Rights group presses EU to push for probe into killings in Ethiopia



                                                                      Felix Horne

ESAT News (October 17, 2016)

Human Rights Watch demanded the European Union to use its leverage and push for investigations into the brutal crackdown in the Amhara and Oromo regions, where people have been protesting against the ruthless rule of a minority regime and mass murder of peaceful protesters by security forces.

Presenting a testimony at the European Parliament, Felix Horne, Senior Ethiopia/Eritrea Researcher with Human Rights Watch said the killings in Oromo and Amhara regions since November 2015, as well as the recent deaths of hundreds in Bishoftu at a religious ceremony.

“The recent events were a long time in the making. They are the outcome of the government’s systematic and calculated suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms that have closed political space and left few opportunities for the peaceful expression of dissent,” Horne told the Parliament hearing organized by the Human Rights subcommittee.

Horne also pointed out to the Parliament that the Ethiopian regime is using development assistance as political tool to exclude those who do not support its political agenda. “Human Rights Watch has also documented the Ethiopian government’s misuse of development assistance, including some EU funding, by ensuring that only those who are ruling party members or supporters receive the benefits of aid, including access to fertilizers, to seeds, to jobs, and to training opportunities.”

Horne also highlighted to the EU Parliament that government restrictions on civil society and freedom of information. He urged the Parliament to press the regime to lift those restrictions. “The EU should publicly press for the lifting of government restrictions on the right to freedom of information and expression, including on the internet and social media, as well as the jamming of lawful broadcasts. The government should promptly release bloggers and journalists detained for the peaceful exercise of their rights.”

The EU should publicly call on Ethiopia to release of all those arbitrarily detained during the protests, including opposition leaders such as Bekele Gerba, a leader of an Oromo opposition political party who is incarcerated with others on trumped-up terrorism charges.

A state of emergency entered its second week with the regime over the weekend releasing details of the law prohibiting exchange of electronic messages and banning public gatherings and demonstrations among others.

The restrictive law specifically mentioned  two independent media outlets abroad and banned the public from watching and listening to television and radio  programming by the Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio and Oromo Media Network.

The  marshal law, which has practically suspended the constitution, gives power to security forces to monitor and block messages transmitted via television, radio and movie theaters.