THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN ETHIOPA

I THE regime of Meles Zenawi has been rigorously condemned by the world at large for its gross violations of the human rights of the Ethiopian people. In fact nothing exposes the regime's character more than its record in the field of human rights. Demagogy to the contrary aside, the government emerges as one of the most repressive governments in the continent.

  • the EPRDF regime tops the list of the countries which have detained independent journalists;

  • it has more than 35,000 political prisoners;

  • has disappeared hundreds of others including EPRP leaders and members like TSEGAYE GEBRE MEDHIN, SITOTAW HUSSEIN, YISHAK DEBRETSION, AMHA BELETE, TEKALI GEBRE SELASSIE, MS ABERASH BERTA, TESFAYE KEBEDE, HAGOS BEZABIH, AZANAW DEMILE,LEMA HAILU,ETC.; and hundreds detained in 2005 when they protested against the rigged election.

  • has muzzled the press and repressed dissent;

  • controls the judiciary, the police and security force and the army is primarily Tigrean (the ethnic group of the ruling group called the Tigrean People's Liberation Front or the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front);

  • arrests without warrant, keeps prisoners locked up in dungeons and underground holes for long periods without any trial, practices torture routinely;

  • has imposed totalitarian control over civic associations, imprisoned civic leaders on made up charges, gunned down others like Ato Asefa Maru, Tesfaye Tadesse, forced into exile many more and set up its own satellite unions and associations in the place of the autonomous ones;

  • controls the country's economic life through firms and comaponies set up by itself as private enterprises; harasses other traders and businessmen; uses political power to secure its economic dominance;

  • tops the list (at a world level) of those countries who had dismissed the maximum number of judges; has appointed its loyalists (in most cases inept) as judges;

  • commits atrocities in areas of armed conflict;

  • has put in place an ethnic politics that has division and exclusion as its rationale and practices ethnic discrimination and repression against other ethnic groups in the country;

  • interferes in the affairs of religion and has imposed its cadres as patriarchs or sheikhs; has massacred believers at the Anwar Mosque and the Adebabye Iyesus Church of Gondar, holds Sheiks and monks in jail; is accused of murdering Aba Fekade Sellasie in broad daylight inside the St. Estiphanos Church of Addis Abeba;

  • denies citizenship and nationality rights to political opponents; practices forced exile to punish opposition; jails realtives for alleged offenses of any kin;

  • has crossed borders to murder opponents (the killing of Jattene Ali and Afework Alemseged in Kenya), to burn villages (in Somalia), to kidnap dissident refugees (in Djibouti) and has also handed over Djiboutian refugees to the Djibouti government which threatened their lives;

  • The regime’s SECUITY FORCES KILL AT RANDOM BUT ARE NEVER CHARGED OR BROUGHT BEFORE A COURT OF LAW.

The government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has time and again refused to heed the call for dialogue and peaceful political struggle. Outlawing the viable opposition like the EPRP, it has opted for the politics of intransigence, denying the existence of political prisoners, falsely accusing the Opposition of opting for violence, jailing the leaders of legal opposition, and refusing to seriously sit down and talk with the Opposition forces. It is thus that it refused to attend the March 1993 Peace and Reconciliation Conference in Paris and jailed the peace delegates who went to Addis Abeba to attend the December 1993 Peace and Reconciliation Conference. Abera Yemaneab, the foreign relations dept. head of COEDF at the time, has been jailed in the Central prison of Addis Ababa ever since. He is still jailed in 2010.

Attempts have been made to cover up the dismal human rights record of the Meles Zenawi regime by making reference to the records of the fallen Mengistu regime. While this "is it better to be devoured by a hyena or a tiger?' type of comparison has worn thin we must emphatically state that the EPRDF has been in power for the last 19 years and has thus passed enough time to be judged on its own merit. Its own record belies any attempt to present it as democratic, as a government that respects the rule of law and the rights of its people. it has rigged elections, set up a rubber stamp parliament (the only two independent MPs had to flee to the USA in 1997), and pays lip service to human rights while repressing the people systematically and ruthlessly. Multipartism has been turned into a joke with the ruling party cloning itself in various regions and under various names or by setting up satellite groups and then claiming pluralism does exist. Following the 2010 fake election the ruling regime has proclaimed the one party state by asserting that it has won all the parliament seats (minus one).

"EVEN TO THE CASUAL OBSERVER, MELES'S DEMOCRATIC SPEECHES STRIKE A HOLLOW NOTE.'' wrote Lara Santoro in the Christian Science Monitor (April 23/1998). The hollowness of official speeches and claims have been exposed time and again by local and international human rights organizations. The list of prisoners is long, the record of the violations numbing, the demagogy nauseating. After 17 years of totalitarian rule by a repressive military clique, the Ethiopian people have fallen into the clutches of another repressive clique whose main difference with its predecessor is that it claims to be democratic and concerned for the establishment of the rule of law. When Ethiopians say not much has rally changed they are not being forgetful or extreme but bitterly expressing their dashed hopes and grim realities.

II/ AMONG THE DISAPPEARED WE CITE THE FOLLOWING:

  • Hagos Atsbeha (a former TPLF member)-since 1988;

  • Tsegaye Gebre Medhin, Yishak Debretsion, Sitotaw Hussein, Amha Belete, Teklai Gebre Sellasie, Hagos Bezabih, Desalegne Amsalu, Azanaw Demile-EPRP leaders and senior members-since 1991

  • Abebe Ainekulu, Wondusirak Desta, Alazar, Getachew Eshetu, Ms Aberash Berta, Lemma Hailu, Eyob Tekabe, Demissie Tesfaye, journalist Berhanu Ijigu, Tesfaye Kebede since 1993-1994;

  • Mengistu Eshetu and Mot Baynor since 1996;

  • Major Workineh Ouisa,Ayalew Abate, Damtew Tafesse, Major Bisrat Filflu, Getachew Abebe, Teshome Beyene, Abayneh Shiferaw, Berhanu Zewdu Hussein Osman, Mola Ijigu, Estifo Argaw,Dereje Deme,Getnet Asnake,

  • captain Bulto Kumsa,Mohamed Cheheem, Mulu Ambaw, journalist Kumsa Berayu, major Hailu Fufa, Zewdu Gebre Mariam (former TPLF fighter), Feyera Negera, Jemal Hussein, Basha Shimeles Argaw, Berhanu Asemu, colonel Befekadu Disassa, major Yohannes Afework, Sewinet Mulualem,Abiywork haile Mariam, Teshome Bimrew, Retta Mosisa, Abdi Mohamed, getachew Abebe,Alebatchew Worku Kassaye,Lt. Eyasu Temam, Captain Daniel, Wolde Michael Borriso,Yosef Ayele Bati, Lamessa Boru,Kassahun Habte,Abdullahi Abdi,Ibado Abdullahi,

  • EPRP members Tamrat Gizachew,Dinku Shifferaw, Major Adugna Ademe

The list of summary executions and killings and arbitrary arrest is very very long.

III/ Documentation

There are a number of reports and documents written by local and international bodies on the human rights situation in Ethiopia. We cite below some of the documents that give a detailed picture of the violations of the rights of the people by the EPRDF government.

  1. Amnesty International: Country Report; Ethiopia; 1997 Amnesty International, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 8DJ, England. e mail uateam@amnesty.org contact person: Dr. Martin Hill

  2. Human Rights Watch: Ethiopia: The Curtailment of Rights, December 1997 report 350 Fifth Avenue,34th floor, New York,NY 10118-3299, e mail: hrwnyc@hrw.org contact person Suleiman Ali Baldo

  3. Ethiopian Human Rights Council: *The Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia: 12th Report, November 1997 EHRCO, p.o.box 2432,Addis Abeba, Ethiopia; fax no. 251 1 514539

  4. Solidarity Committee for Ethiopian Political Prisoners (SOCEPP)

ETHIOPIA: The EPRDF and Human Rights , 1996

Selected Statements on the Human Rights Situation in Ethiopia (1995-1998)

SOCEPP, postfach 411305, 12123 Berlin,Germany

SOCEPP, p.o.box 28605, Oakdale, MN 55128,USA. e- mail: Socepp@aol.com contact person:Ezra Nathaniel

  1. Committee to Protect Journalists

  2. www.Socepp.de for up to date communiques