of the BBC reporters are. It is indeed a pity to see two disgruntled, exiled ex-TPLF soldiers defame the good name and most desciplined TPLF leadership of the then time. It is a manifestation how evil and falsehood can at times challenge righteousness and truth. The solid reason as far as I and several NGOs that were giving a helping hand during the time know is that more than 200,000 people from Tigray were moved to the Sudan by TPLF and the NGOs and saved their lives.
    These two disgruntled ex-soldiers are members of the opposition in Ethiopia that are preparing to take part in the 2010 election. BBC has made a serious mistake and upon finding the truth, it still failed to apologize.
    Oh God what a cursed time are we living in where falsehood is blidly trusted and truth sidelined and trumped.
    BBC, please be genuine and apologize.

  • Comment number 5.

    "It presents evidence, compelling evidence, that some of the famine relief donations were diverted by a powerful rebel group to buy weapons."

    _Some_? How much is some? 20%? 10%? 1%? 0.1%? 0.001%? It isn't obvious to the casual reader.

    Surely the degree is relevant? Or do people not care as long as it sounds a good story? I wish in matters of life and death people were more interested in the actual numbers.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    I would disagree on the research bbc analyst has come up the idea 95% of the aid money was diverted for arms use.
    I grew up on the places where aid was desperately needed for survival at that time. Martin can go and cross check on his research because his research is based on the fact that these two members where discredited from the TPLF membership because of their ideology and cruel behavior for the freedom fighters. I remember Mr. Gebremedhin betray his comrades and join the brutal DERG communist in 1988.
    At that time DERG was the leader of Ethiopia. these people needed help from the government at that time, but the response from the government was shooting and bombardment for those people who needed food.
    TPLF was the sole leader in helping the people of Tigray to get aid food, even the fighters were giving their ration to the people who were fleeing to sudan to get aid.
    If Martin want to make a research he can go and ask for survivers who are not one or two they are million still alive who can witness on this issue. We thank to those who donate at that time to save millions.
    Let us help people who are in need of help all over the world.
    peace to the world. Innocent lives shouldn't be abandoned by reluctant guys who are in need of media attention.

  • Comment number 8.

    i have been hearing such story since the last 20 years. as a matter of fact, we Ethiopians have been also crying for the last 30 years with the dictators and bad administration. the story which has has been posted here in BBC is undeniable fact. go and ask the people there. ask every Ethiopian. they will all tell and justify you this.
    the problem to you people is you don't really know exactly who are the Ethiopians leaders are. the current economic dynasty of the EPRDF/TPLF namely EFFORT is the result your money Mr Bob. do they tell you about this?

  • Comment number 9.

    It is very clear that the BBC report is based on credible evidences. Few months ago, Seeye Abraha who was the commander of the TPLF forces when the rebels captured Addis Ababa in 1991 and who served as the defence minister of Ethiopia for some time has also indicated how the rebels diverted the aid money to other purposes. He said,
    "As a veteran politician and an ex-commander of an insurgent army that brought down the Derg military regime, I know relief aid could be misused to purchase ammunition, weapons, spare parts, fuel and other materials."

  • Comment number 10.

    Henok

    I don't believe the TPLF leaders are denying the fact that they used the money to purchase weapons. The difference seems only on how much of the money went to it. It seems only Sir Bob Geldof and you are adamantly denying that fact.

    Thank you the BBC and Martin Plaut for such a marvelous work.

  • Comment number 11.

    The point that BBC admins are selectively posting the supporters of Plaut's view is a clear indicator that the people at the BBC are set out to defame TPLF/EPRDF.
    No way BBC. Be fair and refrain from taking a position.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Dear BBC,

    Thank you and my special regards to Martin Plaut for bringing to light this greedy acts of "vendors of democracy" to Ethiopia. Having seen how Meles Zenawi has been ruling Ethiopia for the last 2 decades, I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn this. After all, he continued looting Ethiopia on a larger scale. The huge and mega corporations that he runs through his family and friends are all vivid evidences to the culture he developed when he still was a rebel leader. Nothing is new here, he had been looting before and is doing it now.

  • Comment number 14.

    Great job BBC!

    HENOK – you know and the world know that the two ex-soldiers are currently in exile and are NOT running in any election. You proved yourself wrong. You are making false statements obviously for a hidden agenda. BBC is run by professional journalist and they are based in a democratic country. They are not living in Ethiopia where journalists get arrested for reporting wrongs of government officials.

    Also, as the world know, one of the unfolded issues in the mysterious TPLF lead government of Ethiopia is how much money the leaders are earning. Ever since the TPLF rebel fighters took over the leadership, their earnings have never been disclosed. There has never been a single elected public servant who registered his/her assets prior to taking public office. The public has been kept in the dark and don’t know how much either the TPLF leaders are making how much assets their organization have. Is this false? No, it is not. Prove me wrong.

    Today, TPLF owns a number of businesses; factories, enterprises, etc. Where did the money come from? Billions of dollars have been invested in the organization’s name and few individuals are in charge of such huge money transaction. Is this wrong? No it is not. Prove me wrong.

    Those, who have direct benefit from these investments, including those inside the country and their agents throughout the world, never want to see TPLF questioned because they will be deprived of their benefits.

  • Comment number 15.

    Geldof told The Times that “it would be a tragedy” if people stopped giving to charity because of allegations made by the same broadcaster that inspired him to fight poverty and hunger in Africa.
    On the other hand, I respond would it not be an even greater tragedy if the majority of the money was actually going to warriors vs. starving victims?
    No matter what the outcome of this investigation Geldof did a good thing with good intentions, and that's what the world will remember. He formed Band Aid and organised the Live Aid concert, raising $250 million for famine victims.
    The evidence from the two senior commanders in the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front saying that the majority of the money was stolen by rebels to buy weapons for their fight to overthrow the Ethiopian Government seems plausible to me; at least I'm having difficulty ascertaining why they would lie at this point.
    Geldof blamed the story on the grievances by the two former rebel commanders, who now live in exile in the Netherlands.
    I'm sure this is not the end of the allegations; the truth will out, and the truth must out: It must out for the very reason that Geldof states: “It would be a tragedy” if people stopped giving to charity because of allegations made..."
    Realted to this, I've often wondered where all foreign charity money goes (e.g. Haiti); so, I believe that a full investigation in this instance might start a little snowball down a gigantic hill causing an avalance.

  • Comment number 16.

    Dear Martin and all the Staffs of BBC

    BBC has proved that it is really the leading media.This News is the most credible and catchy news ever.This is what is called Watchdog Journalism.

    I think Martin should further his scope into current issues that are happening in Ethiopia.
    I quote 'In recent months, the TPLF leaders have aggressively used food aid to recruit party members and to buy votes for the upcoming general election in May. In January of this year, Jason Mclure of Bloomberg News, was arrested in Mekele, Tigray region while on assignment to investigate public complaints over government abuses of Safety Net Programs in which opposition party supporters are excluded from cash and other poverty reduction programs run by Donor Nations and the World Bank.''
    So Martin should go further and investigate this issue too.
    What about the aid being given now...does it still go to buying weapons and fattening the REST/EFFORT(http://www.effortgroup.org/ accounts ?
    Bob Geldof and other aid agencies could be angry sure because its their job but they all should be careful not undermine The Great Journalist Martin.
    This news also supports Dambisa Moyo's Dead Aid discourse.
    Martin don't stop with this do follow up journalist.

  • Comment number 17.

    Mark,
    Do not kid me, man. Both are memebrs of the ARENA Tigray, Medrek. I know this which you seem you do not know. Moreover, it does not mean that all oppostion members will have to run for an election. According to your head, all the members of the oppositon will contest for an election. No this is not practical, my friend.
    As to the EFFORT issue, you well know how you TPLF got it: by capturing the resources of the dictator Mengistu.
    So still these two deserters will not be at any cost credible sources for the news.

  • Comment number 18.

    Dear BBC.

    The timing of your report is so questionable:why wait 26 yrs for an allegation that most Ethiopians knew?Is it because the then rebels,now incumbent governement are facing parliamentary reelection this upcoming May?I smell smear campaingning on behalf of the BBC & western media in general.

  • Comment number 19.

    The very nature of those African people in power within the affected regions leads one to at least be sceptical of anyone saying corruption and misappropriation of funds were not prevalent.
    It would also be fair to say that most charitable organisations that operate in Africa are having the wool pulled over their eyes as to how and where any direct financial aid is being spent.
    These aspects in combination would give plausability to the BBC report.
    It is a consistent and mis-guided mistake to apply 'Western Morality and Ethics' to Africa - they work to a different code and those in power are certain to be furthering their own cause, largely at the expense of both their own desperate people and the gullible charity administrations.
    I don't find the report suprising in the slightest and would have expected this to have been known about a long time previously.

  • Comment number 20.

    Nobody's free until everybody's free. [Fannie Lou Hamer]


    VOA Amharic Broadcasts Jammed in Ethiopia

    Peter Heinlein | Addis Ababa

    ... The other foreign broadcast heard in Ethiopia, the German government's Deutsche Welle Amharic language program, also reports experiencing some interference, in the past few days.

    Monitors say VOA transmissions in two other Ethiopian languages, Afan Oromo and Tigrinya, are being heard normally. They are broadcast on the same frequencies, before and after the hour-long Amharic program.

    VOA and Deutsche Welle were jammed around the time of the last parliament election in 2005, and again before the 2008 nationwide local elections. The next crucial parliament vote is scheduled for May 23 ...

  • Comment number 21.

    Ethiopia Opposition Rethinks Election Campaign After Candidate Killed

    Peter Heinlein | Addis Ababa 02 March 2010

    ARENA-Tigray Party leader Gebru Asrat says candidate for parliament Aregawi Gebreyohannes was stabbed to death by intruders in his home in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

    Gebru says another Arena-Tigray candidate was badly beaten Monday by armed men in another part of the northern Ethiopian region. He says both men had recently been arrested in connection with their political activities.

  • Comment number 22.

    Your BBC report may be found correct in the facts, but couldn't understand the purpose of reporting on something happened during the Cold-War era. It's misleading to assess the cold war facts in the current context. Rather what the BBC and its Reporters should do is reporting how the big companies (the taxpayers of this type of aid) of the west are currently fueling the atrocities in Africa such as DR Congo just to satisfy their row materials' hunger. What would the tax-payers in west say if they know that most the money to buy the row materials for their IT Gadgets goes to those African brutal warlords? I wish BBC could deeply go into this.

  • Comment number 23.

    I don’t understand why Sir Bob Geldof is complaining, I think he pretty much lack the knowledge of the behaviour of African despot specially about TPLF, instead of covering the behaviour of this government it is better to accept the mistake and craft a serious correction for the future, I believed TPLF regime did worse than what sir Geldof know. By now Everyone should know that, this is not the issue of election and it is a mismanagement of the Ethiopian rebels and today’s government operation for such a long time.

  • Comment number 24.

    This is an odd row. I would have been amazed if some of the money had not been diverted. We all gave in the knowledge that if most if it got through to help those that really needed it, a little seepage would be a small price to pay. Quite why Geldof et. al. are so sensitive about it is beyond me.

  • Comment number 25.

    There is not an iota of doubt in my mind that AID money had been siphoned off by the Tigrayan rebels (TPLF) to buy ARMS and other stuff. Most of the fighters and especially the leadership of TPLF had seen prior famine occurences (60s and 70s) in their home country Tigray before they became rebels. For them the 1984 famine was just like the other famine, so its effect couldn't be as dramatic as it was for the western world. They cared less. Not only the ex-rebels confirmed that money was diverted for other purposes, but also the head of the Relief Society of Tigray, REST/EFFORT, Mr Sebhat Nega, who in advertently told an interviewer couple of years agao that TPLF's REST was the richest organization with ships when they were in the field and in Sudan. In any case, The GREAT FAMINE of 1984/85 was a blessing in disguise for TPLF.

  • Comment number 26.

    Henock,

    Every ethiopian knows that your name is not Henock. Aha, we haven't heard of that name in TPLF. For me you sound more like Meles him self as we all know Meles and his group follow medias critical of them and try to atack back by pretending like a concerned citizen. For every one of you please watch Meles disguised as Abebe on VOA.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--Btultoo8M

  • Comment number 27.

    I am still stand with this report. let alone the 1980s aid money, it is not a long history that we experienced in 2005 election when Aid money and food had been used to attract voters to EPRDF. this is new to those people who heard and read about it now. thanks to BBC then. don't you know that Aid food and money had been distributed per person for EPRDF demonstrators for the election 2005? do you really know what is going on in that country today? I can give you what the demonstrator did say during that time "yesterday for my food today for my right"
    I have a very much appreciation for the idea what Sir Bod had made during that time. but, the problem is the EPRDF/TPLF people still didn't take any lesson what they have done before.

  • Comment number 28.

    Dear Editor
    This comment below is just an extra tip for Martin.I found it on this site(www.ethiopiawinet.net/.../The_Endowment_Fund_for_the_Rehabilitation_of_Tigray.doc) .
    The Ethiopian economy is controlled by TPLF
    *********************************************


    (The Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) )

    In 1978, the TPLF created the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), a financial umbrella organization of the TPLF which acted as an NGO despite headed by a TPLF Central Committee member. It collected donations from the international community and channeled it to the TPLF, playing a key role in the survival and ultimate victory of TPLF over the Derg.

    After the rise of the TPLF to power in 1991, REST was formally registered with the governmental Relief & Rehabilitation Commission in Ethiopia as an NGO. As the TPLF’ s financial backbone, it continued enjoying the state protection, and the restructured organization emerged as the richest “ NGO” in the continent. In the summer of 1995, about four years after it took control of central power in Ethiopia, the TPLF established a stronger peer for REST - the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). Sources suggest that EFFORT started its business venture with a lofty investment volume of about 2.7 billion birr — then just under US $1 billion (currently $1 US is about 9 birr).

    Through EFFORT, the TPLF has considerably diversified its economic activities and expanded its outreach even to foreign countries. The European financial maneuver of the TPLF is based in UK where family members are trained and placed in key areas of Ethiopia’ s financial institutions. In some cases, they are assigned to a now growing number of internationalized affiliates co-owned or owned by EFFORT, such as the Tower Trading Company (TTC) – a London-based TPLF owned company mandated with money laundering.

    New companies continue to emerge, fully or partly owned by EFFORT through an intricate system of shares and investments. By controlling key growth areas, EFFORT has become the soul of the country's economy: agriculture (Hiwot Mechanized Agriculture), industry (Almeda Textiles Manufacturing Sc., Mesfin Industrial Engineering SC.), import-export (Guna Trading House), transport (Trans-Ethiopia SC.), insurance (Africa Insurance SC.), mining (Meskerem Investment SC.), communications (Mega-Net Corporation), banking (Wegagen Bank), just to mention some. Clearly, TPLF’ s business enterprises cover numerous activities including textile, chemicals, pharmaceutical, and food industries. They also cover major service industries such as banking, insurance, transportation, printing, advertising, land developing, import/export, construction, mining, leather products, and farming.

    EFFORT is divided into several sectors directed by members of the TPLF Central Committee, like Abadi Zemo for industrial activities, Arkebe Oqubay Mitiku for construction and transportation, and Tewodros Hagos for mining. The individuals may be moved around, but no non-Tigrean is appointed to EFFORT. In fact, no non-TPLF Tigrean is appointed to the ranks of EFFORT. Strategic positions of the Federal government that generate large amounts of cash are also led by Tigreans of EFFORT who hold multiple offices. For example, Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin is chairman of Ethiopian Air Lines, chairman of the Mugher Cement Factory, chairman of the Ambo Water Factory, chairman of EFFORT, and deputy-chairman of the TPLF at the same time. The more trusted individuals are usually offered the more strategic positions.

    Although EFFORT is strictly controlled by the TPLF, it is not the only entity owned or controlled by high-ranking TPLF officials or favored Tigrean citizens. For example, although EFFORT controls WEGAGEN Bank, the TPLF encouraged the creation of DEDEBIT Credit and Savings Institution, headquartered in Meqele and administered by the local government of Tigray. The bank has numerous financial links with other TPLF controlled businesses of the country. DEDEBIT, as an extension of Rural Credit Program, acquired a near total monopoly over credit to rural areas, mostly farmers. The financial monopoly over rural Ethiopia has serious political ramifications. In the early 2000s, the main source of the bank was interest from fertilizer. Farmers were identified, registered, and forced to make a down payment of 25% on the price for the amount of fertilizer. The Bank estimated the amount of fertilizer the farmer supposedly needed. A credit agreement was written with each farmer, and after six months, the bank collected the debt from the farmers with 15% interest.

    Business in Tigray is completely closed to non-Tigreans, and all walks of Tigrean businesses are exclusively owned by EFFORT or the local Tigrean government. For example, the trading company GUNA has a near monopoly in sesame and incense wholesale in Tigray whereas TRANS Ethiopia carries all goods designated as relief.

    The TPLF also benefits EFFORT by ordering free transfer of funds from government accounts, often under a bogus claim of services that TPLF institutions offered to the public. It allows free flow of goods in the name of EFFORT, without customs and taxes, but EFFORT is allowed to compete with for-profit businesses of the country through its tentacle bureaus. Thus, Moseb Cement factory was built with public expenditure at a cost of 1.5 billion birr, and a Textile factory in Adwa at 1.2 billion. However, the incomes from these public investments are fully controlled by the TPLF through EFFORT.

    EFFORT also makes extensive use of the credit opportunities offered by the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) and other financial institutions controlled by the government. The generous provision of credits by CBE to EFFORT is clearly politically influenced and based upon directives issued by the TPLF controlled government of Ethiopia. When EFFORT defaults in the payment of loans CBE provides relieving credit, obviously upon directives from the Ethiopian government. In some cases, millions of birr loans obtained by EFFORT are unlawfully delayed or even cancelled. In a widely publicized case a few years ago, the Vice-Governor of CBE overruled an earlier decision by the credit department of CBE not to grant 40 million birr credit to SUR Construction, a subsidiary of EFFORT. There is no way escaping the conclusion that the loan was made possible by political intervention from the TPLF regime.

    As an almost sole beneficiary of state contracts, EFFORT’ s income continues to grow exponentially. For example, during the Ethio-Eritrean war, EFFORT became the financial wing of the war. MESFIN Engineering supplied water, fuel, and vehicles. TRANS-Ethiopia supplied trucks, and SELAM Bus was in charge of transporting militia. The income from the war propelled these companies to powerful monopolies of the country in their respective business domains.

    EFFORT has now become a self-contained economic state operating on the call of the official government, formally serving the personal appetite of state officials, a phenomena witnessed nowhere in the world. Its assets are protected federally, and its under-the-table contracts are enforced by TPLF’ s iron fisted militias. It has a favored access to government as well as to foreign aid contracts with profitable niches, dominating joint ventures with domestic and foreign investors. One of the strategic alliances is with Amoudi’ s Midroc which supplies the TPLF with billions of birr through investments. Midroc buys natural resources of the South including gold and other precious stones from the TPLF with cash, and service contracts at these sites go back to EFFORT.

    At a policy level, the Financial Sector Steering Committee (FSSC) serves as an umbrella institute for justification of fund transfers, creating the legal framework for supporting even poorly performing EFFORT auxiliaries, or channeling funds to the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) cash institutes. EPRDF is a bogus amalgam of Fronts populated with non-Tigrean renegades, created and dominated by the TPLF. FSSC defines policies and strategies for banks, appoints board of directors and executives for the banks, and routinely monitors their operations. Thus, the FSSC oversees all government banks, and has full power over their activities. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi chairs this committee. It is a public knowledge that he personally mandated EPRDF companies: Guna, Ambassael, Dinsho, and Wando to take over the sugar company when the plant was privatized. Interestingly Ato Sebhat who owns Guna, Ato Bereket who owns Ambassel, Ato Girma who owns Dinsho, and Ato Kassu who owns Wando are members of FSSC, and some of these same individuals seat on the Board of CBE that financed these companies. As a result, all privately owned enterprises competing for the privatization of the plant, Star, Abeba co. etc. were shut out of the competition.

    The EFFORT companies are reported to owe billions of birr to Ethiopian banks. In fact, most of the EFFORT companies would not survive without government protection. In one case, CBE, the Construction and Business Bank, and the Ethiopian Development Bank collectively loaned 1.7 billion birr to EFFORT. According to insiders, the loan has not been paid to date. The 1.7 billion birr was distributed to Adigrat Pharmaceutical Factory, Adwa Textile Factory, Dashen Brewery, and Mesebo Cement Factory. These and other EFFORT or EPRDF affiliates including TESCO, Tikure Abay, Dansho Transport are constantly in deep financial crisis.

    Although the main focus of this paper is private business ventures of the TPLF, it must be noted that Tigray, the TPLF’ s home region has inequitably benefited from federal funds. For example, a recently published paper presents comparative welfare analysis of four Ethiopian regions: Oromia, Amhara, Southern States, and Tigray. A 2001/2002 data of these regions shows that 42% of children in Tigray are fully vaccinated, where as the percentage is - 10% for Oromia, 15% for Amhara, and 11% for Southern States. Population to physician ratio is 28,600 for Tigray. This jumps to 60,800 for Oromia,, 60,700 for Amhara, and 44,000 for Southern States. Secondary education enrollment for Tigray is about 25% (a six-fold increase in just a decade), but Oromia has 11.6%, Amhara 9%, and Southern States 11%. According to World Bank report “ Ethiopia Public Expenditure review” the Federal government never transferred more than 6% of the country’ s cash revenue to the states, which leaves more than 94% of the federal budget at the discretion of the TPLF, appropriation of which is apparent from the above numbers.

    In conclusion, the TPLF has clearly violated international business rules and practices, and as a ruling political party, it not only owns large amounts of properties and engages in commercial and trading activities whereby it places competing private sectors in a hopeless situation, but it also uses this economic dominance to incarcerate, harass, dominate, and control political opposition forces to stay in power. This injustice justifies continued armed struggle of the people against the TPLF domination, and rejection of foreign expeditions to exploit natural resources of the country on behalf of the TPLF.

  • Comment number 29.

    Your report is misleading in a sense that it doesn't give due regards to the context of the cold-wars. During the cold-war period, Africans were fighting the wars of the super-powers; now they are fighting the wars of big-companies in the west that are ruthlessly making money at any cost. And reporting on the later could have been useful for this generation. Moreover, it simply based on incredible sources seen in the light of the fact that the ex-members of TPLF were not retired, but expelled, who shift their camps and still politically active opponents to TPLF.

  • Comment number 30.

    > Peter Horrocks' Blog
    > The documentary did not say that most famine relief money was used to buy weapons - it did not suggest that any relief agencies [including Christian Aid and Cafod] were complicit in the diversion of funds - it explicitly stated that "whatever the levels of deception, much aid did reach the starving".

    What does not make sense in this context is that such relief agencies had for many years prior to Ethiopia been well aware than their monies were being used to support insurgencies.

    Take for example the BBC's April 1979 documentary "Mugabe: Portrait of a 'Terrorist'" documentary where in ZANU-PFs Mozambique headquarters it is casually mentioned that Christian Aid is going to allow them £20,000 (cash in hand?) and elsewhere in the documentary Josiah Tongogara states clearly that their militia's "food, clothing, everything" was coming from Britain, America and Sweden, even the shoes he was wearing. All the money funneled through one small office in Maputo going into one pot to help fund the civil war without any indication of checks-and-balances to ensure that such-and-such money will only be spent on "humanitarian causes".

    It would be a worthwhile question IMHO to expand the investigation to see whether anything was done by such agencies as a result of "lesson learning" between this period and the mid-80s Ethiopian famine, and to ask the same again in a present-day context.

    Regards,
    David.

  • Comment number 31.

    Henok,

    Again, you need to admit when you are wrong unless you are deliberately misleading.

    None of the two ex-soldiers, none of them are members of the so called opposition, ARENA Tigray, Medrek. Clearly, you are either assuming wrong, or trying to blame it on oppositions just like TPLF officials always do to avert attention from an important subject.

    Once again, the moral of the story is TPLF neither cared for its own tigray people in the beginning nor is saving them right now through the billions of dollars it got inexplicably. BBC, or any reliable news source has a moral and professional obligation to unfold truth. Especially cases like this are significant because even though it happened long time ago, it is still affecting the country one way or another.

    As far as the EFFORT issue, here are the facts that you can’t deny:

    1- Who is the CEO – the Prime Minister’s wife (very funny)
    2- How much assets, capital do they have- It has never been disclosed. The people are kept in the dark.
    3- Source of money. – It has never been disclosed. They claim that they got it from derg, which in that case everything was supposed to be the Ethiopian people money.
    4- Do they pay tax? – It has never been disclosed.

    This is what you said above: “As to the EFFORT issue, you well know how you TPLF got it: by capturing the resources of the dictator Mengistu”.

    Then, wasn’t that money, asset etc supposed to be the Ethiopian people money if it was confiscated from Mengistu? How come TPLF and its few members own it? TPLF liberated Gondar city, or Jimma, etc, does that mean the city belongs to TPLF? No it to the Ethiopian people.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is the most aweful news i ever heard though BBC had never been positive for Ethiopia through the history.

    Few important comments
    1) The rebel group was well supported from Arab and US for military support and also at that moment they did not need sophisticated weapons. Moreover the rebel group have surplus weapons captured from the military regime.
    2) the two witness are both polictally polarized with the existing government and they always oppose any good work of th current government. Both are almost insane and both are divorced with their wifes.
    3) The news is released at this moment b/c BBC want to destablize the country during the coming election (2month ahead) like Kenya and Zimbabiwe. BBC are successful by doing that.
    4) No Body in Ethiopia have never heard and told as rumor in the Ethiopian land about this fabricated story

    The truth will come out and God bless Ethiopia!

  • Comment number 33.

    Very outdated and non relevant report....

  • Comment number 34.

    Most interesting, so latent period lasts some 25 years, that is, if you have a story based on compelling evidence.

  • Comment number 35.

    'But there is a clear public interest in determining whether some money given as famine relief ended up buying guns and bullets.

    And that's what the evidence suggests.'

    Well if you put it that way, do tell, would there be a clear public interest in determining which administrates decided to kill their own people to kill other people?

  • Comment number 36.

    Dear Mr. Horrocks
    I agree the BBC has a duty to report on issues wheather they are sensitive or not, however it is unbecoming of such an institution to report inflammatory and poorly researched article. The refusal of Mr. Geldof doesn't by any means coraborate the allegations and I don't think it should be used as justification.
    Your statment "Martin tracked down two key former members of the TPLF who explained how they managed to divert the money" is a hogwash as I am certain you knew these two very disgruntled former commanders have an axe to grind. It is a fact that Mr.A. Berhe has been spewing lies and false accusations since he left the TPLF.
    Mr. Gebremedhin had joined the then marderous Colonel Mengistu Hailemariams communist government after he defected from the TPLF and he had actively participated in writing and deceminating propaganda to defame the TPLF in the 1980ies and 1990ies until the down fall of the Derge, and I am sure the BBC or Mr. Plaut could have easily found out if they cared for the truth.
    Did Mr. Plaut ask himself why it took 25 years for these two individuals, who tirlessley wrote every nonsense accusation againast the TPLF for that long a duration of time did not care to adress this more daming accusation than all their load of rubbish until this moment. He may tell us they came forward on his instigation but I would like to direct you that they have been on the fore front of writing, speaking and attacking the TPLF with all the amunitions they can muster including spreading lies, since their day of rupture from the TPLF, If this allegation had a scintilla of truth to it, they would have come swinging long time ago with out any bodys coxing.
    It is a shame such an institution of vercity in reporting, that we considered a beacon of hope for freedom and democracy during the dark days of our struggle as a people has turned a pen bully that is not accountable to the norms of proper, verifed and veted reporting.
    I am sure you decided to responed not because what you stirred in Ethiopia mattered but because many NGO's have complained. The fact that you show defrence based on who complains rather than what truth there is is dismaying.

    I find the BBC's motive and timing dubious as this story as alleged happened 25 years ago, the research took the last two years and only two desgrunteled ex-fighters intrviewed and to top it all the timing is just during election in Ethiopia. Mr. Plaut can pull a blanket but not over our eyes.

  • Comment number 37.

    Dear BBC
    You Did very well. Good job. Sir Bob Gedolf we thank for your concern and on what you did. Butdo not try to be rigid n how the fund was spend. Your responsibility were rasing fund. You did it very well more than anybody did it. Again we thank you. Yo desrev more than this. But you have no idea and information on how was the aid was distributed.

    You do not know TPLF. Iti a very dangerous Organization.

    FOR BBC Journalists

    Again let me tell you one history. During Derg Period there was a mass massacar in a market area called Hauzen by Derg in Northern Party of Ethiopia. But there is a very strong rumour that was done b TPLF in a very planned and mysterious way. At that time he TPLF coudnot able to gather many solidgers. They desiged a method and they themslves killed the people.

    I am sure you will get a very puzziling and surprising thing if you try to investigate" WHo is Responsible and by whom the Hawuzen Massacar occred?". Try to investigate.

    Thanks BBC. hanks The Editorial. Thanks All.U did good Let you search the truth always

  • Comment number 38.

    What a shameful act by the BBC. such accusations without the backing of concrete evidence is dangerous and seems to me has been a very insulting to the Ethiopian people. stating that the goverment they have came to power by stepping on the Corpse of its people is frankly discusting.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    It's a foregone conclusion that any aid going to Third World countries, for whatever reason, becomes a prey to corrupt leaders and organizers. And we should thank BBC for doing some investigative journalism. In fact we could use a review of all aid programs and how the money is spent in order to better organise it any next time. But it is easy to understand Sir Bob's outright condemnation, pop stars have big egos, add to that a messianic complex, and you are on your way to infallible sainthood. A terrible blow to Bob's achievement, but the altruistic motive remains untarnished.

  • Comment number 42.

    This is a truly ironic controversy. Here we have the left wing, bleeding heart BBC experiencing the wrath of the left wing, bleeding heart Bob Geldof and company. And why? Only because of a rare case of investigative journalism by the BBC, which generally has its collective head in the sand regarding negative news from Africa. The BBC has broken faith here with the "liberal" left community and that is just unforgivable.

    I was fascinated by this comment from Geldof in the "Independent:"

    "At the time of Live Aid we had journalists crawling all over everything we did trying to find something wrong – and they couldn't."

    I have no doubt that is nonsense. I'm sure the journalists at the time entered into the spirit of the aid relief programme and faithfully reported only the good news, never digging too deeply into the situation.

    This is not to deny the genuine humanitarian work done by Geldof and others but anyone familiar with Africa knows that a huge slice of aid inevitably gets diverted to suspect causes and lines the pockets of the powerful. The unwritten rule among the left is you can't talk about it. The BBC has broken this rule and that, of course, is what the fuss is all about.

  • Comment number 43.

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  • Comment number 44.

    THANK YOU BBC AND MY SPECIAL REGARD TO MARTIN PALUT WHO TAKE THE TIME TO DO HIS RESEARCH AND EXPOSE WHAT HAD HAPPEN.WE ETHIOPIANS ARROUND THE WORLD BEEN PRAYING FOR THIS DAY TO COME,NO MEDIA WAS WILLING TO TELL OUR STORY OF ABUSE ,TORTURE,GENOCIDE,JAIL TIME ETC IN ETHIOPA...BY THE DICTATOR MELESE ZENAWI KEEP DOING YOUR RESEARCH AND YOU WILL FIND OUT A LOT OF UNTOLD STORIES OF BRUTALITTY .I BELIEVE THE WORLD NEED TO KNOW AND IS INTITELD TO KNOW THE TRUE STORY OF ETHIOPIAN,I HOPE YOU WILL ALSO DO YOUR RESEARCH ABOUT THE GENOCIDE WHICH HAPPEN IN ETHIOPIA. WE ETHIOPIANS IN THE DIASPORA ARE WILLIGN TO SHARE WITH YOU SOME INFORMATION AND, AGAIN ON BEHALF OF ALL ETHIOPIANS WHO ARE VOICELESS I WOULD LIKE TO BE THEIR VOICE AND SAY THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART.

  • Comment number 45.

    THIS IS THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG.TPLF,THE CURRENT ETHIOPIAN REGIME ,HAS COMMITTED MANY ATROCITIES LIKE THIS. IT MAY BE NEWS FOR THE WEST BUT NOT FOR THE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE.
    IT IS A GOOD START.IF YOU WANT TO DIG A LITTLE MORE YOU WILL BE MORE SURPRISED.

  • Comment number 46.

    What AYAKURATE commented is the raw truth. I can only plead BBC and its Editors to do more comprehensive investigations on the deeds of TPLF as rebel, particularly from 1976-19981 and you will unravel the most heinous crimes ever committed in the killing fields of TPLF

  • Comment number 47.

    Dear Andrew,
    Excellent job on aid and TPLF.
    Let me kindly inform you that the report on the stealing of aid money by TPLF is a peanut from the long list of crimes committed by TPLF. TPLF has killed tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of civilians who even expressed opinions slightly divergent from its political stance.

  • Comment number 48.

    Your informants, particularly Aregawi Berhe, is himself the insurmountable witness regarding the killings of civilians, and non-combatants during his leadership and afterwards. He with the most notable leader of TPLF Sibhat Nega, was the masters of the killing fields of TPLF in the eastern and central zones of Tigray in 1976-1982. It is time for Berhe and Araya to tell the truth to BBC, and for BBC to conduct rather a more formal and comprehensive investigation on the killing fields of TPLF. I as human rights expert have found thousands of people ready to speak out about their victimization at the hands of the rebel leaders of TPLF.

  • Comment number 49.

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  • Comment number 50.


    The following tiny report shows how TIGRAI relief organization has grown into one of the potent economic empire and by extension military and repressive power..
    here is the link

    horn-africa.blogspot.com/2009/07/mohamed-al-amoudi-and-tplf-business.html

  • Comment number 51.

    I watched Geldof on Andrew Marr today. Why did he refuse to take part in the original report? The point at which he started ranting about celebritiy journalism which is usually about vacuous children like his own I stopped listening.




  • Comment number 52.

    What an extraordinary item this is.

    We have a "row" over a World Service documentary that claims it is in "the public interest" to know that "some money" was used for "weapons" instead of famine relief, twenty five years ago. We have a clearly uptight Corporation upset about Bob Geldorf, unsurprisingly, suggesting it is "a Ross-Brand moment".

    Perspective seems to be missing here. One year's journalism has revealed a somewhat unsurprising "leak" of cash in a war torn country to the wrong purposes a long time ago, a country that saw just how much corruption?

    Is the BBC really so desperate for "scoops" and is this really so "in the public interest" that it warranted this kind of front page scrap?

  • Comment number 53.

    Dear Martin Paut and BBC stuff,

    Your report on this particular issue is not only supported by the facts and figures on the ground but can also be witnessed by several millions of Ethiopians who are still alive.

    I have no any doubt that Bob Geldof and his company has done it at that time for the very good intentions to help the very needy and starving population in the northern part of the Ethiopia of the Tigray region. But the fact that that huge sum of money diverted to the purchase of ammunition while the people was starving to death wouldn't have insenced Sir Geldof and other humanitarian aid organizations on the BBC reporting. I think from that point of view, they have missed the real target who is responsible for this tragedy. It is not BBC! The Marxist Leninist organization TPLF (Tigray Peopl's Libration Front), which still rules Ethiopia under the same name Meles Zenawi, was and is responsible for this huge tragedy.

    Martin Plaut has done an excellent job for shading light on what was going on and I think there are still a huge stories to fish out which would shock all those who have been supporting the Zenawi regime.

    I think, the fact that BBC has misrepresented the story is just as nonsense as insulting the morality of all those who have been helping the poor with GOOD INTENTION. Even though the story took long to get out, it is still a great effort that would definitely help to devise another strategy for helping the people in need of help instead of fattening the bank accounts of those corrupt regimes who benefit at the cost of the suffering population.

    The facts are as follows:

    The TPLF is the owner of EFFORT, a conglomerate of several tens of huge companies controlled by the members of the regime in power, which has controlled almost all the economic spheres in Ethiopia. What was the financial source of EFFORT??? The aid money which was supposed to be for the needy!!! Why Ethiopia is still in need of food help after two decades since TPLF, under a bogus and trickery name EPRDF, has been in power???? In the same time how the TPLF members are getting richer and richer by the time more than 80 million Ethiopians are getting poorer and poorer???

    This is one of the rare and true journalism I ever see these days in the continent like Africa where donors and the ruthless regimes of that continent are at odds with the needs and aspiration of the very needy population.

    Those who deny the fact that this tragedy has happened must be those who are still benefiting from the regime in power or those who think missed their target like Bob Geldof.

    Please continue your investigation not only on the past but also how the ex-rebel and the current regime in Ethiopia is operating these days, how the financial support from donor countries is being used and for what purpose, how the huge sum of money is collected by the TPLF members and their families, why donor countries close their eyes until another huge tragedy is happening???

  • Comment number 54.

    People interested in the topic addressed by this article might also be interested in the work of Amartya Sen and Alex de Waal. In both cases, their basic premise is that famines are never natural disasters as such - they happen only when there are wars/refugee situations, and when governments manipulate availability of food for political purposes. Ethiopia in 1984 was a classic example of this - diminished food availability manipulated by the government of Mengistu to try to suppress the Tigray uprising. This is not to diminish the fact that people were starving - just to question the way in which the international community tackled it, by bringing in food aid rather than addressing the root problem.

    People who have referred to the politics of the Cold War are also right - this inevitably had an impact on the famine in Ethiopia and how different actors behaved. For example, it didn't surprise me to learn that the CIA knew that some aid money was being diverted to the TPLF for buying arms - the US government would have supported the TPLF because they were fighting a government which was heavily supported by the Soviet Union.

    It is also worth saying that times have moved on since 1984, and governments and aid agencies are much more accountable to the people who donate and the people who receive than they once were. This is not to say that mistakes no longer happen in the aid world - but that fewer mistakes are made now. My guess is that people who donate are generally aware of this as well - and if they are not, they can find out from whichever agencies they donate to, so the fear expressed by Geldof and others that people will no longer donate is unlikely to come true.

  • Comment number 55.

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  • Comment number 56.

    This is what the Ethiopian peope have known for years. It is not just Band Aid money that has been used for arms, other forms of aid from different organisations has gone to sustain the rebels and corruption.

    Ethiopia has received more food aid than any other African country in the past 10-20 years, but yet its agricultural production has declined in the past 10 years, this is a direct result of reliance and dependency on aid and improper use of aid by the TPLF. Maybe other solutions should be looked at (e.g. Dambisa Moyo- 'Dead Aid')

  • Comment number 57.

    I would like to thank the BBC for exposing such a despicable act by the former rebels. I believe it is a true story, it is in the nature of these rebel groups to commit such crime against humanity. The Ethiopian people know this truth for more than 20 years, the same kind of looting and embezzlement is going on today too. It is good that it has been brought to the attention of the the world people through this report.

  • Comment number 58.

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  • Comment number 59.

    mr bob geldof your aid money was given to the tyrant meles zenawi who killed many ethiopians and continue to kill many ethiopians its sad to see you supporting the tyrant meles zenawi i strongly believe its very wrong to support the tyrant meles its time to clear your conscious, and support the people of ethiopia,and i thank the bbc marthin plaut of such a great investigation, it is clear that bbc report was based on credible evidence of top TPLF exild leaders. god will avenge the poor ethiopians blood finaly i say mr geldof stop supporting the tyrant meles zenawi thanks bbc

  • Comment number 60.

    Great job BBC

    We Ethiopian knows and the world knows what weyane/Ethiopian mafia group 100% they did it, we do not need any further investigation thank you BBC for exposing the truth.

    Also, as the world know, one of the unfolded issues in the mysterious TPLF lead government of Ethiopia is how much money the leaders are earning. Ever since the TPLF rebel fighters took over the leadership, their earnings have never been disclosed. There has never been a single elected public servant who registered his/her assets prior to taking public office. The public has been kept in the dark and don’t know how much either the TPLF leaders are making how much assets their organization have. Is this false? No, it is not. Prove me wrong.

    Today, TPLF owns a number of businesses; factories, enterprises, etc. Where did the money come from? Billions of dollars have been invested in the organization’s name and few individuals are in charge of such huge money transaction. Is this wrong? No it is not. Prove me wrong.

    Those, who have direct benefit from these investments, including those inside the country and their agents throughout the world, never want to see TPLF questioned because they will be deprived of their benefits.

  • Comment number 61.

    Mark and company,
    Look. You cannot advance your political agenda by merely jumping at opportunistic fabrications that early leavers of the TPLF made up. I hope you must have heard the reply of Bob Geldof to BBC today. Not a single coin was diverted to arms purchase. The problem you people have is you do not know the intricate and well founded nature of the TPLF.

    To your surprise, TPLF had a sophsticated weapond it captured from the soldiers of the Derg regime. Thanks to the ill-trained and demoralized Derg soldiers, TPLF had good weapons that the then Soviet Union was shipng to Ethiopia. It is insane to think that TPLF diverts the aid it was getting and risks the lives of the people it was fighting for for years. No No. This is really what TPLF can never think of let alone doing. My friends, the two exTPLF soldiers have a long lasting grudge and they want to hit while the iron is hot. They want to use the heat of the 2010 election to smear TPLF and its brilliant leader Meles Zenawi with whom Aregawi dabated for two days and lost. Then he was not even maltreated. Following his preference to leave the struggle, he was seen off to the Sudan and then to Holand to lead his civilian life. It was the next day after his arrival in Holland that he began to reflect his personal political resentments and grudges.
    If you think this person is still a credible source, well nothing can be said except doubting the discritionary level of your conscience.
    Thank you

  • Comment number 62.

    This reminds of another controversy early last year when the BBC decided not to broadcast the DEC appeal for aid to Gaza after the Israeli attack. This evoked an extraordinary response from the pro-Palestinian left, with people hurling insults at the BBC and Mark Thompson on his blog on the issue. His blog received well over 2000 comments, the majority of them verging on the hysterical and the accusations ranging from callous indifference to the plight of the Palestinians to Thompson being scared of the Israelis. Many people insisted they would never again tune into the BBC:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2009/01/bbc_and_the_gaza_appeal.html

    So I'm wondering where the outrage is from left wingers over the current BBC slap in the face to political correctness. Perhaps we should give it time. After all, this blog started over the weekend. Or perhaps all those who bitterly condemned the BBC over Gaza really have moved on to media they feel more comfortable with.

  • Comment number 63.

    Hurraaa ,.. Martin
    You have finally echoed against the dirty track the TPLF taken since
    its inception.I salute u for standing on d side of truth deterring
    the hard and long fists of so called "aid organizations" and Bob Gidolf.

    Its a pity Mr.Gedolf and the zen aid officials are sympathizing with the
    brutal and repressive regime by trying to deny the hard and fast facts.

    One thing is fore sure:the scums and atrocities committed by TPLF against the Ethiopian ppl are surfacing,regardless of z odds, hmm.

    I suggest Mr .Bob can be even a saint if he he dares to admit that he had been somehow mislead or watever by these born-looters, TPLF.

    Bless U Martin
    God Bless Ethiopia

  • Comment number 64.

    #
    #

    It is no wonder if any charity organization including Sir Bob Gildof realize that they have been puzlled by the rebles then, who in my opinion have done the right thing at the time. I urge them now to acknoledge the truth and admit the fact.

    The Ethiopian people knew that the then rebles but now the government leaders are still cheating the international community by telling lies and giving misleading information all the time. The cunning mentor Sibhat Nega and the bizare Meles Zenawi who is suffering from bipolar disorder pretend as if they are doing well, but they have robbed all the wealth and resources of the country. Forget about the past it would be even wiser to listen the Ethiopian people than the so called leaders who are still devising different cheating methods to win support from influential groups. It should be noted that prominant figures like Mr Jimmy Carter have also been puzlled.Finally the result is an oxy-moron "rebel's government" which is also a pradox.

  • Comment number 65.

    Dr Aregawi Berhe is a credible source not only because he was a top military commander of the TPLF but also because he did his recent PHD thesis on the poltical history of TPLF

  • Comment number 66.

    Hello BBC and ''Dear '' BOB

    I have read Bob's interview with Andrew this morning.Mr Geldof told BBC One's Andrew Marr show he would personally sue the Ethiopian government and spend the money on aid if any evidence was produced.Wow sir if you do then we will love you more.We would say , you just don't seek money but seek the truth.Bob please collaborate with Martin and Dr Aregawi Behre and dig the truth.

    Mr Geldof, who was speaking to the BBC from Nairobi, also said one of the sources quoted in the report was a "dissident political exile" who was "not credible".
    For your information , Dr Aregawi Berhe is the most Credible source you can have ever.
    Dr Aregawi Berhe is a credible source not only because he was a top military commander of the TPLF but also because he did his recent PHD thesis on the poltical history of TPLF.
    You can check this site if you want more info. about him: http://tsehaipublishers.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=59&Itemid=57 .

    By the way who is this source ,which Bob called ''incredible''.Aregawi Berhe, Ph.D., a former student at Haile Selassie I University, he left school to join the TPLF as a founding member and combated the emerging military dictatorship in Post 1974 Ethiopian Revolution. Until he was forced into exile, he served the Front as its Commander. Currently, he is involved in ongoing efforts to advocate political reform and democratization in Ethiopia. He is a founding member of the TAND political party (Tigraian Alliance for National Democracy, active also in the Ethiopian diaspora) and member of the Ethiopian opposition coalition the United Ethiopian Democratic Front (UEDF), a “wing” of which has seats in the current Ethiopian parliament. He lives in The Netherlands.
    A Political History of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (1975-1991): Revolt, Ideology, and Mobilisation in Ethiopia, is a comprehensive and critical study that seamlessly integrates the theoretical issues of ethnic self-determination with real life events, processes and empirical observations of the complex history of the TPLF. Its author, Aregawi Berhe, received his doctorate in Social Studies from the Vrije University in Amsterdam. He is also one of the founders and a former commander of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the revolutionary movement that overthrew and replaced the Dergue—the military dictatorship that ruled Ethiopia. In this book, Aregawi unpacks the history of the TPLF and discusses its origins in the Ethiopian student movement, its organization in Tigray and the mobilization of its inhabitants, the creation of a peasant army, the factional struggles within the TPLF, its relations with other liberation movements, and, ultimately, its success in capturing state power. Using this history as a guideline, Aregawi handles significant areas of theoretical dispute regarding ethnic self-determination and its various interpretations, which he deftly articulates with a critical and comprehensive discussion of the complex issues that arise from the protracted struggle to overthrow a repressive military regime (the Dergue) with a peasant-based guerilla movement.

    The book discusses, among other things, the question of ethnicity and the conflicting interpretations of ethnic self-determination, the issues raised by the competing and overlapping claims of the various liberation movements; the tension between a radical elite ideology and the beliefs and expectations of the peasantry; the political mobilization of the peasantry and the creation of a peasant army; the relevance of the Marxist notion of the universality of class-struggle in the context of ethnically-oriented politics; the TPLF’s transformation from a regional ethnic movement to a political party that spearheads a pan-Ethiopian coalition of ethnic liberation movements (The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front); and its transition from a guerilla movement to a political party that governs Ethiopia—the second most populous country in Africa. Descriptively rich, well documented, and subtly argued, this is a book that challenges its readers to reexamine the recent history of Ethiopia in a new light and forces them to consider the momentous political tasks and the uncertain future the country now faces.


    REVIEWS:
    This unique study by the founder and former commander of the TPLF is a must read for all those wishing to better understand the background to Ethiopia’s political regime today. Dr. Aregawi Berhe presents us with an informative and insightful insider’s account of the origins and development of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, including critical divergences on objectives and strategy that have played a key role in shaping its course.
    —Prof. Martin Doornbos, Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands

    Readers of this book will be exposed to a rigorous analysis of issues such as ethno-nationalism, self determination, and secession. Those interested in the history of the TPLF, the leaders during its inception, its encounter with different organizations, and the “controversial role” of the current leaders in power in Ethiopia will find the book informative. This book is timely, comprehensive, insightful, and balanced. It is an important contribution to the study of secretive guerrilla fighters assuming state power and grappling with the complexities of governing a country.
    —Dr. Getachew Metaferia, Morgan State University, USA

    A few works have already been published on the TPLF. But this book stands out as a first hand account of the movement’s history, especially of the early years. Written by one of the founders of the movement, it reflects a perspective that we should at least listen to and understand. Very rich in content, this book is bound to be controversial, especially given the author’s history and profile. Undoubtedly, it will introduce a serious debate - hopefully a healthy one - that will go on for a long time to come. Aregawi Berhe’s work is a pioneering contribution in the realm of scholarship on the history of the organisation reigning supreme in present day Ethiopia.
    —Prof. Dr. Tesfatsion Medhanie, University of Bremen, Germany

    So Bob Geldof and the rest of you if you really stand with the poor , go on peruse this case.Investigate , Investigate and Investigate.





  • Comment number 67.

    Thanks Andrew Whitehead, for bringing this important story to the audience across of the BBC regarding the situation.
    The Problem with West is that they sacrifice human life for current purpose. But condmen and bring court afterward. Their current justice apply only to their people, not someone elsewhere. That is hypocrecy in their human rights discourse. They encourage leaders to violate human rights as far as they get what they desire to get. That is their logic. They will do away current system in Ethiopia if they wish to do so. But now they are making good cake. We do not know when they will change their mind.It is still happening. Of course you are all covering it up today. After 25 years, you will certainly write about it. The truth is today more than half of the aid money goes into the pockets of tplf leaders. A significant amount also goes to protect the dictatorship aparatus of this brutal criminal entity. Westerners feed such monster and help torture our poor starving people. Thank You BBC for exposing this. Although we knew this all along, the rest of the world knows now If ICC is free and fair, Meles and his gangs should go to the court more than any one in this era for his inhumane brain, for both genocide (he made while in jungle and the worst one while on power) and the ecological crime he is inflicting on our environment and eco-system,
    again we are thankful for BBC.

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    ******Very important tip to BBC!!******

    The mid 1980's jet bombing of the market town of Hawezen in Tigray, which claimed more than 2000 lives was perpetrated by TPLF leaders themselves for propaganda reason to recruit more and more Tigray youth- as Gebremedhen Araya(former TPLF finance head) repeatedly revealed in several occasions. Please ask this man about the incident and get detail information.

  • Comment number 71.

    For comments from the western world

    Please don’t rush to criticize our African leaders or freedom fighters, instead try to educate yourself. Save yourself from ignorance and arrogance.

  • Comment number 72.

    What I don't understand is, "Why are Sir Geldof and AID organisations
    shooting at the messenger?"

    It is indeed very likely that a lot of AID money in Africa (and for that
    matter in other parts of the World receiving AID) is being siphoned to
    finance merciless and illegal WARS and guerilla movements etc.

    Is it that the AID Organisations fear that people will stop giving if
    they endorse BBC's report and are trying to save their own skins here?

    Moreover, corruption is present in many AID organisations and siphoning
    of money through embezlement is not uncommon by their own staff.
    Look at how the "RED CROSS" was ripped off recently in SWEDEN.
    Just to name one. Amnesty is another that is said to have been ripped
    off a few years ago by own leadership.

    I think that the AID organisations (normally competing with each other)
    have come up here only to save their own skin. They probably don't give
    t'pence to what happens to the money they receive, as long as their
    salaries and expenses are covered.

  • Comment number 73.

    No one can hide truth forever, this report uncovers what was behind aid in 1985. The aid provided to save some millions of people in 1985 is being used to rule more than 80 million of Ethiopian people under yoke.We Ethiopian expect even more, try to do much on what is going on in Ethiopia now. Thank you.

  • Comment number 74.

    For all those who really know African politics, it is simply a realignment of Tigrey dissidents into the Amhara camp.After the Haile Selassie/Mengistu period the 'new' boys in town are the Tigreyens. And believe me Zenawi & Co will not give up power. For peace to prevail, what is needed is a Kenyan style attempt at coming up with a new constitution that will enable all the different tribal components of the diverse country to have their piece of the pie. But the African capital cities (where 40% of their GDP is generated due to Government spending/ministries/parliament/multinational jobs/education opportunities/access to loan capital etc etc) also need to be equitably accessible by all. Currently (except for the lucky Tanzanians) the tribe living around the capital rules the economic roost. Geography precludes faraway tribes from 'eating' the capital city and a new approach is required.

  • Comment number 75.

    I for one disagree with the nick name "Henok". It sounds that he is battling with the reality to save someone else or himself for the apparent reason that so much unchecked privilege of amassing aid money should continue for personal gratification and for sustained political repression, not to speak all other crimes being committed under the current regime. I leave that to mention here as it would be out of topic.

    Beside to this good piece of journalistic investigation, there are many Ethiopians watching this forum and know this story very well since long time ago let alone the very direct source coming out from the very ex-peers and rebel members of TPLF, the CIA and US ex-diplomatic sources.

    Is Bob Geldof stand by Meles Zenawi or defending his aborted humanitarian action of that period? If its to defending Meles Zenawi, that would be another tragedy beside to what happened at that circumstances. If its defending himself, everybody would understand that his dream was not realizes as he thought. Mr. Geldof should have instead taken this as a lesson on the risk of associating any operation with corrupt rebels and now rulers of Ethiopia. It may take another 20 years but, if he is still alive, he would definitely discover another shocking story concerning the Zenawi regime.

    So sad that the money getting out even from the western kids of that period to save the starving went to fatten the cruel regime to suppress the whole population and turn the country in to prison. It is due to this fact that Mr. Geldof should have regretted.

    Thank you BBC. Thank you Martin Paut.



  • Comment number 76.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 77.

    Mr Henok,

    You look a loner around here. You are trying in vain to save the face of the dictator (Meles). But not this time. You should at least accept the evidence of the Photo displayed on the report. Both of them are rebel members and at least one of them is still alive. You should ask your conscience and try to be silent if not denounce the very evil act of TPLF.

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    I do hope for the BBC's sake they've got their ducks in a row on this one. if they haven't then it'll be yet another disaster for them. New International and the Conservatives will crucify them if it turns out that the BBC can't prove their allegations and it is merely "likely" that funds were diverted. their sources and evidence should be gold-plated on this one as Band Aid and Live Aid were such huge world events. to find out that BA/LA's reputation is being sullied on the basis of rumour and shadowy sources will do the beeb no end of harm (it'll be a Gilligan affair pt 2 - no matter that Gills was correct but at the time he, and the Beeb were hoist by their own journalistic hubris by AC, a master tactician). It may well be highly likely funds were diverted but likelihood is not proof and St Bob is trusted more than a beleaguered BBC. A gift to Steve Hilton and Uncle Rupe. Unfortunately.

  • Comment number 80.

    enatethiopia_2

    Andrew Whitehead, for bringing this important story to the audience across of the BBC regarding the situation.
    The Problem with West is that they sacrifice human life for current purpose. But they condemn and bring to court afterwards. Their current justice apply only to their people, not for someone, elsewhere. That is hypocrisy in their human rights discourse. They encourage leaders to violate human rights as far as they get what they desire to get. That is their logic. They will do away the current system in Ethiopia if they wish to do so. But now they are making good cake. We do not know when they will change their mind,It is still happening. Of course you are all covering it up today. After 25 years, you will certainly write about it. The truth is even today more than half of the aid money goes into the pockets of tplf leaders. A significant amount also goes to protect the dictatorship aparatus of this brutal criminal entity. Westerners feed such monster and help torture our poor starving people. Thank You BBC for exposing this story. Although we knew this all along, the rest of the world knows now If ICC is free and fair, Meles and his gangs should go to the court more than any one in this era for his inhumane brain, for both genocide (he made while in jungle and the worst one while on power) and the ecological crime he is inflicting on our environment and eco-system,
    again we are thankful for BBC.

  • Comment number 81.

    Why do the BBC & Andrew Whitehead in this report refer to, and credit - incorrectly Bob Geldof - as Sir Bob Geldof. While indeed he was awarded a K.B.E. (Knight of the order of the British Empire) by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, as he is an Irish citizen the award was honorary and he cannot be referred to as 'Sir'. Instead he is more correctly addressed as Robert (or Bob) Geldof K.B.E. Is this just another example of the BBC making things up as they go along? It's infuriating, it's wrong - the BBC should know better so please stop it.

  • Comment number 82.

    Thank you BBC for that work. Thank you Peter for the explanation. We who were in Ethiopia did hear rumors about these things while we were there (I was there until 2008). There were reports of books being published about this matter. This things will happen because TPLF (Tigray People Liberation Front) was hell bent on overthrowing the Ethiopian Government of that time. So in their eyes it's "you can justify the means, any means" as long as they achieve their objective. I am not sure if this thing is heard in Ethiopia today since there is too much sensorship of the media (and BBC will be in trouble there). But the money came from the West and so it concerns most the people of the West. While I on behalf of all Ethiopians thank the people of the West for their generosity, I also ask them to pressure their Government not to support in any way the incumbent in Ethiopia.
    The TPLF run government has made new laws that govern the NGOs in Ethiopia but they still operate REST and other party affliated "NGOs". These laws are favourable for their NGOs and since they did bad things using REST, they know the role that NGOs can play in overthrowing a government so they encated those laws.
    The TPLF run government in Ethiopia always paints a rosey picture of their stuggle. They try to make themselves look like saints. If they are asked about this issue they will have very good excuses that will seem legtimate. The people of Tigray still beg on the streets of Addis even though there are improvements in their State. If BBC digs further they will uncover a lot of things such as the money that people gave at that time was also used to start companies affliated to the TPLF party under the Endowment Fund of Tigray (EFFORT) http://www.effortgroup.org/index.htm
    One just wonders when their lies and cheating will end.

  • Comment number 83.

    Thank you Very much BBC and the outstanding Jornalistes.

    PLEASE CONTINUE VOICE FOR VOICELESS!! REALY WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH WHAT THE ETHIOPIAN DECTATORIAL REAGEM CRIME AGAINS MESERABLE ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE.

    WE ALL ETHIOPIANS WITH YOU TO FIGHT AGAINS THE DECTATORES.

  • Comment number 84.

    One other tragedy in this is that the Opposition and the so called dissidents
    always sit on the by-lines and criticise the others (read "The West") for
    not doing anything to change things in their countries while enjoying the
    cosy and comfortable life (many a time paid for by the tax-payer of their
    host Countries) attending parties and seminars with same arrogance and
    disregard and contempt for the ordinary citizens of their countries
    who take and are taking the full brunt of the atrocities of all kinds.

    It is indeed high time that those standing by on side-lines (shouting "Foul")
    start acting in a responsible manner for a change.

    GUNS and BOMBS will not change anything for the better. What is needed is
    dialogues, dialogues and dialogues; and reasoning among the leaders
    involved (of course with the help of OTHERS mentioned above) and DELIVER
    to their people a fair, safe and a decent living standard.

    Do not expect to be delivered solutions on a golden plate by the same
    people who have been branded as Colonialist exploiters.
    This after so many years of independence to form the destiny of the
    former Colonies.

    Sadly, most Leaders sold out to the Commercially motivated exploiters.
    Hardly a fault of the former Colonialists.
    (This actually doea not belong in this controversy - but I was forced to
    mention it anyway).

    Make the change from inside. And please, do not forget "Dialogue".

  • Comment number 85.

    When I lived in Ethiopia you could buy meat and goods that had stamped on them 'present to Ethiopia from the USA'. These goods were available ONLY to ex-pats. It was well known that money sent through agencies landed in the arms of the rebels. furthermore I lived in the bush but everytime I went to Addis I used to see the 'BAND AID VAN CONSTANTLY IN THE HILTON CARPARK'. I HAVE ALWAYS REFUSED TO GIVE MONEY TO THIS CHARITY PREFERRING INSTEAD TO GIVE DIRECT TO THE AFRICAN PEOPLE I KNOW. Bob Geldof gets on my nerves with his holier than thou attitude. He should spend more time looking after his children rather than bleating on.

  • Comment number 86.

    I just surprised to read this morning what Sir Bod did say. I know he did best for his intention helping the starved people. But it is we the Ethiopian were suffered and died since the last 20 years by the shame work of the tyrant group. Sir Bod can defend himself not TPLF that he did give the money to the then rebels the present the so called leaders not to Buy weapons and we all knew that but the TPLF misused it. now it is our turn to talk if there is any body we can actually able to hear us. the world, sir Bob let us to speak the truth and our pain.

  • Comment number 87.

    Bob Geldof's flip-floped ages times now on Meles Zenawi
    in 2007 ...

    But Geldof's absence is also about pride. The Irish singer raised $100 million through Band Aid, a supergroup of British pop stars that set the mold for charity records to come, and Live Aid, which did the same for worldwide charity concerts. The money was to help alleviate the devastating Ethiopian famine of 1984-5, in which more than a million people are thought to have died. But Ethiopia, a nation of nearly 80 million people, now boasts consistent economic growth of 10%, and in that context the famine, and Geldof, are remembered with more than a tinge of humiliation. Two years ago, Geldof stirred the pot more when, in a television interview, he told Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to "grow up" and "behave" when Ethiopian police shot dead 36 dead opposition protesters.

    It was the cue for the release of long pent-up anger among Ethiopian patriots. Men such as Mulugeta Aserate Kassa. "People like me are still absolutely furious about what he said," says Mulugeta over breakfast. "What right has he got to be so paternalistic as to tell African leaders how to behave? My God, if he wants to ever come back here, he'll have to apologize." Mulugeta is a distinguished looking 56-year-old, with an exemplary Oxford English accent to match his pinstripe suit. He is also one of the organizers of the millennium celebrations. When he says of Geldof, "I don't think we'll be seeing him," that's more policy than wish.

    Mulugeta says it's not that he's a stranger to suffering himself. He is a distant relation of the former emperor Haile Selassie, who ruled Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 — with a five-year break from 1936 to 1941 when Italy occupied the country. When the Derg military regime deposed Selassie, Mulugeta's father was executed and Mulugeta himself spent nine years in jail before being released to 20 years of exile in London. But he is convinced the new millennium will restore Ethiopia and the day will soon arrive when Ethiopians no longer need outside assistance. "Nobody denies we have had famines and drought," he says. "We have been through that. We feel it in our bones. But we have picked up the pieces. The third millennium will be a re-birth for Ethiopia." And something to achieve without Bob.

  • Comment number 88.

    The story you mentioned is very well known all over Ethiopia but it gives a factual evidence for the West that a dictator that do not have a moral character for his own people can give peace prosperity and freedom to the nation.We all insist the West that don’t armed dictators.give support for the poor people. The poor needs freedom than anything.REST=TDA=EFFORT=TPLF. I will be happy if Sir Bob ask Ethiopian about the BBC report how true it is.Also Sir Bob should stand with Ethiopian and condem TPLF not for BBC.

  • Comment number 89.

    Something I forgot to mention in the piece that I submited yesteray was that the CIA also “alleged” aid money was being misused. A 1985 report from the CIA concluded: “Some funds that insurgent organisations are raising for relief operations, as a result of increased world publicity, are almost certainly being diverted for military purposes.”

    Geldof & the Band Aid Trust are supposedly taking their complaint to the broadcasting regulator Ofcom.

    They and a number of other agencies (like Oxfam and the Red Cross) are also writing to chairman of the BBC Trust, Sir Michael Lyons.

    I’m happy that Geldof is pursuing the issue – not because I think he’s right; in fact, I think that charity monies have always been somewhat diverted, if not totally diverted to "other" purposes. Rather, I am hopeful that this issue will lead to better audit trails being established such that the documentation will resolve matters such as this one i.e. Who got how much $$$ when and what did that individual do with it.

  • Comment number 90.

    BBC did a great jobThank you for telling the truth.TPLF Still useing Aid Money for it's own bussines called EFFORT.

  • Comment number 91.

    This is investigative journalism - the result of which makes a number of charities and Bob Geldof outraged. I have heard nothing by anyone properly describing how the charities ensured that money went to the correct places but a lot of shouting and gnashing of teeth from vested interests - me thinks they protest too much!
    The BBC sources may be indeed be unreliable but to flatly deny that any corruption took place is laughable so in the interest of the truth these nay sayers need to engage with the BBC journalist and their sources and properly investigate in unison - not act like a lot of brainless yobs just shouting off.
    As in all life those at the bottom of the heap are crushed further into the ground - be it black Africans or white British - there will always be someone at the top getting fat on their plight, be it exploitation of labour or divertment of aid.
    It is the sad fact of human existence.

  • Comment number 92.

    Thankyou Andrew Whitehead
    Your report on this particular issue is not only supported by the facts and figures on the ground but can also be witnessed by several millions of Ethiopians who are still alive.If BBC digs further they will uncover a lot of things such as the money that people gave at that time was also used to start companies affliated to the TPLF party under the Endowment Fund of Tigray (EFFORT) http://www.effortgroup.org/index.htm
    One just wonders when their lies and cheating will end.

  • Comment number 93.

    BBC, I ADMIRE YOUR DEDICATION FOR TURE AND TRANSPARENT JOURNALISM. THE STORY OF TPLF GOES BEYOND THIS FINDINGS, YOU GUYS CAN GET LOT'S OF EVIDENCES TO AFIRM YOUR REPORT. WE ETHIOPIANS HAVE BEEN BEGING FOR WESTERN TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE SITUATIONS IN ETHIOPIA. TPLF LEARDERS WILL DO ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING TO STAY IN POWER. THIS LEADERS HAVE ONLY ONE INTENSTION TO ETHIOPIA THAT IS TO DISTROY THE HISTORY AND DIGNITY OF OUR PEOPLE, IT IS SHAME TO SEE WESTERNS TURN THEIR BACK TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE BEING TORUTURED, KILLED, AND JAILED BY THEIR OWN LEADERS. BBC, I ADVICE YOU TO HAVE YOUR REPORTERS AND INVESTIGATORS TO CONTACT GROUPS LIKE ECADF, G7 AND MR. OBANG METHO TO GET MORE EVIDENCES TO YOUR CASES. BE THE VOICE TO VOICELESS AND WE WILL STAND WITH YOU EXPOSING THE TRUTH ABOUT TOPLF THUGS.
    THANKS

  • Comment number 94.

    Kudos to the BBC for taking this allegation seriously and reporting on it. I hope the BBC will stay the course and do all the necessary followups to this story. Most Ethiopians feel this story is just a tip of the iceberg as far as TPLF's shady finances are concerned and how it relates to food and development aid. Many commentators have already correctly pointed out about the need to look into the financial books of REST, and its successor EFFORT, to get to the bottom of this story.

    Some commentators have suggested that this allegation of diversion of aid money happening 25 years after the fact is not relevant and the the fact that it is done by former TPLF leaders, who certainly have an axe to grind against their former colleagues, makes the allegations very suspect. I could not disagree more. It is appropriate to be skeptical of these former TPLF leader, but these two facts in an of themselves are not comeling reasons to delegitimize the story as Mr. Geldof seems to be doing.

    I think this story deserves full investigation not only by the BBC, but also by other news outlets, because it is very much relevant to what is happening to aid money in Ethiopia today. There are consistent and credible reports of aid money still being used to gain political support by the current regime in power. This must be stopped. What better way to do that to take a serious look at what happened to aid money in the 80s and how the diversion of aid money transformed the TPLF into a formidable player which it was not prior to 1985?

  • Comment number 95.

    Dear peter,
    I am beyond certain that you published this report just to disturb the curent progress in ethiopia .Shame on you shame on you .I dont like to argue whether the aid was divert or not ,since i could not yet get convincing report.you only based on exile politician .How for a second you couldnt assumed the probabilty of biaz information they would provide you since they have stakes in ethiopian poletics.Why now ? I decided not to read any more pulish from BBC you realy love disturbing Africa so that you will keep reporting bad ,which atract your reader eye .But at the expense of millions poor africans.You are disgrace.

  • Comment number 96.

    Thankyou Andrew Whitehead
    Your report on this particular issue is not only supported by the facts and figures on the ground but can also be witnessed by several millions of Ethiopians who are still alive.If BBC digs further they will uncover a lot of things such as the money that people gave at that time was also used to start companies affliated to the TPLF party under the Endowment Fund of Tigray (EFFORT) http://www.effortgroup.org/index.htm
    One just wonders when their lies and cheating will end.
    ASA

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    if you investigate how EFFORT,the organaization made bt TPLF,is created ,you will get the answer.BBC,this is the tip of the iceberg!

  • Comment number 99.

    Dear BBC Investigative Reporter,

    I would like to forward my appreciation for your integrity and hardwork. Though it is know for Ethiopians many years ago, this particular report will help the westerns to open their eyes on some of African dictators. We are thankful to Sir Bob Geldof but we are also sorry for him to say the report rubish. How can he be sure while the relief was done by REST (the TPLF) wing? The TPLF officials are now trying to discredit the report by discrediting the informants. But that does not work out. Whom you want to witness? Eye witness is the stongest witness after documentary evidence. For sure the picture of Ato Gebremedhin tells also the truth. He has published the same in his book Talaku sera" (the greatest conspiracy). He published it 20 years ago.

    Sir Bob Geldof, you are trying to undermine our conciousness. As I said we respect your effort. The distribution will not tarnish your image. You did nothing wrong. But you do not need to tell us to belive you more than our eyes. The TPLF had tried to kill Gebremedhin Araya and Abraham Yayeh for defecting and exposing the facts. Abraham Yayeh, who is now bowed back to TPLF, can be a witness for that. He was saved in Uganda from killing attempt by the TPLF men. They may try the same now again as the issue is bombarded again.

    I advice at Gebremedhin Araya to take caution. I know he is well aware of the TPLF nature.

    For the moderator: Let me ask you one question. Have you taken the statistics of those removed comments. I am sure you all are insults. That is the way it works in our current Ethiopia.

    Thank you BBC

  • Comment number 100.

    I was highly amused by Bobs Geldofs reaction. Aftertall he hasn't made any music in many many years yet still feels he has the right to barge in to politcal business he has no democratic right to get involved with.

    He is so upset because if it is found band aid effectively allowed money to be spent on arms his entire pretentious 'legacy' is undermined.

 

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