News / USA

Activists Protest G8 Summit

Ethiopian protesters in Thurmont, Maryland, said aid to Ethiopia would not work if their country does not have democracy. (VOA / Nico Colombant)
Ethiopian protesters in Thurmont, Maryland, said aid to Ethiopia would not work if their country does not have democracy. (VOA / Nico Colombant)
Nico Colombant
THURMONT, Maryland - As U.S. President Barack Obama finished meetings with leaders from the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations and African heads of state at the Camp David retreat in Maryland, demonstrations erupted in nearby towns. The protesters involved regulars of the Occupy movement as well as anti-government Ethiopian activists.  

​Several hundred Ethiopian activists came from across the United States to protest meetings involving Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who has been in power since 1991.  The United States is a major aid contributor to Ethiopia, whose leader has been accused of restricting freedoms, including those of the media.   

Discussions with African leaders have focused on boosting outside agricultural investment, but one protester, Mohamed Abdo, warned against pouring any outside money into Ethiopia.  

"They use this money to buy and to supress the people, not for the benefit of the people, so first of all we need to have a free election," he said.  "It should be supported by the people so that whatever kind of policy, it should be the people's policy, it should not be a one person policy, that is our message." 

Ethiopian protesters called on President Obama to stop helping authoritarian leaders in Africa. (VOA / Nico Colombant)Ethiopian protesters called on President Obama to stop helping authoritarian leaders in Africa. (VOA / Nico Colombant)
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Ethiopian protesters called on President Obama to stop helping authoritarian leaders in Africa. (VOA / Nico Colombant)
Ethiopian protesters called on President Obama to stop helping authoritarian leaders in Africa. (VOA / Nico Colombant)
Another protester, Tsegaye, said Americans should be concerned their tax dollars are being misspent on projects involving undemocratic countries, regardless of whether they are considered security allies. 

"If you don't have a transparent government, if you dont have rule of law, you do not know how those contracts are executed.  Are they in the best interest of the Ethiopian people? In the long run, we do not know,"  Tsegaye said.

Another protest, called the Counter Group of Eight Community Block Party, was held in nearby Frederick, Maryland.  

Replicas of drones were on display to criticize current U.S. military actions.  

Brian Henry, a regular of so-called Occupy protests in the United States against wealth disparity, said he had little respect for the talks at Camp David. 

 "I do not know if I care to speculate," noted Henry, "but my opinion is that they talk about how to make the rich of their countries richer." 

Police were on the lookout at both events, to make sure there was no violence or public disturbance.  Several protesters said they had tried to enter Camp David, but were turned away.

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by: Aschalew Worku from: AA
May 24, 2012 2:38 PM
Let us respect our country and our leaders in front of the international community. Violent and wild reactions arenot qualities of civilized democratic society. The aid from US government is for Ethiopians, not for individuals. To stand against this means to be enemy for Ethiopians! Violence is for lost personal interest not for public benefit. In my opinion, the future is bright for Ethiopia and Ethiopians!!!

by: kir from: eth
May 22, 2012 7:35 AM
those who oppose the PM's speech are not real ethiopians.from the very beggining of our history we are starting to awake from our long sleep.especially our poor farmer is changing thiar life and for this change ,our PM is the main actor. so, those who oppose our PM's speech are those who does not want our people's change.they dream only to hold power as feudals. os we ethiopians donot want to here protesters(kids) like the so called Abebe......... wuch hunew hodachew eyemelu yeEthiopia rehab yemifelgu.

by: Anonymous from: Arba Minch
May 21, 2012 6:09 AM
if u try more in home town u will be discarded.guys oops!

by: Tezeta Hailu from: Spain
May 21, 2012 4:11 AM
Abebe's action inside G-8 meeting was heroic, because the Ethiopian people is living under the brutla oppresion of the TPLF regime, in the actual conditions we don't have even the right to elect freely our leaders, we are living with the regime like a political, economical and ratial(aparthide) junta, the PM Zenawi has comitted a lot of crimes against humanity using his security forces in diffrent parts of the country.

by: Mamush D. from: Ethiopia
May 21, 2012 3:27 AM
Birds of same feather flock together. Obama is a mini or beginner dictator who give blind eye and deaf ear to the majority (99%) of the US people, so he can not hate dictators like Meles,

by: Optimist from: Everywhere
May 21, 2012 1:54 AM
Currently, Meles Zenawi is massacring tens of thousands of people in Ogaden. There has been a military lockdown of the region, since 2007. No journalist is allowed to enter the region, two Swidish journalists caught in a military operation are in jail, because they discovered mass extermination. Their trial was a joke, their lawyer was stunned when the verdict was read without giving him time to prepare a rebuttal to the prosecution. They are being denied of release because they have information that would expose the number of people that have been killed. Political opposition leaders all left the country, some of them after being jailed and the others due to fear for their lives. Frmr Supreme Court Judge Birtukan Mideksa (UDJ leader) was jailed twice, two years each time a total of four years, for standing up to the government bullying tactic.When we see the US funding this repressive regime makes us think State Department is a collaborator to mass extermination in Ethiopia. We think this needs to stop, stop funneling US taxpayers' money for mass extermination purposes.

by: Ethiopiawi from: Ethiopia
May 20, 2012 6:46 PM
Why doesn't VOA report the supporters who marched? Ethiopians are getting behind their PM, because of his many accomplishments including the fact Ethiopia is the third fastest growing economy in THE WORLD. Many of the Ethiopians who protest in U.S.A are after Green Card, and FAKE political asylem seekers, who are selling their country for Green Card. The few vocalist are after money, as shown in their past history. If PM Meles's government was really bad, the Ethiopian people would have thrown him out yesterday, without needing the assistance of U.S. or any vocalist. We in Ethiopia now what is good for us, right now the PM is doing a good job, and God bless him for making Ethiopia be a big player in the international arena.

by: iu
May 20, 2012 11:46 AM
Why Ethiopians don't make a week long or so kind of protest until America take a measure to counter the brutality? Why they don't challenge the presidents to be elected about their policy towards Ethiopia as Jewish does during election campaign? Don't only protest just one day and then disappear like "Mesekel wef". Be consistent and strong. I think we need a well organized protest. I don't mean the current protest is not contributing. It does and actually the greatest of all time. The heroic job by Abebe inside G-8 meeting was terrefic. But I am saying we can do better if we organize ourselves for longer protest which will get wider media coverage and ask, challenge and vote for those presidents who contribute to the democracy of Ethiopia as the other nations are doing. Let us think about it. I am in!!!

by: Anonymous
May 20, 2012 8:46 AM
This NEWS misses the major event related Ethiopians’ antigovernment protests. The Interruption of Ethiopian leader by Ethiopian-born journalist Abebe Gelaw was the climax of this protest that the VOA omitted.
Anonymous

by: ethiopian from: jimma
May 20, 2012 3:43 AM
why don't u do a real thing than shouting on streets....it's us who know exact situations weather bad or good,it's us who suffer from maladminstration but there r things we give priority 1st peace,then ecnomic development,democracy,fair election bla bla we'll be asked after bread.who gave u a right to represent us ...ur no longer ethiopians coz u don't know what ETHIOPIANS feel. ETHIOPIA TEKDEM

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