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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ethiopians Call Attention To Troubles In Homeland

Tampa Bay Online -- Fassil Gabremarian, born in Ethiopia in 1944, wanted to bring the strife in his homeland to the attention of the downtown lunch crowd Monday.

So he collected about 30 fellow Ethiopian Americans to march in Lykes Gaslight Square before noon.

Carrying the African country's vertical-banded red, yellow and green flag, along with the U.S. Stars and Stripes, the group held placards decrying the violence in their native land, plus graphic photographs of brutalized Ethiopians.

``Terrorism takes many forms,'' said Gabremarian, a retired GTE executive and former Tampa Port Authority commissioner who moved to the United States in 1969.

He, along with the chanting group, presented written appeals to Shahra Anderson, regional director for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, and John Kynes, district director for U.S. Rep. Jim Davis.

``No Justice. No Peace.'' were among the slogans protesters directed at Prime Minister Melese Zenawi.

Zenawi is blamed for the deaths of 36 students in a demonstration after the first free election in Ethiopia, held May 15.

Zenawi declared a state of emergency in the country of more than 70 million people and said he won't release election results until July 8.

The Tampa protesters also are alarmed because Zenawi's rule for the past 14 years hasn't solved the famine.

Saba Maskel, 51, wearing a native shama, a white muslin wrapped dress, said she is in touch with Ethiopian relatives, having left the country 14 years ago. ``They tell me, `Whatever you hear on the news, it's worse,' '' she said. ``They are afraid to go out and buy food.''

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